Could other tracks suffer same fate as Red River Valley Speedway?Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's been a quiet summer at the Red River Valley fairgrounds where for the first time since 1967, there is no racing. Attendance had dropped over the last decade and the cost to operate the track was getting to be too much. It raises the question: What is the future of dirt track racing?
By: Jody Norstedt, WDAY
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's been a quiet summer at the Red River Valley fairgrounds where for the first time since 1967, there is no racing. Attendance had dropped over the last decade and the cost to operate the track was getting to be too much. It raises the question: What is the future of dirt track racing?
The roar of the engine is now a thing of the past for Red River Valley Speedway after four decades of racing.
Bryan Schulz, RRVF Association General Manager: “Towards the end of last year if there were 50 cars out in the parking lot that was a pretty good night. The car counts are still in that 100 numbers, but it's the spectators.”
Kevin Nathe, Buffalo River Race Park Owner: “It's tough with a fair board. It really is. We call the shots here. It's the race director and I and that's it. When you have a big board, it's tough to work with.”
Without the speedway, it begs the question: Does it help or hurt other area tracks?
Roch Johannecki, I-94 Speedway Owner: “It's a sad deal that they are no longer in, but it's a good deal for us. Yes, we have a better car count. We're averaging 110 to 115 cars on an average Friday night.”
Nathe: “It doesn't help the sport at all. The more that a kid can see a race car going down main avenue or 13th avenue will help all of us. So, having that track closed doesn't help us.”
Numbers aren't an issue for track owner Kevin Nathe. When Nathe bought Buffalo River Racepark seven years ago, he was met with plenty of doubters. But, he was confident that this little dirt oval along highway 10 could be a huge success.
Nathe: “Yeah, a lot of people probably thought I was crazy. But, I grew up racing out here and grew up watching out here. I knew that there was a good following and potential to grow the place.”
Nathe has found success with more affordable racing classes and a fan friendly grandstand that features indoor seating.
Meanwhile, just north on highway 9, Norman County raceway in Ada also continues to bring in customers.
Jake Bidker, Norman Co. Raceway Owner: “We're actually up from last year a little bit. So, it's very nice to see.”
Jake Bidker has been the track owner for three years. And like Nathe, he understands the future of his business relies on racing's next generation.
Bidker: “I see a lot because there's a lot in the go-kart world right now and they transfer into cars somewhere.”
Nathe: “Other promoters that come say that we have the most kids that they've ever seen at a race track.”
So, despite Red River Valley Speedway being given the red flag, other area track owners are confident dirt track racing is here to stay.
Bidker: “I think as long as you have a generation that wants to do it and it seems like they want to do it. We just keep going forward.”
Nathe: “There's no doubt, we'll be here. Our car counts are consistent, 90 to 100 cars per night. The classes are growing.”
So far this year, the Red River Valley speedway has been used for the Hard Charge and Run or Dye events, along with concerts at the fair.