The Friday night reception at the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed is a rare look at automotive history.
It doesn’t matter if you are into race, classic or pedal cars, this place has something for everybody, and let’s not forget the lunch boxes. While all these items each tell a story, the entire story can only be told by one person, Speedy Bill. To be able to hear the stories behind every piece that Bill and Joyce have collected over the years makes the experience even more special.
The Saturday night banquet is an event I look forward to every year. To share the sense of accomplishment of all the champions honored makes up for having to wear a tuxedo. The part of the night I look for ward to the most is the national champions’ speeches.
It does not matter if they are a first-time national champion or a seasoned veteran, the speeches always turn to the importance of family. With the way the sports world is right now it is good to see that hard work and family still can produce champions.
I received a call from Ole Olson with Nodak Speedway in Minot, N.D., with an invitation to their track banquet. I had a flight booked to Dallas where it was about 75 degrees and sunny but it took me about two seconds to change that ticket to -2 and snowy Minot.
What made the ticket switch a no brainer was inspiration. Every now and then you see a story that makes you think you might not have it so bad. I wanted to see firsthand how a race club that has faced so much adversity over the last two years could come together for a celebration.
2012 will mark the 60th year of operation for the Nodak Race Club, the oldest continuously operated club of its kind in the country.
In 2010, a brand new state-of-the-art grandstand was constructed at Nodak Speedway, which is housed on the North Dakota State Fairgrounds. The new grandstand features over 22,000 square feet of usable concourse, which is 10 times more than the old grandstand, along with 7,000 reserved seats. The new grandstand was completed in July of 2010 in time for the North Dakota State Fair. This would wipe out the first three months of the racing season, leaving only a handful of races for the season.
The 2011 season kicked off with the Wild About Wheels show in March and everybody was looking forward to a full season in front of the new grandstands. After an opening night rainout, the season started May 15 with packed grandstands and pits.
Then came three straight rainouts and on June 19, they were able to get all but the Modified feature in.
On June 21, KXMC TV reported that a flood of historic proportions was imminent in the Mouse (Souris) River Valley, largely due to large dam releases upstream. Around 12,000 people were evacuated.
On June 26, flooding exceeded previous records when the river crested at 1,561.72 feet above sea level, three feet above the previous record set in 1881. It is estimated that 20 percent of Minot sustained damage from the flood. This figure includes over 4,100 homes which were in some way affected, 2,376 of which were extensively damaged and 805 damaged beyond repair.
During all of this, the dirt on the race track was used to construct a levee around the new grandstand. With the grandstand protected the track and fairgrounds flooded looking more like a lake than race track. The 2011 North Dakota State Fair was canceled and the future of the racing at the fairgrounds was in doubt, not only for the season but indefinitely
After the water receded came questions about how the track would or could be reconstructed.
On Aug. 14, the hard work of volunteers from the Nodak Race Club made happen what many think was impossible: Racing at the fairgrounds.
With everything the club has been through, it made the decision to give up the warmth and sunshine for the cold and snow an easy one. It is not often you see a group of racers and fans come together to celebrate a season like the one they had in Minot.
Not only was the race track affected but the lives of so many people in the Minot area have been changed forever with the flood damage. Homes and business were destroyed and many people are still living in FEMA trailers. The devastation this disaster left behind is a sight I will never forget.
I believe you can tell a lot about people by the way they handle adversity. With that being said, you’re not going to find a better group of people than the ones in the Nodak Race Club. I know that I will be at a race in Minot this upcoming season and I suggest that if you have the opportunity you do the same.
I want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.
“Don’t settle for cheap imitations, IMCA is the real thing!”