It’s that time of year again, when there is a rumble of engines in the air and the dirt flies. Yes, the 2012 race season is about to begin.
Alright, the season has already officially started as two dirt tracks in northeast Wisconsin have already hosted races this year. A third area track will be added to that list Saturday, April 21, when Shawano Speedway opens its gates.
For those curious as to what kind of shape the track is in at Shawano Speedway, Race Director for Shawano Speedway Dale Hodkiewicz said, “The track is in better shape than I have ever seen it to start the season.”
Hodkiewicz said some improvements were made to the track during the offseason, including adding more clay to corners one and two. A pond was also dug in the infield to help drain the water off corners one and two when there is a lot of rain. The water from the pond will also be used to water the track. Hodkiewicz said that will hopefully lessen the water bill, as all the water used in the past came from the city.
The middle row of the infield pits received around 20 loads of the dirt from when the pond was dug. That area was seeded with grass. The area in the pits outside of corner one, as well as the area in the pits along the fence line by the parking lot also received dirt and was seeded with grass.
“It will be a little messy for awhile until the grass gets a good start, but in the long range we are looking at it being an improvement to the facility,” Hodkiewicz said.
He said the Speedway is also planning on adding another row of cement blocks to the fence in corners one and two. To help with this, for $40, the Speedway is offering a Certificate of Ownership of Shawano Speedway to sponsor a block. A board will be constructed underneath the grandstand identifying all those who participate in that program.
To get a head start on the season, Shawano Speedway will be hosting a practice — weather permitting — Friday, April 20. Inspection will start at 4 p.m. that day, with race cars starting to turn laps at 6 p.m. Fans will be allowed to come to the practice free of charge. Only drivers participating in the practice have to pay $10.
For the 2012 season, hot laps will start at 6 p.m. each Saturday, with racing getting underway at 6:30 p.m. The same five divisions will also be part of the weekly racing program — WISSOTA Late Model, IMCA Modified, IMCA Stock Car, FASTRAK Late Model and IMCA Northern SportMods.
Hodkiewicz said the World of Outlaws Dirt Late Model Series coming to the Speedway Wednesday, Aug. 1 is one of the highlights of the season.
“We’re just looking to put on a good show again like we always try,” Hodkiewicz said. “We just about got a sponsor for every night now. We have a Kids Club and have some activities with that.”
The Kids Club is available to kids 11 years old and under, and the membership is free. A free t-shirt comes with the membership.
Ticket prices will be the same as last year: $10 for adults, $5 for teens, and children 11 and under are free with a paid adult. Pit passes will once again be $20.
“I think fans can look forward to some excellent racing,” said Hodkiewicz. “I’m not sure what the numbers are going to be, but I know we have a great facility and we have a great race surface to work off of. The fans are going to be entertained well.”