Crouse, Muzik elected to Viking Speedway HOF
Alexandria’s Ryan Muzik and Larry Crouse have both given a lot to racing at the Viking Speedway over the years and now they will be honored for that as the two newest members of the Viking Speedway Hall of Fame.
Both racers will be recognized at the speedway’s awards banquet tomorrow, Saturday, at the Broadway Ballroom in Alexandria. They will then officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a race night on August 9, 2014.
Racing has meant the world to Crouse and his family over the years and it showed in him taking on a number of different roles at the speedway.
“It’s all we do,” he said of what the sport has meant to him. “We don’t hunt and fish, we don’t snowmobile. We don’t do anything. We race, and it’s all we’ve been doing since 1979. You could say it’s a huge part of our lives.”
The summer of 1969 is when Crouse started racing as a driver at the Viking Speedway. He had to quit for a while to perform his duties in the United States Army. He returned to racing in 1979 and raced until 1996 when he climbed out of the driver’s seat. He’s now been in charge of track maintenance for 13 years.
Crouse also played a big role at the speedway off the track as he served on the board of directors for 18 years. Six of those were as the president of the Viking Speedway. It’s his work in that capacity that he believes got him elected to this year’s Hall of Fame class.
Crouse had his share of success on the track, as well. He won a point championship in 1987 in what they called the Sportsman’s Class. As a car owner, he has been a part of two point titles in 2011 and this past 2013 season with his son, Jeff Crouse, in the Super Stock Division.
“It’s a great feeling because it’s been a huge part of my life,” Crouse said of the Hall of Fame honor. “I’ve been out there a long time and to be recognized for being on the board and racing, it’s a huge accomplishment and I’m real proud of it. I’m glad to be aboard.”
Muzik raced at the Viking Speedway for almost 25 years and saw plenty of success before he stopped racing full time in 2006. Muzik won three Modified Division point titles at the local oval to go along with a Minnesota State NASCAR Championship. He also won five other point championships at three other tracks during his career.
“It’s kind of a big deal,” Muzik said when asked what the Hall of Fame honor meant to him. “I’ve been one of these guys where I really don’t talk about the success I had too much. I just was never really one to brag about it, but it’s a good deal. It makes me proud that it’s happening. I know I declined a couple years ago and I almost declined again. I just don’t feel like I’m that old, yet. I still got a lot of kid left in me, I think.”
Muzik declined the honor a couple years ago because at the time the idea was that those who were in the Hall of Fame would be done racing. Now at 48 years old, he still has an itch to get back behind the wheel next summer.
“They basically wanted you to be done racing then, and I really didn’t think I was,” Muzik said. “I don’t plan on being completely done yet and now they have kind of switched the rules where you can race again. I always kind of planned that I still want to do it once in a while.”
Muzik gave his car to his son, Josh, in 2006 and has done the upkeep on the car for him since then. Josh finished third in the Midwest Modified point standings this past summer. That’s how Muzik has stayed involved at the track since stepping away from racing itself.
He also bought another car after handing over his to Josh. He plans on having that one ready to go in the hopes of getting back behind the wheel himself on a limited basis in the summer of 2014.
“I’m still involved in it as much as I always was,” Muzik said of racing. “Except now I just basically do the wrenching for [Josh] and don’t get a chance to drive now. It’s something I still really miss.”