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Changes at the Speedway

Jon Stepan takes the checkered flag as he wins the Kluver Memorial Super Stock Feature at the Viking Speedway on August 24, 2013. (Contributed/Cricket Prints)

There are changes coming to the Viking Speedway this summer with the intentions of getting more fans in the grandstands.

Numbers had been dwindling on race nights in recent years, so the local oval is doing what it can to try and bring fans back. An almost entirely new board this year at the Viking Speedway decided to move the start times back to 6:45 p.m., shorten up intermissions and drop prices for admission, from $12 for an adult to $10.

“A lot of tracks have been struggling with fan count,” first-year Viking Speedway president Mark Blom said. “We thought the last two, three years that it’s slowly dwindling down, and we just felt it was the way the show was run. They didn’t come to watch the water truck races. We just felt we’re going to try to start a little later, speed up the show and try to get people back in the stands like it used to be.”

Blom said the intermissions could get to be as long as an hour on some race nights in the past. The hope is they can cut that down to about a quarter of the time and keep the races going to keep fans more engaged.

“We’re trying to speed things up,” Blom said. “I guess it will depend on if we have to do track prep or anything. We’re hoping to keep them as minimal as we can, 15-20 minutes. It just depends on what we have to do.”

The new start time will also allow the spectators a little extra time to get off the lakes or eat with their families before coming to the races. Races have started as early as 5:30 p.m. in the summer in recent years with the normal start time of 6 through much of the season.

The speedway is already up against a curfew of 10:45 p.m. Blom said they are not worried about running into issues with getting done by that time with the shorter intermissions making up for the later start.

“Our feedback and what we’ve gotten so far has been all positive,” he said. “Everyone is excited about it. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback so far. Hopefully we can take that and carry it through the summer.”

The Viking Speedway is scheduled to kick off its season with the Central Minnesota Icebreaker on April 11-12.

The weather may throw a wrench into those plans. Blom said if the track is not ready by that date that the Icebreaker would not be rescheduled. The regular season opener is set for May 3.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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