Viking Speedway: Olson, Muzik Hall of Famers
Stu Olson and Greg Muzik were inducted into to the Viking Speedway Hall of Fame last Saturday night.
Olson served as a competitor and a promoter during his 20-plus years of involvement with the Viking Speedway.
Muzik was a three-time point champion in the Thunder and Sportsman Division and was involved at the speedway for 17 years.
A total of 20 individuals are now enshrined in the Viking Speedway Hall of Fame.
Greg Muzik of Alexandria attended his first race at the Viking Speedway at age 7. His parents, Tom and Ardelle, took the kids to the races every week.
His dad started racing in 1966 in a 1950 Ford that he pulled to the track with a chain. In 1968, the late Wayne Kluver started racing and the car was housed in the garage of his uncle, DuWayne Nelson.
"I would go over there every chance and would clean up the garage or do whatever they would let me do," recalled Muzik.
Muzik started his racing career at Viking Speedway in 1973 at age 15. He had to have a waiver signed by his parents before he could crawl behind the wheel of a 1955 four-door Chevrolet powered by a 265-cubic-inch engine.
Muzik noted his first car was made from sweat and hard work, as he put together a car from his dad's junkyard.
He had just a couple of races under his vest before being involved in a wreck. That didn't stop him; he was determined to race.
He returned in 1979 and competed in the Street Stock Division in a Dodge Charger.
"We decided, why race a small block Chevy when you can race a big block Chrysler," pointed out Muzik.
With a 383 cubic inch powered engine from a Dodge Coronet, Muzik won five straight feature wins and won the Champion Auto Stores Invitational.
After that success, Muzik had his engine claimed, but refused the claim.
"I sure regret that," he said.
He returned a year later and raced for a brief time, winning a few races and finishing 10th in points.
In 1982 he managed to get in a full season, racing in the Thunder Class in a Dodge Challenger, powered by another 383-cubic-inch mill.
In addition to winning the division point crown that season, he was the top point getter during the July 4th doubleheader invitational.
He also competed in the Thunder Class the following season, building a new Dodge Challenger after giving the car he raced the previous year to his brother, Ryan.
He enjoyed another year on the big half-mile oval, winning several heat, trophy dash and feature events en route to the division point championship.
He took the 1984 season off but came back in 1985, competing in the Sportsman Division. He raced a 1972 Chevrolet product with a 406-cubic-inch engine. Among his victories that season were three feature wins and another point title.
He started the 1986 season late in the year and put together a string of feature wins at the Viking en route to finishing fifth in the final season point standings.
After sitting out the 1987 campaign, Muzik returned in 1988 and moved up to the Modified class. He purchased the car driven by Cullen Brown of Fergus Falls midway through the season and notched several top five finishes.
He finished 4th in the Winston Minnesota State championship and was ninth in the season point standings.
The 1989 campaign was his final season behind the wheel. He finished 2nd to his brother, Ryan, for the most feature wins and was 5th in the final point standings.
"My racing career was filled with accomplishments due to persistence, or some may call it stubbornness, and passion for what I loved," recalled the three-time point champ. "My racing years were filled with memories that can never be erased and trophies that are lined up on the wall.
"I am proud of the achievements and hard work that started with a dream at age 7 and a trip to my dad's junkyard at age 15," Muzik concluded.
His parents still go to the races weekly to watch third generation driver Josh Muzik, the son of Ryan. Ryan is also a three-time Viking point champion, having won Modified point crowns in 1987, 1988 and 1989.
Stu Olson noted that seeds of passion for stock car racing were planted by his parents in 1958 when they brought him to the local oval to watch his dad, Bud, compete.
The family moved to Chicago from 1959-1966, where they attended races regularly. Olson arrived on the scene at the Viking Speedway in 1974 when he served as a pitman for Dave Paulson's street stock.
"I fell in love with the atmosphere of the pit area and the feeling of being part of the action," recalled Olson.
The following season he and Gene Bergland teamed up to build a 1964 Chevelle Street Stock.
"I was the driver but Gene had the car knowledge," Olson said.
He also recalled that in that era cars were truly stock cars with nearly every component purchased from a local junkyard.
"We felt very 'late model' as we purchased a role cage from Canadian Stock Car Products," he said. "Any additional tubing was pipe from my parents' dairy farm."
Olson pointed out he and his crew had a lot to learn. When the engine was ready to start the first time, they realized they didn't know how to install the distributor.
Because they didn't have a hauler, they towed the car with a cow stanchion pipe to the shop of track champion Roy Snyder for help.
Unfortunately, no one told them of the need for a transmission pilot shaft bushing. On the way, the transmission vibrated so bad that the bell housing shattered. That broke the starter mount and the transmission.
Because he was related to Dave Paulson, Olson and his crew were grandfathered into the "Mickey Mouse Race Team" of Larry and Darrel Holverson, Berglund and Paulson.
"We had no wins the first year but some close 2nds kept us enthused for future successes," noted Olson.
In 1976 they used the same chassis but changed the body for a 1969 Camaro. In 1977 they put a Nova body on the same chassis and competed in the Sportsman Class. Mark Gustafson and Ed Ofstead joined the crew that season.
"Thankfully, Gus helped for several years thereafter and devoted hours preparing the car," Olson said.
The following season, Olson returned to the oval with a Vega bodied Sportsman car and the same chassis. He assembled the motor himself.
"It was a new challenge for me," he said. "Fortunately, the motor worked well enough to make it through the season without blowing up."
Olson noted it was his best season of racing. He finished 2nd in points to Jerry Chlian.
The 1979 season changed his life permanently. Olson entered a special at the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, North Dakota. During the feature, the right rear axle broke off as the car was sliding sideways. The axle dug into the track, causing the car to flip many times.
His new shoulder belt failed and his head hit the roll bars. He ended up in a wheelchair for a time and lost much of his memory. The long-term effect was a level of vertigo, which he experiences to this day.
Despite that, he still had the desire to race and became a pitman on his own cars. He did try to drive again but lost his feel for how the car would react.
"It was hard reckoning when I was done driving. However, as life can be, it turned out to be a good thing for me," Olson said. "I still loved the sport and wanted the Viking Speedway to be the best place for others to enjoy this passion for driving and winning."
He was elected to the Viking Speedway board of directors in 1978 and was instrumental in helping the track get a NASCAR sanction and become a member of the Winston Racing Series.
From 1987-1990, Olson was a member of the board of directors. He spent the next two seasons as promoter of NASCAR sanctioned tracks in Missouri. After returning to Alexandria, he served as promoter of Viking Speedway.
"Throughout the years it has been a team of people that make Viking Speedway so special. It was a privilege to have been given the opportunity to work with so many great people," concluded Olson.
2001 - Jerry Geris, Frankie Herzog
2002 - Dean Peterson, Butch Peterson
2003 - Jim Johnson, Florian Sprinzel
2004 - Dave Gilbertson, Walt Anderson
2005 - Roy Snyder, Dick Block
2006 - Wayne Kluver, Larry Holverson
2007 - Oliver Buse, Don Domine
2008 - Bill Peterson, Jerry Kluver
2009 - Jim Nieland, Jerry VanKempen
2010 - Greg Muzik, Stu Olson