When Ron Krog left the Viking Speedway on Sunday night following the season-ending doubleheader, he got a little teary-eyed. That's what his 32 years as the voice of the Alexandria race track meant to him.
Racing has been part of Krog's life long before he took the job as an announcer. His career started in 1977 before taking an announcing gig at the Wee Town Gig track in Fergus Falls in 1987. However, his first gig came before he started racing.
"My dad used to run a snowmobile race in Underwood," Krog said. "The guy that was supposed to announce had a long night of partying and got sick or something. My dad said, 'Well, I have a kid that likes to talk a lot.' So I announced the snowmobile race. As you can probably imagine, it was total chaos.”
After a nine-year career on the track, Krog decided he'd had enough. While fishing out on a Fergus Falls lake, he began to miss the racing atmosphere.
"I would be out on the lake fishing, and I could hear the stuff at Wee Town, and it was driving me crazy," Krog said. "In 1987, they were looking for an announcer, so I said, 'Well, I can't afford to race so what the heck.' It was kind of nice announcing there for a few years. There were 200-300 people and 25-30 cars, and I think I was related to most of them."
Krog was loving his new position at Wee Town but had no idea what it would turn into. When Don Domine, the former Viking Speedway announcer, needed somebody to fill in for him, Krog caught his break.
"Don Domine needed to take some time off because his daughter was running for Miss Minnesota," Krog said. "That's when they asked me to fill in. I'll never forget the first time I was in the infield. I looked at all of the people in the grandstand in Alex, and it was like I didn't know how to talk. I was speechless."
Domine's time off ended up being longer than expected. As he was shifting more towards a life with his family, Krog began assuming the full-time announcer's role.
"I remember how rusty I was when I started," Krog said. "I was so bad that if they had a big special, they would ask Don to come back in for it. I would get the regular stuff, and that happened for three or four years. Then finally, I just kind of started doing all of it."
In 1991 he took an announcing job in Madison, where he called races on Sunday nights. A year later, he spent his Fridays in Montevideo. By the end of his career, he added Willmar, West Fargo and Canby to his resume.
Krog spent over 40 summers at ovals around the midwest. Whether it was behind the wheel or behind the mic, he felt fortunate to have the opportunity to be the voice for so many tracks. In 2016 he was inducted into the Viking Speedway Hall of Fame – a night he will never forget.
"That was crazy. I look around at all of the guys that helped build this thing, and I think there's no way I deserve to be here for crying out loud," Krog said. "It was quite the honor. I'll never forget my whole family was able to come down that day. Jerry Van Kempen was my hero growing up, and he was an announcer before me. He, Jim Johnson and Don Domine set the table for me. They got all of the plaques on the wall for all of the inductees. Someday, I'll probably drive by and look at it and say, 'Wow, I really can't believe this.'"
Sharing his experiences with his family was one of the joys of the job. Now, he's looking forward to spending more time with his grandkids, and he wants to be healthy while he does it.
"I could kind of feel this (retirement) decision coming on over the last couple of years," Krog said. "I was fighting some health issues. My blood pressure had been high. Since I found out, I lost 11 pounds, and I got my blood pressure under control. I probably feel as good right now as I have in a long time, but my wife Rita has sacrificed a lot with me being gone every Saturday. The grandkids are growing up, and the clock keeps ticking. It's time for me to spend more time with my family."
Whether Krog considers himself worthy of being a hall-of-famer or not, his legacy at Viking Speedway will live on through the announcers that follow him. He feels lucky to have spent his weekends being around the sport he loves.
"Landon Atkinson messaged me after his race on Sunday, saying how lucky he was to win the last race I ever called," Krog said. "I don't think he knows how much that means to me. Everything I've done has been focused around racing. My family has been so good to me for working things around my racing. The people are so amazing. I have thousands of friends that will be my friends forever. It's been my life, and I have a hard time putting it into words."