Scot Danzeisen racked up win after win at race tracks around Minnesota and neighboring states during nearly three decades of being behind the wheel starting in the early 1990s. It would be easy for those wins to blend together, but a few stand out.
The Modifieds National in 2010 at the Viking Speedway in Alexandria is the biggest money event the driver from Herman ever won in his career with a $7,000 payday. Getting a check like that is nice, but it’s not what drove Danzeisen in his career.
“Probably my favorite race I ever had was they had a deal in Brainerd every year called the Mighty Ax,” Danzeisen said during an interview with the Echo Press in late June. “Shane Sabraski and I raced 20 laps side-by-side. We were going through lap traffic side-by-side. We never touched. He’d get a little edge on me, and then I’d get an edge on him. I just squeaked it out at the end for the win.”
There was another week where Danzeisen wrecked his car early in the season in 2001. Dean Wildung loaned him one to use until he could get a new one up and running. The very first week in Wildung’s car, Danzeisen climbed all the way back from 18th at the start to win.
“That was probably No. 2 on my list,” Danzeisen said. “That’s what I loved about it.”
A drive to win
There was admittedly no off switch when it came to racing for Danzeisen. Not even in the offseason. His mind was always on the sport and how he could get better at it.
At 47 years old now, it’s why he said he probably quit driving after the 2019 season. That competitive nature left Danzeisen feeling burnt out this late in his career, but it is also what drove him to so much success.
It’s ultimately what made him a Hall of Famer at the Alexandria Viking Speedway. Danzeisen and Charlie Meyer of Garden Center in Alexandria are the 2020 inductees in the local track’s Hall of Fame. They will be recognized at this year’s Hall of Fame Night when the Viking Speedway hosts its Saturday races starting at 6:30 p.m. on July 31.
Danzeisen called it a surprise when he got the call letting him know the speedway’s Hall of Fame committee of Bill Peterson, Don Domine, Stu Olson, Bert Pexsa and Rich Snyder had selected him.
“I guess I just wasn’t expecting it. It wasn’t something I thought about my whole racing career,” Danzeisen said. “(Making a Hall of Fame) just wasn’t on my radar.”
Danzeisen’s success alone in Alexandria makes him an obvious fit.
His 14 total season championships are a track record. Ten of those came in the Modifieds Division and four more came in the Super Stocks from 2004-2007. Danzeisen won nine straight Modified track championships in Alexandria from 1996 through 2004.
“I had a really good, dedicated crew,” Danzeisen said. “We just worked really hard at it, and we just never dropped out of races. We never had any failures. It was very, very uncommon for us to have a DNF, which is a huge part of winning championships. It’s consistency.”
Danzeisen was simply the guy to beat most nights during the late 1990s and the 2000s, but all that success did not come without some cost. For some, he won too much. There were nights he heard boos from the fans after another win. He chuckled when saying he doesn’t know exactly what to expect during the Hall of Fame night in late July.
“I just felt that I didn’t do anything to deserve any booing,” Danzeisen said. “I wasn’t a dirty driver, I wasn’t cheating. In my opinion at that time, I think we just worked harder than most did. Some people go to the track and hang out and have fun. I went to the track for one reason, and that was to win. To me, racing wasn’t fun. It was a lot of work. Winning was fun. I was serious as a heart attack about it.”
Danzeisen’s father, Bob, built engines for drivers in the 1970s and 80s, so Scot, who started building his own cars in 2004, had an early influence in racing and help along the way. A friend of the family consistently brought him to the races at Viking Speedway as a young kid.
Danzeisen raced go-karts for a year and a half before he got behind the wheel of a Modified himself in 1991 as a teenager. On July 20 of that year, he got his first feature win.
It was the start of a storied career that left him as one of the best to ever race in Alexandria.
Meyer family’s history with the track runs deep
The Viking Speedway’s Hall of Fame committee often nominates one driver and another individual or business in the community that has played a large role at the track. That made Charlie Meyer and the Broadway Ballroom Event Center, Garden Center Lanes and Fat Daddy's Bar & Grill in Alexandria a natural fit for this Hall of Fame honor alongside Danzeisen.
Charlie’s father, LeRoy, purchased Garden Center Lanes in Alexandria in 1957. It’s a business that has grown and stayed in the family through its third generation now, and the Meyers’ relationship with the track started during the Viking Speedway’s first season in 1965.
“They needed a place, and Garden Center was the place where they met,” Charlie said of his dad hosting the speedway’s fall banquet at no cost. “My dad was always a fan, but he was a fan of things that were always good for the community. He loved racing too, and he loved the guys.”
In addition to hosting the banquets, the Garden Center has sponsored cars and signs to help the track financially over the years.
The City of Alexandria owns the land that the Viking Speedway and grandstand sit on, and the city has the right to approve or deny race events on the track’s schedule each year. Council members have heard complaints due to noise on Saturday race night’s over the years.
The track has a strict curfew of 10:45 p.m. when the races have to be done by. LeRoy saw value in what the speedway brought to Alexandria years ago, especially for a community that was not as filled with entertainment options like there might be on weekends now.
“We went to bat for them with the city council because it seems like there’s always someone tired of getting complaints about the noise,” Charlie said. “Anything that was good for the community my dad supported a lot, but he really liked the racers. These guys were dragging the cars in from all over. If it didn’t mean anything else, it meant a lot to the gas stations, the restaurants.”
Don Domine, a member of the Hall of Fame committee at the Viking Speedway, said people like the Meyers are vitally important to a track like Alexandria’s.
“A really good example is Rudy’s Electric,” Domine said. “We put them in the Hall of Fame (in 2019). When this track started, it ran on Sunday afternoon, and Jerry VanKempen said, ‘Guys, you can’t do that. No one can see. It’s all dust. We got to go to Saturday nights.’ What does Rudy do? He comes out and puts a complete light setup out there and doesn’t charge one nickel for nothing. He says the labor is free and you pay the lights for what they cost me when you get the money. Without that, it doesn’t survive.
“That’s just one instance, and LeRoy worked with the city. He was on city council, and there are many areas he worked in this town to make sure those kinds of things happened.”
LeRoy Meyer died 14 years ago, and Charlie said the Hall of Fame honor at the Viking Speedway would mean a lot to his father.
“The worst thing is dad’s been gone for quite a while, but it’s great,” Charlie said of the Hall of Fame nod. “Garden Center, it’s been in our family. I’m second generation, and my son, Chad, he’s running it now. I’m here to help him, but this is really special because I’ve loved the racing.”