The I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls is getting a facelift with recent ownership changing hands from Dick Johannek (who died Oct. 6, 2018) and Karla Kadelbach to new owner Don Shaw. With the switch comes a new look for the race venue as renovations have already begun with more to follow including remodeling the suites in the main tower, painting, kitchen updates, roof repairs and adding billboard signs around Turn 3.
As for now, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic co-owner Shaw said the race track is taking a wait-and-see approach when starting the season although whatever is decided will be weighed heavily with the health of race fans.
“To race without fans would be almost impossible. We need that revenue just to even come close to breaking even, so we’re going to need fans here,” Shaw said. “We’ll have to come up with something creative in the near future, I’m thinking it’ll be mid-June or so things should be back to normal here somewhat, other than the way people are seated or go to the concession stand or whatever.”
Shaw added that at this time there’s no self-imposed deadline for the start of the season but that scheduling will remain the same if and when things kick off. For now, Shaw is optimistic I-94 Speedway will host the WISSOTA 100 in September for its third and final year in Fergus Falls before rotating to another race track but conceded the more time that goes by the harder the recovery saying “if it gets into August (and the season hasn’t started) it’s going to be tough to financially start up and make anything happen.”
“It’s just hard to say whether we’re going to get going or not, what kind of rules we’re going to have to make or follow,” Shaw said. “I spoke to a few drivers, a lot of them would love to be racing right now up in this area. I’d love to be racing, but unless we have fans to put in the seats here it’s a losing proposition, in a weekly show you’re lucky if you can break-even the way it is. … Not that it’s all about the money because I love the sport, so if I see any way to hold races without a full field of fans here I would do it.”
Shaw, a 30-year veteran of auto racing, captured the inaugural Dick Johannek Memorial last year in August.