Last weekend I was in Alexandria, Minnesota with the Oval Racers Alliance and the crew from the Alexandria Winter Spectacular. And where I witnessed a truly memorable racing event.
Fair warning, I am a little biased. This event, back in the late 1970s, was a big part of where my interest in motorsports began. Back then, it was larger than life spectacle that turned into some of my fondest memories of growing up in the area.
The first chapter of Starfire Kids – Midnight Blue Express is about my first time at that race. The Polaris factory race manager at the time, Bob Eastman, decided to make me the unofficial team “mascot” for the day, letting me hang out in the factory trailer and help by running race results back from the track.
That was a big deal for a snot-nosed little kid who showed up at the race just grateful to see the racing stars in person.
This year’s race had almost 500 entries, and each day they had to run over 65 classes. On Saturday, the Pro TLR Cup races started the day with makeup final from their Ironwood Michigan race, making the total 66 races they had to run. Combine that with running on a 1/2 mile track, the occasional sled trailered off the ice, bail replacement sessions and plow breaks, and you start to understand the logistics of making a show like this work.
But work it did! The crew from ORA and the Alex staff ran those races like clockwork, using Raceday’s Check-In, Race Setup, Running Order, and Results. I was amazed at how they just kept the action coming, and the racers provided even more thrills.
All-day long, there were amazingly tight battles for the first and second position or the third & fourth position. There was drama on the track to be sure, but the racers left it there: After every single race, there was fist-bumps, high-fives and “Atta-boys” from all the race drivers and the crews.
The pro ranks of the Champ TLR cup racers had a tough start to the season. Gavin Bihner was hurt in the opening race in Fargo, North Dakota. Then in Ironwood, the final was halted after Matt Goede and Blaine Stephenson were injured in one of the nastiest crashes anyone has seen in a long time.
The Alex crew set up a special hot box for Matt, Gavin, Blaine, some Wounded Warriors and others to be able to watch the races in a warm room, stocked with beverages and lots of help for them to get up and down the stairs. All of them were in high spirits and just wishing they could be down on the ice.
Talking with friends and fans in the stands, (And did I mention the grandstands were full?? How awesome is that??) everyone was enjoying how smooth the race was going. By Sunday morning, there were rave reviews all over the internet:
“I went for the first time yesterday… Was a GREAT event! Saw a lot of friends that oval race, a lot of good close racing. ‘m a drag racer, but this will be on my list of events to attend next year! ”
“The event was outstanding, we had an excellent time, at the awards banquet said they averaged a race every 8 minutes over the weekend!”
“Super fast and plenty of room to race.”
“… it sure appeared to be a well-oiled machine from the stands. The flow of heat race after heat race was excellent. No waiting to speak of. It looked like the crew knew their stuff! Flagman looked very consistent and I don’t remember a race with such smooth starting line procedure… Well done from our view.”
So from us at Raceday, congratulations to Jeff Karrow and the whole Alexandria staff, and our friends at the Oval Racers Alliance – Well done!
The big winners included Justin Ernst, AJ Lange, Jason Boyda, and TLR Cup racer Gunnar Sterne, who is on a four racing winning streak!