FORT DODGE, Iowa – The promotional team at Sports Park Raceway can put a big check next to the third and final goal they set for the half-mile speedplant last year.
IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars, IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks, Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods and Mach-1 Sport Compacts will run Sundays this season at the Fort Dodge dirt track.
Opening night is scheduled for April 22.
“We ran the track last year with IMCA rules and goals to establish our car count and grandstand attendance,” explained Jason Vansickel, who co-promotes Sports Park Raceway with Marty Pringle and Dave Doughty. “We wanted to be IMCA sanctioned this year, so now we’ve accomplished all three of those goals.”
“It’s huge that we’re sanctioned with IMCA. This is IMCA country and it’s what the drivers and fans wanted,” Vansickel added. “This track has never been sanctioned before and other sanctioning bodies were not the answer.”
A test and tune session is planned for April 15. After taking the last weekend of July off, season championship night will be on Aug. 5.
Modifieds will be part of IMCA’s Side Biter Chassis North Central Region. Stock Car points earned at Sports Park Raceway will apply in the EQ Cylinder Heads Northern Region and Hobby Stock points in the Big Daddy Race Cars Northern Region.
“It was a gamble for us to come in after the track had been closed. We cleaned the place up, reshaped the track … you name it and it had to be fixed or cleaned up,” Vansickel said. “The community really supported us. We put up a new scoreboard and sold 66 sponsor billboards. It’s crazy to have so many billboards that you have to find new places for them.”
Sports Park Raceway averaged 75 cars and 600-plus spectators for weekly shows in 2017, doubling fan attendance when kids’ night was paired with the season finale.
“Drivers told us how much they liked having a good track surface to race on and fans told us how much they appreciated having racing back in town,” said Vansickel. “It was overwhelming for us to have so many people tell us how much they appreciated what we were doing.”
Crews will finish work on the concession building and announcer’s stand this spring. Vansickel is confident the rules and economics that come with IMCA will add to car count and grandstand numbers when IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing gets underway.
“IMCA is here to stay. They are a reputable sanctioning body with rules that are fair and consistent,” he said. “There were people who thought this track would never open again and there were people who never thought we’d be sanctioned. I think we’re making history this season at Sports Park Raceway.”