A change of date is paying dividends for Eagle Valley Speedway.
The Jim Falls dirt track made the move from Sundays to Fridays earlier this year and has seen an increase in fans and competitors as a result.
The first three weeks of competition on the standard Sundays for Eagle Valley was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But after Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order was nullified by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in May, the pathway for many local businesses including the track to reopen became possible.
The move to Friday came as Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie has been unable to return to Friday action this season. Red Cedar is owned by Dunn County and governed through the Red Cedar Racing Association but a move to open the track for the season with increased safety measures was voted down earlier this month at a Dunn County Board of Supervisors meeting.
“It ain’t good that another track is closed down, but that’s up to their county. But it sure helped us get on our feet again,” Eagle Valley Speedway owner Jerry Weigel said. “It’s nice that we can do this for the locals. It’s been fantastic.”
Weigel has worked with health inspectors from Chippewa County to make health and safety upgrades through his facility in an effort to conform to social distancing measures. Concession areas were fitted with partitions, all food workers are outfitted with masks and gloves and restroom spaces have been altered in an effort to eliminate congregating inside the indoor facility portion of the track. Face masks are suggested but not required to attend and the grandstands at the track are capable of holding between 2,500-3,000 people, providing room for social distancing between groups.
Weigel said county health officials have checked up on the track since it reopened and the facility and everything has been good to go. Eagle Valley opened the season on Sunday, May 24 but has run the last five Friday evenings and Weigel said attendance has been up with more local fans compared previous years on Sundays.
“Sundays we were starving to death. But this Friday night thing has been good, so I can’t complain,” Weigel said. “We definitely got more people than we would normally have.”
This past Friday evening’s action included a 22-car field for the Midwest Modified class, a strong number of competitors. Generally the track hosts weekly heat and feature races in six classes — WISSOTA Street Stock, Midwest Modifies, Super Stock, Pure Stock, Modifieds and Hornets — with Weigel’s goal being to have enough cars in each field for at least two heat races and a feature per class.
“Not everybody’s car count is all that great these days. But (being) on Friday definitely helps,” Weigel said.
This weekend Eagle Valley Speedway makes a return to Sundays with a night of racing across six classes as well as a post-racing fireworks show. Following this weekend the track is currently scheduled to race each Friday evening into the month of August with action slated to wrap-up on Sunday, Aug. 30 with the Baxter Engines, Baxter’s Speedshop Season Championships.