Speedway is ‘Business of the Year’Jamestown Speedway took the checkered flag as the Business of the Year at the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce banquet Thursday. The speedway is the first seasonal business to win the award, according to Kimberly Saxberg, chamber executive director.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown Speedway took the checkered flag as the Business of the Year at the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce banquet Thursday.
The speedway is the first seasonal business to win the award, according to Kimberly Saxberg, chamber executive director.
“I don’t recall a seasonal business ever winning before,” she said. “But their contribution to the community speaks volumes.”
Saxberg said the chamber’s board of directors makes the business of the year selection from a list of nominees.
“Of course it was a tough decision,” she said. “But they have demonstrated growth and innovation in the community and the speedway.”
Saxberg also credited the community spirit of the organization.
“We liked the fact the speedway promotes causes with their events,” she said. “They’ve supported veterans and flooded communities all while presenting a great family atmosphere.”
For example, in June 2011, an event at the speedway raised $5,000 to help the American Red Cross’ work to help families in Minot recover from the Souris River Flood.
For the speedway’s owners, putting on a good race is key to their success.
“We try to run a quick, good show,” said Don Gumke, one Jamestown Speedway’s owners. “The guys racing are some of the best around and we have a good track with a high, low and middle groove. The good cars can usually get to the front of the pack.”
The track draws about 100 race cars during a normal weekly race with a top turnout of 291 cars at the Stock Car Stampede this past year. The Speedway runs about 20 racing events each summer.
The operation has also earned recognition from within the racing community. Jamestown Speedway was named the Wissota Track of the Year in 2001 and 2007 and stands as the only racing facility to win the honor twice.
“We put a lot of effort into good racing,” Gumke said. “The fans follow that.”
And that has made the Jamestown Speedway one of the top attractions in the community.
“Auto racing has always been popular and is the biggest spectator sport in town,” said Joanne Dieterly, the operation’s general manager. “We average over 1,000 spectators in the grandstands each week.”
Dieterly said the drivers and fans often travel to spend the evening racing in Jamestown.
“Most of the drivers come from within 100 miles of Jamestown,” she said. “The spectators probably travel about that far too.”
Gumke likens the dirt track racing atmosphere to small town sports.
“It’s kind of like Class B basketball,” he said. “The whole town follows their basketball team and during the summer the whole town will follow the racers.”
And those fans contribute to the Jamestown economy.
“A lot of the fans come from the little towns around the area,” Gumke said. “It is a chance for the family to come to town and make a day of it with an evening of family entertainment.”
The current management of the Jamestown Speedway has operated the track for about 13 years. During that time it has grown.
“When we took it over they were drawing about 30 cars and 300 people,” Gumke said. “Keith Veil and I bought it because we didn’t want to see racing die off in Jamestown.”
With activity at the Jamestown Speedway more than tripling in the past 13 years the owners are hoping to expand in the future.
“There are some races we can’t bid for because of our seating capacity,” Gumke said. “Bigger grandstands could mean bigger events in the future.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com