Jamestown Speedway doesn't chance tearing things up

Jamestown Speedway opted not to chance tearing up both the track and potentially a bunch of race cars last Saturday.

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Jamestown's Tony Smith (#1) leads Jarod Klein and Josh Ganser (0) out of Jamestown Speedway's Turn 4 during a Midwest modified heat race on May 15, 2021. Michael Savaloja / The Sun

Jamestown Speedway opted not to chance tearing up both the track and potentially a bunch of race cars last Saturday.

Scattered rain throughout the week, combined with unfavorable track and weather conditions, forced speedway officials to cancel the weekly night of dirt-track racing. It's a decision nobody enjoys making.

"You have the logical side and the emotional side," Jamestown Speedway co-owner Tim Baldwin said. "Logically, it wasn't a good idea ... but there's still the emotional side. We really wanted to race."

Negative signs were everywhere.

Track packing efforts kept sponging water to the racing surface where the sheepsfoot roller would continually dig deeper into the dirt, according to Baldwin. With only one night of racing in the books on May 15, Baldwin feared the speedway could end up chasing a rough surface into July if racing commenced, something that happened a couple of years back after deciding to race under similar early-season conditions when the track was too soft.


"Friday we were able to get on (the track) for a few hours, but what was happening Friday night as we packed it is moisture kept coming up," Baldwin said. "The more you packed it the wetter the surface of the track got and little things like that were indicators that it might not be as solid as we'd like it to be underneath. So that was really our main focus is just not wanting to tear the track up early on in the year."

Baldwin said a quarter-mile of potholes and ruts are a mess that can take weeks for the speedway to correct, largely depending on the weather and the available man-hours needed to solve all the issues.

"When it gets torn up and you get those big holes in the track -- the big ruts and the holes that go down four to six inches, sometimes eight inches -- the only way to really fix that is to start blading off the surface of the track with the road grader until you get down past where all those holes are at," Baldwin said. "That sounds easy, but it can amount to a week's worth of (added) work. It might be something where you can fix part of it for next week, but not all of it.

"That's what happened a couple years back."

Also in play last Saturday were both temperatures in the low 50s and a possibility of wrecked race cars. The cold more than likely would've severely impacted spectator attendance and rough tracks can amount to unhappy car owners.

"If you're going to have a rough track, that can be tens of thousands of dollars in damage that's going to happen to race cars," Baldwin said. "It just had that damp, cold feel to it. You just kinda got the feeling people aren't going to come out to watch."

Protecting the surface for early important events, such as the Don Gumke Memorial (June 12) and the Rebel WISSOTA Midwest Modified Tour (June 19), was also something the speedway was trying to keep in mind. Baldwin said a beat-up track would also hamper efforts to add clay to the surface this summer.

Jamestown Speedway is currently seeking to locate and add clay whenever the opportunity presents itself in the coming months. Baldwin said the speedway would like to have the track renovation completed a few weeks ahead of the 50th annual Stock Car Stampede scheduled for September 24-25 in order to break in the new clay.


"We're hunting for clay this summer to add to the track, and we really couldn't do that over a track that's not in good shape," Baldwin said. "It's difficult to find and you have to be ready. It would be nice to get it on a few races before the Stampede."

Week 1 winners included Edgeley's Alex Kukowski (legends), Marion's Lucas Rodin (B-mods), Lisbon's Jonny Carter (streets), and Fargo's Casey Arneson (A-mods).

Racing is scheduled to resume this Saturday at 7 p.m. with Military Night sponsored by R.M. Stoudt.

"This is always one of the bigger nights," Baldwin said. "Anybody with a military I.D. can get in the races for free."

Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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