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A place to race

If the Dakota Drag Racing Association has its way, it will one day be the host organization of North Dakota's only quarter-mile drag strip. After the association's relationship with Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport ended two weeks ago, leaders...

If the Dakota Drag Racing Association has its way, it will one day be the host organization of North Dakota's only quarter-mile drag strip.

After the association's relationship with Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport ended two weeks ago, leaders of the DDRA stepped up efforts to finalize the long-awaited plans for a drag racing facility outside of Dickinson.

Thanks to rural Richardton farmer Craig Fisher, the DDRA may get their wish.

Attorney's for both sides are in the process of drawing up papers so Fisher - a long-time drag racing fan - can sell a little more than 100 acres of his farmland to the DDRA, which plans to build a drag racing complex on the property.

"It's not near as fast as you'd like it to be, but you can only work as fast as the attorneys work," DDRA President Dennis Streitz said.

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The proposed site is five miles east of Richardton along Highway 10 and two miles from Fisher's farmstead.

"I'm cautiously excited. It's a big undertaking," Fisher said. "They're going to need help from the business community. They're going to need a lot of support to make this thing fly."

Streitz said no timetable for the site has been set yet. In a perfect world, Streitz said the site would be ready for use by 2009. However, he's leaning more toward 2012.

"I honestly tend to lean more toward five years from this point on," Streitz said. "But I hope for good things to happen and go from there."

According to Streitz, the plan is to build North Dakota's first legitimate quarter-mile drag strip.

The nearest quarter-mile drag strips are the Interstate Dragway, which is about six miles east of Fargo in Sabin, Minn., and the Yellowstone Drag Strip, which is 15 miles north of Billings, Mont. Other facilities are located in Grand Forks, Harvey, Jamestown and Minot, but none are quarter-mile drag strips.

"It makes for a long trip either way," Streitz said. "That's been the driving force for this track for a long time. Many people in this area would just like to see something closer they could utilize."

While no absolute plans are in place for the site, Streitz and DDRA public relations representative Tonya Kottre said the facility will be built to NHRA and IHRA specifications with hopes that it can one day gain sanctioning.

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"We're actually building it with that intention in mind. (However) I don't know if we'll be able to do that off the bat," Kottre said.

Streitz said the first concern is raising enough money. He hopes that the business community will help the DDRA's cause.

"We've got to look into investors and loans to get it going," Streitz said. "The price of concrete and the price of asphalt goes up and down."

Having their own drag strip would be a welcome change for the DDRA, who has raced on selected runways at Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport since the summer of 1999. The event often coincided with Dickinson's Roughrider Days festivities.

However, the Dickinson Airport Authority board voted during its regular meeting on Dec. 12 to terminate its relationship with the association.

Streitz expected the two parties' agreement was soon ending, but was never informed that the board planned to discuss the matter, let alone hold a vote. Still, he holds no hard feelings toward the Dickinson Airport Authority.

"We're just moving on," said Streitz, a farmer who lives outside South Heart. "We wish it would have been handled a little better and knew about the meeting maybe, but that's the way it goes."

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