Southwest Speedway vows to keep 2020 season alive

The 2020 Burnin' Vernon hopes to burn rubber on the Southwest Speedway sometime this year. (Photo courtesy of Casey Vernon)

All pistons are firing in Dickinson on plans for the Southwest Speedway to host their season this summer. The speedway plans to drop the green flag on their summer season and to hear the roaring of the engines, the cheers of the crowds and have the smell of burnt tires fill the air.

The speedway, like many other sporting entities, have kept a watchful eye and hopeful spirit amid the complete shutdown of the Western Edge’s entertainment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Luke Krogh, the Southwest Speedway promoter, said that the upcoming 2020 season for the speedway is still underway and despite potentially having some changes to the upcoming season, everything is scheduled to continue as planned.

“We haven’t had anything get canceled yet,” Krogh said. “Our next first test and tune is going to be on the 24th and 25th of April, and that could possibly get postponed, I don’t know.”

Krogh continued, “I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up, but then again I don’t wanna crush anyone’s dreams of racing this year, because it’s a fun thing for everyone during the summer time.”


The speedway, along with all sporting entities in the state, are holding out hope that the state does not enter into a mandated “stay-at-home” executive order.

“We’re still planning on racing, but the problem is, we’re at the mercy of what Governor Doug Burgum says,” Krogh said. “We have Stark County behind us... We’re evaluating the situation again on the 20th to see where that kinda puts us... We’re going to decide what the factors are, or what will happen then.”

For racers, such as Casey Vernon, the concerns raised by the coronavirus are on par with concerns for his passion and livelihood. Last season was already cut a race short due to OctoberFest being rained out and leaving Vernon in a precarious situation.

“I’ve been racing for 10 years and finally got a championship last year. I’m ready to get back in the car and keep improving. It will happen, it’s only a matter of when this year,” he said. “We just need to hang tight … as far as racing goes, when they say it’s time to race, we’ll be ready to rock ‘n roll!”

Vernon was looking forward to defending his championship title this season, and with it garnering potential sponsors and a chance to climb the racing ladder to more prestigious events.

“I was ready to defend my season championship out there, and I’ve been waiting,” he said. “It’s getting to the time of year where everyone is getting itchy to get back in the car for the year.”

Vernon added, “I mean, my car is pretty well-race ready, so we’re getting antsy to go racing but if we have to wait it out, we have to wait it out.”

Krogh said that the board were trying to find different ways of carrying out the races this season, potentially limiting fan attendance, separating the crew pits or finding a different location to race and broadcasting the races online.


“I don’t really want to get anyone sick, and the board members don’t want anyone getting hurt over this,” Krogh said. “On the other end, we could do it safely, we could have no one come in contact, and it could work, we just have to plan it out safely.”

As with all companies, the most challenging aspect of the virus has been the financial impact it has made, leaving the track in need of securing the proper funds to hold races at the track, pay its drivers and staff.

“The sponsorships that come from the local businesses have been a bit of a struggle, now with everything that’s going on we don’t really know what our intake for income will be since we’re non-profit,” Krogh said. “We might have to have less races, I don’t know. We’ll just have to see.”

Krogh added, “We might have to do a little bit different advertising, to a point … or maybe have to race for a lot less reward money. Those are ideas that have been brought up.”

Only adding to the problems, the track is operated primarily through volunteers — many of whom may have lost their jobs as a result of businesses shutting down and cutting personnel.

“It’s just going to be hard to keep even our volunteers, everyone there is a volunteer, and I know a lot of people are out of jobs right now and can’t work,” Krogh said. “Do we really want to affect them too? We just have to make sure that we are 100% safe with everything.”

Despite the potential for races to be narrowed or the idea of having a delayed season being considered, Krogh and the entire speedway organization said that they wanted the fans to know they are their number one priority.

“The Speedway is right there with all the fans, we want to be out there, we want to be racing, we want to watch it, we want to see the fans and put on a show for the fans and give good entertainment,” Krogh said. “But on the other hand we want to make sure everyone is safe and don’t worry, we'll figure out a way to bring racing to the fans.”


Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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