By Greg Hunt
Good weather is on the way, and soon engines will be revving once again on the Princeton Speedway which enters a new era this 2013 season.
A new operations team is in place this year with local attorney Scott Berry serving as president and Tim Siercks as the chief executive officer. Both are owners of the entity leasing the track, along with Tim’s mother, Leanne.
The Mille Lacs County Fair Board chose not to run the Speedway after the 2012 season, opting to put out bids for the operations instead.
“Tim came in and said he had an interest in getting the lease to the track. He came to me, and I said, ‘You’re crazy– don’t do it. I don’t think it’s such a good idea,’” Berry chuckled in an April 18 interview when recalling that conversation.
He continued, “The fact of the matter is, after he got the lease in place, I went back and said, ‘Can I be part of this?’ I enjoy the marketing part. I enjoy how to make something and make it better.
“Tim’s family is a race family, with racing going back to his grandfather. They’ve been racing on that track for generations. So the way that we have the partnership set up is he is going to control the track back to the pits. I’m going to take care of everything on the grandstand side– spectators, vendors, that type of thing.”
Berry’s side of the relationship is fostered with him also holding the job as president of the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I think the track is essential to keeping Princeton vibrant. I think there’s a lot of revenue that comes into this town as a result of the track,” explained Berry. “The Speedway has been an institution here, and if Tim didn’t step up on this and take it over and get the lease, the track would have been gone.
“And WISSOTA racing would have gone somewhere else because there’s other tracks that want that. What he did was amazing. There’s no question it was a risk, but Tim knows what he’s doing to putting stuff in place. We’re both super-excited about it.”
Dirt track racers are drawn from as far away as North Dakota. The fan base stretches from the east-central Minnesota area down to the metro area.
“I am a fan, and we’ve gone to a couple Fridays each season as a family. To me, it’s an event,” continued Berry. “I love this Princeton community, and that’s why I’m part of this. I think the track is so important to the vibrancy of this town.”
2013 season opener
Just like every other spring/summer sport, this year’s weather is messing with the Princeton Speedway’s season a bit. The April 19 and 26 racing dates were cancelled, along with two “test & tune” Saturday workout dates. A Saturday, April 27 “test & tune” date was added to the schedule to adjust.
The 2013 opener will be Friday, May 3 which will also be “Kids Night/Meet the Drivers Night” at the track (7 p.m. start), with inflatables and other activities for the younger fans. A fly-over is also planned to kick off the night’s action. Vendor booths will be added to the side areas, with merchandise shaded toward the racing target audience.
The 4-H clubs will still be offering their food stand on race nights. In addition, the Finish Line restaurant will take care of a full alcohol license at the track, along with offering wide-ranging food choices for the fans.
“Kids Nights” will also be hosted June 21, July 19 and August 23. “Armed Forces Night” will be May 17. Racing will be held in conjunction with major dates on the calendar (May 24 for Memorial Day Weekend, June 14 with the Rum River Festival and July 5th for Independence Day Weekend). The WISSOTA season championships will be run August 30, and the season wraps up with the September 20-21 “P-Town Showdown.”
“We’re really excited. People we’ve talked to are extremely excited about the season. I think they like the vision we’re putting out there,” closed Berry. “In addition to all the vendors, we’re working with Viking Coca-Cola with their sponsorship and promoting their locally-made ‘Warriors’ energy drink. And also C & L Distributing is being very supportive. There’s so many things that are coming together to get this season going.”