Chris Abts has visited dozens of race tracks, whether as a fan, a driver or a track worker.
Now he’ll take a trip to a track as a promoter.
Abts will dust off Dodge County Speedway, on the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Kasson, for a night of stock car racing on Thursday, July 16.
It may be a one-time thing, or it may be the beginning of a resurrection for what once was the go-to track for die-hard racing fans in southeastern Minnesota.
“It depends on how we do financially,” Abts said. “I’m starting from Ground Zero and I’m not a big-budget guy. We have another race planned for Oct. 2, and we’ll see how things go from there.”
Abts, a Fountain City, Wis., native who now lives in Winona, has served as the race director at his hometown track-Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City-for the past three years. He has also done flagging and held the race director role at a pair of tracks in northern Iowa: the Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah and Cresco Speedway.
He said he approached the Dodge County Fair Board last fall about opening the track for a handful of races, but couldn’t work out a deal at that time. Then, in January, he received a call from a board member and the wheels were set in motion for next week’s race, which will be held on the second night of the Dodge County Free Fair.
Abts wanted to keep the event as inexpensive as possible for fans and drivers. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12. Children younger than 5 are admitted for free. Pit passes are $25. The total purse for the night will be about $16,000, he said.
Five classes will race, with a mix of the top draws from area tracks involved. The show will be headlined by USRA Modifieds. They’ll be joined by the powerful USRA Stock Cars, as well as an open B-Mod class (open to Wissota Midwest Mod and USRA B-Mods). Pure Stocks will be on the show, as will the Liquid Nitro Outlaw Mini-Mods, which race regularly at Mississippi Thunder.
In addition to all of his time spent working at area tracks, Abts drove a Pure Stock at Mississippi Thunder and at Chateau Raceway in Lansing in 2012.
“I did it just to be able to knock something off my bucket list,” he said.
He also had the chance to race at Dodge County Speedway that year, the last time the track was put to use by stock cars. He said the passion the fans had that night for the United States Modified Touring Series drivers still sticks in his mind. And it’s a big reason why he wants to get the track up and running again.
“I remember all the cheers and the boos from fans for drivers they liked or didn’t like,” Abts said. “Some tracks you go to, there’s no reaction, no emotion, but other tracks really have that atmosphere. Dodge County was one of those.”
Abts said the Dodge County Fair Board, as well as businesses and racing fans in Kasson and Mantorville have been very helpful in getting the race going. He started working on the track off-and-on in April, and opened it for a practice session last month.