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May 11—A spring without any major snowstorms has Jamestown Speedway feeling ahead of the game going into this Saturday's season-opening night of racing beginning at 7 p.m.
Seventeen nights of racing dot the 2021 schedule, which includes the opening night of the IMCA Dakota Classic Modified Tour on July 10 and culminates with the 50th running of the legendary Stock Car Stampede on September 24-25.
"It's going to be a busy summer," said Tim Baldwin, who co-owns Jamestown Speedway with his wife, Allison. "Overall, we're pretty excited."
Dry conditions this spring afforded the speedway an opportunity to complete a handful of upgrades while having the track ready in plenty of time to welcome area drivers to last Saturday's test and tune. Feeding moisture into the racing surface this summer to keep conditions optimal for competition, however, is looking as if it will be more of a chore than normal.
Much of the state, as much as 85% according to recent data, is experiencing severe drought conditions.
"Well, I think that's the $64,000 question we're all wondering," Baldwin said. "I've talked to a lot of folks who have done track prep around the state and the country, and there's not a lot of experience with getting ready with kinda true drought all winter.
"We can always add water but we'd like a little bit of rain."
Not having to wait for the snow to melt did have obvious advantages.
Upgrades noticeable to fans will include the demolishing of the old infield scorers' stand, which has been replaced with a small infield storage building.
Adjacent to the new building are the two steel infield officials' stands that were formerly positioned at each end of the track to spot the corners. The perches have been moved to the more centralized location on the front straightaway in an effort to help give officials a broader view of what's taking place on the track, Baldwin said.
Baldwin added the officials' stands are also roughly two to three feet taller than when they were positioned in the corners.
"It's a pretty awesome view to stand up there and watch the cars," Baldwin said. "Officials-wise, you're up a little bit higher and you're farther back from the corners and the track, which kinda gives you a little bit more perspective on what happens."
Officials will have plenty of action to call this summer. Four regular nights of bombers, legends, slingshots, Midwest modifieds, street stocks, and modifieds beginning this weekend, leads into the second annual Don Gumke Memorial on June 12.
The Gumke memorial race, first won by Fargo's Austin Arneson last June, will again be accompanied by the Steffes Street Stock Tour, which has 20 dates at 16 different tracks scheduled for this summer.
The Rebel WISSOTA Midwest Modified Tour, organized by local racer and businessman Scott Bintz, is scheduled to hit the track on June 19. Along with Jamestown, the 10-show B-mod tour is scheduled to make stops in Lisbon, Devils Lake, and Grand Forks, and Minnesota tracks in Fergus Falls and Greenbush.
Jamestown is planning to keep up its tradition of racing on the Fourth of July, with a professional fireworks display to follow the action that Sunday.
The NOSA Sprint Car special is slated for July 24, with the NLRA Late Models making an appearance on Aug. 14.
The third annual Jeff Carpenter's Memorial will run on Aug. 21, ahead of season championship night on Aug. 28.
Baldwin said plans are in the works to help make the 50th annual Stampede in September memorable. He said the track is hoping to complete a 100-foot-long display behind the grandstand outlining the history of the longest-running year-end special around.
"We're really trying to chronicle the history of Stampede and the speedway in general," Baldwin said. "I think we have a picture of every Stampede article from The Jamestown Sun, except for a couple. We're hoping to go through all of that and make a timeline with (vinyl) banners to visualize that."
Baldwin said plans are to continue with two complete shows on both nights of the Stampede, which was implemented last fall. But he said start times will be adjusted to combat action running late into the evening.
"Maybe a 6 p.m. start on Friday and a 2 p.m. start on Saturday," Baldwin said. "We haven't heard much negative feedback on the two complete shows, other than the time it took. Some of that we can control, like the track prep. I think we can be a little bit more prepared this year to help speed things up."
Baldwin said the speedway is ready to welcome fans back into the stands beginning Saturday.
"We're excited to get started," Baldwin said. "With COVID going on, we're hopeful folks realize there's a lot of cool things to do in Jamestown and we're one of them."
May 15: Season Opener, 7 p.m.
May 22: Saturday Night Thunder & R/C Car Night, 7 p.m.
May 29: Saturday Night Thunder & Armed Forces Night, 7 p.m.
June 5: Saturday Night Thunder & Big Rig Night, 7 p.m.
June 12: 2nd Annual Don Gumke Memorial & Steffes Street Stock Tour, 7 p.m.
June 19: REBEL Wissota MW Modified Tour & Tuff Trucks Night, 7 p.m.
June 26: TOP GUN Bombers and Mini Stocks Special, 7 p.m.
July 4: Fireworks Spectacular Race Night, 7 p.m.
July 10: 32nd Annual Dakota Classic Modified Tour, 7 p.m.
July 17: Saturday Night Thunder & Kids Race Night, 7 p.m.
July 24: NOSA Sprint Car Special, 7 p.m.
Aug. 7: Saturday Night Thunder & Ladies Race Night, 7 p.m.
Aug. 14: Wissota NLRA Late Model Special, 7 p.m.
Aug. 21: 3rd Annual Jeff Carpenter's Memorial, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28: Season Championship Night & Kuchen Invitational, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24: 50th Annual Jamestown Stock Car Stampede
Sept. 25: 50th Annual Jamestown Stock Car Stampede