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The checkered flag fell a little early on Saturday night at the Memphis Spring Nationals courtesy of Mother Nature, but with over 200 cars in attendance for the two day event, the races were still a success for the Scotland County Speedway.
Race teams from as far away as Wyoming, Michigan and Wisconsin traveled to Memphis for the weekend festivities as SCS emerged from the Coronavirus shutdown in impressive fashion. Despite a limited number of grandstand tickets, the parking lot was filled with cars displaying license plates from Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Dakota and many other states. The fairgrounds was packed with campers and RVs as the racing community came out for the return to the track while still adhering to social distancing guidelines related to COVID-19.
“The Scotland County Fair Board would like to thank the numerous volunteers inside and outside the pit area who put in a lot of time and effort to make this event possible,” said board member Linda Mallett. “Thank you to Lynette Vassholz and the Scotland County Health Department and Sheriff Wayne Winn and crew for providing their guidance and security services to make the event as safe as possible.”
Promoter Mike Van Genderen also praised the efforts of all the volunteers who made the event possible as well as the fans and race teams that traveled to support the local facility and the sport in general.
“On behalf of myself and my team we thank every single person who came to the Memphis Spring Nationals,” said Van Genderen. “All of you did an awesome job of practicing social distancing and parking in a very organized matter. From the camping to the pits everything stayed organized and social distancing was practiced. After hours upon hours of planning this event with local authorities they were very pleased with the outcome. This is all because of you guys and gals.”
With more than 200 cars competing in five different classes, racing action ran well past midnight on Friday and would have done so again on Saturday if rains hadn’t struck prior to the main events at around 11 p.m.
Van Gendered and his crew had to battle the weather all week leading up to the event so it wasn’t a big surprise that the rains had the final say.
“Wednesday night it took a four-wheel drive truck to pull into the pits,” said the promoter about the wet conditions leading up to the races. “Got the track all dried out on Thursday and worked then the light rain started towards evening. It lightly rained for many hours with every single drop going into the race track.”
Those wet conditions made track preparation a tall task, resulting in what is often referred to as “character” for the racing surface, which transforms around the traffic on it as sunken moisture works its way back to the top.
“It can produce exciting racing for the fans as our stock car feature proved,” said Van Genderen. “When it gets character on exits of corners that shows there was lots of moisture underneath. I lived on the track for three days solid trying to put a band aid on it.”
Rain and existing moisture leading up to the race was compounded by a frost on Friday night, which when the sun and warmer temperatures returned on Saturday, turned into high humidity and ultimately more rain on Saturday night.
“It was challenging to say the least,” said Van Gendered. “I wish the rain would have stopped because when the B Mods went back out and hot lapped the track was going to produce five interesting features. The drivers all understand how mother nature can screw up a dirt track. Some people love character and some hate it.”
Being unable to complete the main feature events Saturday night, the promotion team paid all drivers for the show. Features were divided up with redraw positions divided up. Non redraw positions were also divided up with 100% of the prize pool, including sponsor money, divided up between all the teams.
Racing will return to Scotland County Speedway in July with the 2020 fair race set for July 10th. Van Genderen indicated that even if the fair is canceled due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the races will go on as planned unless future developments prohibit it.
The track is planning similar two-day events in September and October for the Fall Nationals.