Chateau Raceway enthusiastically opens this Friday
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April 17, 2007  |  by Matthew Grage

LANSING, Minn. -- After two weeks of Mother Nature throwing snow and cold weather at Southern Minnesota, things are looking pretty good for Chateau Raceway in Lansing, Minn., to open up its 2007 racing season this Friday night.

Co-owners/promoters Darin Toot and Jerry Nelson, who will be starting their second year of running the track, have been putting in extra hours getting the track in shape for the new season. They have extended the wall which went halfway down the back straightaway last year the rest of the way down the back stretch - down around turns three and four and up to the wall on the front straightaway.

"We added the concrete wall on turns one and two and reshaped the banking to create a better race-worthy surface," said Toot. "We felt these new additions will create a better racing atmosphere for the drivers, improving there sight-lines and increase vision for cars to make multiple race-lines."

The reshaping basically evened out the grade from the bottom of the track to the top.

The track also purchased a new three wheel Terra-Gator which will give a more steady water flow to provide better track preparation.

"We were very fortunate to get his item, and it would not have happened without the incredible support and help we receive from our marketing partners," Toot added. "We would not be able to run the track successfully without their generosity."

Nelson and Toot used their inaugural year as owners last year to listen and learn and are trying to implement as many of those things they learned this year. Another of the additions this year will be the addition of trophies every week for feature winners. With the track running six classes, that will add up to a lot of hardware being handed out over the summer. Trophies always seem to add a little extra incentive to the drivers so that should add to the excitement each week.

All the extras that the track is able to do is directly related to the marketing partners and this year the track is going to put up a 18 x 32 hospitality deck for those sponsors. The partners all sponsor a different night at the track and this year on there night they will have use of the deck to enjoy the race program from courtesy of the track as a special "Thank You." There are also plans to put up an extra 8 x 8 deck that one lucky fan will get the use of each week. A weekly ticket drawing will determine who gets use of the deck. Additonal decks will be going up as well which will be available for a weekly rental fee. One of the tracks marketing partners - Powder Works - will be doing the work as they can fit it into there schedule so the time frame for there completion has not been set yet.

The track has also set up weekly specials for the kids at the track. There will be several bike giveaways, kids rides in stock Cars, Gold Rush on the track, candy drop, box car races, Frisbee toss, driver autograph nights, fireworks on July 6 (always a spectacular night), Christmas in July Night, a wagon ride through the pits on night so the kids can see all the trailers and what goes on in the pits before the races begin. There also several nights over the season when kids will get in free.

The 10th Annual Mike Guttormson Memorial Race will be a special Thursday night USMTS show on May 24 with WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds and Classic Dwarf Cars also being on the program for that night. The 2nd Annual Cedar River Races will be a USMTS show on Friday night, Aug. 31. The track has also added a special for Mid-September with a Dwarf and Hornet Buzz Festival on Friday night, Sept. 14. The USRA Modifieds will also be a part of that show. The 2nd Annual Fall Midwest Modified Nationals will be a two-night program, Sept. 28-29 (raindate Sept. 30, if needed). The track will also host an Enduro race on Saturday, June 30, making for a busy summer of racing action. The Vintage Cars will also be added to the program a time or two during the summer to add to the excitement and action.

Another of the changes this summer that is sure to create some discussion is the beer policy at the track. For at least the past 15 seasons the track has not sold beer and fans were allowed to bring there own beer coolers to the track. Due to insurance and State regulations, that will change this year. The track applied for and received a liquor license to sell beer last year but never used it. The plan was to do so this year in addition to allowing the carrying in of beer. Liability issues and more lead to the track being told they could no longer allow fans to bring there own beer and if the track was going to have any beer on sight they would have to provide it. The checking of ID's and the issuing of wrist bands will be used to control the sale of beer on the sight. The track plans to keep the price as low as they can and offer special rates before the races begin. They are also working with O'Dooles non alcoholic beer for a special rate for designated drivers. There has also been talk of making wine coolers available.

All six Chateau Raceway classes have corporate sponsorship this year. Two classes will be WISSOTA-sanctioned -- the Power 96 WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds and the Affordable Portable WISSOTA Street Stocks. The class which has been referred to in the past as Open Modifieds will be USRA-sanctioned and sponsored by Noble RV. Other classes at the track this year will include the Pizza Ranch Pure Stocks, the Triple J Disposal Classic Dwarf Cars and the track will be adding the Hornet class this year which will be sponsored by S and S Auto Salvage.

For those not familiar with the USRA sanctioning body, they offer a $10,000 National Championship points fund and a $1,000 payday at the end of the year for track points champions. WISSOTA also has national and track points funds for their classes. These payouts can vary from year to year depending on the number of cars that run during the course of the season around the Upper Midwest and into Canada.

In looking back at last season, Toot said they learned a lot in there first year.

"There was a huge learning curve and it was way more than anyone expected, as far as being labor intensive, but none of them are sorry they did it. You really have to have your heart and soul in this as well as blood and guts. That's what happens when you own a business."

It will be that kind of dedication and outlook by Toot and Nelson that will continue to make Lansing a place to spend and enjoy Friday nights for years to come.

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