With an expanded schedule and growing popularity, the Buena Vista County Raceway is preparing for what could be its best season ever.
"This year we will expand to a 24-night racing schedule, and we will be hoping that the weather is kind enough to let us get them all in," said promoter Lee Meyer.
The combination of dirt track tradition and cutting-edge thrills makes the track a consistent choice for family entertainment. "As an entertainment venue, BV Raceway has quite a tradition. You can see the people flocking to NASCAR, and popularity for this form of racing trickles all the way down to the grassroots for the midwest," Meyer said. "As track promoters, my wife Becky and I want to make sure that our fans get the best entertainment value anywhere for their dollar."
Racers are eager to get at the track, known affectionately as "The Bubble."
Most of the track work, focusing on making turn three "a little racier" at the venerable Alta dirt oval, was accomplished last fall. Just minor track upgrades and preparations remain before the season opener.
Five classes of racing return for 2005, with the marquee IMCA modifieds and IMCA stock cars.
There are also IMCA hobby stocks, and the entry-level B-modified and bomber classes that attract many aspiring local racers.
The fun begins on April 17 with a Test and Tune event. This is a chance for the area drivers to work the kinks out of their machines and to get a feel for the raceway. The grandstand will be open for free admission from 1-3 p.m. There will be a $10 pit fee for racers.
Highlights for the 2005 season include the Season Opener on April 20, the Midseason Championships on June 22 with a Deery Brothers Late Model Special, The Firecracker 40 and GOTRA old-fashioned coupes on July 3, the Dick Simpson Memorial Stock Car Special on July 20, and the non-sanctioned Sunday Fall Special on September 4.
Some new events will be added this year, including an Iowa Enduro Race, Saturday night, August 13. "We hope to start 50-100 cars for a three-hour, 200-lap event that will really test the endurance of the drivers and their machines," Meyer said.
And race fans will want to mark their calendars for July 29 for Alta Race Day, a proposed event that will bring back the community excitement of the 1970s. There will be a show of race cars and haulers on Main Street in Alta, an autograph session with the drivers, and possibly a raceway queen contest. Organizers hope to locate and invite the track champions from the raceway's earlier era, 1974-81.
At the track, the World Dirt Racing League Late Model Special is planned, along with a Polydrome Series and BVR bombers events.
"It looks like a pretty packed-full season," Meyer said.
Last year's action has the local track running on a crest of popularity. "We saw another increase in both our car counts and fan attendance for the season in 2004, and we are seeing good interest leading into this year," Meyer said. "We know we have some new drivers coming out in the bomber and B-modified classes, and at the same time, we see some drivers who started their careers here in the entry classes moving up in the stock car classes for this year. That's how we like to see it work."
Admission prices will be the same as a year ago, $9 for grandstand and $20 for pit passes. Hours will also be unchanged for the regular Wednesday night events, with grandstands open at 6 and racing starting at 7:30.