Cars to kick first dirt this Saturday at Upper Iowa Speedway

By Tanya O'Connor

The Upper Iowa Speedway (UIS) will begin its 2021 racing season Saturday, May 1 with car show, parade and practice race.

The Upper Iowa Speedway (UIS) will begin its 2021 racing season Saturday, May 1 with a stock car show from 2 to 5 p.m. at Weis Buick GMC, 131 College Drive, Decorah. A parade down Water Street is scheduled from 5 to 5:30 p.m. A practice race will immediately follow on the oval at the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds. The event is expected to conclude shortly after 8 p.m.
For UIS owner Wayne Smith of Cresco, getting back on the track couldn’t come at a better time. “The pandemic’s been tough on us,” said Smith. “The Speedway’s in the same financial jeopardy as many other businesses. There are many options for sponsorships out there. I’d like to invite those who don’t know this to reach out to me with a message on the Upper Iowa Speedway Facebook page.”
Summer 2021 will mark over 100 years of racing, Smith noted. “That’s a lot of years of fueling the local economy,” he stated. “Aside from full restaurants before and after, you can drive by any convenience store and see vehicles flooding their parking lots. The races support the auto parts stores. All types of local businesses are represented on our cars and promo materials. These are people who supply services to all of Winneshiek County actively supporting the speedway and the racers who race there.”
The May 1 event, said Smith, is a good chance to see cars in pristine condition. “These racers and their crew put on an incredible effort and expense to compete. The cars are beautiful at the beginning of the season. This is a time that these individuals would like to showcase and share their efforts.”
Scheduled for this summer’s season is the biggest event that UIS has ever promoted, added Smith. A United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) event will be held Sunday, May 30. Laps begin at 6 p.m. “There’s a hefty purse on this one,” said Smith. “There’s a total of $42,000 in payout, with a $10,000 first prize.” Races are each Saturday through the August 28 season finale, save the USMTS event and scheduling during the Winneshiek County Fair.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Decorah and UIS calls for races to finish at 10:30 p.m. with a “hard stop,” said Smith, by 11 p.m. “The 11 p.m. stop allows for flexibility, but I’m still faced with the variables that come inherent with racing. If I’m halfway through a 30-lap race and the bell rings, I can’t stop that race. I could have had a 20-minute rain delay during the evening or EMTs on the track for a half hour fulfilling their responsibilities to an injured driver. All of this potentially postpones the conclusion of the show that the public is paying for.” Smith noted that “19 out of 20 races are done by 9:30; we run a very efficient show.”
Race admittance is $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6-17. In accordance with CDC and Winneshiek County Public Health, signage will be in place outlining COVID-19 guidelines. 
“I have been told that my responsibility lies with keeping the public informed of safety protocols,” said Smith. “I will keep the guidelines intact. After that, it’s up to the public. People gather on the dike for the races and even the front lawn of the Smith Building. There’s only so much I can control.”
UIS, Smith added, is known throughout the region specifically for the quality of racing offered. “We’re well-known for the caliber of racing people see weekly down here. I’m looking to promote great family fun, our local economy and carry on a tradition that began in 1917. You can feel, smell and touch the energy on the track Saturday nights during the summer.”

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