The dirt will fly, the lights will shine and the masses will be entertained when Estevan Motor Speedway holds its season opener on Saturday.
The 3/8-mile dirt oval is back for its 12th season, with a total of 12 race dates on the schedule, including nine points nights.
Saturday’s opener begins at 7:30 p.m. The evening has an anti-bullying theme and spectators are encouraged to wear pink. There will also be an area for kids, including a bouncy house.
Speedway president James Gustafson said he’s happy the track is supporting the anti-bullying cause.
“I think it’s great. I just recently watched an interview that Oprah had with Lady Gaga and I didn’t realize the problem is as large as it is. What I got out of that interview is it’s not only the bully, but it’s also the victim,” he said.
“Often the victim doesn’t feel very good about themselves and they set themselves up. Her message is to support the victim and tell them, ‘you’ve got a lot of good inside of you and you need to know that and develop that, and if you need help doing that we’ll help you so that you feel good about yourself.’”
The biggest change at the track this year is the switch back to weekends after a one-year experiment with Wednesday night racing.
Drivers and members were divided over the issue, but ultimately it was felt that more of the social element would return to the pits with races being held on weekends.
The main concern was whether the track would be able to get enough weekend dates without competing with North Dakota tracks.
“I think we got a bit of a mixed bag this year because after we gave up the weekends, it wasn’t that easy to get all our weekends back,” said Gustafson.
“(Marketing manager) Tracy (Lewis-Miller) went there and she did a lot of negotiating and Ed (Turnbull) was with her and they felt they got the best they could do, for this year anyway.”
The defending track champions are Devin Raynard (modified), Rocky Alexander (street stock) and Cory Evans (hobby stock). All three drivers have won multiple season championships and will have targets on their backs this year.
“Racing’s no fun unless you got some competition, so they’re looking for some competition,” said Gustafson.
“At our last meeting, we went through some of our profiles and the people who are either stepping up to a new class or entering for the first time, and we’re pretty excited about it because that’s what makes racing happen, when you get some competition.
“The guys that win all the time, they like somebody to compete with them. They don’t want it to be a piece of cake.”
The highlights of this year’s schedule include the McComb Automotive Fast 40, which is the annual $3,000-to-win mod feature, on May 26; the annual stop on the Dakota Classic Modified Tour on July 10; and the year-end Championship Night on Aug. 25.