Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Slinger Speedway Ain't Closing

Even before I joined with a friend of mine to begin a chaplain's ministry at Slinger Speedway, I spent a considerable amount of time there as a fan in the stand. In fact, I've been going there since I was a kid in 8th grade. I love the place! The track is ultra fast and loaded with tradition.

However, for about the last 25 years every time I mention the words "Slinger Speedway" some wag tells me "You know that place is sold and they are closing it." NO, THEY HAVE NOT AND ARE NOT. It is not becoming a parking lot for a shopping mall, it isn't becoming a luxury condo development, it simply is not closing.

First off, the speedway is Slinger. It draws that village national attention every year and is mentioned on just about every other TV broadcast devoted to stock car racing. Wayne Erickson, the current owner of the track, works as hard as any businessman that I know to keep short track racing alive. I spoke with him last Sunday and the fire of racing almost burns alive in him. You can see it in his eyes when he talks about track operations. With his dying breath he will refuse to close that track. Any idiot that has spent five minutes with the guy would know that Slinger Speedway is not closing as long as Wayne Erickson has a say in it.

Slinger's local government is loyal to the track and vice versa. Look at the "Welcome to Slinger" signs at the edge of town. See the stock cars on them? Look at the patches that the local cops wear. See the stock cars and checkered flag on them? Is this any indication that the town wants to rid itself of Slinger Speedway? And the noise that you hear coming from the track every Summer Sunday night? That is the sound of cash for the village. Main Street businesses make good money off of the fans there and they always have. I've spoken to both local businessmen and Slinger village officials. Both tell me that anyone coming there with a proposal that included closing the track would be showed the door in short order. If luxury condos were built on the site of the old Little Switzerland ski hill (they are not), those condos would have to live next door to the speedway as long as the track wanted to stay.

So where do these rumors come from? Idiots, for one. Folks who haven't bothered to do a small bit of checking into the facts. I had one guy who wanted to bet me $50 that the track was closing at the end of the 2005 season. Said that he had heard it from the track owner himself. I was an idiot for not taking the bet. But then, I don't gamble. But then there are jealous track operators who would love to have Slinger out of the picture. Dissatisfied drivers and car owners are another source. As emotion-charged as racing is, a guy who has had his car disqualified after winning a feature race would do everything that he could to hurt the track. That's the nature of the biz.

Slinger Speedway will live on. It's been there for over 50 years through lean years and fat years.

It isn't going anywhere.

No comments: