BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — The Huset’s Speedway can hold almost the entire city population of Brandon.
The speedway can seat 8,200 ticketed people, said Doug Johnson, the general manager of Huset’s. The 2019 Census estimated population of Brandon is 10,000.
Johnson said the organization doesn’t share attendance numbers but did say that most fans travel from a 200 to 250 mile radius of Sioux Falls. The first full return to reason at the track draws fans from primarily the state of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota.
“That’s our core area,” Johnson said.
Huset’s runs the three classes of 410 sprint, sprint and late model stock cars.
The racers are drawn to the Brandon track from a wider distance.
During the past year there have been 83 different 410 drivers from 15 different states, Johnson said. There have been 55 sprint drivers from nine different states. There have been 26 different late model stock drivers from mainly in the Sioux Falls area, he said.
On an average Sunday night, Huset’s will have 24 drivers in the 410 class, 21 in sprint class and 15 in the late model stock class.
“That’s kind of what we projected for our average,” Johnson said. “There is a lot of room to grow for next year.”
Steers and dairy cows
An angus steer grazing in a pasture or dairy cow headed to the milker can weigh about as much as 410 spring to a sprint car. But neither can travel 100 mph on a straighaway.
Johnson said a 410 sprint has a minimum weight of 1,425 pounds including the driver. A sprint car has a minimum weight of 1,550 pounds including the driver.
“That’s a lot of weight to horsepower,” Johnson said. “That’s 1,425 pounds to 900 horsepower in a 410 sprint.”
A late model stock car has a minimum weight of around 2,400 to 2,500 pounds including the driver.
The Huset’s track is 3/8 of a mile. That’s 660 yards or 1,980 feet.
Within those 660 yards or 1,980 feet, 410 racers can hit 90 to 100 mph on the straightaway.
Sprint cars can hit 102 to 103 mph.
The stock cars hit 60 to 75 mph, Johnson said.
Track timing means for more than the race
The goal for each Sunday night of racing is to be completed by 10:15 p.m. at a 7:30 p.m. start, Johnson said.
“If we start at 7:30 p.m., there’s no reason we can’t be done by 10:30 p.m. or by our goal of 10:15 p.m.,” Johnson said.
“There’s a really good reason why the typical baseball game or football game is done in three hours. That’s the length of average attention span,” Johnson said.
The track also wants to make sure that fans “can get home in timely manner,” he said.
A three-hour racing night takes attention to time and detail.
“We look at a spreadsheet after each race to see what takes more time and try to make a difference for the next race or next year,” Johnson said.
Pit manager Tommy VanAnne is a bit of a wrangler as he makes sure drivers get into the staging area on time and things keep moving throughout the night, Johnson said. When one race is completed, the drivers must be ready to start the next race.
“A lot of it falls back on the drivers. They need to be ready when we call them to staging,” Johnson said.
A racer who is late to staging can lose the starting spot. “It usually doesn’t happen a second time,” Johnson said of a driver being late to staging.”
What fans may not notice from the stands
Finding a fully equipped safety team can be a challenge for racetracks, Johnson said.
Huset’s is fortunate to have Med-Star Paramedic Ambulance from Brandon serve as the ambulance at the races.
Med-Star even provides the ambulance at Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota, one of the other tracks owned by the Huset’s owners Tod Quiring.
Johnson said the Jackson ambulance service has been so busy with patients and with staffing issues that it couldn’t be at the speedway in town for each night of racing.
Securing an ambulance service for racing nights will continue to be challenge for tracks in smaller towns, Johnson said.
Racers may often need to change tires or need a new part during the night.
Johnson said this year it’s been difficult for the two vendors who supply parts or tires to stay stocked.
“There’s a shortage of parts and there’s a shortage of tires nationwide,” Johnson said.
The shortages have caused some racing teams to shut down for a few weeks while they wait for parts, he said.
How often a driver may change tires during a race, depends a lot on the driver and the track condition, Johnson said.
A 410 car, for example, has “tires that are so soft that a driver may want new tires every time he races,” he said.
A driver may change tires if he thinks it gives him an edge.
Keeping the track in shape
Gregg Bakker is in charge of maintaining the 3/8 track.
“He runs our blade and grader,” Johnson said.
Bakkers considers air temperature, wind speed, sun and other factors when he determines how much to blade, grade, add dirt or water.
“For example, this past Sunday we got four inches of rain overnight (Saturday),” Johnson said. “We packed (the track) for that. So that we would get the water to run off. If we had left it open, we would have had no chance of racing. You have to plan ahead.”
Racing continues at Huset’s through September including some races on Friday and Saturday nights with some national association events.