BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — Jay Mindt, an Aberdeen man, recently experienced what he hopes to be a once in a lifetime experience while camping at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota.
Mindt and his friend Linda, who hails from Florida, have been traveling to racetracks across the region as they are both fans of late-model racing.
“We met in Wheatland, Missouri, and went to some races — that’s what we’re doing — just traveling on a bike now and just hitting some races,” Mindt said.
On the night of Sunday, May 29, the two were at Huset’s where they watched the race before returning to their campsite at the speedway. They went to sleep in a small pop-up camper, which they tow behind Mindt’s motorcycle.
At around 2:30 a.m. on Monday, extreme weather hit Huset’s, tearing the roof off of the third-story suite level and littering the speedway with debris.
Mindt says that night was Linda’s first ever in South Dakota.
The pop-up camper the two shared — essentially a tent on wheels — is around 25 years old, made out of aluminum and nylon fabric, and weighing only around 200 pounds.
“We were sleeping, and when we actually woke up to the storm, it was like we didn’t even have time to get our shoes on before things really went haywire,” Mindt recalled.
Looking at the options they had at the time, Mindt said they had to decide between hunkering down in their little camper or getting on the bike to leave. “That didn’t seem like the better option,” he said of the latter.
Part of what helped the pair decide to stay put was the location of their pop-up.
“We were sheltered a little bit by the travel trailer that was to the west of us — I told Linda that I was more concerned with the flying debris, but we’ve got a barrier here with a car and a camper, so now the only thing I’m worried about is the camper flipping into us,” Mindt said.
Despite this limited shelter, the pop-up camper still sustained damage.
“One of [the aluminum poles] ripped through the nylon, so that was the first thing I grabbed,” said Mindt, who recounted how he spent the duration of the storm holding the pole to prevent it from shredding the rest of the canopy, while Linda supported the frame on the opposite side. “We held it together enough that we at least had a little shelter.”
Even after holding their accommodations together throughout the storm, neither of the friends yet realized the extent of the damage around them.
“We got up in the morning and I saw insulation and some wood laying around and, well I saw the travel trailer beside us was pushed up, pushed up on its jack — and I thought the insulation came from the underbelly — like winterization. Well finally another guy pulled up in a pickup and he said, You guys were in that all night?’ and I said, ‘Yep.’ Then I said, ‘I don’t think they’re gonna have any races tomorrow; there’s a lot of water sitting around here,’ and he goes, ‘Oh no, look over there,'” Mindt laughed. “We had no idea it had taken the roof off.”
The positioning of the pop-up behind the travel trailer was fortuitous. “[Debris] hit the travel trailer that was sheltering us. It took the windows out of that,” said Mindt.
After everything is said and done, the two are safe and are looking forward to continuing their race tour soon.