From A Bean Field to Racing Dreams Come True

On The Road

On the Road has brought you seven miles north of Scotland, SD where two hardworking farm boys with a dream brought flat-track racing to Hutchinson County.

“We’re all family.  It’s not just us. It’s everybody that comes here.  As soon as they come in the gate.  It’s like they’re coming, coming over to visit.  They’re not just coming to race, they come here to have a good time and get together,” said Eric Sorlien. The Lonetree Creek Racepark North of Scotland, South Dakota sits smack dab on the Sorlien family homestead.  It was once a bean field. Eric Sorlien thought up the idea. 

His little brother Christian explains. “He came up with all kinds of designs, it was crazy.  It’s like, yes, we build it and they will come.  Now, that’s what Dad was saying. You know, Mom and Dad probably thought we were probably kind of a little crazy at first,” said Christian Sorlien. “I got probably about 80 different blueprints of different tracks and stuff. I came up with this and then kind of realized how much money it was going to take to get the dirt work done. And then it was a couple years and then Dad says, ‘Let’s get it done.’ ,” said Eric Sorlien.

Eric cashed in half of his 401K and then the sweat equity amongst the whole family kicked in. It took 3 years to build it and a hodgepodge of used materials.”If we don’t have it and we need it, we’ll build it, make it work. Just because we learned that from Dad,” said Christian Sorlien. “We can use what we got and it gets it done. And all that takes maintenance and… and stuff and a lot of the things that we use out here we build from just scrap iron laying around the yard,” said Eric Sorlien.

And that includes the trophies. “Well, we just can’t afford these trophies, they’re so darn expensive. Well, my brother brought down iron from where he works up there, you know, for five cents a pound. It’s like well, let’s build some, then people are going to get some real iron. And I tell you what, we did that and it turned out great.  And people love them. And you know, some of them little kids, the five-year-olds grab the trophy they could barely carry them,” laughed Christian Sorlien.

The Sorlien family takes great pride in this family run, family friendly dirt track. Grandma Sorlien greets every visitor, sister and niece run the Shady Lady Snack Shack.  And the dirt on the track, well no one touches that but Christian. “I don’t want nobody on the track with the tractor. If I don’t do it, I’m picky and has got to be done right. And, and I crawl on the tractor. I have some help every once and awhile, so I’ll get on and off, but…” said Christian Sorlien. “Yeah,” said Mike Huether. “Get the wheelchair away,” continued Christian Sorlien.

Yes, the wheelchair. Christian actually was the Series Champion at Lonetree Creek and the Champion at the Sioux Valley Cycle Club. And then on December 26, 2016, the unthinkable happened. “He don’t know what he went through,” said Geneva Sorlien, Christian’s mother. “Yeah,” said Mike Huether. “And I don’t even want to say because it was a traumatic injury. Traumatic. There’s nobody that survived what he’s gone through. And I think it’s the prayers, and by the grace of God that he’s with us,” said Geneva Sorlien.

Christian’s mom Geneva explained that Christian and his son Christopher were driving on Highway 18 towards Menno when a car came at them weaving all over the road. The crash was devastating. “He was injured from his head to his foot. His organs, his kidneys, his lungs, everything, everything was injured. But with Christian’s strength, they pulled him through it,” said Geneva Sorlien.

Christian was on full life support. His heart stopped 12 different times throughout the recovery. The tough Sorlien bloodline carried through. “There’s no room to give up. No way, never would give up. Too tough to do that, you know, I mean racing is in my blood, thanks to my brother, he got me into it, you know, when I was little. And you just gotta make your dreams come true,” said Christian Sorlien.

Big brother, Eric, gets much of the credit. “He come up with a dream, and we made it true. That’s what brothers do. We stick together. We used to fight like cats and dogs back in the day when we were younger, but now, now we get along great, you know, we’re real close. I mean, I can’t ask for a better brother,” said Christian Sorlien.

Eric and Christian’s dream is alive and well. A dirt race track that was once a bean field. Racers can’t get enough of it. “We have people coming from Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, all over. They come to race. Some guys drive eight, nine hours to get here just to race,” said Christian Sorlien.

Racers range in age from 3 to 75 on this track.  One big family, right? “You’ll never have a better time anywhere else. I mean, it’s fun. It’s fast. It’s safe. You get to see a lot of racers. There’s a lot of action that goes on. It’s fun, I mean…” said Christian Sorlien. “And, it’s family,” said Mike Huether.

KELOLAND, it’s race time! “Help them understand what they’re going to see if they came out to your track,” prompted Mike Huether. “Well, you are going to see a big old red barn sitting out here that’s how they find the place. (big laugh),” laughed Christian Sorlien.

When you get to the junction of Highways 18 and 25, go one mile north. The Sorlien family will be there to greet you and cheer you on. “You’re in the pits right here. You’re going to help that guy next to you. But as soon as you leave that starting line, it’s… it’s battle time,” said Eric Sorlien.

“I can get very nervous. You know, they go so fast around the track. I can’t. I can’t. I want them to win and have fun, but I can’t. It’s unbelievable how fast they can go,” said Geneva Sorlien. “Yes,” said Mike Huether. “70 miles an hour,” said Geneva Sorlien. “On your dirt track, in your bean field, on your farm,” said Mike Huether. “Yeah, said Geneva Sorlien. “Yeah,” said Mike Huether.

Eric told me that when someone receives one of their homemade trophies, it always sits out front in the trophy case! And in case you’re hungry: the walking tacos are a big hit at the Shady Lady Snack Shack.

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