Racing season to end on a high note at Swift Current dirt track
The final race weekend at the Living Sky Casino Speedway in Swift Current is set to be action packed with racers from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan competing for points and cash at the Wild Throttle Fun (WTF) Swift Current Invitational and RP Automotive Canadian Mini Circuit races.
The Swift Current Stock Car Association (SCSCA) is hosting the twoday event, starting with an evening of racing on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. The racers will be back on the track on Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. for an afternoon of fun.
SCSCA Director Richard Crowe is expecting 50 or more race cars at the event, including 20 or more out of town cars.
“This will definitely be our biggest and most exciting weekend of racing this summer,” he said. “We expect a lot of cars in all classes and a lot of out of town cars that people haven't seen before and with the points structure that we got going it will create a lot of excitement for the drivers themselves. There will be some very hard racing, very fast racing, and everybody will be competitive.”
There will be a lot at stake for racing drivers during the weekend. Everybody will be racing to win cash in the WTF Invitational while regular drivers at the Living Sky Casino Speedway will be competing for points that will determine the final standings in the SCSCA championship.
This weekend's racing in Swift Current is also the third stop on the RP Automotive Canadian Mini Circuit and points earned here will count towards the results of this four-race mini series.
The previous two races took place at Swan River, Manitoba, and Yorkton. The final leg in this series will take place at Tisdale
This is the first time that SCSCA will be hosting a leg of this series at the speedway in Swift Current, and it is therefore an important weekend for the club.
“It's the second year for the tour, but it's the first year we've been included in it,” he said. “It's been very popular, the first two weekends of this tour in Swan River and Yorkton, and so we're expecting that to carry through because it's a bit of a points race inside the club's points race. So it draws more people to make the actual whole tour.”
It is all part of an effort by the SCSCA to draw more spectators to the races and to attract more interest to the sport.
“We're making it all one big weekend just because we want to get as many cars here as we can,” he said. “The big thing we're trying to do is to get more involvement in all of Saskatchewan's stock car racing and trying to tie everybody together to get it more popular as a sport.”
The SCSCA has been active for 25 years and it has been using the race track at Kinetic Exhibition Park since 2000.
“It's a premier class facility in Saskatchewan,” he said. “It probably ranks in the top two dirt tracks in Saskatchewan for facilities and it's very important to our club and we're very proud of it. We like working with the City to keep it the premium facility that it is, and I think combined we do a very good job of that with the City.”
Crowe noted that the track has higher banked corners and it has a reputation as a smooth and consistent track with high speeds.
“[It's] what they call a hammer down, fast track, very well known for that,” he said. “So the track prep guys have a good handle on what needs to be done, depending on the weather, and we create a very consistent track on every race day.”
Veteran local race driver Dave Koethler said it is a very good track to race on. He has been racing for 25 years and has no intention to retire.
“As long as I can get myself into the car, I'll be there,” he said.
He builds his own race cars, which makes it even more interesting to compete. He has raced in the hobby stock race class for most of his racing career, but locally there were not enough racers in this class for this season. He therefore had to build a new car to compete in the more powerful street stock class.
“The car that I'm driving this year actually is my 20th car that I've built,” he said.
It is based on the body of a 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and fitted with a 350 cubic inch engine that makes upwards of 350 horsepower, which can be handful on a dirt track.
“You haven't got much time to think from one corner to the next,” he said. “You're making that complete lap in roughly about 19 to 20 seconds. So that doesn't give you much time to think of what you're going to do.”
His move into the street stock class means he is now again competing against his son Murray, who has been racing for about 14 years.
“It's actually a lot of fun and if I can beat him, all the better,” Dave said. “I used to have a daughter that raced too. I built her a car years ago. Basically all my kids have been involved, and now my grandkids are starting to come into the pits because they're old enough. So they can come in and they want to help too. It's kind of a family oriented thing for us.”
He also enjoys the camaraderie with other local racers who are members of the SCSCA and everybody gets along well.
“If you're having a problem in the pits, everybody tries to help everybody else out to get you out on the track again,” he said.
He is looking forward to this racing weekend, which he anticipates will be a lot of fun because there will be more cars on the track.
“It's more exciting, but it also makes you nervous because you don't know what the out of town cars drive like,” he said.
“So you're kind of on guard, because you don't want to smash the car up too bad. ... I always hang back a little bit, watch what they do in the corners, and then I know where I can play with them in the corner. It's going to be an exciting weekend.”
Swift Current racing driver Dave Koethler hands out candy to a young racing fan during intermission at the Aug. 25 race night.
Dave Koethler (#96D) fights for position on the track during a street stock race at the Living Sky Casino Speedway in Swift Current.