Friday, April 24 was supposed to be the season-opening race for Mississippi Thunder Speedway.
Wisconsin’s state-at-home-order extended to May 26, there is the uncertainty of when racing at the track will return.
According to the track’s promoter, Tyrone Lingenfelter, Mississippi Thunder Speedway officials have been in constant contact with state and health officials to figure out a possible return date.
“We’ve been in contact with the State Of Wisconsin trying to see if there’s alternative ways that we can still have events, probably with no fans, just drivers and pit crews, and try to broadcast our races on Pay-Per-View for our fans at home who’ll still be watching until the stay at home order’s been completely lifted and we can get back to normal,” Lingenfelter said. “It’s definitely, I guess the craziest start to a year, or most unknown start to a year we’ve ever had.”
The positive for Mississippi Thunder Sunday according to Lingenfelter is the track is not in full desperation mode.
“I would say on a scale of one to 10, right now, we’re on a six of trying to really push things to get going,” Lingenfelter said. “We’re not pushing it too because we’re trying rebel against stuff. We’re just more so pushing because we’re trying to just get our business going and make sure that the people that do sponsor our racetracks, the fans that do have rental stuff with us, rental booths and different things like that; they can be able to enjoy that stuff, and safely enjoy that stuff.”
The track has been sure to keep their fans informed as possible. continued
This has been done through Facebook, where Lingenfelter will go on and live stream himself giving the latest update and answering questions during the recording coming in from fans of the track.
“I feel like when you can go out there and you can do question and answer and stuff like that where they feel, I guess like they’re more involved, it’s more personal,” Lingenfelter said. “Especially when you do the videos. When you actually see the physical reaction, I feel like you see the emotion maybe of a response, it makes it feel more personal.”
While the track continues to try to get racing back, local drivers have been finding different ways of hitting the tracks.
Winona native, Jake Timm has gone virtual, competing in races on iRacing, an online racing simulator.
This has become a popular service with racecar drivers across the world. Professional racing leagues such as NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula One, have started running sanctioned races on the service while their seasons have been suspended.
This has caused a debate between many in the community arguing if the simulation is a video game or a good platform to gain experience for real-life situations.
“I think there’s definitely some positive things that come out of it that you can maybe learn from it,” Timm said. “More so, it’s just fun and helps with the itch a little bit. And it’s just a way to kind of get together and still keep racing in a way.”
Timm has not spent all of his time staring at screen. He is still working to make sure when the season starts, he will be ready. continued
“We’ve been spending a lot of hours in the shop,” Timm said. “Getting the cars ready and we’re making sure the truck and trailers clean and organized and ready to go, and then watching racing videos. Just doing as much as I can to stay focused and learn.”
The sooner racing returns, the better for Timm and others in the sport, especially when dealing with sponsorships.
Timm noted the less races run, the less money for teams, that desperately rely on sponsorship funds to compete, will make. A longer delay, could be detrimental to racing organizations.
“That’s definitely something that I think we all need to think about is if we don’t race, or if maybe we only get half the season in,” Timm said. “How’s that going to work with the sponsors, not only for race cars, but racetracks and everyone involved? This sport is very dependent on sponsorship. Hopefully we can get started soon.”