Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Mississippi Thunder Speedway Prepares For A Season Of Unknowns

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.

Fans in the stands watch as cars race around Mississippi Thunder Speedway. When those fans will be able to return to the track remains a mystery, as stay-home-orders stay in effect. Photo was contributed by Tyrone Lingenfelter/Mississippi Thunder Speedway.

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.”

Winona liquor stores, congress people welcome new Minnesota Sunday sale law

By Samantha Stetzer

“Stores in Winona will be somewhat disappointed in Sunday sales,” Wisconsin Liquor storeowner Dave Pirkl said. “Careful what you wish for over there.”

There’s no resting on Sundays for the employees of Wine House, a liquor store nestled partially up the bluffs along Bluff Siding, Wisconsin, since 1951.

Sundays are their busiest day of the week, according to seven-year owner Dave Pirkl. The main pull for its Sunday sales stemmed from a law in Minnesota barring alcohol sales on Sunday, Pirkl said.

That is about to change.

Wine House liquor storeowner Dave Pirkl helps a distributor and early customer on Wednesday morning. A new law in Minnesota allowing their liquor store owners to sell on Sundays is something Pirkl said he is a bit nervous for as a Wisconsin liquor storeowner, but he is not too concerned due to the benefits he still has by selling in Wisconsin.

With an 88-39 vote in the Minnesota House of Representatives, a 38-28 vote in the Senate and a signature by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota liquor stores will now be able to sell their product on Sundays between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The law goes into effect on July 1, with liquor stores opening their doors on a Sunday for the first time the following day.

Minnesota Rep. Gene Pelowski, who serves Winona County, said he supported the bill largely because of the competition across the border in Wisconsin and the public support it was gaining.

“It certainly does have an impact,” Pelowski said, adding there was not much debate within the house about ridding the state of its more than 150-year-old law barring the Sunday sales.

Minnesota Senator Jeremy Miller, who also represents Winona, helped co-author the new law because of the same public support.

“They feel it’s ridiculous that stores don’t have the option to be open on Sundays,” Miller said. “This was the strongest grassroots effort by the people that I’ve seen on any issue during my time in the Senate.”

Since entering the senate in 2011, Miller worked on flipping the law to allow Sunday liquor sales because he said he believes publically and politically Sunday should be viewed as the same as every other day of the week.

Miller he did not get the exact bill he said he originally wanted.

The original bill did not have any time restrictions on the Sunday sales. Working with religious leaders and compromising with other members of the Minnesota legislature, the bill was able to pass with the 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. time limit, according to Miller.

“To me it really comes down to, the people wanted to be able to buy their beer, wine and liquor on Sundays in Minnesota,” Miller said. “They should have the option.”

Darin Egeland, storeowner of Warehouse Liquor in Winona, said the new option for consumers is an opportunity for business owners to have another day for revenue.

Egeland said he will open on Sundays because he said stores on border towns in Minnesota “almost have to” to cash in on the money that could stay in Minnesota.


“I would say we’d lost money across the border,” Egeland said.

Stacks of beer line the aisles of Warehouse Liquor in Winona. Owner Darin Egeland, who wished to not be pictured, said he is looking forward to having another day to make a profit with the passing of a new Minnesota liquor law allowing stores to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Egeland said he is not sure he can get his employees to agree to work another day during the week, and opening on a day he has designated as a day off is not something he is excited about.

Still, he added the possibility of increased revenue is hopeful for him and his little store at the intersection of Market and Third streets in Winona.

As for his competition across the border, Egeland said he believes the Wine House will struggle with the new change.

“He’ll probably be crying,” Egeland said about Pirkl. “For him it’s going to be a kick in the ass.”

While he supported opening his store on Sunday, Egeland is most worried about the possibilities of the legislature lifting restrictions on grocery stores and gas stations selling alcohol in Minnesota. Currently, Minnesota statutes state liquor establishments must be used to sell primarily alcohol, according to state statute 340A.412

Other stores can get around this law by having their own liquor store building next to their establishment or selling malt liquor with an alcohol content of 3.2 or less, according to state statute 340A.403.

If the law changes to allow establishments like convenience stores, grocery stories and drugstores to sell liquor inside the store—such as what is currently allowed in Wisconsin, according to Chapter 125 of the Wisconsin Statutes—Egeland said he fears it will put him and his local competitors out of business.

His distributor, Chris Schafer from Schott Distributing in Rochester,

Minnesota, said their company is also against cutting the restriction on convenience and grocery stores because of the added work without proper compensation it would cause.

According to Schafer, the company would not necessarily gain massive amounts of money or accounts, but rather, they would have to increase the flow of alcohol across the areas they distribute to, causing a mass overhaul in the company dynamic.

“It’s going to kill us,” Schafer said.

Schafer said he supported the Sunday sales bill in Minnesota.

Despite  fears by local owners and distributors, Pelowksi and Miller said they do not foresee more changes to the Minnesota laws in the near future.

“I think this is the biggest change you’re going to see for a long time,” Pelowski said.

Miller added, “I don’t think the appetite is there in the Senate to do more than what we already did. Allowing liquor stores to be open on Sundays was a big step forward for the legislature, and I don’t anticipate any further progress.”

Pirkl, who has only owned a store in a state where grocery stores can sell booze and Sunday sales are not restricted, admitted the initial change to the Minnesota law may impact his business negatively.  He added he cannot know until a year after the law is in effect what that change will be.

While Wisconsin laws allow grocery stores and convenience stores in Wisconsin to sell alcohol of all kinds, Pirkl said he does not have to compete much against the bigger box stores since there is a minimum mark-up law in Wisconsin.

This law, under the Wisconsin Unfair Sales Act, essentially restricts the large retail stores from selling at a cheaper price than what smaller businesses can. As a small business, this means Pirkl can compete with larger chains that can sell alcohol in Wisconsin, such as Kwik Trip or Festival Foods.

For the last seven years, Sundays have always been a bonus day for the Wine House, Pirkl said, but even with the new Minnesota law, he said he is confident his “loyal customers,” legal ability to sell Wisconsin beers and wines, such New Glarus beers and Elmaro wines, and Wisconsin’s lack of restrictions on his open hours on Sunday are what will keep his Sunday sales up.

He added his location along the Wisconsin border will also benefit him, since community members in small towns along the river do not have many options to buy alcohol.

Pirkl said he does not have much confidence for his added border competition.

“Stores in Winona will be somewhat disappointed in Sunday sales,” Pirkl said. “Careful what you wish for over there.”