Monday, November 14, 2016

1994 a year of change for I-94 Speedway

There has been much discussion over the years about why did track owner Dick Johanneck change the surface at I-94 Speedway in Sauk Centre (MN) from Dirt to Asphalt in 1994.

It is a fact that many fans were pelted with rocks and numerous windshields were broken up in the tailgate section in turns 3 and 4 at I-94 Speedway in 1993.  I think the negativity surrounding the track surface contributed to the decision to do the reported $120,000 project of paving the 3/8th mile oval in Sauk Centre MN.

Here is recap of the 1994 season which includes a recording of the press conference where Dick Johanneck explains his reasons for the switch.  Some of you might be surprised by his perspective at the time.

Also included in this audio recap are soundbites from drivers: Steve Johanneck, Pat Henry, John Leraas, Jeff Hinkemeyer, Eugene Dick, Bryan Roach.

Dean Reller (media) and Jason Searcy (announcer) from Speed Talk on 1360 worked at I-94 from 1991-2008.  Here is an audio recap of the new asphalt years at I-94 on their podcast

Here were the Champions in 1994, the first year of asphalt.
Late Models- Eugene Dick
Modifieds- Dave Stork
Street Stocks- Pat Henry
Super Stocks- Rocky Thompson
4 cyl - John Notch

Here is a link to the final "Top 10" point standings in 1994.. some really big names in dirt track racing made the move to racing at I-94 Speedway, many of them only for a short time including: Shawn Kirwin, Dave Cain, Ryan Muzik, Gary Reents, Al Stewart, Ken Bullick, Chris Groth, Greg Meyer, Jon Hinkemeyer, Dave Stork and others.

Here is another opinion column that focused on the first few years of racing on the asphalt by track announcer 2000-2008 Jason Dale Searcy

The biggest event of the year was the inaugural Governors Cup ARTGO race on September 11th 1994.  It was a 100 lap race that paid $2500 to the winner.  Steve Carlson won that race, also competing included future NASCAR stars Matt Kenseth and Michael Waltrip also ASA Champion Kevin Cywinski, future owner of I-94 Raceway Tim Olson and many other big names in Late Model racing including Jon Lemke, Jason Schneider, Tim Sauter, Johnny Spaw, Jim Weber, Mark Noble, Larry Schuler, Brad Miller and others.

 Here are the official results from that race

*Photos courtesy of Scott Searcy-Cricket Prints

Note-  I-94 Speedway was built as a dirt track in 1991, changed to asphalt in 1994, changed back to dirt in 2009 and then was closed.  The track remained standing until 2016 when it was demolished.

Note- Dick Johanneck still owns the I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls MN where they hold an annual race called the KING OF THE DIRT.

Get more history of I-94 Speedway I-94 Raceway in Sauk Centre at

Saturday, February 6, 2016

I-94 Speedway Race Story 7/1/1994

Newcomer Raguse Tops in Modifieds

By KMSR's Jason Dale and Dean Reller

Sauk Centre, MN, July 1, 1994 --  The overcast sky did not dampen the spirits of the biggest crowd of the year that turned out for the KCLD Fireworks night at the I-94 Speedway.  In the WISSOTA Modified feature it was Kyle Raguse claiming his first ever pavement win.  At the drop of the green it was Steve Johanneck leading lap one, before Rick Burns took command on lap two and then Shawn Kirwin took over on lap three.  Kirwin then extended his lead by the half-way point to a full straight-away over the others.  Disaster struck Kirwin with four laps to go as his rear-end gears let loose, thus setting up a fight to the finish.  Newcomer Raguse took the top spot and had to hold off hard charger Dave Stork by inches at the line.

       Eugene Dick continued his winning ways as he took the feature event in the WISSOTA Late Model division.  Bill Woodworth took advantage of his pole position to take the early lead.  Woodworth held the top spot for the first 20 laps of the race.  With five laps remaining, Woodworth spun in turn one, as Steve Fegers was turning up the heat for the lead.  Fegers also slid his car, but when the race was restarted, he inherited the lead.  Points leader Dick used the late race caution to make a run to the front and with just two laps to go, Dick hooked up on the high side and claimed the lead for the two remaining circuits.  Fegers finished a close second with Rich Snyder third.

       In the WISSOTA Super Stock feature it was Twin Cities racer Paul Paine taking home the trophy.  Paine took the lead on lap one and never looked back as he cruised the entire race in the lead.  Bryan Roach finished second and Bob Snyder finished third.

       In the KCLD WISSOTA Street Stock feature it was Pat Henry once again finishing ahead of the rest.  Henry started outside the third row but quickly found himself in the lead on lap one.  The Sauk Centre native was able to withstand the constant pressure applied by Jim Bring and Tyrone Swanson in the dash to the finish.  The win was Henry's third in as many weeks at his home track.

       Jamie Winterquist made the long trek from Grandin, North Dakota pay-off as he led the entire Four Cylinder/Mini-Mod feature from start to finish.  As Winterquist ran away out front, the action turned to the second place battle between Frank Gabrelcik and Bill "frog" Nornberg.  The two cars touched in turn two, sending Gabrelcik into the wasll and Nornberg to the back of the pack.  "Frog" hopped through the field to reclaim second, but that was as far as he could get to Winterquist by the time the checkered flag waved.

This was the first race story I ever wrote.  Dean Reller usually did all the race stories but he had the night off and I was asked to do it.   Great memories and great racing at I-94. 

Jason Searcy