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