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AUTO RACING: RCS ready for the popular school bus races

Four years ago, River Cities Speedway decided to try a new, fun novelty idea.

They painted and raced school buses on the quarter-mile bullring track.

The fans loved it.

That’s why those same buses will be back tonight (7:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. hot laps) to race for the fourth year in a row as part of the weekly show at River Cities Speedway.

“We have a few late model and sprint car drivers who say it’s crazy,” said Darren Evavold, a managing partner at the track. “When you watch a Friday night race, you will see some people getting on their feet and cheering on their favorite drivers. But when the buses take the track, it’s crazy, youthful enthusiasm. That’s what makes it so much fun.”

The four regular classes — streets, Midwest modifieds, late models and sprints — will run at River Cities Speedway tonight. The buses will follow.

Evavold said they are expecting to have 10 school buses in the race. They will be driven by some RCS regulars — late model driver Joey Pederson will drive one — as well as some workers who handle the track’s upkeep and preparation.

Pederson won the first two school bus races, driving an East Grand Forks Sacred Heart-themed bus. Brent Johnson took the checkered flag last year in the orange bus.

“I’m pretty excited,” Evavold said. “They have been wildly popular, as crazy of an idea as it is. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a great little addition. As a promoter, we’re trying to get as many kids to the race track as we can, so they grow up race fans and come when they are adults.”

The school bus races, which have drawn some of the track’s largest crowds, hope to get a boost from the weather. The current forecast says there’s a chance of rain in the afternoon and evening.

“Last year was different from previous races because it got rained out, and we had to reschedule it in July,” Evavold said. “Any time you have to reschedule something, it loses a little bit of momentum.”

 Live on the web

There’s expected to be a new twist for tonight’s races — the track’s first-ever live broadcast on

Sprint car fans from outside the area will be able to get a taste of racing on the quarter-mile track by viewing on their computer or mobile devices at that site.

“There are not a lot of places around the country that run 410 sprint classes weekly,” Evavold said. “Someone approached us about this idea and he thinks we can capitalize on race fans that have heard about RCS but live in a different part of the country.”

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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