Green flag may drop Saturday at the Devils Lake Speedway

The Devils Lake Speedway may open its 2020 racing season Saturday night. Photo/Josh Komer, Grand Forks Herald

The green flag for the area 2020 race season may drop Saturday night at the Devils Lake Speedway.

If it does, it likely will be the first live sporting event the state will see since COVID-19 shut down the sporting world in March.

The speedway will adhere to social distancing guidelines for the event.

“We plan on running,” said Nolan Olmstead, the Devils Lake Speedway owner. “We’re taking all the precautions.”

On Friday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is expected to address guidelines for events such as racing. That could change what happens Saturday at the speedway.


But the track already has done a lot of work in preparing for the opener.

If the opener happens, the following guidelines will be in place:

  • Excluding families, fans will be asked to sit six feet apart.

  • The crowd will be limited to 25 percent of capacity and tickets will be sold online.

  • When fans arrive, they’re asked to go to the ticket booth and show their printed ticket or phone ticket. The ticket taker will hand fans a wrist band, which they will put on themselves.

  • Facemasks are highly recommended.

  • In the pits, race trailers must be spaced at least 8 feet apart. No more than 10 people will be allowed on any one race team in the pits.

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available and fans are urged to use them.

Olmstead said drivers are ready to race and he’s heard from more than 30 racers who intend to make the show if it happens. And that number likely will rise Friday, he said.
Four classes are scheduled to run regularly at the speedway this season -- pure stocks, streets, Midwest modifieds and Western renegade wingless sprints. The wingless sprints will be a new class this season.

“It’s an affordable class,” said Olmstead of the sprints. “You can build a car for under $10,000.

There could be as many as 20-plus drivers in the region that have built wingless sprints during the offseason, said Olmstead.

In addition to the four classes regularly scheduled to race at Devils Lake this season, the NLRA late models are on the schedule twice -- June 27 and Aug. 1.

Nearly all dirt tracks across the country are waiting to hold races for the season.

However, a handful of tracks already have raced, including Scotland County Speedway in Memphis, Mo., where Langdon’s Lance Schill won the B-mod feature in the Memphis Spring Nationals last weekend. Rain wiped out the second night of the two-day show, so Schill was declared the champion.


Also, the Jackson Motor Plex in Jackson, Minn., is scheduled to host a two-day race this weekend, sans fans.

More than 60 sprint car teams from across the country have registered to race at The Great Lakes Shootout in Jackson, beginning Friday.

Local drivers Wade Nygaard, Brendan Mullen, Mark Dobmeier and Nick Omdahl are planning to race, along with World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz.

Tony Stewart also is entered along with former NASCAR driver Kyle Larson.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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