Switching Gears: Buffalo River Race Park to host Saturday night racing during its 65th anniversary season
By Mike Spieker
GLYNDON, Minn – Buffalo River Race Park will be celebrating another milestone this coming year as the speedway celebrates its 65th anniversary season. It all began as a small town dirt track hosting slightly modified street cars under the Sunday afternoon sun. Nowadays, highly modified and finely tuned racing machines take to the high-banked quarter-mile under the bright lights on Saturday night. Since taking over the reins at Buffalo River Race Park in 2007, general manager Kevin Nathe has transformed the race track into one of the premier dirt track facilities in the country for its fan and family-friendly accommodations and amenities.
Buffalo River Race Park has held Sunday night racing every week in the summer for the past 64 years. The track has run several Saturday night specials in the past, but this year they are making the change to racing every Saturday night.
“I am excited for Saturday’s. It’s just something we decided to do as a business,” said Nathe. “With everybody’s busy lifestyle nowadays, Sunday’s were just getting tough.”
Despite the change, Nathe said the reaction from fans and drivers has been positive.
“People are talking about it and excited about the change,” he said. “The reaction has been very upbeat and there has been a lot of excitement. It should help bring in more drivers from out of the area and I think it will bring in more fans as well.”
The speedway is hosting a pair NOSA Sprint Car events for the first time since 2016. The sprint cars, a fan-favorite division, traditionally brings in a capacity crowd each time they make an appearance at the Glyndon dirt track.
“It’s been great working with Buffalo Wild Wings. They are the presenting sponsor for both sprint car events again this year,” said Nathe. “They have such a passion for sprint car racing and are really big supporters of the sport. It’s a really good fit.”
Over the offseason, things have been busy at the speedway for Nathe and his crew.
“There has been a lot of remodeling and construction going on. We put up another two-tier deck outside of turns three and four and are making improvements to our indoor seating,” he said. “We are doing a lot to make the experience different from other tracks in the area and better than it was here last year.”
The Man to Beat:
Fertile, Minnesota driver, Tyler Hall, comes into the 2019 racing season as the two-time and defending IMCA modified track champion at Buffalo River Race Park. Hall only finished outside of the top 10 in one race all of last year in the track’s premier division, which helped propel him to the championship by a mere six points over Bemidji’s Justin Jones.
“We knew it was going to be tough to go back-to-back, being how close the championship was in 2017. Everyone put in a lot of work last season. We got a new car last year and it was fast right out of the box. It was pretty special to get a track championship with a brand new car in the same year,” said Hall of his championship run last season.
Hall, 27, is considered one of the younger drivers in the IMCA modified field, but has just as many laps, if not more, than the veteran drivers he competes against each week. Hall began his racing career at Buffalo River Race Park around 2004 racing go-karts on a smaller track that used to lie south of the speedway across Highway 10. Hall began racing on the big track in the four-cylinder division (now referred to the sport compacts), before jumping into a four-cylinder modified, followed by a Midwest Modified (now called an IMCA sportmod). He has been racing modifieds since 2015.
“I love racing at Buffalo River. I grew up watching my dad race there,” said Hall. “It’s my favorite place to race. The facility is awesome and the track always has a good racing surface. It puts on a good show for everybody.”