A group of motorsports enthusiasts is bringing dirt track racing back to the Pembina Valley.
Wanting to advance motorsports in the community, the group initially met in February to discuss how to do just that.
Chris Unrau, President of the Valley Motorsports Association, is part of the group. He says when they began discussing ways to advance motorsports, one of the opportunities that came up was the former ALH Motor Speedway west of Morden. Pursuing the track as an opportunity, the group then proceeded to talk to the new owners of the Speedway property to inquire about their plans for the track. Unrau said the new owners were excited about the idea of reviving the track and would love to see the speedway up and running again.
Because of the public restrictions during the pandemic, Unrau says the (former ALH) Speedway couldn't operate, and it was never able to get restarted again. "Unfortunately, it was a casualty of COVID," he stated.
"With that in mind, and just you know, thinking about what COVID cost our community, it fractured our community in many ways and there was definitely some losses in attrition due to that," said Unrau. He added that the group saw this as an opportunity to get something restarted and bring something back that COVID took away.
Historically, Unrau said the former track ran weekly races, which is normal for a dirt track. He says their approach to running the speedway will be different, focusing more on the community event side of having the facility.
"Another aspect that makes our approach a little different, is we're operating as a nonprofit, and our goal, our intention, is to use these events as a vehicle to raise funds for the Boundary Trails Health Centre expansion project. For this year, that's the cause that we've chosen that we want to support," added Unrau. "It's a cause that is very near and dear to all of us. It's something that everyone in our community uses and needs."
As far as the track, Unrau says they reshaped some of the banking to straighten it out a bit. "It was a little bit egg-shaped, so we straightened that out to make the corners the same. Reduce the banking a little bit and made the curves quite a bit wider, so we're expecting to have some really, really competitive racing on this track."
Unrau says they're also sprucing up the site, tackling some overgrowth that's popped up with time.
One of the big projects they're tackling right now is bringing in fresh clay for the surface. Unrau says they hope to get that work completed within the next couple of weeks.
"Kroeker Farms has generously donated clay for this. It's going to come out of one of the reservoirs that they're constructing, and so our job now is to try and get that clay located to the site."
Instead of hosting weekly races at the track, Unrau says they will be having two big events instead, or "weekend specials."
The Speedway's inaugural event, The Watermelon Cup, will be held July 7th and 8th, and The King of the Corn will take place August 25th and 26th to coincide with the Morden Corn and Apple Festival.
For those in the Pembina Valley who are into motorsports, Unrau says it's a real treasure to have a facility like the new Dead Horse Creek Speedway right in their backyard.
- With files from Ronny Guenther -