Quad dirt track racing comes to Merrill
BY TINA L. SCOTT
Northern Wisconsin Dirt Track Racing (NWDTR) held their first event at the Merrill Festival Grounds last Saturday, July 29, 2023, with an extreme sports race on a dirt track.
The grandstand arena, which is home to the rodeo in early June, horse events throughout the summer, and tractor pulls and demo derbies during the fair, was transformed into a dirt track for racing just prior to the event that drew dirt bikes and quads for the excitement of a high-speed race right here in north central Wisconsin.
Merrill Mayor Steve Hass commented that he was really excited to see this new event coming to the Merrill Festival Grounds and hopes more new events will be on the horizon so the property can be fully utilized throughout the year.
Organizers who created the event, and organized the NWDTR in record time, were also excited to kick off this event in Merrill, where it would draw racers from the local area and surrounding north central Wisconsin communities. And that it did, with 110 entries in 19 classes for the day.
Quad race events included Super Pee Wee, two Pee Wee classes, Outlaw Pee Wee, and Improved Stock Pee Wee classes for the littlest racers; JR Quad and Amateur Quad classes; a 30+ class for adults; a Women’s class; Open 2 Stroke class; two Open classes; and a Pro Quad class. Seven classes were trophy races, with six classes having cash payouts for the top racers. A peddle bike race was held during the intermission between motorized races, with a one-winner-takes-all cash payout, as well.
The event was an all-day affair with gates opening at 8 a.m. and registration beginning at 9:00 a.m., practice sessions starting at 12:30 p.m., and official racing beginning at 2:30 p.m. with a showcase lap allowing all entrants to traverse the track at slow speeds so race fans could see them loud and proud before the green flag was waved on the first race. And loud it was, especially once the full-speed racing began.
Food trucks and a beer stand provided refreshments for racers and racing fans under the stands, camping was available on the grounds, and fans could purchase general admission wrist bands to view the races from the stands or purchase pit passes so they could get in on the action at ground level.
Northern Wisconsin Dirt Track Racing
“Northern Wisconsin Dirt Track Racing (NWDTR) is an organization made by racers for racers,” said Allyson English who is a part of the new entity. “Our main goal is to allow for more opportunities to race within closer proximity of everyone around us. We thought with Merrill being a centralized city, this would be the perfect opportunity to take advantage of that!”
“My father, Tim English, has always wanted to run his own race since my little brother, Ayden English, started racing years ago,” Allyson said.
“In April, the conversation finally happened, and we chatted with Rick [Bjorklund] who helps rent out the Festival Grounds for events like ours. The City was extremely happy to hear that we wanted to run an event like this, as there hasn’t been one similar in almost two decades,” she said.
A huge effort pulled it all together in record time
“Since April, there has been a lot of prep work done, such as finding people who’d be willing to donate machines to do the track work, vendors for the event for food and drink, finding more volunteers to help in every aspect possible, and getting the word out there.”
Tim’s dream became a reality last weekend, but with all the work to be done, “July 29th crept up on us very quickly!” Allyson said.
“We were very fortunate to have the sponsors that we had,” she said. “We are extremely grateful for the community support and hope to have this event continue for years to come.”
Major sponsors included Carquest, 365 Power Sports, Merrill Sheet Metal, Merrill Water Tool & Jet, Trophy Bar LLC, Schaeffer Oil, Burgener Contract Carriers LLC, Bennish & Son’s Auto Salvage, DJ & Megan Schneider, Get R’ Done Guide Service, Pizza Hut, Peterson Sand and Gravel, Northern Dumpsters, Literski Trucking, Switlick & Sons Inc, SD Ellenbecker, and JL Gunsmithing.
“These are just our main sponsors; this does not include individual sponsors who put money into classes to make the payout larger,” Allyson said.
“During the event, we had Ana Blair’s Coffee on the Go, All Sauced Up, Merrill Marching Jays, Pizza Hut, 365 Power Sports, and the VFW all as vendors for food, drinks, and merchandise for our spectators to have,” she said.
And nearly 30 volunteers worked hard to pull the event together and work the event on Saturday. “We couldn’t be more grateful,” Allyson said. “We had more than enough help to have all of our bases covered when it came to staging, scoring, registration, admission, and any other odds and ends jobs we may have had.”
“We also had a little over 500 people show up to support this event!” she said. “Overall the event was extremely successful for our first time. We couldn’t have asked for a smoother and more successful day.”
For more information about NWDTR, go to www.nwdirttrackracing.com or find them on Facebook.