History of the Bismarck/Mandan Stock Car Association and Dacotah Speedway
The Bismarck-Mandan Stock Car Association was formed in 1980 to represent the participants’ interests in stock car racing at what was then the Bismarck Raceway operated by private promoters. In 1988, the club contracted with the promoter of the racetrack to oversee all racing operations for the first time. After running races with an all-volunteer workforce and a successful year behind the group, it became clear a modern facility would be needed to grow the sport into a professional organization. The club president, Don Helbling, and board members began the search for a new facility during the 1989season.
The newly created Missouri Valley Fairgrounds was interested in an anchor organization, so talks began to move the operation to a new facility if a long-term contract could be secured.At the same time, the Mandan Park Board was looking to move its 100-year-old rodeo grounds to a modern facility and needed a partner that could contribute to the facility with a weekly rental to help offset the projected $1million cost of the land and facility on the strip in Mandan. They were interested in a five-year contract with an option to renew. The club signed an agreement with the Mandan Park Board with a goal to race in June of the 1990 season. John Gartner was hired to be the promoter of the new facility.
After an aggressive winter of fundraising, planning, and an even busier spring of construction, the new Dacotah Speedway hosted its first race on June 8, 1990,at the new facility that was not yet finished at the time. Just three classes were racing, with the WISSOTA Streets, WISSOTA Modifieds,and the Hobby Stock division taking on the 3/8-mile, high-banked track that was designed after a similar facility in Phoenix City, Alabama. The current Dakota Classic Modified Tour started and a sprint car race were two of the special events planned that year. The club ended with a sizable profit that first year and it invested its profits into better equipment, a new scoring tower and plans for a new concession and storage building in the pit area.
During the 1991-1994 seasons, the club prospered and continued its program of investing in the facility. Numerous improvements were made with racing profits and volunteer labor. The new concession stand with indoor plumbing and bathrooms was completed, along with scales, parking pads for drivers and better equipment to maintain the track. The club asked the Mandan Park Board to invest again in 1995 with a new state-of-the-art elevated grandstand that could seat4,000 spectators. The Park Board again made the investment.
The summer of 1995 saw the construction of the new grandstand that could now support major special events like monster truck shows, big racing specials and seats for a growing Mandan rodeo. The Mandan Horse and Saddle Club also created an arena for its special events.
The years 1995-2000 added classes and more specials that were important to the club and fans alike. During this time, the club also took over the concessions forall events, adding an important revenue stream for the organization. Club members, like long-term treasurer Herb Bargmann, took on more responsibilities and the organization continued to grow. The current IMCA sanction for Modifieds was adopted as the western part of the state all took on the class.
In 2000, the club celebrated its 10th anniversary of Dacotah Speedway and continued operation by the Bismarck-Mandan Stock Car Association. The club-operated track in Bismarck discontinued operations and the Missouri Valley Stock Car Association merged with the Bismarck Mandan Stock Car Association.
By 2005, additional classes such as legends and four-cylinder mini-stocks were making the traditional heat, trophy dash and then feature a thing of the past. Road hogs came and went and there as pressure to start a new four-cylinder class to attract new drivers.
From 2006-2009, the club started hosting its own monster truck show as well as the long-standing Mandan Demolition Derby. These events became profitable and expanded yet again the scope and season of the club. The racing operation was now employing dozens of local people as it expanded. The club invested in a new scoring tower and transponders to electronically score races. The current upper pit area was constructed.
The years 2010 to the present were successful and again the club followed its long-standing practice of making the facility better for racing and its long-term partners. A new modern registration building was constructed to better serve the racers. As Dacotah Speedway approaches its 25-yearanniversary, it continues to improve its facility and expand its program that now averages over 100 cars each night in five divisions.