141 Speedway has new ownership in 2014
By Bert Lehman
The first time Iowa’s Toby Kruse visited 141 Speedway was in 2010, the first year the track was converted to a dirt track.
“Honestly, the first time I came to the place I absolutely fell in love,” Kruse said. “I’ve been fortunate and have seen, I think 175 different race tracks around the world, and that was in the top handful of race tracks I’ve ever seen, with the atmosphere and the racing it produces every week.”
That love for 141 Speedway helped convince Kruse to become part of a group that bought 141 Speedway from Bruce and Renee Conard, over the offseason.
Kruse, who also promotes the race program at Marshalltown Speedway in Iowa, said talks to purchase 141 Speedway started about a year and a half ago. He said eventually the talks cooled, but were rekindled last fall.
He said his first thought after Bruce approached him about purchasing 141 Speedway was that it would be nice to be involved with a facility that he had an ownership share in. His promoting experience in the past has been fairground facilities where he leases the facility.
“It’s nice if you can own your own place and then the improvements you do and everything you put into it, it’s easier to stay excited about improving a facility knowing it’s yours and you’re in it for the long haul,” Kruse said.
Dan Ratajczak, who has raced IMCA Modifieds locally for years, and Scott Ratajczak are also part of the ownership group. Kruse said the three of them had discussions partnering on different projects in the past. When 141 Speedway became available Kruse said he knew local involvement would have to be part of the ownership group.
“Dan at first, he was a little hesitant but the more we drove around and looked at the place he could see the potential and got excited about it,” Kruse said. “That was my first step, talking with Dan and trying to put that ownership team together. Then it was negotiating with Bruce and Renee. It’s been quite a process.”
Kruse said the changes that have been and are being made revolve around improvements that people visibly see, and streamlining how things are done.
“I think it’s an awesome place. I hate that phrase, ‘Taking it to the next level,’ but that’s what we want to do. We’re putting a lot of money into it, getting the place classed up a little bit and really getting it on the map,” Kruse said.
The biggest challenge for Kruse is the fact he lives 440 miles away from 141 Speedway.
“We have a great general manager and a great ownership team and that’s what makes it work,” Kruse said.
Early in the season Kruse has been making the trip to 141 Speedway every Saturday for the racing program. His plan is to eventually change that to every other week.
Last year 141 Speedway upped the ante for the Clash at the Creek by turning it into a $10,000-to-win event for Modifieds. Kruse said it was only natural for the speedway to once again host that event and prize money. This year’s Clash at the Creek will be IMCA sanctioned. He said a month before the event, registrations had been received from drivers from six states and Canada.
“I think that’s a testament right there just by sanctioning that race,” Kruse said.
He added that he thinks his Iowa ties will help draw Iowa drivers to that race.
“I think we’ll have a lot of good traffic between Iowa and Wisconsin for that race,” he said.
Prior to becoming part of the ownership group of 141 Speedway, Kruse said he had developed a lot of friendships with Wisconsin race fans and drivers.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s Wisconsin people who have helped build the Super Nationals to what it’s at today,” Kruse said. “It’s just fun to be a part of something with the Wisconsin folks up there.”
Kruse said his plan is to be involved with 141 Speedway for a long time.
“If you didn’t have a passion for it you’d be crazy to put the hours and the miles in that a person does,” Kruse said. “[I want] to do our part to make people have a good time with their favorite hobby that they like to do.”
(This article first appeared in the June 2014 issue of Full Throttle Magazine)