WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 09, 2010, 08:05 AM

Fair board approves contract to keep racing in West Fargo

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Its official, racing will return to the Red River Valley Fair Grounds this summer. In a special meeting tonight, the executive fair board unanimously approved a three year contract with Danny and Diane Schatz to keep the popular sport in West Fargo, but there will be some big changes.

Under the lease agreement there will be 30 races from the beginning of May thru the end of August. 20 of those will be on Wednesdays instead of the typical Friday night race night. The Schatz will pay 20 thousand dollars a year to use the track, money the fair desperately needs.

“We've never said we don't want racing out here, our thing is just for us, financially we can't continue going forward with us and when Mr. Schatz stepped forward, we were very elated on that because we can keep this. It's been a tradition in the valley.”

The collective "yes" from the fair board tonight is the resurrection a sport some thought had left the Valley for good.

“It'll be great. We'll have racing, we're going to see a tremendous change in our facility.”

But the sport so many have come out to enjoy, will be changing. Schatz’s plan is to shorten the track, making it 3/8th of a mile long. There will also be a retention pond put in on the south side of the track to help with drainage. In the past, racers parked their trailers there.

“It's going to be a very expensive change to the track, but he said that he's willing to do that, to make sure that racing stays in the area.”

Board members are optimistic about the agreement and what it means for the future of the fair. They're hoping for success, but they say, they'll wait and see what happens.

“When he changes the track, and when he changes what he's going to do with the track, we'll see how the racers accept it.”

The agreement is nearly final, next week the Schatz and Bryan Schulz, the fair's General Manager, will sign legal papers and notarize them. Board members say no matter what happens this is a win-win situation for them.