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Deer Creek Speedway’s ‘Gopher 50’ On Wednesday Night (July 7)

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Deer Creek Speedway’s ‘Gopher 50’ On Wednesday Night (July 7) Has Become Big Part Of World of Outlaws Late Model Series


Unique Charity Event Earned Organizers Recognition As National Tour’s 2009 Promoters Of The Year


SPRING VALLEY, MN – July 5, 2010 – The NAPA Auto Parts ‘Gopher 50’ Charity Late Model Race sure has come a long way.


With the event ready to celebrate its 31st annual running on Wednesday night (July 7) at Deer Creek Speedway, the ‘Gopher’ is entrenched as one of the most prestigious and unique dirt Late Model races in the country. It stands out from the crowd so much, in fact, that it earned its organizers coveted recognition as the 2009 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Promoters of the Year.


Collaboratively promoted by the Blooming Prairie (Minn.) Lions Club and management of Deer Creek Speedway, the Gopher 50’s alltime winners’ list is dotted with some of the biggest names in the racing business. More importantly, over $300,000 for Jaycee and Lions projects has been raised over the lifetime of the Gopher 50, which was contested at Chateau Speedway in Austin, Minn. (1980-1981) and the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatanna, Minn. (1982-2004) before settling at Deer Creek in 2005 and soaring to new heights.


The Gopher 50 has been part of the WoO LMS for its entire run at Deer Creek, gaining more prominence on the schedule with each passing season. Anyone still unfamiliar with the event received a reminder of its status when the announcement of its organizers’ WoO LMS promotional award was made during the national tour’s awards banquet last November.


“We’re honored to receive an award from such a prestigious group like the World of Outlaws,” said Jerry Ingvalson, the Blooming Prairie Lions Club member who has overseen all aspects of the Charity Race since its inception in 1980. “It definitely shows how much the Gopher has grown. It’s become one of the events in the dirt Late Model world that people want to see.”


“We couldn’t believe it when Tim (Christman, the WoO LMS director) called and said little Deer Creek Speedway and the Gopher 50 won the award,” said Deer Creek’s P.R. and marketing director Ryan Queensland, whose family operates the finely-manicured, three-eighths-mile oval. “We’re humbled that a national touring series would recognize our track and event, considering some of the crown-jewel races and well-known tracks that are part of the series.


“Winning an award like this puts you in a very elite crowd. It’s a helluva honor, and it drives us to go out and continue putting on great events.”


Ingvalson and the Queensland family celebrated last year’s milestone 30th edition of the Gopher 50 with a promotion that certainly couldn’t be ignored by WoO LMS officials and teams. The event headlined the 17 former Gopher 50 winners, gave fans a shot at a cash prize and featured a $10,000 bonus for a past event champion to win the race – a check that 2008 WoO LMS titlist Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., claimed to push his booty for capturing the A-Main to a whopping $20,000.


“The Gopher obviously has been a huge event around here for years, so we were thrilled when (the Blooming Prairie Lions Club) asked us to host it,” said Ryan Queensland, the P.R. and marketing director of Deer Creek Speedway. “One of the things we talked about with Jerry and the Lions Club was doing something really special for the 30th anniversary of the Gopher. We came up with the Past Champions’ Fund and some fan-oriented promotions and I think it all went off great.


“A lot of people came up to us last year and said the Gopher was one of the most memorable races they’ve ever attended and already had it on their calendars to come back to Deer Creek.”


Thousands of fans are expected to pack Deer Creek’s grandstands again on Wednesday night for another installment of the Gopher 50, which this year combines some new wrinkles and popular annual traditions. The biggest incentive for the drivers is the bonus money posted by NAPA – an extra $1,000 on top of the A-Main’s $10,000 top prize and $100 for each heat victor, contingent upon display of a NAPA decal on the right side of the car.


What’s more, Fastshafts of Des Moines, Iowa, is sponsoring a Gopher 50 Hard Charger award that will award the race’s mover-and-shaker a complete aluminum driveshaft with slip yoke (retail value $330) or a certificate towards the purchase of a new carbon-fiber driveshaft with yoke worth $650. Receipt of the prize is also contingent upon display of the company’s sticker.


Continuing as part of the Gopher 50, of course, is the pre-race ‘feed’ – a full Windsor Chops meal held under a tent in the Deer Creek parking lot that is open to all competing drivers and their crews – and the Team Sponsorship Program that pays the event entry fee for the top 20 drivers in Deer Creek’s Late Model points standings and the top 10 racers in regional touring series standings thanks to support from a long list of local businesses and individuals.


In addition, sometime during Wednesday night’s program WoO LMS director Tim Christman will formally present the tour’s 2009 Promoters of the Year award to members of the Blooming Prairie Lions Club and the Queensland family.


“They weren’t able to attend our banquet in November so we’ll give them their World of Outlaws award in front of all the fans who have made their Gopher 50 promotion so successful,” said Christman. “The Blooming Prairie Lions Club and Queensland family are well-deserved recipients of our Promoters of the Year award and I’m excited to finally get a chance to congratulate them in person.”


A star-studded field will fill the Deer Creek pit area, led by former WoO LMS champions Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who leads the 2010 points standings entering Wednesday night’s ‘Wild West Tour’ lidlifter; Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., who will make his first appearance at Deer Creek since his title-winning season in 2006; Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky.; and Lanigan, one of seven drivers who has won the Gopher 50 multiple times.


The WoO LMS traveling roster also includes Rick Eckert of York, Pa. (2006 Gopher 50 winner), Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. (2007 winner), Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga. (winner of two of last three WoO LMS A-Mains, including $30,000-plus Firecracker 100 on June 26 at Pennsylvania’s Lernerville Speedway), Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga. (an ’06 winner at Deer Creek), Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio, rookie Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va., and Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa.


Other drivers expected to compete on Wednesday include two-time Gopher 50 winner Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., Adam Hensel of Barron, Wis., Chris Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and a host of Deer Creek regulars led by points leader Nick Herrick of West Concord, Minn.


Wednesday night’s program will also include Deer Creek’s USRA Modified division, which will boast an added attraction of its own. Budding ARCA and NASCAR Nationwide Series star Steve Arpin of Fort Frances, Ont., will make his return to the open-wheel division driving a car carrying sponsorship from Mike’s Hard Lemonade, the primary backer of the Venturini Motorsports No. 55 that he’s steered to three ARCA victories this season.


Arpin, who has also run four Nationwide Series events in 2010 for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team, will have his Mike’s Hard Lemonade ARCA stocker on display for fans on Wednesday night. He’ll also participate in a question-and-answer session and sign autographs from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.


Deer Creek’s pit and grandstand gates are scheduled to open at 3 p.m. on Wed., July 7. Time trials are set to begin at 6:30 p.m.


Tickets will be $30 on race day for ages 13-and-up and $15 for children 12-and-under. Pre-sale tickets are available for $25 until 5 p.m. on July 5, and pit passes will be $35.


Reserved seats are available on-line at www.deercreekspeedway.com or by calling 877-DCS-RACE or 507-754-6107.


Deer Creek Speedway is located 15 miles south of Rochester, Minn., on Highway 63.


The Gopher 50 kicks off the four-race WoO LMS ‘Wild West Tour,’ which also visits Superior (Wis.) Speedway on July 8; River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., on July 9; and Dakota State Fair Speedway on July 10.


For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.


Alltime ‘Gopher 50’ Event Winners (1980-81 at Chateau Speedway in Austin, Minn.; 1982-2004 at Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatanna, Minn.; 2005-present at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn.):


1980 – Leon Plank

1981 – Steve Kosiski

1982 – Steve Kosiski

1983 – Joe Kosiski

1984 – Willy Kraft

1985 – Leon Plank

1986 – Tom Steuding

1987 – Willy Kraft

1988 – Steve Kosiski

1989 – Billy Moyer

1990 – Scott Bloomquist

1991 – Rick Egersdorf

1992 – Bob Hill

1993 – Billy Moyer

1994 – Willy Kraft

1995 – Bill Frye

1996 – Billy Moyer

1997 – Rick Aukland

1998 – Jay Johnson

1999 – Scott Bloomquist

2000 – Billy Moyer

2001 – Billy Moyer

2002 – Shannon Babb

2003 – Scott Bloomquist

2004 – Brian Birkhofer

2005 – Darrell Lanigan (WoO LMS)

2006 – Rick Eckert (WoO LMS)

2007 – Chub Frank (WoO LMS)

2008 – Brian Birkhofer (WoO LMS)

2009 – Darrell Lanigan (WoO LMS)

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