Anticipation, dedication and determination applied to Sunday's 2011 Bemidji Speedway Memorial weekend race opener.
With a cool and very wet spring and a new track surface the anticipation of drivers and fans to "go" racing has been high. After four weeks of delays, Sunday's opener looked in doubt as heavy rains late in the week turned the new clay surface into a quagmire.
But the dedication and determination of the track personnel, the fans who waited for hours and hours, the hard work of Devon Bunker doing the track work and the drivers who packed the track made the race possible.
The 5 p.m. start was postponed to 8 p.m. and Bemidji mayor Dave Larson gave a Memorial Day tribute and prayer to kick off the festivities.
More than 70 cars rolled into the pits for the weekend races which included the Super Stocks, Midwest Modifieds, Mod Fours, Streets, Bemidji Pures, Minis, and Hornets.
The first feature of the 2011 racing season brought a small field of Streets onto the track led by Josh Beaulieu on the pole but it was Scotty Messner who came from his second-row outside position to take the lead and eventually win.
A fine field of Midwest Modifieds roared on track led by John Halvorson and Donald Mullen. After two cautions and restarts Matt Schow held off Chris Dudley to claim his first ever feature win.
Keith Keena had the pole and Jeff Tardy was outside. Tardy took the lead after a caution caused a restart and he stayed out front to claim the initial super stock feature of the season.
Conrad Schwinn and Fran Hauber led the Mod Fours onto track with Schwinn taking the lead. Schwinn maintained the lead despite a few cautions and restarts caused by cars having problems with the mud.
A very entertaining Bemidji Mini Stock feature was won by pole sitter Zack Peterson followed by Billy Smith, Andy Swartz, Becky Barrett and John Aderman.
Bill Chaboyea picked up where he left off last fall claiming the first feature of the year. He was followed across the finish line by Troy Hemphill, Joel Harvey, Keith Koski, and Mike Nadeau.
The hornet feature was won by Joe Doti coming from the back row. He was followed by Jason Bush, Andy Hanson, and Jordan Thayer.
Wissota Street Feature - Scotty Messner, Dustin Puffe, Josh Beaulieu, John Yilek
Heat 1 - J. Yilek, S. Messner, D. Puffe, J. Beaulieu
Wissota Midwest Modifieds Feature - Matt Schow, Chris Dudley, Donald Mullen, Dylan Miller, Darrin Lawler, Ron Read, Adam Johnson, Skyler Smith, Brandon Bahr, John Halvorson
Heat 1 - C. Dudley, S. Smith, M. Schow, J. Halvorson, D. Lawler,
Heat 2 - B. Bahr, A. Johnson, R. Read, D. Mullen, J. Wilde
Wissota Super Stock Feature - Jeff Tardy, Brian Bemotas, Dalton Carlson, Keith Keena, Tyler Kintner, Mike Vajdl, Dale Lindell, Gordie Lancaster
Heat 1 - J. Tardy, M. Vajdl, D. Carlson, K. Keena, B. Bemotas
Heat 2 - T. Kintner, G. Nelson Jr, B. Schmidt, M. Sparby
Wissota Mod Four Feature - Conrad Schwinn, Dean Larson, Branden Kellen, Matt Staab, Fran Hauber, Tyler Larson, Cody Fox, Tom Kellen, Blake Higginbotham, Tonja Stranger
Heat 1 - T. Sabraski, B. Kellen, C. Schwinn, C. Fox, T. Larson
Heat 2 - D. Larson, B. Higginbotham, F. Hauber, M. Staab, T. Kellen
Bemidji Mini Stock Feature - Zack Peterson, Billy Smith, Andy Swartz, Becky Barrett, John Aderman
Heat 1 - B. Smith, A. Swartz,. Z. Peterson, B. Barrett, R. Mathies
Bemidji Pure Stock Feature - Bill Chaboyea, Troy Hemphill, Joel Harvey, Keith Koski, Mike Nadeau, Wade Schmidt, Chad Puschinsky, Mike Johnson, John Aderman
Heat 1 - W. Schmidt, B. Chaboyea, C. Peterson, J. Harvey, J. Aderman
Heat 2 - T. Hemphill, C. Puschinsky, M. Nadeau, K. Koski, M. Johnson
Bemidji Hornets Feature - Joe Doti, Jason Bush, Andy Hanson, Jordan Thayer