Smith family navigates new car, class ahead of Bemidji Speedway season

This winter was a long one. For area racers, it provided time to prepare for the 2023 racing season in the Northland.

Skyler and Jenny Smith work on their new Wissota A Modified with the help of their son, Braxton, ahead of the 2023 Bemidji Speedway season.

BEMIDJI — This winter was a long one. For area racers, it provided time to prepare for the 2023 racing season in the Northland.

For some drivers, it was time to repair and tune up their race cars. For others, like Skyler and Jenny Smith, it was time to rethink.

The Smiths sold both of their Wissota Mod Fours and were contemplating taking a year off from racing. Then, an opportunity arose and they made the jump into the highest class racing at Bemidji Speedway — the Wissota A Modifieds.

Skyler will be racing with the familiar No. 16, but in the A modified class. It will be his 16th year in dirt track racing.

In his first year, Skyler worked with local author Will Weaver on a deal that provided him with a Wissota Mod Four and an opportunity to finish out his high school education.


Weaver wrote a series of novels with the first, titled “Saturday Night Dirt,” based on Skyler's introduction to racing.

Since that first year, Skyler has won three track championships in the Mod Four class and six in the Wissota Midwest Modified class. Smith ranked fourth in national points in 2023.

His wife, Jenny, also raced in the Wissota Mod Four class and will take this year off after a 10-year career in the mini stocks and Mod Four classes. Their son, 6-year-old Braxton, also races ATVs and snowmobiles.

Skyler recognizes his crew of his dad Bill, brother Brandon and wife Jenny. Plans for the 2023 season are to learn his new car and class, and try as many tracks as possible.

Here's a look at the June schedule for the Bemidji Speedway season:

Saturday, May 20: The annual car show will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Roth RV in Wilton, with practice following from 1 to 6 p.m. at the track.

Sunday, June 28 and Monday, June 29: Racing starts up with one of the biggest events of the year, the Chicken Shack Nationals Jack Sparby Memorial.

All classes will be on exhibit with Bemidji Mini Stocks, Wissota Hornets, Wissota Pure Stocks, Wissota Mod Fours, Wissota Midwest Modifieds, Wissota Super Stocks, Wissota A Modifieds and the Northern Renegade Sprints.


Sunday, June 4: Regular race night.

Sunday, June 11: The first-ever Babes Border Battle, sponsored by Visit Bemidji, will be held at Bemidji Speedway. The first 10 Canadian drivers will receive free admission.

Sunday, June 18: Wissota Late Models will be brought back for a special appearance for the first time in many years.

Sunday, June 25: “Meet the Drivers” event and kids night. Children ages 12 and under will receive free admission.

Racing will continue throughout the summer at 5:30 p.m. each Sunday.

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