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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Huge Lena Off Road Race Weekend Starts On Friday

Issue Date: July 25, 2019

Some 15,000 to 20,000 off road racing fans and drivers from all over the nation are expected to pour into Lena starting on Friday, July 26 for the first ever major 3-day Dirt City Duel weekend at the brand new Dirt City Motorplex racetrack. All parts of the state-of-the-art short course racetrack are visible from a high hill that overlooks the complex. It is is located on the north side of Oconto County A and along the east side of Hwy. 141 at Lena, and Spectator Hill is partly visible from the highway.

On Friday fans are invited to "Come Feel the Thunder on Main" from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on downtown Main Street in the Village of Lena. Everyone will have an opportunity to see all the race vehicles, meet the drivers as they await their tech inspection, get autographs and checkered flags and enjoy a fun-filled family evening with music, food trucks, a racing photo booth, face painting and much more!

The weekend continues on Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28, with races starting at about 11 a.m. each day. On Saturday there will also be Fireworks at Dusk. Fans are asked to bring their own seating. No carry-ins are allowed as food and drink will be available for purchase.

Classes running at this event will be Midwest Off-Road Racing sportsman classes, including Classix, Formula 4—4, Short Course Karts, Mod Karts, Sportsman Stock UTV's, 1600 Light Buggy, Stock Truck, 1600 Buggy, Super Stock Truck, and finally the Conrad Heavy Metal Challenge, a race for two-wheel drive, rear horsepower pickups, competing for a $10,000-added purse.

Don Demeny, of Abrams, president of the Lena Motorsports Club board of directors and a veteran racer in his own right, said they expect to attract 160 racers from all over the country.

He said their facility eventually will have 500 campsites, but right now only 400 are ready for use, and all 400 are already reserved for the big opening weekend.

"We are a traveling circus," Demeny said of the Midwest Off Road Racing (MORR) organization, which manages the rule book and provides sponsorships and other services for drivers. "We have people coming in from all over, like NASCR," Demeny said. "Because this is a two-day event they have to stay overnight. And in addition to the drivers we have a lot of followers, spectators that come from far away."

In addition to campsites amenities readily available from the Dirt City Motorplex complex are a gas station, LP gas, race fuel, Bumper to Bumper Auto & Race Parts Store, and The Dairy Barn Restaurant.

Tickets for the Dirt City Duel are only available for purchase at the main gate on race weekend. Weekend passes are $40, Day Passes are $25, Kids 12 and under or those 75 and older are admitted free. Price for veterans with military ID and charter members of the Lena Motorsports Club are $30 for a weekend pass and $15 for a day pass.

Spectators are asked to bring their own chairs for seating. Concessions will be available with many different options, and no carry-ins are allowed.

The races will be live streamed on the Internet through the Dirt City Facebook page, so those unable to attend can still watch the action.

This is the first MORR event for the Lena race track, and its first Dirt City sponsored event. Earlier this year the club rented the track to FSX for their event, and Dirt City had a test day there.

Demeny said the Dirt City Motorplex was started because many of the drivers in the MORR that travel to races all over the country live within an 80-mile radius of Lena. The closes tracks are Crandon International Raceway and Bark River (Michigan) International Raceway, each about about 50 years old. The only other track in the Midwest built specifically for MORR races is ERX in Elk River, Minnesota, which opened about six years ago. The only other place in the nation offering this kind of racing is California.

Demeny said with so many potential competitors and fans living in this area it made sense to have a track here, and near a large city like Green Bay.

Seeing the need for a large local track near a metropolitan area in northeast Wisconsin, Demeny and a group of drivers, business people and motor sports enthusiasts joined about 19 months ago to form the Lena Motorsports Club.

They set it up as a non-stockholder corporation and sold more than 200 lifetime charter memberships ranging from $100 to $1,000 each in return for lifetime discounts on admission, camping at the track and other benefits. Demeny, of Abrams was elected board president. Vice president is Don Holtger of Klondike, secretary is Stephanie Paitl of Lena, treasurer is Jessica Schaden of Abrams, and directors are Bob Marquardt of Lena, Troy Schaden of Abrams, Mark Peterson of Lena and Cory Marquardt of Lena.

The Village of Lena and virtually its entire business community, as well as others in Oconto County enthusiastically supported the venture and came through with donations of materials, time and equipment.

Demeny said the track could not have been built without that generous community support. He estimated the cost to construct would have been about $1 million, but 90 percent of it was donated, including earth moving, concrete work, gravel, fencing, electrical service, and nearly everything else, including a small building at the entrance gate, three large flag poles, and the arch over the start/finish line, and old shipping containers that were converted into an announcer's tower and stands for spotters.

One of the biggest supporters of the project was and is Tom Schaal of Gillett, owner of the property on which it is built. The MORR organization also made a substantial contribution, Demeny said.

The track, just over a mile in length, was designed in consultation with numerous drivers, including Johnny Greaves, a veteran champion driver from the area. Demeny said theirs is a very technical short-course track, with features like a big tabletop jump, a split lane, a high-bank corner and others that can pay rewards for aggressive drivers.

Countless volunteers came forward to help when help was needed, putting their skills and equipment to work on the project. They picked rocks, hauled trash, put up snow fence, raked, doing whatever needed to be done.

The main earth moving was done last fall to give the ground a chance to settle over winter before the track was finished this spring.

Ryan Stingle, vice president of MORR visited the track in May on the track day for charter members. He called it "a big deal" to have a new track built for their style of racing. Stingle's father, Greg Stingle of Black Creek, a long-time racer, was one of the participants. Stingle said this area has a solid core of off road racing fans, and was impressed with the amount of enthusiasm and support shown by the entire community.

On July 8 the Wisconsin Department of Tourism presented a$27,000 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant to the club to help pay for advertising the Dirt City Duel event, which is expected to attract about 16,500 visitors to the Lena area as spectators in addition to the 160 racers. The races were to be marketed by all types of media to potential attendees from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Canada.

Demeny said most of their work is done, but improvements will continue. He noted they continue to work on expanding the campsite area, and said there will eventually be a Jeep course, but it is not ready yet. He said there will be more races scheduled next year, and stressed that the facility is intended to serve off road racing well into the future. This means serving children and young adults who wish to pursue the sport, he said, adding that by offering things for kids they will be doing their part to keep the sport alive.


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