I have to admit it, I had never heard of Emo Speedway. Emo is a small rural township, located 400 km west of Thunder Bay, directly north of the state of Minnesota. It is known for its stock car races, the Rainy River Agricultural Fair and the Emo Walleye Classic. So I decided to look into Emo a little further.
In 2009, the dirt track celebrated its 55th anniversary of the original opening. The first racing season started on July 30, 1954 and (cars with all types of engines raced) only one class competed. The season started out with thirteen competitors and the number fluctuated very little until the end of the season in September. "King Al" Gerald of International Falls, Minnesota won the first championship. In 1959, interested dropped and lack of fan support led to the shut down when the track ran out of funds. The track was closed at the end of the 1959 season but reopened in 1964. In 1971 saw the introduction of Hobby Stocks, cars similar to the Canadian Vintage Modifieds. Within two years, the track once again were plagued with lack of support. The races are run at the track at Emo District Fairgrounds and local groups felt the Fair is the most profitable part of the year, and when the Fair Board decided to drop the stock cars for live entertainment, the money needed to run dwindled forcing racing to be suspended. There were no points in 1974 due to a shortened season and 1975 had only a few events. Emo Speedway would shut down until its second revival in 1981.
After five years of exhibition racing, the Borderland Racing Association became the operating body of the Emo Speedway. The first full season started in 1986 with two classes running, Modifieds and Street Stocks. In 1989, the Modifieds became sanctioned with WISSOTA, allowing the class to have to ability to travel to other WISSOTA tracks and also compete for a National Championship. WISSOTA Auto Racing takes place at about 60 race tracks located in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta. In 1992, a third class was added, the Thunder class. They were similar to Street Stocks but the engines were no bigger than a 305 and had an unlocked rear end differential. The cars were slower than the Street Stocks but offered an affordable class for younger people to get into racing. The class would run until the end of the 1995 season and were removed due to low car counts. In 1994, the Mini-Sprint class came to Emo Speedway. The class was much different than what had been seen at the Speedway before. The cars had a short wheelbase, two wings (on top and in the front) and ran a snowmobile engine that turned out a maximum 600cc.
Many great racers have graced the 3/8 mile dirt oval over the years but perhaps the most successful has been Steve Arpin of Fort Frances. Arpin won every feature race at Emo from 2001-2003. Since 2004 Arpin has been tearing up tracks all over the Mid West and even into Florida. He still turning heads and currently races in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and was the 2008 USAC Rookie of the Year. Check Steve's website. Not to be out done there have been and still are many great drivers at Emo like Greg Ferris, Kendal Gamsby, Ken Perry and Gavin Paull, just to name a few. The Borderland Racing Association currently hosts three different classes that includes Street Stocks , the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds and WISSOTA Modifieds.
Thanks to Anthony Leek, President and Promoter of the Borderland Racing Association. He was very forthcoming with information about the track and it's people like Anthony that has made Emo Speedway a great success. This is a cozy little track, the front and back straight are 335 feet long and the corners are banked 15 degrees. The lack of walls surprised me but I'm sure that can add to the excitement. There is also a Go Kart track located in the middle of the dirt track. They race Friday nights at 7:30 pm. If you're ever in Emo, check out the races every Saturday night at 7:30 pm and is located at the Fairgrounds on Colonization Road.
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