Hejna named new promoter in Mason City; USRA to sanction weekly racing in 2016

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September 19, 2015

Al Hejna is back in the racing game, this time with the task of rejuvenating the I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Iowa.

Hejna has been named the new promotor at the I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Iowa. Hejna, a Mason City resident and business owner, is a former racer at the half-mile facility as well a USMTS star who appeared in the TV docu-drama Dirt Knights.

Hejna’s son-in-law, Ryne Staley, will co-promote events at the historic North Iowa Fairgrounds. The team has big plans which include improvements and upgrades to the facility, a redesigned and resurfaced racetrack and a big bump in the quality of events.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for so long,” Hejna said. “Even dating back to the early 1990s.”

Hejna replaces Joe Ringsdorf, who promoted events at the half-mile dirt oval for nearly twenty years. The track ended its 2015 season abruptly with one month remaining on the schedule due to low fan turnout.

A member of the North Iowa Fair Board, Hejna resigned when the bid was placed to promote the track.

The United States Racing Association will sanction weekly racing at the track in 2016. While the changes will be few for drivers who raced in 2015, Hejna said those who raced last season will get a one-year grace period that allows them time to adjust to USRA rules packages.

"We feel we can do more for the racers by going USRA with the payout and the point fund. Changes aren’t as much as some people think,” Hejna added.

Other than the American Racer KK704 racing tires, the USRA does not require drivers to utilize dozens of costly, pre-stamped performance parts. Grooving is also allowed, giving competitors more life out of their tires to save them the added expense of continually replacing rubber.

In the USRA Hobby Stock division, the biggest change that drivers will see is that the USRA allows a floater rear end as a measure of safety for their competitors. However, it is not required.

USRA B-Mods can race under the former rules package in 2016 except for the tires, and the track will allow drivers to use their old tires until June on the rear and July on front.

In the USRA Stock Car class, racers will get the same grace period on tires. Those running a 350 carburetor may bolt on a 500 Holley carb with a four-barrel.

Modifieds are set to run on alternating weekends with both USRA “open” and “alternative” rules packages, and Hornets/Sport Compacts will continue to be featured as long as the car count remains solid. A drivers meeting will be announced at a later date to discuss all plans with next year’s competitors.

While Hejna and the USRA are careful to help drivers make the transition at minimal cost, the other side of the ledger should come as a welcome change.

The payouts for each class will be enhanced significantly, starting with Modifieds which will run for $1,000 to win. USRA Stock Cars and USRA B-Mods will race for $500 weekly and the USRA Hobby Stock winner will pocket $400, making the I-35 Speedway one of the best-paying dirt tracks in the state of Iowa.

“The Fair Board is committed to fixing that, and they are going to reshape the track and get all the dirt work done this fall,” Hejna said.

Hejna said it is possible the Modified class will run a shorter schedule—possibly eight weeks—and that weekly racing will not begin in early April like it did in years past.

Another focus will be bringing marquee specials to the track.

Hejna said they are hoping to land a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event during the fair. He also said the promoters and the North Iowa Fair Board are working together to promote five nights of motor sports during next year’s fair.

A $5,000-to-win Stock Car event will likely be held, he said, and a USMTS stop is nearly guaranteed.

“We want to have a special for every class,” Hejna said.

Admission for a weekly show will be $10.

“If we are out of there by 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, honestly, that’s a fail to me. We want enough cars to have B features,” Hejna said.

A new website, Facebook page and Twitter profile are already in the works too.

To learn more about the USRA, visit www.usraracing.com or call 515-832-6000. You can also like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usraracing, follow us at www.twitter.com/usraracing on Twitter and check out our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/usratv.

Article Source: Jared Patterson, Mason City Globe Gazette

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