If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may know that I frequently post about my experiences at various racetracks across the country. In addition to getting up close and personal with some of NASCAR’s biggest stars, the job also often consists of taking a lot of fast and furious photos of the racecars zooming past me at incredible speeds.
For the most part, my posts will be about my own personal experiences and will generally reflect the good, the bad and the ugly of the sport. However, every so often, I’ll post about a track that I’ve been to that is unlike any other racetrack I’ve been to. One of these is Magic Valley Speedway, located in Hiawatha, Minnesota. I was fortunate enough to get a hold of the track’s public relations director, Chris Leary, and get the skinny on how big is Magic Valley and what it’s like to race there.
A Brief History
Magic Valley Speedway first opened its gates in 1927 and has been a staple of motorsport in the area ever since. For most of the 20th century, the track saw little to no track activity outside of the region. However, as the years went by and the sport evolved, so did the racing at Magic Valley. In the 1960s and ’70s, the track would see tremendous attendance due in part to the popularity of NASCAR during those decades.
It was during this time that the need for more infrastructure developed as more cars and spectators poured into the area. As a result, the track was no longer able to host major races because they lacked the capacity to do so. However, by hosting smaller events, they were able to keep the gates open and the lights on longer and allow for more opportunities for fans.
Despite its name, Magic Valley is certainly not an actual magic place. The track is actually located in Hiawatha, which is about an hour away from the Twin Cities. Built on a curve, the 4.9-mile asphalt oval is banked on the right, sweeping into a gradual turn and then banking back on the left. One look at the track’s outside and you can see why it’s so popular; it’s a great combination of long straightaways and sharp turns that allow for some great photo opportunities.
In addition to being an ideal shooting location, the track also boasts great amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, picnic areas, grills, and a playground for the kids. One of the highlights of the track is the concession stands, which are located every other corner around the perimeter and which are among the best in the industry. While the food and drink prices are quite high, they’re still a bargain compared to what you’d pay at a traditional motorsport venue.
With its rich motorsport history, it’s not surprising that the drivers who’ve raced there are among the best of the best, including several who’ve gone on to win championships. In fact, Magic Valley has held the nickname of The Mecca of Motorsports since at least the 1930s. The track currently boasts a very strong list of drivers who’ve either won races there or are a part of the racing organization. Some of the more famous names on the roster include Tommy Kendall, Fred Lorenzen, Lee Waller, and many more. If you Google “the five best drivers ever to race at Magic Valley,” you’ll see that I’ve probably driven past all of them at one point or another.
One of the primary focuses of the PR department at Magic Valley is getting people excited about racing there. To that end, they hold an annual car show where all of the drivers on the roster come together to showcase their automobiles. The show is usually held in the middle of June and is one of the highlights of the year at the track, as well as an excellent opportunity for the public to get a look at some of the sport’s biggest stars.
As I mentioned above, the primary focus of the PR department at Magic Valley is making people aware of the track and its events. One of the ways they do so is by making regular updates on social media about what’s happening at the track and by holding special events, such as the annual car show, to get the public familiar with the venues and its drivers. Another way they promote the track is by participating in meet-and-greets with drivers after the races, which is something the fans love.
Like most other tracks, the competition at Magic Valley is fierce. However, due to the size of the track and its proximity to the Twin Cities, it sees more than its fair share of traffic, so to speak. As a result, the margin for error is much smaller and the competition is much closer to the point where one mistake can cost you the race. If you happen to be looking for a relatively “quiet” track to practice or tune up on, this may not be the best option for you.
Is It Worth The Trip?
The cost of gas these days is more than enough reason to avoid driving to Hiawatha, Minnesota, especially if you’re coming from the North. However, if you’re coming from the South or the West, the trip may not be that bad. As long as you can spare the time and have a good road map, you should be able to find your way. Just make sure you research the best route before you set out and try to get there as early as possible, especially on race days, as traffic may be bad.
Overall, I think there’s a lot to like about Magic Valley Speedway. It has a rich history that dates back to the early decades of the 20th century, which means the food and drink are pretty cheap. In addition, the track is big and has an ideal location, which makes for some great photo opportunities. The track is also close to a lot of North Carolina’s major cities, so if you’re looking for a place to race or to just visit, you may want to give it a thought.