The Nodak Speedway is an all-style track located in the city of Duluth, Minnesota. The track is named after its original owner—the Nodak Company—a local electrical co-op that originally built the track in the 1960s. The company later sold the property to the city in 1983. The property was officially opened to the public in 1987.
The Nodak Speedway Isn’t Your Traditional Racing Track.
The Nodak Speedway is a little bit different than your usual racing track. First of all, it’s a little bit shorter. According to the track’s website, it’s only 1.9 miles long, compared to 2.5 or 3 miles for other tracks. The turns are tight, with only one right-hand turn before the track straightens out again. This tightness helps promote a higher rate of cornering. A benefit of this higher rate of cornering is that fewer brake pads are required.
Another difference between the Nodak Speedway and other racing tracks is the style of the facility. The Nodak Company hired local architects to design the track. Their intention was to capture the feeling of being on a small town American main street. The architects took this idea and ran with it, using brick for the walls, wooden floors, and tin roofs on the structures. They didn’t just use red, white, and blue, either; they used these colors in a coordinated manner throughout the entire property. You’ll notice the color scheme when you walk up to the grandstands or go for a drive around the track. The roofs are even painted red, white, and blue to match the theme.
The Nodak Company hired a marketing company to help promote the track. One of the many ways they did this was by putting up billboards across from I-35W and Hwy. 52, promoting upcoming events and offering a special discounted rate for those who visit the site online at thenodakspeedway.com.
There is no separate facility for driving and parking at the Nodak Speedway. Instead, there are ample parking spaces located throughout the property. You can also bring your bicycle with you, as there is a designated area for bike storage at the back of the grandstands. This is a common area, where fans who parked their cars there during the race can come together after the race for food and drinks, as well as to meet and greet the drivers as they come down the tunnel to celebrate with the crowd.
Biggest Event In The History Of The Track.
The first annual Bikers, Brews, And BBQ presented by Duluth Trading Company was held at the Nodak Speedway on July 4th, 1988. The name of the event is now commonly known as the ‘Biggest Event in the History of the Track.’ More than 20,000 people showed up for the celebration, which was staged mainly outside the track. This was the culmination of a 3-day motorcycle stunt competition, which featured more than 80 motorcycle riders from across the country. The organizers of the event estimated that this was the largest crowd that had ever gathered outside of a racetrack, at that time.
The following year, on July 3rd 1989, more than 25,000 people showed up for the second annual Biggest Event in the History of the Track. This was also an event organized by the Duluth Trading Company, but it was now an all-day affair. It featured more than 150 motorcyclists from across the country, as well as an exhibition of historic racing cars. The event raised more than $20,000 for charity. One of the beneficiaries of this charity was the North American Handicap Racing Association (NAHRA).
The Grandstands And Pavilion Are One-Of-A-Kind.
One of the distinguishing features of the Nodak Speedway is its grandstands. These were designed to look like small town America’s answer to grandstands you would see at a NASCAR race. The idea, again, was to capture the nostalgia of a bygone era. Architects drew inspiration from the diners seated outside restaurants and bars in small town America. They also drew inspiration from movie sets, where directors can draw inspiration from any place and time.
One of the reasons why the Nodak Speedway is so distinctive is the style of the food and drink vendors located there. The company that owns and operates the site recruited five different eateries to serve concessions during the race. These are:
- Louie’s Bar-B-Que
- Biker Jim’s Restaurant & Bar
- Kurt’s Cycle Wear
- Pepper Lunch
They wanted these businesses to reflect the small town America vibe they were going for. As you might imagine, this was a bit of a challenge; they had to find a way to fit all of these restaurants within the confines of the track. The solution was to make the grandstands and the pavilion one and the same.
The way this is accomplished is by using a steel frame to support the structure. The pavilion’s roof is also supported by steel trusses. Instead of the more traditional wood and metal framework, these frameworks are designed with a lighter, more airy material, creating the illusion that the space is larger than it actually is. This allows the pavilion to hold more people inside, while still fitting the size of a traditional American football stadium.
When you walk into the pavilion, you’ll notice that there is no division between the stands and the restaurant area, like you would find at most other sports arenas. The architects achieved this by using flooring that rises above the standing area, making it feel like an extension of the restaurant.
There Is An Outdoor Heading Area, As Well As Indoor.
Another unique aspect of the Nodak Speedway is the outdoor heading area located at the end of each lap. This is where drivers change bikes before heading back out for another lap. The area is fully enclosed, but still has a small section of seating, so fans can keep an eye on the action.
The designers of the track also put in an outdoor shower area for the convenience of the drivers. The shower heads are even shaped like butterflies for added charm.
Another interesting feature is the indoor shower area located inside the bathroom facilities. This is a great place for drivers to get ready for the next event, while still being able to keep an eye on their mirrors and watch their bike’s display during those critical last minutes of a race.
A few more photos from my visit to the Nodak Speedway in July 2020. Not pictured: a very friendly security guard named Joe, who asked me if I wanted to be a part of the community and offered me a key to allow me into the track at any time. I decided to say no, thanks.
The Nodak Speedway is one of the jewels of the Twin Cities, and it shows no signs of slowing down. This is also due, in part, to the dedicated fans that live and breathe motorcycling. One of the greatest things about the Nodak Speedway is its size. The entire town of Duluth, Minnesota, works together to maintain and promote this gem. If you’re ever in Duluth, be sure to check out this little jewel.