Racers gearing up for State Fair races

With the North Dakota State Fair less than a week away, Nodak Speedway is set to host two nights of racing beginning at 7 p.m. Monday with the Enduro race.

It was a father-son fight to the checkered flag last year as Casey Stern held off his father, Myron, to win the $1,500 grand prize. Watford City’s Mike Durham, a four-time Enduro winner, finished third in the 55-car field.

“I guess I got myself into trouble,” Durham said, “but I had a fun time doing it. (The State Fair’s) kept this guy coming back for almost 20 years. It’s exciting. You don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Durham said it’s anybody’s race when the Enduro drivers come to Nodak Speedway and it doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of luck as well.

International Motor Contest Association Stock Car driver Bob Fuegmann used to drive Enduro cars before becoming a regular at Nodak Speedway. He said the Enduro race is “one not to miss.”

“It’s about a 50-to-60 mph high-speed demolition derby,” Fuegmann said. “They’re very entertaining whether you like car races or not.”

The IMCA Stock Cars and Modifieds share the spotlight the following night. Minot’s Steven Pfeifer is the defending champion for both classes, but said he won’t race in the Stock Car event since he’s focused on the Modifieds this year. Pfeifer said he doesn’t feel the pressure of repeating.

“It’s one of them deals where how you do is kind of irrelevant,” Pfeifer said, “but you want to win because you have so many people who aren’t normal race track people watching. It inspires to a lot of different people. That’s the coolest thing.”

With Pfeifer out of the Stock Car race, racers like Kenmare’s Robert Hellebust and Minot’s Kelly Henderson eye the top prize. Hellebust was poised to win last year’s race after leading 20 of the 25 laps, but ran out of fuel with three laps remaining due in part to 10 cautions.

Henderson finished second last year and is having another solid year at Nodak Speedway. He is second in the points standings, trailing fellow Minot native Nathan Burke by seven points.

Pfeifer isn’t the only one who won’t be competing in the race as Fuegmann broke his last motor on the final day of the Dakota Classic Tour. Fuegmann ran as high as fifth in last year’s race before blowing a tire.

“It’s really fun,” Fuegmann said. “It seems like a completely different atmosphere than any other night. I was really looking forward to running at the fair.”

Fuegmann said he’ll still be in attendance and will help out in the pits.

Pfeifer will defend his title in the IMCA Modifieds race, but his stiffest competition from last year won’t be present. Hank Berry of Sidney, Mont., said he won’t be at the State Fair due to prior commitments. Berry finished second in the Modifieds feature last year and led Pfeifer the majority of the race, but was passed with five laps remaining.

“Everybody wants to win it regardless,” Pfeifer said. “This is still one of those races that it’s a cool deal to go and race.”

Mike Kraft covers racing at Nodak Speedway during the summer. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.