Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New speedway ownership excites vet

Old auto racing hand rates rejuvenated Red River Co-op dirt track 'spectacular'

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LEO FEELEUS has been racing cars for well over 30 years, so he's spent a lot of time around the Red River Co-op Speedway.

Feeleus, 50, has seen several changes at the speedway, and in recent times, they've been for the better.

"The facility has basically grown up tremendous in the past 10 years from where we were 20 years ago," he said. "It's a super facility by any dirt track standards. We race in the States, and the one we have here is spectacular."

Feeleus is also excited about the latest development, as Walt Morris takes over ownership of the track.

"It's always nice to see somebody else come into the sport and take it on. It's bringing new life to it, basically," Feeleus said.

Morris takes over the track as it experiences a bit of a renaissance. In the past few years, there were major improvements to the facility, including new stands, washrooms, pit area and canteen.

Morris said he doesn't have any major physical improvements planned, but is hoping to create more awareness of auto racing as another low-cost entertainment alternative.

"It's a great place to come out, have some camaraderie. Everybody loves cars," said Morris, who also owns Winnipeg Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Winnipeg Collision Centre.

Morris said he bought the track because of his passion for cars, but recognizes the business aspect of it as well.

"You still have to be cognizant that it is a business. There's three sectors of it: fans, racers and employees. If we get all those driving, then it'll be a very successful place," Morris said. "We want to thank the fans that have been there through the tough times already, that have been there day in, day out, rain or shine."

With several young local racers competing at the track, including defending track champion Ricky Weiss, Morris said he wants to keep the new generation of drivers replenishing the ranks.

"There's a lot to be said here where we can do a lot more for our teenage people to keep them busy. We are working with a couple already," he said.

Weiss and Feeleus will be just two of the local drivers competing in the late-model division this Thursday at the speedway. It's the last race of the late-model season, and St. Francois Xavier's Weiss is sitting third in the standings at 1,142 points, 46 behind leader Cody Skytland, who has all but wrapped up the points title. Weiss still has an outside shot at second place against Mike Johnson, sitting 18 points back.

Feeleus said the logjam at the top of the standings is something fans should get used to, as the sport has become more competitive over the years.

daniel.falloon@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 5, 2009 D6

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