When Chase and Shelby Alves moved to South Dakota, they never imagined they would be promoting Interstate Speedway. Nevertheless, the couple, both racers, will do so when they take over the reins of the track most recently known as The New Raceway Park in Jefferson.
A South Dakota Surprise
“When we moved from Arizona to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in November we had no intentions of promoting a racetrack,” Chase said. “With four racetracks closing in Arizona, we were looking to be closer to a region where we can race every night of the week. We just picked a place on the map and moved to an affordable city with good schools for our daughter, Rowan.”
The Alves weren’t finished packing when the news broke that The New Raceway Park was looking for a promoter. Steve Kiraly, who was at the helm, had left the track suddenly. Racing friends convinced the Alves to contact track owners Tom and Carol Reed because social media posts reflected an ominous future for the track.
“We met with Steve and the Reeds, and came up with an agreement,” said Chase. “We felt we were pretty well known across the racing industry and would be supported in our effort to promote the track.”
The Industry’s Best Lend a Hand
Just last month, Chase had won The Duel in the Desert at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, an event that attracted 52 sport mods. He’s also the 2018 IMCA Arizona state sport mod champion and Arizona Speedway champion.
Shelby won the 2022 IMCA Lady Eagle national championship, as well as the 2022 IMCA Arizona state sport mod title and the crown at Central Arizona Raceway in Casa Grande.
(For more on Central Arizona Raceway, read “Central Arizona Raceway to Reopen in November”.)
They are well known and well liked, which helped them find guidance from some of the best in the business when it comes to track promotion.
Brad Whitfield, promoter of a pair of dirt ovals in Alves’ native state — Cocopah Speedway and Central Arizona Raceway — and Jerry Vansickel, promoter of Marshalltown Speedway, shared tips on track operations.
Mike Van Genderen, of Stuart International Speedway in Iowa, showed up Monday, fired up the grader, scraped off snow on the track, and began reshaping the Interstate Speedway.
“The track was tough to pass on,” Chase said. “We needed a wider racing surface. We took material from the middle of the track, improved the entry and exits of the turns and made a wider, more consistent configuration all the way around.”
What’s in Store for Interstate Speedway
Chase said that the Sunday-night weekly program will consist of five IMCA-sanctioned divisions — modifieds, sport mods, stock cars, hobby stocks, and sport compacts. Expect a variety of classes and series to pay visits, too, including IMCA sprint cars, late model street stocks, Tri-State Late Model Series, and Stock Car Crown Summer Series.
“We would like to put on a sport compact national event, too,” said Chase. “We would like to get feedback from racers and fans.”
Don’t expect the Alves to race at Interstate Speedway, though.
“I don’t think that it is a good idea for promoters to compete at their own speedway,” Chase said. “We’re lucky that we can race every night of the week in this area. We’ll certainly be supporting the track across the street on Saturday night.”
That track is Park Jefferson Speedway, only 0.3 miles away. The two tracks have sometimes coexisted peacefully and at other times contentiously.
(For more on Park Jefferson Speedway, read “Park Jefferson Speedway Reopens”.)
“We will work together with Chase and Shelby,” said Wayne Becker, promoter of Park Jefferson Speedway. “It’s a new deal. We’ll share things like equipment and transponders to help each other out. We are talking about a Jefferson City Championship, and driver incentives to race both tracks.”
Overall, there’s an enthusiasm surrounding the new promoters and Interstate Speedway.
“With the postings the last few days, the hype on Facebook has been insanely positive,” Chase said. “We mentioned we’re hiring help next year, and we got more than 60 applicants so far. We’re going to bring in fresh faces and create a professional business that everyone can enjoy.”
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.