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Mission Valley Speedway reopens with new leaser

By Adriana Fehrs

The Mission Valley Speed Way has sat empty for several years, but last month Terry Pudwill, of South Dakota, leased the tribally owned motorway. He has already started the renovations, and plans on sealing the cracks on the track, painting the announcer / concession stands, staining all of the concrete, and repairing the fencing and bleachers. (Adriana Fehrs photo) The Mission Valley Speed Way has sat empty for several years, but last month Terry Pudwill, of South Dakota, leased the tribally owned motorway. He has already started the renovations, and plans on sealing the cracks on the track, painting the announcer / concession stands, staining all of the concrete, and repairing the fencing and bleachers. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

PABLO — The sounds of revving car engines, the rumble of tires on asphalt, and the smell of motor oil will fill the air once again. The Mission Valley Speedway has a new leaser; Terry Pudwill is fixing up the tribally owned racetrack, and opening week starts July 26.

It’s sat empty for several years, but last month Terry Pudwill, of South Dakota, leased the motorway. After obtaining approval from the Tribal Council, he set out to improve the place. “I really appreciate George Ducharme, Carolee Wenderoth, and Louie McDonald [of the CSKT Tribal Lands Department] for helping me. I also want to thank Tribal Council for giving me the opportunity to do something wonderful here.”

Puwill says he leased the motor way because of his love of racing. “Its’ always been a passion of mine; I love to go fast.” His friend and associate Dixon Helgeson also has a passion for the sport; his father John Helgeson and grandfather are notable racecar drivers.

Walking up to the track, you can see how empty and eerie the place is without cars and energetic by standards in the bleachers. Burnt rubber on the racetrack remains as a reminder of its former glory. After remaining unused for so long, the track has a long ‘to do’ list before it is reopened, but that doesn’t deter Pudwill. “I don’t think people understand how much effort goes into getting a Speedway ready. You can’t just open up a track and race.” So far, he and a crew of six others have already replaced all of the track lights, cleaned out the announcer/concession stand, wacked down all of the overgrown weeds, and hauled in large boulders – for landscaping purposes- which will be used to designate handicapped parking; no small feat.

The remnants of past races can still be seen on the Mission Valley Speed Way track. The tribally owned property has been leased out, and opening week is set for July 26. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  The remnants of past races can still be seen on the Mission Valley Speed Way track. The tribally owned property has been leased out, and opening week is set for July 26. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Next, Pudwill plans on sealing the cracks on the track, painting the announcer / concession stands, staining all of the concrete, and repairing the fencing and bleachers.

For opening week, there will be a live band and sprint car races. Pudwill is also making efforts to book inflatable bounce houses for the kids. “We really want to make this event fun for the whole family. I’m going to make sure that there is something for everyone while they’re here watching the races,” he says.

Pudwill’s main focus is on safety. All racing vehicles will undergo inspection by Helgeson. Appropriate harnesses and roll bars are necessary in all vehicles. Racers who deliberately bump into other racers will receive a black flag and must pit – meaning they will be forced to leave the track for a certain amount of time during the race. “We want to have a safe facility, and we want a good clean race,” says Pudwill.

Pudwill says there has been some speculation on the future of the racetrack – many believe that the track will not reopen anytime soon. Pudwill refutes that and says, “It’s a green to go.”

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