The racing season for the Arlington Raceway began on June 20, and since then, Henderson and Belle Plaine racers have presented their skills with excitement on the track every Saturday. Numerous racers have been taking part in the competition for a long time.

On Saturday, July 4, a number of drivers from Belle Plaine joined the Independence Day festivities at the track, including Chad Schroeder, whose IMCA stock car carried the American flag during Saturday's national anthem.

Schroeder is among the nine listed drivers who represented Belle Plaine. Others listed in the raceway's lineup were patrick Oestreich, Cassidy Paul, Matthew Speiss, Jonathan Schroeder, Scott Oestreich, Mark Oestreich, Karlee Becker, Joey Reimers and J.J.. Reimers. One might notice repeated last names in that list.

Mori Oestreich drives the 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix and has been competing for 28 years. Oestreich’s father and his brother raced for many years at Arlington and other racetracks. Now his two brothers and three nephews also take part with him.

“It’s a family thing,” as Oestreich mentioned, pointing how the Arlington Raceway brings friends and family together.

Megan Voss of Henderson has also been carrying out the family tradition of racing at Arlington. Racing since the age of 12, Voss also admits that Arlington Raceways goes way back down in her family’s history.

“My dad used to race,” Voss said. “He was a racer for a long time. He had a salvage yard and used to sell parts.”

Voss also races at Cedar Lake in Wisconsin and Toners Lake in Waseca, MN. While Voss started with Go-Karts, she tried compact cars for a while when she was 16 and is now back to driving Go-Karts.

Racing at Arlington has acquainted many members of the community with each other. Voss met Kayla Schauer, another Go-Kart racer, and the two became close friends over their passion for this sport.

Schauer lived close to Arlington but never took part in racing until her then-boyfriend, now husband, introduced it to her. Her husband raced a sports modifier and switched to Go-Karts and Outlaw Hobby Stock a couple of years ago. While he’s on deployment now, Schauer continues to take part in the competition.

Brett McConnell, who is experimenting this year with an IMCA sports car, has been participating with his brothers since 2014. While he started with truck and autocross, he has decided to switch to sports cars.

Racing has not only been a passion for Brett, but it has also been a long-standing family tradition starting with his father and passed on to Brett and his brothers. While the eldest two brothers, Brett and Justin, compete in the race, the youngest brother, Nick, helps with the work on the cars.

“We enjoy putting on a show, and it’s a big thing between me and my brothers,” Brett said. “And once I gave it a try, I was hooked.”

Brett claims to have always been into motorsports.

The brothers compete at different race tracks in Webster City, Iowa; Fountain City, Wisconsin; and Princeton and Brainerd in Minnesota. However, he appreciates the good track and surface in Arlington.

Arlington is not only close to his home but is also special because his father used to always race there.

Last weekend, McConnell faced a mechanical challenge as the motor of his Chevrolet Cavalier blew up on the track.

“IMCA sports is a big learning curve and we are still adapting to the changes,” McConnell said. “It’s a big difference; you wear racing suits and all. It has a big oval track unlike the ones for the truck races.”

All of the competitors enjoy the environment and the community at the Arlington Raceway. Oestreich emphasizes that other participants are just like another family.

“I love how helpful everyone is,” said Schauer. “If I needed a part of a tool, I could easily ask someone and they would be more than willing to let you borrow or lend a hand if needed.”

Oestreich, who drives Outlaw Hobby, also has fond memories of helpful teammates.

“Everybody is good with everyone in our class,” Oestreich said. “One day we pulled a truck behind our trailer to get it on the track.”

All of the participants will have to be cautious while socializing this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arlington Raceway usually begins racing in May; however, the pandemic has already pushed them behind in their schedule.

All participants, including pit crew members, now have to sign a COVID release form, and the spectator capacity is limited to 250 people. All rigs need to park 10 feet apart and social distancing is required for everyone unless they are with their family.

While the restrictions will be enforced, the competition will still allow them an opportunity to see each other.

“We will still talk from a distance and put a mask on to abide by what they got,” said Oestreich with hope. “It’s the environment and good people that make it so fun and everybody looks forward to seeing each other.”

All of the other participants echoed Oestreich’s anticipation of a lovely and cautionary gathering.

Casey Ek contributed to this report.

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