First we heard that there would be no racing at Badlands Motor Speedway in 2017. Bummer.
Shortly thereafter came news of an abbreviated schedule. Better than nothing.
Last Saturday (May 13) brought the first of what was supposed to be five events. People went. Mark Dobmeier and Darrin Korthals took home feature wins, just as they had many times before. Overall, it was a pretty typical and entertaining night.
But here we are, less than a week later, and we are back to square one...as in no more racing.
It all started Wednesday when reports surfaced that track was parting ways with Jay Masur and his Med-Star Dirt Track Race Rescue Team.
"We have simply decided to go in a different direction with this particular vendor," BMS General Manager Tom Savage said in a statement to KELOLAND News. "As always, it is our top priority at Badlands Motor Speedway to keep our race teams and fans as safe as possible. Of course we will have race rescue personnel and ambulance service at every one of our events."
Businesses make decisions like this all the time. They have to do what they feel is in the best interest of their operation. But this particular business was going to have a tough time convincing anyone around here that this was the right move.
Masur and his family had been serving their hometown facility for more than 40 years. He and his team are widely considered to be one of, if not the the very best in the business. It is nearly impossible make things safer, even as safe, without him and his group in the picture. And the racing community made sure to make their collective voice heard on the matter.
Thursday, after a day of seeing its social media accounts inundated with what it called "an onslaught of negativity", Badlands Motor Speedway announced that it was suspending racing until a new ownership can be found. The track also said it would be re-pricing the facility at $7.5 million in hopes quickening the sale process.
The real kicker for me had nothing to do with the red flag. That part didn't surprise me. It fits perfectly with the pattern of behavior we've seen out of Chuck Brennan since last November's vote to approve South Dakota Measure 21.
He's a take his ball and go home kind of guy and this was just another example of that.
But forget all of that.
What bothered me was the explanation behind the BMS's decision to terminate its relationship with Masur and Med-Star.
Here it is in its entirety:
Our reasoning for the separation from Med Star: Normally Mr. Masur and his Med Star team show up to our events hours prior to the event as no racecars can be fired up until a medical services team is on site. Last year they were always set up 2-3 hours early so this is when we expected them this year, especially for our largest event and our season-opener. When they were not there by 5:00pm as when expected, General Manager Tom Savage spoke with Mr. Masur who said they were on their way. Multiple calls were made thereafter, and they finally entered our property at 6:30pm, which was after the gates were already open to the fans. They did not get to the infield until 6:45pm. These unexpected delays put management in the very difficult position of having to determine if refunds needed to be made to all of the fans and what to do with the race teams who came from all over the area to compete. Cancelling a live event like this on the spot would have been very difficult and surely would have caused some major disruptions and inconveniences to unsuspecting fans and drivers.
Normally following every event, Mr. Masur and Med Star always stayed on the facility grounds to be sure the drivers, race teams and fans exited the facility safely, and that there are no medical emergencies or patrons in need. On Saturday they packed up immediately and left the property while the majority of the fans and race teams were still on property. We are thankful there were no emergencies during that time, but this was simply unacceptable and unprecedented.
In the interest of fairness, I was not in attendance, so I am unable to confirm or refute anything concerning the timeline. But the rest of it just doesn't add up.
I have gotten to know Jay Masur a little bit during my years as the host of Midco Motorsports and I cannot imagine a world where some of this is entirely accurate. The man I know and have observed is the epitomy of professionalism. That guy would never scrimp on safety. It's his passion. It's his team's passion. There are no acceptable shortcuts. If you aren't doing things the safest way possible as a driver, crew member, official or fan, Masur will find you and he will make sure you understand that it is unacceptable.
As for Masur, he offered a personal rebuttal to the BMS timeline via the Med-Star Facebook page on Friday.
Who do you believe? I know my answer.
But what I really want to know is whether this is finally the end of Brennan's tumultuous affiliation with local racing.
I hope so.