Here they come!

Payton Hupe has the loud engine noises covered as she watches practice sessions at Dairy Queen International Speedway on Wednesday.

They built it and the race fans did indeed come. No surprise.

Our district is full of auto race enthusiasts. It was practice night, or test and tune night, at Dairy Queen International Speedway on Wednesday. The race teams are preparing for the Thunder Bay Truck Centre Dirt Track Invitational set for Sept. 17-19 at the new track.

Thank you to Peterbuilt owners — you are supporting the track, too.

It was so hot I could barely stand it. I was not sure people would show up with the weather being muggy and humid. They filled the parking lot. It was impressive.

The Hari family kept the torch lit with all those races at Mosquito Speedway and I would like to thank them from the racers and the race fans. We will miss that track, so thank you for letting us use it.

The track is the brainchild of the late Richard Schutte. The Schutte family should know Richard’s spirit was there when his dream became a reality. The track looks great and Richard would be proud to know how it will be enjoyed.

To the Nadin family and every person who worked on that track, you should be very proud of all your hard work.

To the race family, the Simpson crew I could never thank you and your volunteer team enough for all you have done for the sport of racing. You have to love it to work that hard.

I talked to a lot of race fans on Wednesday and every single one of them was very happy to see a home track look so good. It takes time and money and dedication. It really is for the love of the sport.

It was nice to see people smiling, families together enjoying the new venue and some new race teams.

Warren Kettering said both himself and his car were overheating so we had a chat on his break.

“I had to get out of the race suit,” he admitted. “It is pretty hot out there and the car was hot too.”

I asked what he thought of the new track. His answer was a bit of a question back.

“Are you kidding me? I am so happy racing is back. I will not complain about this track. I am just so happy it is here,” said Kettering, who had been racing at Emo Speedway outside Fort Frances during this season.

Co-owner Norm Nadin was left smiling after Wednesday’s experience and mingling with fans and drivers.

“Wow, lots of positive feedback. Look at the people. This has far exceeded my expectations. We are not ready for September just yet. We have more to do,” he said. “It is obvious we will be increasing the parking. We need to finish the press box and flag man’s tower. Really lots to do but we are getting there.”

Nadin wanted to thank his crew that put in many long hours from Nadin construction he said, “those company guys worked hard and I appreciate it.”

He also wanted to thank WILCO for all the fencing they put up and they did it in record time. When you see all the fencing at the track you will understand. They pushed to get it done. Also RML for the press box, announce booth and lap recorder office. It is not yet finished, but it is very nice.

I would like to thank the Haniak family and all the people who sponsor racing and volunteer. The race fans know you, they see you, and appreciate you.

To the volunteers, race fans drivers and pit crews. I saw you smiling through the sweat. It was hot outside but we suffered for a sport we love. I get you. You are my kind of people.

My eyes watered when I saw Kevin Montieth and his son Kyle on the track together. They were making memories and there are many more to come.

Check out the 100 years of racing Facebook page for drivers, cars and their numbers. Some numbers are not on the cars just yet. Dave Myers was a first-time driver and it was his first time on the track. I saw Colt Germain out there as well. Germain is the son of Jeff Germain and the nephew of former Riverview modified track champion, Randy Germain.

Congratulations drivers and fans. Thunder Bay has a race track.

Johan Vass is a Thunder Bay-based writer. Reach her at jvass@tbaytel.net.