Thunder in the summer

Published 4:09 am Saturday, March 2, 2013

An aerial shot of Deer Creek Speedway  and its adjacent campground. —Photo by Gene Miller

An aerial shot of Deer Creek Speedway
and its adjacent campground. —Photo by Gene Miller

Each year, Deer Creek Speedway roars with family fun, plenty of thrills

When the Queensland family’s real estate company was dealt with the task of marketing and selling Deer Creek Speedway 11 years ago, a light bulb went off. The rest is history.

Ryan Queensland, who is now marketing director and event coordinator at Deer Creek Speedway, had just been married at the time, and his family decided to purchase the property and operate it by themselves.

The Queensland family had a background in marketing, but they weren’t sure what to expect from a race track.

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“There was certainly a lot of baptism by fire,” Ryan said. “A lot of people gave us advice, and we had to bring it together. It’s had its hills and valleys, but it’s an affordable family venue for entertainment.”

Modifieds head into a turn. —Photo by Scott Gulbranson

Modifieds head into a turn. —Photo by Scott Gulbranson

Over the years, the track — which is located 15 miles south of Rochester on Highway 63 — has been redesigned, and VIP Suites added. In 2010, Deer Creek was awarded Regional and National Promoter of the Year by Racing Promotion Monthly magazine, and in 2009 the track was awarded the World of Outlaw Late Model promoter/event of the year.

There are currently six members of the Queensland family working at Deer Creek, so work days can feel a little like family get-togethers.

“Blood is thicker than water,” Randy said. “We’re very fortunate as a family that we can work together. It’s been awesome and great.”

The track is very popular every summer, and 2012 was no different. It drew 555 drivers from 23 states and paid $840,000 in prize money. Cars overflowed from the parking lot and into the ditches. Swarms of campers, trailers, race cars, four wheelers, golf carts and children flooded the grounds.

On a typical night at Deer Creek, one can expect 130 racers, 60 employees and 1,200 to 4,000 fans in the grandstands.

“It’s like any major sporting event,” Randy said. “There’s adrenaline, and the sounds are very exciting. It’s pretty awesome watching all the work we’ve put in come together and to sit back and watch all of the employees putting pride into their job.”

Last season, Deer Creek drew a total of nearly 54,000 fans.

“It’s grown locally, regionally and nationally,” Randy said. “We try to be a good community partner and provide a fan-friendly environment with good entertainment value.”

Deer Creek is a 60-acre facility that hosts an average of 30 events a year. It has a high-banked, three-eighths, dirt/clay track with 24 VIP Suites, 36 VIP Decks and a total seating capacity of 8,000.