Last weekend the USA International Raceway, aka US Air Motorsports Raceway, hosted the national Route 66 Sprint Series go-karts. According to Shawano Leader, “more than 350 go-kart racers from across the country…” would be attending.
Let me give you some background information on this track.
- 2003: Midwest Amusement Park (an SIST subsidiary) purchased the amusement park property for $350,000; at the time it was a small amateur family entertainment and hobby go-karting facility.
- 2004: Midwest Amusement Park expanded to include USA International Raceway, hired Kenny Venberg to design the multi-faceted racetrack which has since become world famous, creating an exemplary facility in the kart racing world.
- 2005: USA International Raceway is open for business. National and International races are scheduled.
- 2008: Rotax Grand National’s race is held with attendees from around the world.
- 2009: USAIR appraised cost value at $8.7 million
- 2010: Midwest Amusement Park and USAIR are forced into receivership under the guise of a ‘technical default’ on mortgage payments, when in actuality all payments were up to date.
- 2012: USA International Raceway sold for $2 million in a foreclosure sale, October 2012. Re-opens under mortgage holders’ management as US Air Motorsports.
- 2013: Amusement Park re-opens under new management as Xceleration Amusement Park. Steve Kastning is managing the facility, owned by Shawano Motorsports, through his company, Hard Core Promotions, LLC. – This only lasted for one year before the amusement side closed.
- 2015: July 1, US Air Motorsports Raceway and Amusement Park up for auction, $25,000 entry fee.
The relationship of this facility with the local town, city and county officials in particular Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt, was mediocre at best. USAIR was snubbed by officials from day one. When USAIR invited Marquardt to the ribbon cutting ceremony she didn’t show up or even acknowledge her invite.
Or like the ribbon cutting ceremony held for Xceleration Amusement Park; which Mike Schuler, Westcott Town Board Chairman hustled to attend, making sure to praise Steve Kastning, the new owner, for a job well done.
This was rather two-faced of Schuler since he never bothered to show any such appreciation for USAIR while under SIST ownership. Instead he fondly promoted fear mongering and slander, labeling USAIR owner and associates as cult members, perpetuating the lie that SIST is a religious organization, when in fact SIST is an educational 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.
Throughout the years there were continuous hassles in dealing with local officials, particularly Marquardt.
For example USAIR is located 1.5 miles from downtown Shawano. Shawano Speedway is located right in the heart of downtown Shawano. During the summer on Saturday night stock cars race at the ‘Nights of Thunder’ are so loud they can be heard miles and miles away. Try living right across the street from them!
On the other hand go-karts at USAIR couldn’t be heard until you were within the edge of the premise, created such a noise issue that Marquardt had to get on the radio urging people to express their concerns about the noise. She sent her officers with decibel meters to take decibel readings at the front of USAIR. By use of her power and influence, she diminished hours of operation because of the so called noise issue.
With someone else in charge “noise” is no longer an issue. Under the conditional use permit no go-kart racing was allowed before 9am on Sundays because of complaints from the nearby church. Now they are starting at 8am and no complaints are made.
During big events, parking along the road was strictly prohibited, and any violators were ticketed. When USAIR purchased the wayside across the road, parking there was even scrutinized and had to be so many feet from the road. In 2005, USAIR purchased a lot with the intended purpose of overflow parking. After the purchase, Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt and Shawano City officials measured the distance of the lot to USAIR, which was just over 750 feet. A city ordinance was then passed, limiting offsite parking to 750 feet or less. Endless citations were given for any racers parking on this lot or in front of USAIR, or on the wayside across the road. The purpose was to harass visitors so they don’t return. As soon as the receivership took over the signs came down.
Here in lies the irony. Have a look at the parking situation of last weekend’s Route 66 race event. Are the city or county officials concerned about safety now? Doesn’t appear that way…
SIST associate, Darlene Sense, happened by the Route 66 Sprint Series event on Friday and saw vehicles lining the road on County Road BE. Sense called the Shawano Sheriff’s Department with a complaint regarding safety violations and blocked access to the SIST owned wayside property. Deputy Jessie Sperberg arrived on the scene to meet with her. Sense gave Deputy Sperberg a rundown of what was occurring, also giving him a summary of what took place under SIST ownership, questioning him about the biased standards taking place. Deputy Sperberg told Sense that his supervisor, Lieutenant Kurt Kitzman, said not to issue any tickets, apparently now the parking situation was no longer creating any violations.
Deputy Sperberg informed park management that they needed to remove the vehicles from the wayside property access routes. The request was complied with, albeit slowly. At one point there was even a gator (4-wheeler) driving down the road right past the police officer, not to mention the girl doing handstands in the middle. Law enforcement and park management were both in no hurry to show any concern for removing the vehicles; however if SIST were involved things would have been different.
This weekend is no different, in fact worse. Parking stretches for nearly a mile on both sides of the road, all the way up to the park entrance, creating a safety hazard for any vehicle attempting to exit and/or existing traffic. If there was an emergency it would be almost impossible for emergency vehicles to safely access that part of the roadway.
SIST always had to adhere to all the special events rules and regulations as ordered by the Town of Wescott. Wescott even dictated the amount of Porta-potties allowed per event. One could ask, do they even have a camping permit? Anyone attending large events is aware of the safety issues and concerns involved. The last two weekends – those issues apparently do not exist for management at US Air.
There is always one law for SIST and another for everyone else. The City of Shawano pays the price in millions of dollars of business for the unfounded discrimination against SIST.