An article in the Shawano Leader from July 30, 2016 talks about “Shawano County’s renowned US Air Motorsports Raceway”. Exactly how did this racetrack become renowned? Why are we just hearing about this “renowned” racetrack now? It has been around now for eleven years. Very interesting… the Shawano Leader just now discovered this “hidden gem” in their midst? How did they miss this “gem” the year that the City of Shawano had no hotel rooms available in town? Restaurants were selling out of food. Sales were the highest for local businesses then they have ever been in the history of Shawano. Seriously, they just now found this “hidden gem” after it has been sitting and deteriorating for four years? Where have these people been?
Maybe this is the reason why…SIST used to own it. Or wait, they designed and built it. Shhhh… SIST is Shawano’s dirty little secret.
What is this all about? What is the story behind this “hidden gem”? What happened at the USA International Raceway? Where are the courteous and welcoming people that used to be there? What happened to the extraordinary and most delicious food that used to be served? The whole atmosphere has totally changed to chaos, loneliness, and despair. Even the track looks different and is not the same. The warm welcome that was there in the past has vanished.
The history of the USA International Raceway is a long saga of racial discrimination and prejudice because one of the directors is from India. This is unfortunately unacceptable in a small, primarily German Lutheran town in Northern Wisconsin. By way of background, the Midwest Amusement Park (USA International Raceway/USAIR) was purchased in 2003 and was a small amateur family entertainment and hobby go-karting facility. In 2004 after doing much research, USAIR had Kenny Venberg design the multi-faceted racetrack for which they became world famous. From that time until the track was stolen, constant improvements were made. In fact, people would say every time they came back, there was something new to see. USAIR is responsible for putting Shawano, Wisconsin on the map, and bringing national and international people to the community.
Throughout the years, town, city, and county officials, in particular former Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt, have discriminated against USAIR. Below are just a few examples of this discrimination.
- In July 2005, at the grand opening, Lorna was invited to be the guest of honor for the ribbon cutting ceremony. She never showed up and did not even have the courtesy to say she was not coming. She later claimed that it was not in her jurisdiction. Yet, she showed up for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Wolf River bridge, that was also “not in her jurisdiction”.
- USAIR is located 1.5 miles from downtown Shawano. Shawano Speedway is located right in the heart of downtown Shawano. Every Saturday night stock cars race at the ‘Nights of Thunder’, so loud they can be heard miles and miles away. On the other hand, go-karts at USAIR, which can’t be heard until you are within sight of the premises, created such a noise issue that Lorna had to get on the radio urging people to express their concerns about the noise. Lorna 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.
- 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, Lorna 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 off site 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 wouldn’t return.
- The infamous Shawano County No Parking signs which had been put up during one of the largest events in 2006, were taken down by the Shawano County Highway Department after Lorna’s receiver took over. It was found out that there never was an ordinance to put the signs up to begin with. Now people can park wherever they want, no restrictions. They even do cartwheels across the road.
- Lorna contacted USAIR lenders, urging them to find reasons to foreclose. Because of her discrimination, her intent was for USAIR not to own any property in the city of Shawano. In particular she wanted USAIR.
- Lorna devised another scheme, and that was to use a Canadian business man in the racing industry, by name of Robert Cameron, to defraud USAIR of $175,000 and with the ultimate goal of stealing the track. In October 2008, he came to USAIR under the guise of being a racing consultant, offered to increase the marketing of an arrive and drive program for the facility, and to bring in millions of dollars in revenue. If he was hired as a promoter for the track he offered to lend $10,000,000 against the track, valued at $15,000,000. Legal documents were drawn up, both for the consulting agreement and for the loan. The agreement was for USAIR to pay a $175,000 retainer towards the consulting agreement and upon receipt of this, Cameron would fund the $10,000,000 loan. USAIR paid the $175,000, and never received the loan or any service. Thereafter, he informed them he had been working in conspiracy with Lorna, Shawano City officials and others, all who had been meeting bi-monthly to strategize on their demise, to steal $175,000 from them, and hopefully to someway forge documents releasing title to the USA International Raceway.
- Upon Lorna’s and Shawano City officials’ knowledge of the information leak, they immediately concocted a hit list story in which, parent company, SIST was accused of hiring Robert Cameron by paying the $175,000 to kill sixty people in the City of Shawano. It was called “Red Rum”. They got a hold of the media through, television, radio, print and internet. The purpose of this was to slander, defame and plummet business through a media smear campaign to cover up their illegal activities.
- Although USAIR was badly hurt, the track was still in USAIR’s possession and Lorna’s wishes were not completely fulfilled. She next contacted the lender urging him strongly to foreclose. Even though USAIR was current on their payments, the lender responded by demanding extra collateral and some extra documents. He came to Shawano under the guise of looking at the track, picked out the most valuable properties, and demanded SIST to surrender them as collateral. SIST’s CEO was cautious from past similar dealings and refused to give either the collateral or the extra documents. He responded by foreclosing using a technical default as the excuse. Having been persuaded by Lorna to terminate the business relationship between them and SIST, SIST had no choice but to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March of 2009.
- In April 2009, there was another smear campaign initiated by Lorna, Shawano City officials, the Shawano Leader, and other local media regarding SIST’s bankruptcy, and linking it to the hit list. On one or more of these programs, the lender stated via telephone interview that his goal was to, “…own the track”.
- On May 25th, 2010, after in-numerous correspondence between Lorna, Shawano City officials and U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judges in Delaware, the bankruptcy was dismissed. Upon this announcement Lorna publicly exclaimed that she was glad, and that things were heading in the right direction.
- On June 3rd, 2010, a secret meeting was held in Shawano discussing how to go about taking over USAIR.
- On June 4th, 2010, a local attorney, Steve Krueger, who has been known for expressing his prejudicial and racist feelings openly, showed up at USAIR with numerous armed Shawano County Sheriff Deputies and Shawano City Police. Although the property is located in the Town of Wescott not the City of Shawano, they seized all property and ordered all personnel off the property under threat of arrest. Workers were not even allowed to take their personal belongings with them, and they were never able to get these belongings back. This was all done illegally.
In the homemade court of Shawano County, there is no justice. Steve Krueger writes orders and meets Judge J. R. Habeck in the coffee shop to sign them. In this way, they have managed to steal millions of dollars of personal property from USAIR. Most recently, USAIR was told they had a so called seizure order for arrive and drive go-karts and arrive and drive supermoto bikes. There was no record of any order on file, but they came with the threat of breaking into any and all buildings to obtain the property that USAIR had been making payments on for so long. Unfortunately SIST had no choice but to comply with the homemade order because they had no justice or protection.
As the SKUSA event neared, the event that USAIR managers worked so hard to bring here, the City of Shawano, which had stood aloof all these years suddenly feigned interest. Now that USAIR didn’t have control, USAIR’s bartender’s liquor license was just given to the receiver, Steve Krueger, who has no bartending experience. Suddenly caterers and sponsors appeared out of the woodwork. The Shawano Leader, which had never covered a single National or International USAIR event all these years, printed multiple stories. All efforts were made for the receiver, when previously none existed for USAIR.
Racers had even been told that the Kiryat and AmericInn hotels (SIST subsidiaries) were out of business. The USAIR website had become a shopper’s page for the City of Shawano, removing Kiryat’s, 100% Pure Black Angus Restaurant from the list.
USAIR has not found any justice in the Shawano Municipal Court, Shawano County Court, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, or the Wisconsin Appellate Court.
Shawano has turned out to be Nazi Germany for this “hidden gem” under the rule of Lorna. People have no alternative for justice.