By Gary Jacobson
Rochester, Minn. (August 13, 1975) – Don’t ever accuse Floyd Lenoch of having grandiose delusions. His goals, though sometimes difficult, are all within the realm of possibility.
Currently, Lenoch’s No. 1 priority is making stock car racing at the Howard County Fairgrounds in Cresco, Iowa, a viable and profitable operation. Nothing would make the Austin, Minn., promoter happier than standing by the scoring tower on the field of the 3/8-mile dirt track and seeing 2,000 smiling spectators smiling back at him from the grandstand.
“It’s the culmination of all my desires,” Lenoch said. “My main goal is to see if a guy can go down there in the middle of nowhere and make a race track go.”
“If you’re running a track in a population center, it’s almost a guarantee that you’re going to make some money. But out in the country away from the cities is a whole different story.”
Cresco is a northern Iowa community of some 3,000 residents located 60 miles south of Rochester, Minn., and 50 miles northeast of Waterloo, Iowa.
Lenocch and his partner in the Inside Pole Racing Association, Clem Weber, also of Austin, began promoting races in Cresco three years ago. They sustained losses of about $6,000 each of the first two years of operation, according to Lenoch, but are getting close to breakeven this season.
Lenoch says the average attendance at the regular Friday night cards featuring late models and hobby stock competition is up between 500-600 over last season, falling in the 1,500-2,000 range.
“I would say that up until last Friday night, we were turning things around at Cresco this year,” Lenoch said. “However, we drew only 1,100 people then. We probably shouldn’t even have had a show. It rained during the heat races.”
The largest crowd of the year at the track this season was 2,385.
Lenoch, 50, has been in the race promoting business for seven years, operating Minnesota tracks in Lansing and Austin before moving to Cresco. This year Inside Pole Racing Association is also handling the races at North Iowa Speedway in Mason City, Iowa.
“Things have been better at Mason City,” Lenoch admits. “We’ve been averaging between 2,500 and 2,700 people and paying an average purse of $3,000.
But no matter how successful Mason City is, Lenoch will constantly be plagued by the challenge of making Cresco go.
“I honestly think it’s the best track around,” said of the Howard County facility. “If we could just get 2,000 people out every Friday night. Maybe I’m so interested in it go I because it’s such a challenge.”
Lenoch is always trying new ways to boost interest in the Cresco operation. Last year he brought in Wisconsin asphalt ace Dick Trickle to take on the hometown pilots. His first season at the track began the Ole Brua Memorial card. Late this August he plans on a bicentennial celebration with a special card feature twin 38-lap features and the overall winner could collect a potential $1,500 of the $5,000 purse.
Cresco area merchants have also shown a desire to help make the track succeed, The Ford dealership in Cresco and Austin each contributed $500 to bring in Trickle. And now several Cresco businesses have pooled $1,000 to bolster the Twin 38’s purse.
“You can tell the real race fan,” Lenoch says. “He comes up with a big donation and then doesn’t ask for a free pass. We do have some of them in Cresco.”
Lenoch doesn’t plan any changes in the Cresco operation, but does point out some alteration may be made next season if he loses money again this year.
“But I don’t look to lose money,” he quickly added.
For Lenoch, optimism is not a delusion.