- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

BRANDON, S.D. (AP) - Huset’s Speedway has been synonymous with the Rubin family for 61 years, but when the 2015 season wraps up, the Brandon racetrack will have new ownership and a new name.

Huset’s Speedway has been purchased by Chuck Brennan, owner of Sioux Falls-based Badlands Entertainment Group. The longtime sprint car track will be renamed Badlands Motor Speedway following the 2015 season, bringing an end to the area-wide recognized Huset’s Speedway name.

Steve Rubin said the decision to part ways with the racetrack was a difficult one to make.

“It was very hard,” he told the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/1F7ELnn ). “There’s been a Rubin involved in the race track since the beginning, starting with my dad, and I raised all my kids here, too.”

But Rubin said it’s the right time to start a new chapter in his family’s life, and that Brennan is the right person to take over the operation and elevate it to the next level.

“When we took it over in 1988 the infrastructure needed an upgrade, so we took the racetrack from what it was then and got it modernized,” Rubin explains. “Now, to get it modernized to what people expect, is what Badlands is going to do. Their vision is really good, and it’s going to be good for everybody.”

Outlaws sprint races start at the track Sunday. A farewell to Huset’s Speedway concert is planned for Aug. 29.

“This is going to be a big year for Huset’s,” Rubin promises.

While there are big things to come, Huset’s Speedway brought past excitement to Brandon. Most recently, race fans will remember how Tony Stewart’s visit to the track backed up traffic for miles.

“We figured we turned away about 6,000 people,” Rubin said.

But the track hosted other memorable events as well, including Patriot Day that featured a flyover by F-16s, Sen. George McGovern’s last ride in a sprint car, visits by Tom Daschle, John Thune and Larry Pressler. “All of the senators have been here, the governors, many dignitaries,” Rubin said.

The Speedway was also the perfect backdrop for concerts, monster trucks and thrill shows.

The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson and Ricky Nelson are just a few concerts that come to Rubin’s mind.

“When we had the Beach Boys here in 1982, we had over 14,000 people then. Willie drew 12,000 and there were over 10,000 for Ricky Nelson,” he said. “In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s we had big concerts out here. But concerts are a risk, and unless you do it a lot, it can be really tricky. We weren’t really set up for it because we had to haul everything in for them.”

Brennan has plans to turn Badlands Motor Speedway into an “entertainment venue,” Rubin said.

“He’s going to pave the infield, put in new lighting and will put a concert stage will on one end of the infield, and the grandstand will be the overflow to accommodate over 20,000 people. It will be the biggest outside venue in the state.”

Rubin said Brennan plans to start underground infrastructure work this summer and have a timeline of having it done by the Aug. 29 concert.

“The fans are going to be more interactive with the improvements. They’re going to start and pick away at this all summer, and the fans will be there when it happens, they’ll go right along with it, and that will be a neat deal,” Rubin said. “It’s going to expand by leaps and bounds and it’s going to be great for the community.”

Although folks may look at Huset’s a seasonal venue, Rubin says the track requires year-round attention.

“People don’t realize that it’s a lot of work,” he said. “They think you come out here one day a week, but it’s a full-time job; it’s more than full-time.”

But Rubin says parting ways with Huset’s does not mean retirement. “I’ll be here at least a year or until they don’t want me anymore,” he said. “I’m not leaving Brandon. Brandon’s my home, and this is just another chapter in my life.”

The racetrack came to life in the early 1950s, and was built almost single-handedly by Tilman Huset. Huset, who was born on a farm near Lennox, Feb. 10, 1889, moved to the Brandon area when he was a young man. In 1931, he built Huset’s Service Station close to old U.S. Highway 16, about one-half mile south of where one day he would build his racetrack.

Huset’s love for making an engine purr and racing moved him to build his own track. With an old road grader and a small bulldozer, he carved and molded a three-eighths mile dirt track from a cornfield. There were scoffers, but Huset saw the site as a natural fit for the racetrack.

In the early years, stock car races, demolition derbies and powder puff races happened at the track.

A classier track, Soo Speedway, built within four miles of Huset’s, once threatened the Brandon track, nearly controlling the local area racing scene. But when disputes between track owners and racecar drivers simmered at the new track that led the racers in 1958 to form the Sioux Falls Stock Car Association. The membership voted to quit racing at Soo Speedway, and approached Huset with the idea of leasing his track, but instead made arrangements to purchase it for $14,000. The association hired a manager and had their first full year of racing at Huset’s in 1959. After a series of racetrack managers came and went, after many, many improvements at Huset’s Speedway, the stockholders of the Sioux Falls Stock Car Association in 1987 voted to sell the speedway to Clarence Rubin and his sons, Greg and Steve. They purchased the Speedway for $201,150.50, which included 48 acres of land, the track, buildings and equipment.

“I’ve been going here since I was a kid, a lot of people have,” Rubin said. “But it was time and now the torch has been passed off. All I’ve been was a caretaker here. This place is bigger than me, and I’ve known Chuck for 30 years. When it comes to entertainment, he’s it. He’s really good at it and is probably one of the best in the country. He has the resources and can reach out to people to make things happen.”

Rubin said the Speedway has an estimated 600 season pass holders, and Sunday evening races average 2,000 to 3,000 people.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com


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