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Mason City Motor Speedway’s Al Hejna is looking forward to the challenge of boosting car counts and fan attendance ahead of next week’s season opener.

JARED PATTERSON, The Globe Gazette

Mason City Motor Speedway’s track was still wet from the rain on Monday.

The late-April snow delayed the racing season by two weeks and the rain ensued soon after.

Race promoter Al Hejna is just hoping that the dry wind and sunlight will help dry it up by Sunday.

“Everybody is up against the same deal,” Hejna said. “It just takes some time to work on the track for a couple three weeks to get the winter the soft spots out of it and get it packed in hard. Once we got that last snow storm I was like, ‘That’s it I don’t have time even if we didn’t get any rain.’”

Hejna takes pride in the quality of the race surface. It’s a product of his three years of management.

“So many tracks can get to be a one-lane track where they race in one area because the rest just isn’t usable,” Hejna said. “The racing surface is the No. 1 thing – you gotta give the drivers a good track, giving them a surface they can race on, and giving them a fair shot.”

Hejna knows the ins-and-outs of racing, and he’ll tell you that he’s been on the track since he was one years-old, watching his dad race in the 1960s. He’d follow his father’s footsteps racing in the '80s in Mason City.

“This was coming up where it was going to need a promoter and someone to bring it back to life,” Hejna said. “I was hoping it was a good opportunity, and I still hope it is. (It's) just taking a lot of work.”

This year, most of the point champions return. The increased weekly purses and point funds have also attracted new racers. Unlike other tracks, the funds are guaranteed no matter how many races there are. At other tracks, the purses fluctuate based on the car count and other variables.

The more cars, the more advertisers and the more revenue.

Hejna says that the spectators will also enjoy new deals this year. There will be three or four nights throughout the season where they can watch for $5 (half-price) if they went to the previous week’s race.

Kids will also have a chance to win bikes at intermission, or meet the heat race winners for autographs on the front stretch.

And the season opens with the United States Modified Touring series, a traveling series that races throughout the Midwest, something Hejna did himself for 10 years.

Hejna also hopes to bring sprint cars and late models, which this track was known for attracting 30-40 years ago.

“We’re going to try to pick up where we left off last year, things have been picking up year to year, and we hope to keep that momentum.” Hejna said.

He’ll just need the dirt to dry up.

​Reach sports reporter Leah Vann at 641-421-0526.

Follow her on twitter at @GG_LeahVann

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