ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Motocross track coming to southwest Minnesota

LAKEFIELD -- A Round Lake farmer revved up on a new life outlook and geared for a different, faster pace is hoping to revive local interest in and opportunities for motocross racing.

4287521+061618.N.DG_.MOTOCROSS.jpg
Dale Ackermann displays the motocross trophies he earned during the 2017 racing season with his bike in front of Worthington Sports Center in Worthington. The Round Lake farmer has the green light to construct his own race track in Jackson County. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

LAKEFIELD - A Round Lake farmer revved up on a new life outlook and geared for a different, faster pace is hoping to revive local interest in and opportunities for motocross racing.

If repurposing an abandoned gravel pit stays on track, Dale Ackermann will host his first motocross race on his new dirt bike track and campground south of Lakefield in late summer or early fall.

“I want to bring something to the community that (my friends and I) didn’t have (growing up),” said the 55-year-old racing fanatic.

The future American Motorcycle Association-sanctioned District 23 state motocross track will be located approximately six miles south of Lakefield in the southwest corner of Section 32 in Hunter Township. The three-quarters to a mile-long track will allow motocross racers from across the state to compete and earn points in a variety of classes.

Once the track is complete, Ackermann plans to host nine to 12 racing events throughout the competitive season, June through September.  

ADVERTISEMENT

“My goal is to have something every other week,” Ackermann said.  

While Ackermann is passionate about motocross, he’s also enthused about creating a family-oriented destination in southwest Minnesota, including amenities for those who aren’t interested in the sport.

There will be a 10-acre campsite for self-contained campers. A mini-golf course, bicycle track and sand volleyball court will also be available.

“Whatever the community wants to participate in, I want to provide,” he said.  

The site will adopt the name Diamond Park, which incorporates a nickname Ackermann was affectionately given by the “young bucks” within the past five years after returning to racing himself.

“If someone crashed, I would stop and help them get the bike off of them and I got popular by doing that,” he said, explaining how he received the nickname “Diamond.”

“I didn’t care if I won or lost. I was out there to have fun.”

The campground will be considered primitive, as there will initially be no electricity or water hookups. Depending on how well the park is received, Ackermann may make campground upgrades in the future.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Jackson County Planning Commission and Jackson County Board of Commissioners recently approved Ackermann’s conditional use permit request, with a handful of conditions. Some conditions include the presence of safety personnel during racing and other on-track activities, dust control, erosion control and on-track activities scheduled between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Ackermann guessed the park will employ about 15 individuals seasonally.

The construction of the track and park is initially being funded out of Ackermann’s back pocket, with promotional help from his inner circle of racers and Worthington Sports Center. Once complete, gate, racing and campground fees will be charged for general upkeep of the grounds.

He hopes the track will have a domino effect, and help boost business for local merchants as well as interest in a powersports program.

He also hopes it has a positive effect on the local economy, as he suspects Diamond Park visitors will make trips into surrounding towns for a variety of needs. The nearest AMA-sanctioned track is in Mankato.

Ackermann has toyed with the idea of constructing a racetrack on the gravel pit that sits on 64 acres of land for the past few years. The time to pull the trigger and turn the idea into a reality is now, he said.

After listening to his late mother Beatrice’s advice about to not work so hard as he cared for her throughout her battle with lung cancer, a recent health scare of his own eventually triggered Ackermann’s desire to hop on a bike again after an approximately 28-year hiatus from competitive racing.

“Mom kept telling me not to work so hard - life is too short,” he said of his mother, who passed in 2009. “Sure, I heard the words, but didn’t think too much of it until, around my 50th (birthday), doctors found a mass on my kidney.”

ADVERTISEMENT

He was quick to go purchase a selection of adult “toys,” ranging from a dirt bike, camper, snowmobile and icehouse.

“With my health scare, I figured if I was going to die, I wanted to go have my fun,” Ackermann said.

A member of the 50-plus racing class for the past five years, the oldest racer in the immediate area has also been racing alongside the younger generation of racers, all while in ’70s and ’80s-style garb.

“I stuck out like a sore thumb,” Ackermann said, laughing as he reminisced on his first years back racing.

During last year’s season, Ackermann earned second place in the 40-year-old class, and fourth place in the 45 and 50-year-old classes.

Much like the way he dresses, Ackermann also prepares for his races much the same nearly 30 years later - thinking about his dad.

His late father, Allen, never attended a race, fearful of his son being injured, but he did give his son some advice each time on his way out the door.

“He told me, ‘If you want to win, hold the throttle open longer than everyone else’ and ‘You can’t pass ’em if you follow ’em,’” said Ackermann of his father, who died in 1989. “Every weekend on that starting line, I’m thinking about Dad.”

Ackermann admits he’s been having too much fun the last few years racing again, but as someone who is sick of farming, it’s now time to get the project complete.

“I’ve seen many farmers, friends, aunts and uncles that work until they’re 70 and dead the next year because they don’t have anything to do or their body is so deteriorated,” he said, explaining how he chooses to live instead.   

As far as Ackermann’s health goes, the future remains a mystery, as doctors continue to monitor the mass on his kidney. It’s remained the same size in recent years, and so long as it continues to remain stagnant, no severe action will be taken. If it does grow, he said, he and his doctors will have to determine their next course of action.

“I’m living every year as if I’m going to be dead next year,” he said.

What To Read Next
Navigator CO2 Ventures is hoping to streamline the application process in Illinois as they add an additional pipeline to the mix.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the Wednesday, Jan. 25, crash.
Testimony to the top House committee from a convicted attendee of the Jan. 6 rally focused on the "inhumane" treatment of Jan. 6 defendants. The committee rejected a resolution on the matter 12-0.
Rep. Fred Deutsch, an opponent of last year's failed cannabis ballot measure, introduced a proposal to disallow consecutive attempts at statewide referenda. A House committee rejected the bill 10-2.