Area couples honored for charity race work
Two Blooming Prairie area couples that had a hand in starting a charity car race four decades ago have been honored for their contributions.
During a surprise recognition Saturday night at the Deer Creek Speedway in Racine, Jerry and Carol Ingvalson and Ron and Diane Nelson were given plaques of appreciation before the feature race and at the time of the fireworks display. Presenting the plaques to the Ingvalsons and Nelsons was Randy Queensland, Deer Creek Speedway partner.
The Ingvalsons and Nelsons have been affiliated with the Gopher 50 since its inception 40 years ago. They are credited with being the originators of the charity race, which has raised lots of money for Blooming Prairie. The race started with the Blooming Prairie Jaycees and then was picked up by the BP Lions Club.
"It was a total surprise," Ingvalson said of the honor. "We've had lots of help with volunteer workers and sponsors," Ingvalson said. "They must have had a lot of time to fill," he joked about the award presentation. "It's a nice honor," he added.
Gopher 50 is a non-profit foundation with money channeled to the BP Lions and Blooming Prairie Fire Department. The race got its beginning in 1980 at the Chateau Speedway in Lansing and then moved to the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna until 2004. After a stint there, it moved in 2005 to Deer Creek.
Ingvalson has involved the Lions, BP Fire Department and many other groups and individuals from Blooming Prairie throughout the years.
The Gopher 50 race is sanctioned by the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series. In partnership with Deer Creek, the Gopher 50 is sponsored by Bigelow Homes and Miner’s Outdoor Sports of Blooming Prairie.