Family has long been a cornerstone of the auto-racing industry, especially on the track side where families such as the Deerys, the Agajanians and the Nuckles have set the standard for promotional excellence.
The role of family in the operation of America’s short tracks took center stage last month when Randy Queensland and his family were honored as the 35th Auto Racing Promoter of the Year during the annual Racing Promotion Monthly Workshop in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The Queenslands own and operate Deer Creek Speedway, a three-eighths-mile dirt track located in the rolling hills of Southeastern Minnesota. But unlike many of their peers who have been in the racing business for generations, the Queenslands are relative newcomers. In fact, they had virtually no racing experience when they bought the 60-acre facility in 2002.
“Our other job is real estate sales and property management,” Randy Queensland said. “The owner wanted to put the track up for sale. It had been in operation since 1996. It’s in our neighborhood and we had been going to it as fans. The owner asked me if I would put it on the market for him. We did that and I actively tried to sell it for him.
“At some point in that process, we realized this would work for us. It looked like an opportunity for a family venture,” Queensland continued. “My sons were in their late teens and early 20s at the time and we talked that they would have to grow up very quickly because it would be a fair amount of work. We set it up where they had ownership in it right from the beginning, so it is truly family owned.”
Even though they conduct approximately 30 races each season, Deer Creek Speedway is not a full-time occupation for Queensland, his wife, Deb, their sons Ryan, Justin and Cole, and Ryan’s wife, Sue.
“Our real estate business is located in Grand Meadow, Minn.,” Randy Queensland explained. “Ryan, my oldest son, is an associate broker in the business with me. That’s our day-to-day, that’s definitely how we make our living. We specialize in farm sales, exchanges and things like that. We also do property management of farms and apartment buildings. Ryan and I actually split our time between the real estate business and the race track, pretty close to 50-50. We do the bulk of the day-to-day business for the race track. The others still have some duties they can work in around their other jobs.
“On the track side of it, Ryan is the dirt man. He knows the track inside and out. He makes the calls on what to do to it and when to do it,” Queensland added. “Justin is the race director. He calls the shots and runs the show on the track. I’ve got the sponsorship and the fan side of it, along with personnel. If he’s not racing, my son Cole is assisting either Ryan with the track work or Justin in officiating. My wife, Deb, is up in one of the suites, being a host to our special guests. Ryan’s wife, Sue, is the point director and she makes sure everything goes smoothly. We are adamant about starting on time and keeping the show moving, so she is under a lot of pressure to make sure she has all the lineups and everything done.
“Everyone has ownership of an area and everyone will respect the other and let them do their job. We may make suggestions to each other, but the final decision is up to the person in their area. That’s how we make it work and get along.”