Milaca native makes the calls on oval dirt tracks

sports race track sahlstrom w

OGILVIE – In order to make the proper call on the oval, with a number of fast vehicles battling for track positions, you need to concentrate on but only one thing.
“This is something I have a passion for and really enjoy doing it and when people ask what did you think of the races, I tell them I really didn’t see them, as I announced the race,” Randy Sahlstrom said.
Now in his seventh season making the calls behind the microphone at the Ogilvie Raceway, Sahlstrom continues to do what drives him.
“If I start watching, I will have to quit announcing as you can’t do both,” was his response during a recent visit to the “Big O.”
Sahlstrom has been working as the track announcer at the racetrack “since the beginning.”
While he works the Saturday night events at Ogilvie, Sahlstrom actually honed his skills behind the microphone at the Granite City track, as he is now in his 12th season announcing automobile racing action at Sauk Rapids track.
It was his background in dirt track announcing that landed him the job in Ogilvie after, “I found out who the promoter was and contacted him and was hired and have been there ever since.”
Now under new ownership, Sahlstrom looks for the racing program in Ogilvie “to only get stronger.”
Following graduation from Milaca High School in 1981, Sahlstrom first found himself opting to attend the Oak Hills Bible Institute in Bemidji for one year.
It was then off to St. Cloud State University where he earned himself a bachelors degree in engineering.
After working at Milaca High School as a Para-Professional, working in the Special Education Department, Sahlstrom now finds himself in a different occupation during his weekdays, serving as a Personal Care Attendant (PCA).
In his spare time, Sahlstrom does a “lot of homework,” as he keeps current data on the drivers, along with sponsors and any updates at the track facilities.
Sahlstrom, the son of Dorothy and John Sahlstrom of Milaca, credits growing up and going to races with his father at the Princeton Speedway as the hook for his interest in oval dirt track racing.
He recalled first being hired as a story writer for a news publication, dealing with “dirt racing news.”
It was the next season in Sauk Rapids when that track was in need of an announcer, and Sahlstrom asked for “a shot at it and got one.”
His love for racing keeps him more than busy as last year the Granite City track was operated on Sunday evenings, allowing him to announce in Princeton on Friday, settling in Oglivie on Saturday and off to Sauk Rapids on Sunday.
Since the switch in race nights in Sauk Rapids to a Friday show, that now finds Sahlstrom making the call only on two nights.
In describing the art of track announcing, Sahlstrom pointed out, “you have to be very focused on what you are doing or you will get lost, as things happen quickly.”
He looks at his job as being important to not only the racers, but to the sponsors and especially to the track.
While the noise may muffle out his voice during a heated race, his voice can be heard plainly on a highlighted video file of each race that is made available to the public.
In order to make the proper call, Sahlstrom notes he must be, “mentally prepared for the action as nothing is scripted and every race is different.”
He added, “pretty much anybody, on any given night, could be the winner.”
Another part of his homework comes just prior to the races as he spends a great amount of time in the pit areas, working with drivers and other individuals from pit crews.
Sahlstrom has established a database, where he logs personal information on all the drivers, along with car number, sponsors and their hometown.
Most nights can include up to six race classes, with the car count reaching as high as 100, leaving a lot for him to capture in motion.
Joining Sahlstrom in the announcers box area on race nights in Ogilvie is Laurie Hoffman, also from Milaca, who is responsible for the computer scoring system being utilized at the track.
Now with the change of ownership at the Ogilvie Raceway, Sahlstrom stated, “the initial owners did a great job, leaving room for expansion of a good thing.”