There’s a new race promoter in town. A pair of them, in fact.
Craig and Julie Dollansky have signed on to assume the promotional and operating reins at Dodge City Raceway Park in 2021, a three-eighths-mile dirt oval in Dodge City, Kan.
The Dollanskys were one of three prospective promoters interviewed by City of Dodge City and Ford County officials.
It’s a new chapter for the couple, longtime members of the sprint car community. Craig enjoyed a great career spanning more than 25 years in the cockpit, including 66 wins with the World of Outlaws.
A native of Elk River, Minn., Dollansky was a fulltime traveler with the Outlaws for many years and was the 2000 World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion.
His wife Julie was alongside him every step of the way, overseeing Craig’s merchandise sales and marketing.
After the surgery left him “feeling better than I have in years,” Dollansky dabbled with some additional driving in 2019.Craig suffered a serious back injury in 2003 in an Indy Lights crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the lingering effects of the injury plagued him for many years.
Doctors were finally able to repair the damage with extensive surgery in late 2018 after he had announced his retirement from driving earlier in the year.
Now he and Julie turn their attention in a new direction.
Dollansky has long voiced a desire to remain active in racing in some form when his driving career concluded. With the opportunity at Dodge City, Dollansky can fulfill that dream.
This is good news for motorsports, because one of the keys to the sport’s future is to recruit people into track and series leadership roles. It’s not an easy business, but there are genuine opportunities out there today for people willing to work hard.
Julie Dollansky has always shown a flair for marketing and sales. There were many instances where she and Craig did a good job with appearances and announcements at events such as the Knoxville Nationals, capitalizing on their visibility to promote their merchandise and their brand.
Dodge City gives them a good opportunity. It’s a solid facility, with an existing following of sprint cars and fans along with several other divisions. The track opened in 2000 as a paved three-eighths-mile oval, but converted to dirt for the 2004 season.
A number of people tried their hand as promoter until highly-respected Tommy Estes Jr. took the reins in 2011 and oversaw 10 seasons of stability and growth before stepping down at the end of the 2020 season.
The track hosted the World of Outlaws for a two-day show in 2020, with Jacob Allen and Sheldon Haudenschild splitting the victories.
Craig Dollansky was a tough, determined racer, a dogged driver who never gave up. His determination served him well over the span of his long career, and now he and Julie have an opportunity to channel their competitiveness and ambition in a new direction.
The racing landscape has changed in recent years with the advent of things like social media and live streaming. But venue promoters are still ultimately doing the same thing they did a hundred years ago: hustling enough cars, fans, sponsors, and overall revenue to pay expenses and get to the bank on Monday morning.
Those are the facts of life for every promoter and series out there today. It isn’t easy, but Dodge City has proven to be a successful venue over the past decade. That’s a great asset as the track moves forward.
Throughout his racing career, Craig Dollansky’s nickname was “The Crowd Pleaser.”
Now he’s got an opportunity to solidify that nickname in a whole new way.