August 17, 2019

With little help, Opdahl is making a name in racing - Daily Leader Extra : Sports

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With little help, Opdahl is making a name in racing

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Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2019 3:17 pm

Dylan Opdahl of Madison is in only his second year of racing with the wickedly-fast 360 Midwest Sprint Touring Series (MSTS), but he has been racing since he was 5 years old.

"Grandpa got me started," he smiled. Grandpa is John Krause, a standout sprint car pilot back in the day.

"When I got old enough, Grandpa got me interested in racing go-karts," Opdahl said. In the half-dozen or so years that Opdahl was running the karts, he put together two season championships, running the highly competitive kart circuits at Brookings and Huron. On occasion, he would also run at Pipestone, Minn.

He watched Jordan Opdahl race stock cars and sprint cars for a couple of years, but he leaned more toward the open wheel sprinters.

"When Jordan decided to quit racing, I purchased his motor," said Dylan, and he installed it in a sprinter.

Why sprinters? Why didn't he choose a much safer and less expensive entry into the oval wars, like the stock cars?

"A lot of people have told me that what you learn driving a stock car isn't much help when you want to drive sprint cars. Well, the end goal has always been to race a sprint car, so I figured if it's not going to help me in the end, then why invest money into it?"

Putting together a sprint car and mixing it up with the professionals of the MSTS is a pretty steep learning curve. Opdahl, however, did well enough in his first year to garner "Rookie of the Year" honors with the MSTS and finished eighth in the overall, season-ending points total.

"We also had a perfect attendance record," he said, "but we had our troubles."

A U-joint exploded at a race in Jackson, Minn.

"I went to Rosy's Raceland, got the parts and headed for the garage where my girlfriend and I worked until 6 a.m. making repairs. We grabbed a couple hours sleep and then loaded up and headed to Norfolk, Neb., for a race that night," he said.

How is it racing with the MSTS?

"It's a whole lot of fun but, it's tough," he said.

What are his racing goals and where does he want to see himself in the future?

"Obviously, the biggest one is to win my first race," he said, "but I've got a fraction of what most of these guys have invested in their cars. And what I bring to the track is pretty much all I've got. I don't have another car or motor."

Opdahl is going it alone. He doesn't have a sponsor, but he would certainly welcome one.

"It's just me," he shrugged. "It's tough financially, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. Ultimately, the end goal is to race full-time."

Opdahl does credit a couple of fellow Madison area sprint car drivers for their assistance.

"Last year, Ryan Bickett helped me a bunch. I didn't have a trailer when I started, and I knew Ryan pretty well at that point, just from helping at the track and occasionally at his shop. I was fortunate enough that he was willing to help me out. Ryan said he had room in his rig for two cars. He hauled my car to the track during the first half of the year."

Another driver who has given him advice is the ageless Chuck McGillivray, who has amassed more championships and races than many drivers have even run.

"Chuck freshened up my motor last year," Opdahl said.

This year Ron Bott, a longtime McGillivray engine builder and crew member, helped Opdahl get his motor ready for competition.

"And don't forget my grandparents. They've been a major help in my racing program. Without them, I don't know if I would have been able to build a car," said Opdahl.

For now, Opdahl is doing what he can with a limited budget. He plans on running the full MSTS schedule as it crisscrosses the Midwest. Bigger things may come his way if a major sponsor is found, but until then he plans just to motor on.

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