Joe, Robin & Marian Ringsdorf – Promoters

By Chad Meyer

Before Joe Ringsdorf was a successful race track promoter, he was an equally successful car owner. “I was always interested in cars and racing as a kid. Later we built a car to run an Enduro at the Algona track and we just kept messing around with it. Our oldest son, Mike, drove mostly and I helped on the car,” he said.

Later Joe built a Chevy Nova hobby stock that he competed with himself a handful of times. “But I realized I wasn’t any good, so I put Richard Simpson in the seat,” recalls Ringsdorf.

They were a potent combination. After the 1968 racing season, Simpson quit racing cars for nearly seventeen years. Like so many other Kossuth County racers, when the Algona track reopened in the mid 1980’s, Simpson found himself behind the wheel once again. In 1985, Ringsdorf purchased Norm Baker’s hobby stock and put Simpson in the seat.

Simpson’s years driving Ringsdorf’s cars were his best as a race car driver. Simpson picked up numerous wins at tracks in Algona, Mason City, Webster City and others. A favorite memory of Simpson was racing Ringsdorf’s old Chevy Nova to a win at Mason City over the Chevy Camaro’s of Al and Mike Hejna in 1986.

After starting in hobby stocks for Ringsdorf, they progressed to stock cars and then to pro stocks (limited late models). In his last season behind the wheel of a race car, Simpson won the 1994 Kossuth County Fair race at Algona driving for Ringsdorf, one of his biggest wins. It should also be noted that the late Denny Hovinga won races in Ringsdorf’s pro stock as well.

Joe and Marian Ringsdorf

In 1997, Joe and his first wife Marian took over the promotion of what was then known as Algona Raceway. “I loved the sport, but I wanted to be on the income side and not the side that had to pay to race,” he said.

Ringsdorf was known for two things when he promoted tracks, running a fast show and providing a track that was racy. “Running a quick show was important to me,” he said. “People will only sit there so long. We prided ourselves on being efficient.”

Joe promoted the Algona Raceway from 1997 until 2014 and also promoted the Fairmont Raceway and I-35 Speedway in Mason City for long stints. He was also promoter at the Shelby County Speedway in Harlan for two years, the raceway in Owatonna, MN for two years and promoted the Clay County Fair Speedway plus the Hancock County Speedway for short stints also.

Joe and Marian worked side by side promoting race tracks, with Joe focusing on the race track and its operation, and Marian leading the grandstand concession area.

“Marian was very instrumental when we were promoting tracks. I focused on the race track and its operations and she led the grandstand concessions,” Joe says. “She was also very diplomatic when dealing with the racers and I was certainly more straightforward. Marian also took a lot of pride in making the big special event trophies, that was very important to her.”

Marian passed away from a year long battle with pancreatic cancer in November of 2008 at the age of 60.

Joe and Robin Ringsdorf

In 2009, Joe and Robin married and Robin jumped right in and was a key part of the promotion duties.

“Robin is a hard worker and really took over the concession stand. She did a tremendous job. Concessions are where promoters can make money and we prided ourselves on quality food and fair prices. I really appreciated all of her help when we were promoting speedways,” Joe said.

Today Joe and Robin are retired and live in Florida. In the fall Joe helps an area farmer with field work. “We are just enjoying life and like to stay active,” Joe says.