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Ask Mr. Answer Person: "Why were there races in Decorah Sunday night?"

Posted: Wed, Jun 5, 2013 1:51 PM

Mr. Answer Person received three e-mails following Sunday night's racing at the Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah:

Deborah e-mailed: "I hear the car racing from my condo tonight.  I thought it is on Saturday night, not Sunday night!  I did not see the information on a day of the week change."

Kyrl e-mailed: "Tell me again why these cars are allowed to disrupt quiet evenings in Decorah, regularly, with this offensive level of noise pollution without any kind of mufflers?  If it were a rock band at that db level (guessing 100db+) you can bet the police would be over there shutting them down. What's good for the goose...

Daina e-mailed: "'s racing season again (meaning the whole summer). This weekend we were treated to two nights of deafening sounds from the racetrack. Lucky us.   What is the towns noise ordinance...or where can it be found online...and how is it enforced (how many people have to complain about noise before something is done)?  I would LOVE to know how many people attend the races on any given Saturday versus how many Decorah residents are put out, annoyed, driven inside, or angered by those sounds every Saturday evening. I would hazard a guess that the latter is the larger number."

Mr. Answer Person says: "First of all, some background.  The races were supposed to begin this year on Saturday, May 4th, but were rained out, as they were on May 11th.  For this past weekend, the Fair Board originally had booked a horse and burro adoption show for Saturday, forcing the races to move to Sunday.  At the last minute there were complications, so the horse and burro show was moved to the American Sales building on Highway 9.  That left the fairgrounds available for practice runs for the racers.  Those practice runs ended around 7:00 p.m. Saturday.  The actual races themselves took place on Sunday, but all future aces will be held on Saturday nights in the future, except during the Winneshiek County Fair.

For the larger question posed by Kyrl and Daina, the races attract very large crowds.  The only way to determine whether the number of people who attend the races is greater or fewer than the number of people who are annoyed by the races is to put the issue up for a vote.

For now, race fans seem to have larger numbers--or, at least, more vocal numbers.  In a democracy, the side with the most votes wins.  But that's a political question and not one for Mr. Answer Person to tackle.

UPDATE: The Decorah City Council's Community Betterment Committee will discuss the noise issue at a committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 3rd at City Hall.

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