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Cody Dignan named top rookie in IMCA

Cody Dignan loves to talk about his passion for auto racing and his success on the track. He’s been racing four years, but this past summer was undoubtedly his best.

11/22/16 (Tue)

Rookie of the Year . . . Cody Dignan, right, is presented his runner-up trophy in the International Motor Contest Association’s recent banquet in Minot. Dignan was also named Nodak Speedway Stock Car Rookie of the Year. Brandon Beeter, the vice president of Nodak Speedway, is holding up Dignan’s new runner-up jacket.

By Marvin Baker

Cody Dignan loves to talk about his passion for auto racing and his success on the track. He’s been racing four years, but this past summer was undoubtedly his best.

Dignan, in his first season of racing in the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA), was named Rookie of the Year at the Nodak Speedway in Minot and presented a large trophy.

In addition, because Dignan had the second highest point total at the end of the racing season, Nodak Speedway recognized him for his runner-up status in his first year of racing IMCA with 30 other participants.

Betty Nordstrom has been a photographer at Nodak Speedway for many years and a racing fan since the early 1960s. She doesn’t recall anyone finishing as high up on the ladder as Dignan did this season.

“Cody really outdid himself this year,” Nordstrom said. “This is quite an accomplishment. The only time I recall something this good is when Robert Hellebust of Kenmare took the Modified Class championship in his second year or racing.”

Dignan sees it as hard work beginning to pay off.

“It’s fun when you’re winning,” Dignan said. “It makes it all worth it. It doesn’t feel so bad for all the time you spend in the garage.”

For every night he races, he says he spends a night in the shop getting his car ready for the next race, that is, if there were no issues during the last race.

“If you wreck, it’s two nights for every night of racing,” Dignan said. “It’s just me and my garage.”

Dignan grew up in a racing family in Kenmare. His father Tim, raced cars for 30 years and Cody was once part of his pit crew. His younger brother Riese, also races cars.

Brother Riese also

a Rookie of the Year

In fact, Riese Dignan was also named Rookie of the Year at the Estevan Motor Speedway about a week after Cody was named Rookie of the Year in Minot. In 2013, Cody Dignan was named Rookie of the Year at the Estevan Motor Speedway.

They both credit their father Tim for teaching them the right moves and strategies to have a winning car.

Other people in the Kenmare area have been or are race car drivers and they typically gain enthusiasm and motivation from each other.

Most small communities in North Dakota don’t have racers, but there are numerous people in Kenmare who call it their favorite hobby.

Some of them include Hunter Harris, Cody St. Croix, Austin Nelson, Caden Mau and Mike Bennett, to name a few.

After being active in sports in high school, he wanted something that would continue to pique his interest, so he chose to be a race car driver himself.

“Some people go to the lake,” Dignan said. “I go to the race track.”

 Dignan now lives in Minot and works for an oilfield company, but he comes home to work on his car in his Dad’s shop.

He says he’s not in it to make money, but is there to have fun. There is a payout scale and sometimes winners get a higher purse through special events.

But Dignan will be the first to tell you that the adrenaline rush of winning a race or finishing in second place is more exciting that the cash winnings.

This is Dignan’s fourth year in racing overall, but first in IMCA. He spent three years racing in Hobby Stocks.

 His car is the body of a 1985 Buick Regal and he uses a 355 cubic-inch General Motors engine block with after market parts. He burns 110 octane gas that is required by IMCA rules to not have additives.

“I spend all winter long building on it,” he said. “Right now, it’s torn down to the frame. I have to do some more chassis work.”

Dignan spent 25 nights, mostly Sunday’s this past summer racing at Nodak Speedway, except for two weeks during the North Dakota State Fair in July. He also raced seven times at the McLean County Speedway in Underwood.

He generally runs a 25-lap feature that earned him some accolades throughout the season.

He took third place in Underwood, with the titlist beating him by just six points and the runner up finishing ahead of him by a mere single point.

In Minot, he won three heat races and a feature on July 4 during a race he said the stands were packed.

A week later he topped out in Underwood, making it his best week of the season.

“If you want to win, you just have to finish every race,” Dignan said. “You have to be consistent in every race and avoid all the wrecks.”

Toward the end of the season, Dignan realized his new titles. He said he knew he’d get the runner-up award barring any bizarre circumstance and he knew he was in it for Rookie of the Year because of the points he accumulated throughout the season.

“I’m just out there trying to survive,” he said.

He intends to keep going a couple of more years in the stock car division and maybe move up to the modified class depending on his success ratio in stock cars.

But, he said it wouldn’t be possible without sponsors who believe in what he’s doing and believed he would become a successful race car driver in his new division.

“I want to give a shout out to my sponsors because without them it wouldn’t be possible,” Dignan said. “I put a lot of my own money into this, but they’re a big help.”

He named TJD Service, Mogren Farms, Mogren Welding and Central Avenue Sinclair of Kenmare; Renville Elevator and Blue Goose Trucking of Tolley; Hunter’s Bar & Grill in Garrison; Antler Oilfield Services in Stanley; Precision Transport and Services LLC in Ross and Circle D Feeds in New Town.

“There’s up to 30 guys racing for weekly points,” Dignan said. “It’s pretty cool to do it in my first year of racing in a new division.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!