Fairmont Raceway

Nothing says summer like a night at the race track in rural Southern Minnesota! It was my pleasure to accept the invitation from Becky and Al Thoreson to join them at the exciting Fairmont Raceway. Some of you may recognize Becky’s name, as she was Miss Minnesota International 2006 and has been assisting me since last October in too many ways to count.

With Lyle, Connor, and Joseph at Fairmont Raceway

The Thoresons have taken on the promotion and operation of the track, and because Becky is so familiar with my passion to connect the burn community, she went above and beyond to make this a weekend full of appearance opportunities and surprises! Starting with a radio interview taped to promote the appearance and welcoming listeners to the track for a special event honoring driver Lyle Sathoff who is also a burn survivor, local firefighters, and highlighting the Phoenix Society as the community partner for a night at the race track.

Upon arrival into Fairmont, a town of about 10,000 less than 10 miles from the Iowa border, we were escorted on a tour and introduced to some wonderful people. We met Doug the local Fire Chief, then a local firefighter named Ellen, who would later help me suit up in full fire gear. Chad is a local business owner who recently opened the doors to his new hardware store, and Kazia is about to open her new coffee shop just down the hall. As a business owner myself, I understand both the excitement and trepidation, and I want to wish them both much success in their new ventures.

With Doug Borchardt, Fire Chief, City of Fairmont 

Ellen and I discussed the burn community 

Chad is planning for the Grand Opening of his second store 

Kazia is just days away from her Grand Opening as well 

Kazia’s niece Sophie was helping out

Nancy is the fabulous manager of Five Lakes Centre and she was my guide for the evening. Her daughter Shari, who owns a photo studio within the mall not only introduced me to her race car driver boyfriend Ben, but she made the next morning magical for some lucky little princesses, which you will read about a little later! Before departing the mall we visited with Duffy who kept an eye on things, and Jack who was thrilled to learn about the International Pageant’s commitment to fitness and the “Go Red” campaign.

With Shari and Ben  

Security Guard Eugene, aka Duffy 

With fitness expert Jack

The afternoon held several interviews; three taped with Royce - Host on KBEW Radio, one taped with Rod – Host on KSUM and KFMC Radio, and a shared print interview focusing on burn survivors with Lyle Sathoff, Justin Haukoos and me, for the Sentinel newspaper written by Jenn Brookens.

During the interview with Royce 

Taping the interview with Rod

Following our interview; Lyle, me, Justin and Jenn

After an early dinner with Justin and Lyle, we were surprised with a ride to the racetrack inside a big red fire truck from the Ceylon Fire Department. Our driver was Eric, who gave Justin free reign with the horn! Once we arrived at the track Lyle and I went to work greeting spectators in front of his race car, which is decked out with the Phoenix Society logo, and signing autographs.

Justin, Eric, Lyle and me having too much fun! 

Ellen assisted me with a new look! 

Complete with a fire hose, courtesy the Ceylon Fire Department! 

Meet & Greet 

Autograph table

Much to my husband’s surprise, he was invited to drive car #8 into the pit, and once he was able to squeeze inside he enjoyed the experience. By this time, the crowds were filling the stands and the sun was preparing to set. Following a touching dedication acknowledging the burn community and the singing of the national anthem, the cars took to the track and I was honored with the duty of waving the first green flag of the night.

My husband the race car driver! 

A gift from one of the tracks drivers and sponsors 

Burn Survivor who shared his story 

Starting the race…too cool! 

They’re off!

It was a blast watching the cars race around the track, they were noisy, kicked up dust, and the fans soaked it all in! I conducted a live interview during the hot laps and watched the early heats from the VIP booth. The final races I watched from a tower near the finish line and was treated to an ATV ride around the pits before the night was done.  It was fun to see the “family affair” that takes place in order to support the racers in this sport.

With Al Thoreson

My last official activity for the night was to hand out the trophies, congratulate the winners, and pose for photos. And, my last unofficial activity for the night was to climb into both Ben and Lyle’s race cars…what a treat!


What a night!

Thank you to Becky and Al for a spectacular event, which raised $500 for the Phoenix Society for burn survivors and brought awareness about burn survivors, firefighters, and an organization near and dear to my heart!

With much appreciation,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012


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