The concept for the Dakota Classic Modified Tour started in a crowded Daytona Beach, Florida conference room in February 1990 during the Racing Promoters Monthly Conference. Series founder John Gartner had the idea for a mid-summer series of consecutive night races that was accepted by Mandan, Minot, and Jamestown for the upcoming summer. That first Tour was sanctioned by WISSOTA featuring almost all regional drivers and was well accepted by racers and fans alike.
By 1991 many tracks in both North and South Dakota wanted a Tour date so a marathon seven race series was planned that crowned its first Points Champion—Jeff Decker of Dickinson, ND. However, it quickly became clear that seven nights was just too long and that a Tour Director was needed to work with the various tracks. In 1992 John Gartner went back to race modifieds so Jamestown promoter Terry Voeltz took over the series and the now popular six night format was adopted and the Tour was growing with drivers and fans alike. Changes were made to standardize rules, payouts and procedures so that all drivers had a level playing field.
The years 1993-1997 were years of consistent growth as sponsors were secured that allowed points funds for drivers. John Gartner returned as director after he retired as a driver from racing in 1994. During this time a split in the state with racing sanctioning bodies took place as the western part of the state adopted IMCA as their official sanction for the first time in 1997.
In 1998 the Tour was sanctioned with IMCA for the first time. While car counts took a dip for the first time, drivers from outside the region as far away as Tennessee, Colorado and Ohio gave the Tour a new look.
In 1999 the Tour adopted a non-sanctioned format in an attempt to bring the former WISSOTA cars back. Car counts went up again and the Tour started to get national exposure for the first time. In 2006 the series went back to IMCA sanctioning, creating yet another expansion in car counts and national exposure. Drivers from all parts of the continent now sought the honor of Series Champion. For most, just making the feature was a big accomplishment.
Now in its 31st year, the Dakota Classic Modified Tour stays consistent with two divisions and a starting field of 30 IMCA modifieds. IMCA considers the series one of their “Crown Jewels” and as the largest Modified Touring Series in the world. Drivers from 15 or more US states and three Canadian provinces compete each year. Many thousands more tune into subscription live streaming for those that can’t attend the races at the track.