Fairmont Raceway admits 'bad mistake,' announcer takes leave of absence after racist comments

The raceway promoter initially backed Len Oelke, but has now apologized.
Fairmont Raceway

Fairmont Raceway has issued an apology after coming under fire for initially backing its stadium announcer in the wake of racist comments he made while commentating at an event in Iowa.

Promoter John McCorkell says he made a "bad mistake" in the wake of the controversy over comments made by announcer Len Oelke, who it was announced Thursday will now be taking a leave of absence from the raceway until the end of the season.

Oelke made headlines after he filled in at a speedway event in Algona, Iowa, on July 15, during which he ranted against athletes who kneel during the national anthem, as well as the NFL's recent decision to play "Lift Every Voice and Sing" – which is dubbed the "Black national anthem" – before games this year.

In the wake of the controversy, Fairmont Raceway promoter John McCorkell initially backed Oelke, saying he had been announcing at Fairmont for "many years" and that he does "agree with all of Lons (sic) comments and opinions."

"He will absolutely be announcing tomorrow night," the promoter promised.

But he has subsequently backtracked on his comments, issuing a statement on Thursday in which he said he made a "bad mistake."

"Sometimes in life you realize you made a mistake, and this is one of those times. And this was a bad mistake," he wrote.

"I realize I cannot take back or fix what I said, but I would like to say I was wrong and I am sorry for the comments that I made last week.

"I learned a lot about what some of the underlying deeper issues are for a lot of people. I guess I have learned that you cannot always just look at things from your own perspective. Sometimes you have to keep an open mind and to try to look at things from someone else's perspective."

Follow Bring Me The News on Facebook

During the monologue in question, Oelke described "Life Every Voice and Sing" as being “for those folks, I guess the darker toned skin color, I’ll just say, Blacks.”

He continued: "Here's our social service announcement if you won't stand for our flag, if you're going to take a knee... I got four words for you: find a different country. If you won't do it, get the hell out of Dodge."

Next Up


4-year-old girl killed by falling branch in Mankato is identified

She is from South Dakota, and was attending the Mahkato Annual Traditional Powwow.

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 6.35.24 AM

No. 1 Lakeville South dominates No. 2 Eden Prairie

The Cougars ran away with the Class 6A showdown.

Lake Nokomis

Boy hospitalized after being rescued from Lake Nokomis has died

He was one of two children pulled from the Minneapolis lake.

39075 Shoreline Hwy, Westport, California - October 2017

Minneapolis man found dead at bottom of California cliff, half-brother arrested

The homicide happened near a beach park and campground for RVs located at the ocean.

uprooted tree in Burnsville

NWS: Tornadoes confirmed to have struck Apple Valley, Burnsville, Savage

A crazy night of storms may have included even more tornadoes.

police lights

Man charged with manslaughter after fistfight ends in death

The incident happened at a veterans housing complex in Chisholm.


Ellison reaches $1.9M settlement with StubHub over COVID cancellations

The ticket reselling giant will pay $1.87 million in refunds for Minnesota events.


Fairmont Raceway

MN race track under fire after announcer's racist remarks

The Fairmont Raceway voiced support for the announcer on social media.

Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 9.34.39 PM

St. Paul school employee on leave over racist comment caught on video

The school district superintendent promised 'aggressive' action to address the situation.

George Floyd, protests, rioting, Minneapolis, Lake Street

Brainerd teacher resigns after posting racist comments on social media

The teacher posted offensive comments on Facebook over the weekend.

Screen Shot 2020-06-04 at 5.32.56 PM

Racist post by family member results in Holy Land's lease being terminated

It's the latest in a series of firings in Minnesota following offensive comments in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 9.22.34 AM

Bemidji police chief decries racist comments on department Facebook page

He said comments on the page have become increasingly offensive.

Wayzata High School

Racist graffiti found on side of Wayzata High School building

The school's principal confirmed the graffiti in an email to parents.

White Bear Lake Area High School

Officials: Racist messages in White Bear Lake faked to spotlight issues

The superintendent called them a "hoax" and has since apologized for using that term.