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Archive for the ‘WISSOTA’ Category

Diemel, Cain, Eder are First-Time Red Clay Classic Champs; Truscott Repeats

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Ashland, WI– AJ Diemel of Elk Mound became a first-time feature winner at the ABC Raceway in a big way by capturing the WISSOTA Late Model feature during the 42nd annual Red Clay Classic on Saturday night. With an event-record purse of over $90,000 on the line, a field of 210 entries crowded the pit area to compete in front of capacity crowds during both Friday’s heat race action and Saturday’s final qualifying rounds and features.

Also winning for the first time in the Northland’s traditional season-ending PolyDome Dirt Track Series stock car racing event, presented by FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating of Ashland and Tim’s Automotive Machine of Bloomer, were Dave Cain of Corcoran, MN, in the WISSOTA Modifieds and Kevin Eder of Ashland in the WISSOTA Super Stocks, while Michael Truscott of Chippewa Falls won his second WISSOTA Midwest Modified RCC title. Each day’s show started in bright sunshine, with temperatures in the mid-60s, and ended under clear skies and brisk Autumn temperatures during one of the most successful and memorable Red Clay Classics ever.

The Late Model spotlight event was increased from its customary 50 laps to 55, in honor of 1990 RCC Late Model champion Duane Mahder, who had passed away in late 2016 after a tragic vehicle accident; Mahder sported the number 55 on his race cars for many years. Diemel started on the outside of row 5, as polesitter and 2013 event winner Nick Anvelink led the field to the green flag alongside Marshall Fegers. Fegers got the early advantage and stretched it to a lead of over a second within five short laps, while former Classic champions Harry Hanson and Rick Hanestad trailed at a distance, followed by a quickly-charging Diemel. The early pace was fast and the field used the entire three-eighths-mile oval, often racing three-wide deep in the pack. Diemel continued his climb to the front by displacing Hanson for third on lap 7, and Anvelink regrouped and closed the gap on Fegers, eventually overtaking him for the lead on lap 12. Soon Anvelink was dealing with slower traffic, putting Cole Spacek a lap in arrears on lap 14, but he continued to maintain an advantage of at least a second on Fegers, who was an equally healthy distance ahead of Diemel. However, the field closed on Anvelink’s rear bumper for the race’s lone restart, which was brought about on lap 17 when Jesse Glenz spun in turn 4 while racing with John Kaanta for seventh place.

Fegers and Diemel took advantage of a slow restart by Anvelink to slip by on either side for first and second, and after two more laps Diemel used an inside move to capture the lead from Fegers. From there Diemel hugged the bottom groove of the track, barely brushing the large tires marking the inside border of the racing surface, to edge away to a lead of 1.135 seconds over the next eight laps. At mid-race Diemel was dealing with backmarkers, getting by Trevor Wilson on lap 28, but he was still able to extend his lead by an additional half-second as Fegers struggled to clear Wilson. Diemel stuck his race car to the bottom groove as much as he could, but occasionally he moved to the far upper line of the wide, smooth track to get by slower cars. This strategy worked well, as he extended his lead to a 2.627-second final margin of victory, or nearly a full straightaway, over Fegers. Diemel offered kind words to the Raceway’s track prep crew in Victory Lane after the fine run, stating, “I could move around anywhere (on the track) and lap some cars. “Last year was our first year here, and we decided to come back. I’m glad we did.” Anvelink crossed under the checkers just behind Fegers, but his car failed a post-race inspection and his fine effort was disallowed. Hanson, running a distant fourth for much of the race, was awarded third-place money, while two-time RCC winner Steve Laursen, who started 13th, made a late charge to take fourth, ahead of Hanestad.

Six-time RCC champ Jimmy Mars finished sixth, ahead of Lance Matthees, 2006 race winner Kaanta, 17th-starting Darrell Nelson, and defending and four-time RCC winner Jake Redetzke, who started 21st after needing a B-feature win to make the main event. The win earned Diemel a first-place check of $5,000 – the largest ever awarded to a driver in ABC Raceway history. It was Diemel’s third major invitational win in as many weekends, following victories at Cedar Lake Speedway and Red Cedar Speedway.

At the conclusion of Friday’s race program, a special dash race dubbed “Harry’s Lucky Seven” was held in honor of Hanson, who has announced that he is retiring from Late Model racing, with this year’s Red Clay Classic marking his last event competing in the division. The popular veteran racer from Eveleth, MN, was asked to select seven other drivers with whom he would like to race in the 12-lap dash, and the Raceway raised over $2,200 in donations for a purse, with the winner receiving $700, in honor of the number 7 Hanson proudly wore on his race cars during his 45 years of racing. Mars raced hard with Hanson for the early lead in the dash before eventually pulling away for the win, but after the race he announced to the crowd that he would present his first-place check to Hanson. Redetzke and Jeff Massingill challenged Hanson before settling for third and fourth places, respectively, while Hanestad, Tim McMann, Nelson and Travis Budisalovich completed the finishing order.

Cain took advantage of a long green-flag run in the Modified A-feature, then withstood challenges after a couple of late caution flags for his fifth career feature win at Ashland but his first in the prestigious event. After a five-car mess in the first turn wiped out the initial attempt to start the 35-lapper, ABC Raceway regular and 2000 RCC winner Jeff Spacek led the field to the start, but visiting Andy Jones swept around him to claim the early lead. Cain, who started outside on row 2, stayed high-side to get around Spacek for second on lap 4 and then began to chip away at Jones’ two-thirds-of-a-second lead. Also taking advantage of a fast upper line was Steve Stuart, who got by Spacek on lap 5 and eventually caught the leaders, as Cain swapped the lead with Jones twice on lap 8 before taking over for good on the next go-around.

Cain worked his way by the first of the tail-runners, Jason Richardson, on lap 14, and then extended his lead to well over two seconds as Jones and Stuart were caught up behind Richardson for a couple of laps. Stuart slipped past Jones for second on lap 19 as the pair eventually worked by the RCC Mod rookie, and 2004 Mod winner Mars followed Stuart into third, bringing with him 2007 champ Jody Bellefeuille and Jake Hartung into the mix. It was Bellefeuille who came on strong over the second half of the show, starting with a grab of fourth place from Jones on lap 24. Then Stuart’s car slapped the turn 2 guard rail and slowed with damage, ending a terrific run and bringing out just the second caution flag of the race on lap 25. This wiped out Cain’s 1.5-second lead, but he held off the threats by Mars and Bellefeuille on the restart, while Bellefeuille worked the high side to take over the runner-up position on lap 27.

Four-time Classic feature winner Joey Jensen spun while running in the top 10 to bring about the final slowdown of the race, after which Cain steadily set the pace for the balance of the run. Bellefeuille and Mars raced door-to-door for a couple of laps until Mars fell back, eventually losing third to Hartung. Cain took the checkers and the $3,500 winner’s paycheck 2.622 seconds ahead of Bellefeuille, with Hartung a distant third but well ahead of Mars and Jones. “I kept an eye on the scoreboard to see where Jody was,” Cain told the capacity crowd afterward.

National championship contender Kevin Adams lead the second five, ahead of Michael Truscott, two-time RCC Mod winner Nelson (who started 22nd after needing to qualify through a semi-feature), 17th-starting Kelly Estey and Neil Balduc.
Eder made a bit of history in winning the Super Stock feature on Saturday, becoming the first-ever hometown driver to be crowned as Red Clay Classic champion. Breaking out a new car just a few weeks back, he led all but one lap of the 30-lap distance to give it a very nice christening, worth a $2,500 payoff.

Eder started directly behind polesitter and two-time RCC champ Shane Kisling and followed him past Colton Vernon into second. On lap 2 Eder changed lanes to challenge Kisling, and one circuit later he moved by for what proved to be the winning pass. Within three laps Eder had a 1.2-second advantage, but that was eliminated when the yellow lights came on for debris on lap 6. After a three-car tangle voided the first restart attempt, Dave Flynn and Danny Richards spun down the front straight on the second try to go back to green. Vernon then spun in front of heavy traffic while trying to hold on to third place on the next restart, but most everyone dove and dodged to avoid contact.

Eder led Kisling and a determined Kevin Burdick, the 2014 RCC champ, over the next few laps, with Burdick moving by Kisling for second. Dan Gullikson and Scott Lawrence got past Patrick Beeksma and four-time Classic winner Greg Kuklinski for fourth and fifth during this brief green-flag run, which ended when Dan Severson spun on lap 12. Eder again pulled away to a sizeable advantage after the restart, while Burdick and Gullikson battled for second as Kisling faded and then dropped out with mechanical woes. A get-together involving Terran Spacek and Sam Skalsky on lap 15 brought about the final stoppage of the race, after which Eder drove a smooth and steady line uncontested over the final 15 non-stop laps.

On lap 19 Lawrence worked his way by Gullikson and began a heated battle with Burdick for second, but Burdick held on for runner-up money, a full 2.6 seconds behind the winner. Defending RCC champ Tommy Richards clawed his way from his 17th starting spot up to fourth by race’s end, ahead of Gullikson. The second five were led by ABC points champ Nick Oreskovich, ahead of Beeksma, 2010 RCC champ Eric Olson (who started dead last on the 25-car grid), Keith Kern and Wayne Dean. “We did our best just to keep the thing straight,” a very emotional Eder told the crowd from Victory Lane, while also hugging his uncle Mike and thanking a large list of friends and family who had helped him put the winning car together.

Truscott, the 2014 ABC Raceway Midwest Mod points champion who capped off a phenomenal season by winning that year’s Classic, came into this weekend undefeated in 2017 in the Mid-Mods. He had made two regular-season visits to the Ashland track this summer, and he won his heats and features on both occasions, joking after the feature win in early August that he “might not come back until the Red Clay Classic,” in order to not spoil his perfect season here. He continued his winning ways by taking wins in both his Mid-Mod and “big Mod” during Friday’s qualifying, and then he started on the outside of the third row for the 25-lap, $1,200-to-win Mid-Mod main event. Pole-starter Mack Estey was a little too quick to claim the point at the drop of the green, and officials penalized him for “jumping” the start, giving the pace-setting chores to Wayne Stricker.

Adams, behind the wheel of 2011 RCC champ George Dalbeck’s car, challenged Stricker and was scored the leader at the end of lap 1, before Karl Kolek’s stalled ride brought about another quick caution stop. Adams then led the field under green for a handful of laps, as Truscott quickly worked his way past Estey and Mark Kangas before challenging Stricker for second on lap 3. A bobble cost Truscott some ground but not his third-place standing on lap 4, and Canadian hotshoe Jamie Davis moved past Estey into fourth on lap 5. Adams’ lead was just over a second when the yellow flag flew because of debris on lap 8, and Truscott used the restart to show a fender to Adams in a challenge for the lead. Kangas, who had slipped back to ninth after the restart, spun to slow the pace for the final time on lap 9, and over the next couple of laps of green-flag racing the battle for the lead involved five solid contenders – Adams, Truscott, Stricker, 12th-starting Skeeter Estey, and Davis.

Estey, the national Mid-Mod points leader heading into the weekend, took third away from Stricker on lap 13, and eventually the lead trio drew away from Stricker and the rest. On lap 18 Truscott went to the outside to work his way around Adams and grab the lead, and from there he sped away to his 17th career feature win at Ashland. Truscott’s lead was as large as 1.285 seconds, but Adams closed the gap to less than a half-second as Truscott caught the tail end of the field. “Buzzy (Adams) was holding the bottom so well,” Truscott told the crowd about his decision to go high to make the winning pass. “I showed myself underneath, but then I decided to try the top side, and it worked.”

Estey, who won this event in 2010, finished third, well ahead of Stricker. Tommy Richards followed Stricker at the final stripe, but his car didn’t pass a post-race technical inspection, giving fifth to Davis. Shane Halopka, the only other two-time RCC Mid-Mod champ, came home sixth ahead of Jake Smith, Paul Suzik, Mack Estey and 2017 ABC points champ Tyler Vernon, who started 25th in the 25-car field. Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland once again awarded $150 bonuses to the drivers posting the fastest-timed laps in each A-feature. The bonuses were paid to Fegers in the Late Models (16.621 secs, 81.223 mph average), Cain in the Mods (17.305, 78.012), Eder in the Supers (17.330, 77.900), and Adams in the Mid-Mods (17.292, 78.071).

Lake Shore Cafe posted $114 bonuses for each 14th-place feature finisher; receiving those bonuses were Jeff Provinzino (Late Models), Al Uotinen (Mods), Kuklinski (Supers) and Travis Anderson (Mid-Mods). Kyle Bernhoft again worked with the Raceway to create an online “Fans’ Choice” provisional ballot, where race fans cast votes via the track’s website to award feature starting positions to drivers who had not otherwise qualified through Friday’s heats. Nearly 4,700 ballots were cast, with Cole Spacek (Late Models), Tanner Byholm (Mods), Olson (Supers), and Vernon (Mid-Mods) receiving the provisionals.

Champ Pans of Eau Claire and SSR Race Cars of Spring Valley paired up to provide commemorative t-shirts to each of Friday’s heat winners, and Champ Pans also handed out heavy-duty shop mats to various drivers during the feature starting position redraws on the front straight on Saturday. The Neighborly Bar of Ashland once again offered a “Bridesmaid’s Challenge” to the second-place finishers in each of the four features on Saturday. Fans, drivers and local businesses contributed to a total fund of $2,400, which was split among the four runners-up if they each agreed to wear formal gowns during their post-race interviews and photos in Victory Lane. All four drivers happily participated, much to the delight of the capacity crowd on hand.

The entry total marked the first time since the 2010 Red Clay Classic (206) that the car count exceeded 200, and was the highest count since the event-record total of 239 was set in 2003. The field, representing four states and Canada, included 32 Late Models, 47 Modifieds, 59 Super Stocks and an RCC-record 72 Mid-Mods. A wide, fast, smooth red-clay surface provided plenty of three- and four-wide racing throughout the weekend. The Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association wishes to express its appreciation to the many individuals and businesses who contributed time, materials and resources to make this year’s Red Clay Classic another huge success. The ABC Raceway’s annual awards banquet will be held in January 2018; more information will be made available on the Raceway’s website, www.abcraceway.com.

Punky Manor Challenge of Champions

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Menomonie, Wisconsin (September 21, 22, and 23, 2017) the Red Cedar Speedway presented the 38th annual Punky Manor Challenge of Champions sponsored by Bill’s Distributing & Tim’s Automotive. Amazingly warm temperatures greeted the crowd and a total of 217 race cars through three nights of action. The track conditions were absolutely perfect, blazingly fast, and arguably the best in memory for the Punky. The WISSOTA Poly Dome Dirt Track Series sanctioned Late Models (30), Modifieds (31), Super Stocks (32), Midwest Modifieds (44), Street Stocks (23), and Pure Stocks (24) competed, In addition, the Red Cedar Speedway Hornets (13) and both the Limited Dirt Late Models (13) and 600 Mini Mods (7) were all in action.

Feature winner included AJ Diemel, Jake Hartung, Dan Gullixson, Tony Bahr (twice), Mike Knudtson, George Richards, Jeremy Johnson, and Jeff Provinzino. The format included heat races being lined up by draw and the top 16 feature qualifiers decided by passing points. The features were filled out by B Features with the top four taken out of the Midwest Modifieds and top eight from the remaining classes.

The WISSOTA Late Models saw three heats won by AJ Diemel, Jimmy Mars, and Darrell Nelson, as Jesse Glenz won the B Feature. In the A Feature, outside front row starter Jake Redetzke took the early lead as pole sitter Jimmy Mars settled into second and set chase. An early multi car crash in turn one saw Chad Mahder and Michael Keller unable to continue and Travis Budisalovich sustain enough damage to be eliminated a few laps later. Jim Carlson was able to restart the feature.

The restart saw Redetzke power out to a several car length lead as Mars and Diemel began to battle for second. Diemel took the position as Nelson and Rick Hanestad filled out the top five. Diemel continued his charge on the high side, closed the gap on the leader, and took the point for himself. Mars followed suit and moved to second as Redetzke settled into third.

Laps continued to click off in the 40 lap event as Mars inched closer to the leader. He got a terrific run off of turn four and moved outside of Diemel on the front stretch. Diemel tried to move back up in front of Mars but Mars was already there and he was squeezed against the wall with a spectacular shower of sparks. Both cars avoided a spin as Mars dropped back in behind the leader. However, there was a great amount of tire smoke from the 28 and shortly thereafter a tire blew out, drawing the yellow and abruptly ending the ten time Punky Manor winner’s night.

The restart saw Diemel run unchallenged the remaining distance to the checkered flag as Nelson moved to second and Fegers moved to fifth. The top five finishers included Diemel, Nelson, Redetzke, Hanestad, and Fegers. After starting 13th in the B Feature and 21st in the A Main, John Kaanta finished sixth as Lance Matthees, Mike Prochnow, Nick Anvelink, and Jeffrey Massingill rounded out the top ten. The retiring Harry Hanson was scored in 11th at the checkers.

The WISSOTA Modifieds saw four heats won by Brandon Jensen, Jake Hartung, Michael Truscott, and Kevin Adams, as Kelly Estey won the B Feature. It was Hartung and Jensen on the front row of the feature as Hartung took the early lead and dominated the 30 lap event which was slowed only twice for cautions. The race track was blistering fast as it was first Kevin Adams who chased Hartung in the runner up spot. As the leaders were running in heavy lapped traffic, Cory Brugeman slowed on the front stretch, providing the only break in the action.

Coming back to green, there was a three car crash on the tail end of the group drawing the yellow. The restart saw Dave Cain move to second over Adams as Hartung left the crowd behind. Jimmy Mars moved to the top three from deep in the field as Mike Anderson, who also started outside the top ten moved to fifth. They continued at impressive speeds to close out the event and Hartung added another big trophy to his case. The top five finishers included Hartung, Cain, Mars, Adams, and Anderson. Cory Mahder, Darrell Nelson, Jeremy Nelson, Michael Truscott, and Brandon Jensen rounded out the top ten.

The WISSOTA Super Stocks saw four heats won by Jeff Brauer, Nick Oreskovich, Eric Olson, and Tommy Richards, as Brian Mikkonen won the B Feature. In the A Feature, Dan Gullixson moved from inside the second row to the lead as outside front row starter Oreskovich moved to second in in front of Brauer. They continued to scorch the speedway for 18 consecutive laps with Steve Thomas in fourth and Eric Olson running in fifth. Tommy Richards made a moved for the top five as Luke Schultz stalled on the inside of the backstretch and the yellow flew.

The last eight laps ran green as Gullikson lead the entire way to the checkers. Richards drove to second but Oreskovich took the position back and Ben Hillman made a fine late charge into fourth. The top five finishers included Dan Gullikson, Nick Oreskovich, Tommy Richards, Ben Hillman, and pole sitter Jeff Brauer. Steve Thomas, Scott Lawrence, Eric Olson, Shawn Huse, and Brian Mikkonen, who came out of the B Feature, rounded out the top ten.

In the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, Antonio Pintaro, Travis Anderson, Wayne Stricker, Derek Haas, and Matt Klukas won their respective heats. Michael Truscott won the first of two B Features as Tony Bahr moved from ninth to win the second. It was the pole sitter, Jason Richardson early in the feature but he developed issues and lost power on lap five, trapping Travis Anderson directly behind and starting a chain reaction crash. Richardson was out as Anderson suffered body damage to the nose. In the resulting crash behind, Matt Klukas, Jesse Bryan, Michael Truscott, Calvin Iverson, Jesse Aho, and Mark Kangas were collected with Kangas being unable to continue.

Notably on the restart, Tony Bahr had already cracked the top five as David Swearingen brought the field to green. Unfortunately the lead was short lived as he spun and was relegated to the rear. Sticker lead the parade to green but Bahr swiftly moved into second and made short work of the leader. Bahr took the point and was not going to look back as he completed an amazing run to the feature win.

Meanwhile, Travis Anderson moved into second on the high side. Stricker was spun on the inside of turn two and it was Mark Thomas surprisingly called for the yellow as the spin looked to have possibly been caused by a different driver. The restart saw Bahr and the outside row move forward as Karl Kolek moved into second and Halopka into third. In the final run to the finish, it was Bahr to the win as Halopka overtook second.

In an amazing passing fest, Tony Bahr parlayed an 18th position start to the win as Shane Halopka moved from 19th to second. Karl Kolek and Travis Anderson finished third and fourth as the third B Feature qualifier to finish in the top five saw Michael Truscott come from 17th. Jake Smith, Wayne Stricker, and Jesse Aho, were followed again by B Feature runners Clark Swartz who started 20th as Shadow Kitchner drove from 23rd to a top ten finish.

The WISSOTA Street Stocks saw three heats won by Danny Richards, Jay Kesan, and Michael Knudtson. Knudtson and Richards held the front row of the feature as Richards drove to the lead and continue to lead until the first caution of the event which was a red flag incident involving five cars. A restart was aborted and a second restart saw Knudtson appear to make initial contact with the leader coming off turn two. Knudtson drove inside Richards and drag raced him to turn three where he drove inside the leader, made contact, and drove him out of the bottom groove all the way to the loose dirt near the wall. Knudtson made the pass to the lead on the extremely aggressive move, drawing a loud reaction from the crowd.

Under green, Knudtson led as Richards chased through a series of three more yellow flags which kept the pack tight. Eventually under green, Richards moved inside of Knudtson in turn three but raced him cleanly through the corner. Knudtson maintained the point but on the straightaway down the backstretch, Richards spun the leader much the the delight of the fans. With Richards relegated to the rear for the on track payback, Knudtson raced unchallenged to the win.

The top five finishers included Michael Knudtson, Jay Kesan, Adam Soltis, Karl Genett, and Kyle Genett. Hunter VanGilder, Travis Loew, Braden Brauer, 23rd starting Ron Hanestad, and Robert Seidler rounded out the top ten.

The WISSOTA Pure Stock heats saw Lucas Kallenbach, Dustin Doughty, and Kyle Copp win the heats as it was George Richards dominating the feature from outside the second row. It was pole sitter Kyle Copp leading lap one and Richards taking over from there. The first yellow flag flew for William Fisher coming to a halt on the backstretch on lap four. The restart saw Krysta Doughty come to life and pass Dustin Doughty and Copp to move to fourth.

Kent Harmon’s decent run went up in smoke on on lap 14, diminishing Richards’ very solid lead. On the restart, Dustin Doughty made a fine move to second from outside the top three. A three car caution saw Dean Pronschinske sent to the rear and back under green, it was a short lived run as a spinning car slowed action again. Once again back under green and as the leaders were taking the white flag, Kent Deutsch rolled to a stop on track.

The green, white, checkered finish saw George Richards, Jeff Tisdale, Kyle Copp, Tyler Wahlstrom, and Dustin Doughty finish in the top five. Dean Pronschinske rebounded to sixth as Tyler Hallquist, Lou Puzio, Nicholas Hazelton, and Chad Bowers finished in the top ten.

The Red Cedar Speedway Hornets saw Jeremy Johnson and Bradley York win the heats and Jeremy Johnson sweep the night in the feature. Johnson took his pole starting position all the way to victory lane. It was York early but a caution regrouped the feature and it was Johnson in the lead on the restart. Dean Butler moved to second but faded as Johnson motored away.

Two separate cautions brought Johnson back to the pack, but other than Jason Junker taking second and trying to close late, Johnson had them covered. It was Johnson, Junker, York, Butler, and Alex Waldera in the top five. Derrick Reed, Colin Nyseth, Chad Halterman, Jordan Langer, and Craig Oas were scored in the top ten.

The Limited Dirt Late Model heats were won by Denny Cutsforth and Kyle Johnson but Tony Bahr made no doubt about the feature as he won his first of two feature wins on the weekend. Firstly, it was Cutsforth in the lead as Shaun Mann overtook the lead on lap two as Bahr moved to second. Bahr methodically reeled in Mann and moved side by side with the leader. A two lap battle ensued before Bahr took the point. It was Lance Hofer dicing through traffic to the third position as he closed on the front two as they moved through lapped traffic to the checkers.

Bahr, Mann, Hofer, Justin Sass, and Cutsforth were in the top five. Johnny Emerson, Dennis Larson, Matt LaDuke, Barry Johnson, and Robbie Johnson were all scored in the top ten.

The 600 Mini Mods saw John Griffin win the heat and Joe Provizino won the feature. There was one caution and Chris Gilbertson challenged for the lead late. At the line it was Provizino, Gilbertson, John Griffin, Chad Dugan, and Chris Abts in the top five.

The Red Cedar Speedway has concluded its 2017 racing season and will return in April 2018.

ABC Raceway Staff Hoping for Biggest-Ever Red Clay Classic

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Ashland, WI, September 16 — It can be argued that the ABC Raceway’s 42nd annual Red Clay Classic could be the biggest and best one yet. The traditional finale of the Northland’s stock car racing season, the Red Clay Classic is one of the most popular events on the calendar for race fans. In its four decades-plus of existence, it has grown to become one of the best-attended, highest-paying events of its kind in the Midwest.

If the recent efforts of the Raceway’s Board of Directors and nearly 50 volunteer workers pay off, this year’s edition – slated for Friday and Saturday, September 29-30, and to be presented by FastLane Motorsports of Ashland and Tim’s Automotive Machine of Bloomer – may become one of the most successful ever. So much has been added to make the 42nd running of the PolyDome Dirt Track Series event a special one that it’s hard to pin down any one item as a featured attraction. “One of our goals every year is to come up with different things that make the Red Clay Classic stand out from all of the other racing invitationals during this time of year,” Raceway president Eric Erickson explained recently. “Whether it’s changes to the purse for the drivers, special activities for the fans, or upgrades to our facility, we want to keep improving the Classic to make it memorable for all who attend.”

Changes to the purse are always of interest to the drivers, so the ABC Raceway recently announced a significant increase to the overall payout, to an event-record $90,000. This purse bump should once again attract upwards of 200 WISSOTA Late Model, Modified, Super Stock and Midwest Modified drivers to the three-eighths-mile red-clay oval. Because of the increase, approximately 30 percent of the finishing positions in this year’s four Red Clay Classic features will pay out higher than in 2016, and each of this year’s four feature winners will take home larger paychecks than were handed out to last year’s RCC champions. The winner of the Mid-Mod A-feature will claim a $1,200 share, while the Super Stock champ will take home $2,500. First place in the Modified A-main now pays $3,500, and the Late Model feature winner will earn a track-record $5,000 payday.

Additional bonuses will be provided during Friday’s heat race action, which will be sponsored by Gatorade and North Star Beverage of Hurley. The winners will receive limited-edition commemorative shirts compliments of SSR Race Cars of Spring Valley and Champ Pans of Eau Claire – a tradition that was started last year and found to be greatly appreciated by the drivers. After each of Saturday’s features, Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland will award a $150 bonus to the driver that posts the fastest lap in their respective race, based on the track’s electronic scoring and timing system. And the hugely popular “Bridesmaid’s Challenge” will again be offered to each feature’s second-place finisher, providing cash bonuses if those drivers don bridesmaid’s gowns during their post-race Victory Lane interviews in front of the huge crowd expected to be in attendance.

Also of benefit to the drivers is that the draw fee for this year’s Red Clay Classic has once again been waived. Drivers will need only pay the $65 two-day pit-pass fee in order to compete during the race weekend, saving them some significant entry money. As for the racing itself, two interesting changes are planned for the program. On Friday night, a special race is in the works honoring 2008 Red Clay Classic Late Model champion Harry Hanson. The fan-favorite driver from Eveleth, MN, who is closing out his 45th season in racing and 28th in a Late Model, has announced that this year’s Classic will be his last race event in that division. Details are still being finalized and should be announced soon.

On Saturday, the Raceway will also honor Duane Mahder, the 1990 RCC Late Model champ from Eau Claire who lost his life in a tragic vehicle accident shortly after last year’s Classic. In Mahder’s memory, the ABC Raceway Board has voted to run this year’s Late Model feature at a distance of 55 laps, rather than the traditional 50, to match the car number of the popular racing legend. For the fans, a variety of activities will be offered, both at the track and throughout the area. On Friday night immediately after the races there will be a party with live music at the grandstand pavilion area, and on Saturday fans can vote online via the Raceway’s website for a “fans’ choice” entry into one of the feature races from those drivers that did not otherwise qualify through Friday’s heats.

Also on Saturday, the annual Red Clay Classic scramble golf tournament will be held at the Chequamegon Bay Golf Club beginning at 9:30 am, with prizes to be awarded afterwards at the course’s Niblick restaurant. Fans are reminded that Ashland’s downtown merchants will have a variety of “MarketFest” sidewalk sales going on during Saturday of the race weekend, and that the city’s Historic Mural Walk is also downtown and convenient to enjoy before race time. Other opportunities for shopping, sightseeing and exploring abound in neighboring communities such as Washburn, Bayfield, Odanah and Mellen.

The festivities start on the Thursday evening prior to the race weekend, when the Neighborly Bar of downtown Ashland will host a pre-Red Clay Classic party, offering special RCC apparel for sale with proceeds going toward the “Bridesmaid’s Challenge” fund. Fans who have reserved camping sites on the Raceway property will be allowed to bring their RVs onto the grounds beginning at 5 pm on Thursday evening. At-the-track campers will be required to check in immediately upon arrival at the main grandstand ticket office before setting up at their sites.

For those still looking for camping near the track, the owner of the property directly adjacent to and east of the Raceway grounds will have sites available on a first-come, first-served basis (no advance reservations), beginning on Thursday evening. On Friday the pit gates will open to the race teams at 12:30 pm, while the main grandstand ticket windows and gates will open at 3. Hot lap sessions will start at 5:30, followed by heat races for all four divisions beginning at 7 pm.

On Saturday, the pits will open at noon, the grandstand gates will open at 2:30 pm, and racing will begin with semi-feature action at 5. The four big A-mains will then follow the last-chance semi-features. Adult grandstand tickets are available at $22 for Friday’s program, $25 for Saturday, or $42 for a two-day pass. Tickets for kids ages 6-12 are $13 each night, while a two-day kids’ pass is just $23. A limited number of reserved grandstand seats can still be purchased with any two-day pass for an additional $10 charge.

New for this year, a limited number of locations along the top walkway of the main grandstand are marked for bring-your-own lawn chair seating. These spots can be reserved for the price of an adult two-day pass plus the $10 additional charge. To buy tickets or reserve a seat, fans can call (715) 682-2672 Monday through Friday (evenings only) or send an e-mail to tickets@abcraceway.com.

A limited number of reserved pit spots are still available for just $30 each by calling (715) 746-2390 (evenings) or by e-mailing to tickets@abcraceway.com. Prior to each night’s race program, “Z-93 Race Night” will provide up-to-date Red Clay Classic news and weather information live from the track on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and online at www.wbszfm.com, from 3-4 pm.

The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. Additional event information is available on the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com. Additional Ashland area hotel and community information is available by visiting www.visitashland.com.

Anderson Brothers Top Rice Lake Speedway Winners

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Rice Lake WI,– Colfax racing brothers Mike and Travis Anderson both earned trips to victory lane as the Rice Lake Speedway concluded its sixty sixth year of consecutive racing action on Sunday night. The holiday race was run after the first half of the weekend doubleheader was rained out on Saturday by severe storms. Joining the Anderson brothers in victory lane were Andrew Hanson, Jeff Brauer and Eric Olson.

A season high one hundred and forty two racers from three states were on hand to compete in a twenty seven event program that saw two first time winners for the 2017 racing season.

Mike Anderson had to pass a very strong Michael Truscott to take the win in the Modified feature race. After two early yellows for minor spins and stalls, Truscott got the jump and continued to lead after starting on the outside pole. Anderson pulled in quickly and started to challenge while Ryan Viltz and Kevin Adams fought for the third spot. Anderson was able to make a low side pass and slide up in turn four and take over the lead while Adams did the same to Viltz to grab third.

Anderson then started to stretch his lead as Adams closed on Truscott but Michael proved a tough competitor to pass as Adams had to work very hard before he finally was forced to adjust his line to the high side of the track and he then drove around Truscott in turn four to take second.

Anderson was sailing along comfortably in the lead while Adams tried to cut into the margin as the laps ran down. Adams many have narrowed the margin slightly but Anderson still had a comfortable lead as the laps ran down and he drove home for his third Rice Lake Speedway Modified victory of 2017. Adams settled for second while Truscott finished an impressive third. Viltz also had a good run with Steve Hallquist completing the top five.

Brother Travis led all the way in the Midwest Modified feature but he had his hands full from start to finish as he was challenged by several different drivers. As Anderson took the early lead, his first challenger was Paul Suzik who started on the outside pole. However, Suzik was soon overtaken for that spot by Truscott, who was doing double duty racing both open wheel divisions on this night.

Truscott put some heavy pressure on Anderson as they raced hard for the lead between yellow flags which flew four times in the first six laps.

Shane Halopka was on the move after starting in the fourth row and he drove up to second and began to challenge Truscott for that position. Following a yellow, Halopka was able to drive around Truscott to take second and then he set off after the leader.

However, another yellow flag slowed the action and this time it was Truscott who got the jump and he returned to second. Halopka was not done however, and he raced his way back past Truscott and set off after Anderson who still continued to hold several car lengths on the field. Halopka really picked up the pace and by the time the white flag waved, he was within a car length of the leader.

Anderson was very careful on the final tour and while Halopka pulled to his rear bumper, Travis was careful not to give Halopka an opening and he drove on to his first feature win of the year at Rice Lake. Truscott finished several car lengths back in third while the drive of the race was accomplished by Tommy Richards. Normally a standout Super Stock racer, Richards was driving a new car that was a second entry from the Iverson Racing Team and he moved all the way from twelfth to fourth at the finish with Aric Lindberg completing the top five.

A big field of Pure Stocks was on hand but Andrew Hanson, the point champion at the ABC Raceway in Ashland, was game to take on all comers as he started on the outside pole and led all the way for the win. In the early going he was battling with Cole Hill but then C.J. Wagner, Kyle Copp and Jay Folz all moved in to provide a challenge. After a stall triggered a yellow with five laps complete, Hanson continued to lead but Wagner and Folz were both putting on heavy pressure. Hanson maintained his line however, and started to put some small distance on the field as the race for second continued to be hotly contested.

Hanson, with few starts at this track for experience, didn’t let that phase him as he continued to drive a strong and smooth race and as the laps ran down, he was able to maintain his margin as he drove home for the win. Not only was it his first win of the season at Rice Lake, it was also the first career win at the track for the high school student from Iron River.

Folz, who was making his first start in two years driving the car that he owns that Jason Havel has raced with so much success in recent years, finished a remarkable second. Before the race, the Pure Stock drivers did a four wide procession to honor Havel, who was in the pace truck and waving to fans as he continues to battle serious health issues.

Wagner finished a strong third driving for the first time the #16 car normally run by Rob Grabon who moved up to the Street Stocks Sunday. Mike Blevins, current national point leader in the Pure Stocks, started seventh and finished fourth with a late rush while Dustin Doughty, currently second in the national points, finished right behind Blevins racing his wife’s car on this night.

The closest feature race of the night was in the Super Stocks where Brauer made a turn four pass on the last lap to beat Nick Oreskovich by a nose to win the main event.

The Super Stocks had a terrible time getting their main event going with five yellow flags in the first two laps as everyone was more than a little anxious to get racing. Finally, after everyone settled down, the last eighteen laps of the race clicked off nonstop.

Oreskovich and Brauer shared the front row and they battled mightily in the opening laps as the traded the lead back and forth. Finally, Oreskovich was able to secure the top spot and he moved out by about two car lengths on the field. Brauer was under the gun for second as Terran Spacek moved up to challenge him and in fact did take over the second spot at the midpoint of the race.

Brauer looked like he was stuck in third but he then made an adjustment on the track as he moved up higher with his racing line and it quickly paid off dividends. He drove around Spacek to regain second and then started to close up on Nick O as the laps ran down.

With only a couple laps to go, Brauer was on the rear bumper of Oreskovich with two lapped cars directly in front of them. While those cars caused no problems, trying to decide which line to take on the final lap was dicey. As they entered the final corner, Oreskovich had Brauer right on his bumper and Nick opted to go wide exiting the corner to race to the line. Brauer cut his car tight to the inside and got a great run while Oreskovich seemed bogged down and Brauer moved in and edged past and as they raced to the line, it was Brauer in front by the narrowest of margins as the crowd was stunned.

Spacek completed his strong run with a third place finish as he had Shane Kisling close behind while Nick Traynor completed the top five after starting twentieth.

It was the second win of the year at Rice Lake for the Minnesota driver.

Eric Olson drew the pole for the Street Stock feature and that was bad news for the rest of the field as he led from start to finish to record his fourth victory in that car despite the fact that it didn’t hit the track until August. Olson pulled away at the beginning with Hunter VanGilder sticking close behind for several laps until Olson began to stretch his margin. Ron Hanestad moved into third but Danny Richards overtook him and tried to reel in the top two runners.

The lone yellow of the event set up a three lap dash to the finish but it caused no problem for Olson who pulled away and ran home uncontested for the win. VanGilder, Richards and Hanestad were next in line with rookie driver Travis Loew having a fine run to complete the top five as he held off another rookie in Braden Brauer.

The 2017 racing season at the Rice Lake Speedway is now complete. Check the speedway website and face book page for announcements relative to the 2018 racing season and also the speedway banquet date and site.

Jon Henry Earns $2,000 ALMS Win At Oakshade

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Forty-one American Late Model Series (ALMS) drivers showed up for the final ALMS event of the season at Oakshade Raceway on Saturday night. The current ALMS point-leader, Jon Henry, came out on top, earning his second ALMS win of the weekend.

A huge seven-car pile up, that took out Oakshade point leader Devin Shiels, slowed things down after completing the first lap of the 30-lap ALMS main event. Ada, Ohio’s Jon Henry started on the pole and led the first handful of laps, but Steve Kester hounded Henry and finally took the lead on lap seven. Kester then opened up his advantage over Henry until the unthinkable happened on lap 15. Kester spun while working through lapped traffic which brought out the yellow flag, forcing him to restart at the back of the field. Last week’s feature winner Rusty Schlenk inherited the lead for the restart and Henry, who had slipped back to third, found himself back in second and starting alongside Schlenk for the double file restart. Henry took advantage and jumped back out to the lead from the high side over Schlenk. Schlenk tried to battle back on the inside, but after a few laps of side by side racing, he slipped back. Schlenk had one last shot at Henry after a late caution flag flew with just three laps remaining. After winning the night before at Attica Raceway Park, Henry was able to hang on and pick up his 12th career ALMS win. Schlenk ended up second with Matt Miller finishing third. Brian Ruhlman made up some ground in the Oakshade Raceway point standings with a fourth place finish after Shiels’ early exit from the race. Casey Noonan ended up fifth.

Swanton, Ohio’s BJ Gregory has been on a tear the past few weeks at Oakshade Raceway, picking up his third straight UMP Sportsman feature win. Gregory started inside the second row and took over the lead by lap four. Mathew Chapman got by Joel Morton for second on lap eleven and a caution on lap 14 tightened up the field one last time behind the race leader. Unfortunately for everyone else, Gregory was able to pull away once again after the restart to sew up his third consecutive feature win. Chapman settled for second followed by Mike Jessen, Joel Morton and current Sportsman point leader Drew Smith.

Craig Dippman appeared to be on his way to earning his second Bomber A Main victory after leading much of the race. Jeff Foks Jr. from Holland, Ohio, had other plans and took over the race lead with six laps remaining and went on to his third Bomber A Main win of the year which increases his points lead to 36 over Tim Hancock with only two weeks of points racing remaining. Dippman held off Rich Riffe for a second place finish with Chris Henry moving up 14 positions to finish fourth. Roscoe Stetten was fifth.

The Compact class at Oakshade Raceway has a great point battle heading into the final couple of weeks of competition. Brogan Rehklau went on to pick up his 10th feature win of the season after battling with Nathan Goodman early in the race. With the win, the Waldron, Michigan, driver closed to within 18 points on Jeff Foks Sr. who ended up finishing second in the race. Jason Deshler finished third and currently sits third in points, 79 behind Foks.

Scott Robertson led the majority of the night’s final event, the Bomber B Main, but his night would end prematurely on the hook. Robertson seemed to have something go wrong with his car and ended up off turn four on lap nine of the 12 lap race. Robertson was towed back to the pits ending his night. That turned the race lead over to Holland, Ohio’s Gabe Mueller who went on to pick up his first feature win of the year after starting deep in the field. Cody Stetten finished second followed by Zach Stotz, Dustin Willier and Mike Villena.

The American Ethanol Modified Tour makes a stop at Oakshade Raceway on Saturday, September 9th. UMP Sportsman, Bombers and Compacts will also be in action with gates opening at 4pm, hot laps at 6pm and racing at 7pm.