Oregon, WI Over three hundred drivers, teams, sponsors, and friends gathered at The Heights in Verona, Wisconsin, for the annual Madison International Speedway banquet recognizing the accomplishments of the 2008 racing season. Five track champions and competitors from all five weekly divisions were honored along with many other special awards and door prizes.
Nathan Haseleu of Pardeeville, Wisconsin, won his first-ever championship at MIS in the Weaver Auto Parts Super Late Models. Haseleu led the division with four feature wins, set fast time on six nights and finished in the top five eleven times.
“I’d like to thank MIS for having the Super Late Models race. The competition level and racing was great every week. I am honored to be track champion in the Super Late Models with guys like Dick Trickle and Joe Shear. When I started racing it was guys like Ron Breese, Dave Feiler, Scott Ollerman, and Bob Wilberg and we’ve raced hard over the years so I’m really honored to be on a list with them. I would like to thank all of my crew guys… and all of my sponsors,” said Haseleu.
“I’ve got to thank Joe Hunter. There’s a song that says you find out who your friends are. He helped us out a lot this summer and whenever I hear the song it reminds me of our friendship.”
Steve Rubeck of Monroe Center, Illinois, was runner-up in the division thanks to four feature wins and ten top fives. DeForest, Wisconsin, driver Andrew Morrissey finished in third place and notched one feature win and nine top five finishes in 2008. Rubeck was voted Favorite Driver by the fans and Zack Riddle won Rookie of the Year honors.
Bobby Wilberg of Beloit, Wisconsin, made it back to back championships in the Rockweiler Insulation Limited Late Model division. Wilberg set fast time on seven nights, picked up ten top five finishes and added one feature win. This year’s title was his tenth at MIS since the track re-opened in 1992.
“I have to thank all of our sponsors for being with us. It was a lot of fun racing with these guys this year especially Ross (Kenseth). I want to thank Jon and the boys from Illinois (crew) for all of their work because consistency pays off. We’re
looking forward to next year when this will be the premier division at MIS,” noted Wilberg who also took time to thank his fellow competitors in the super late model division.
Runner-up honors went to sixteen year old Ross Kenseth of Spring Valley, Illinois, who finished in the top five eleven out of twelve races and picked up two feature wins and a heat win. Kenseth was also named Rookie of the Year in the Rockweiler
Insulation Limited Late Models. Ryan Goldade of Stoughton, Wisconsin, finished in third place powered by six top five finishes including one feature win. Goldade was also named Fan Favorite for the Limited Late Models.
Donna Forsythe presented the Wayne’s Custom DIECAST Dash Series and Hard Charger Awards. Donna’s husband Wayne lost his battle with cancer during the off season and those in attendance at the banquet honored both Wayne and Donna with a standing
“Looking back knowing that you gave your all, win or lose you finish a champion,” said Donna as she shared one of Wayne’s favorite Dale Earnhardt quotes. She then presented the Dash Series trophy to Ryan Goldade. Six different drivers won dash
events in 2008 and although Goldade was not one of them he proved that consistency has its rewards.
Wilberg won the Hard Charger Award based on points received for passing cars during feature events. “This award really means a lot to me. Wayne did a lot for racing,” noted Wilberg.
Jay Kalbus of Watertown, Wisconsin, won his first-ever track championship at Madison International Speedway by taking home top honors in the Bryden Motors Area Sportsman division. Kalbus won a division high four features along with two heat wins and set fast time on one night.
“We had a lot of fun doing this in the past and this year was really fun. I’m looking forward to getting back to the track in 2009,” said Kalbus.
Scott Lawver of Roscoe, Illinois, finished second in the points fueled by eleven top five finishes, two heat wins and a feature win. Steve Dickson of Rockton, Illinois, finished in third place and set fast time on one night and won two heat races.
Dickson was also honored as Rookie of the Year after moving up from the Bandit division while TJ Goldade of Stoughton, Wisconsin, won both the Fan Favorite Award and Best Appearing Car.
Max McNamara of Ingleside, Illinois, was crowned champion in the Pellitteri Waste Systems Legends after a strong season that found him winning seven feature events including a string of six in a row. “Mad Max” also set fast time on seven occasions and won five heat races on his way to the title.
“I really want to thank all of my fellow competitors and MIS for letting us race here. We really had a lot of fun and hope to keep doing it in 2009. Hopefully next year will be as good as this year was for us. I really have to thank all of my sponsors and my dad for making this happen.” McNamara was also recognized as “Favorite Driver” as voted on by the fans.
Aaron Moyer of Eden, Wisconsin, finished in the runner-up position despite not winning a feature in 2008. Moyer also won Rookie of the Year honors in the division. Alex Arelano of Frankfort, Illinois, began the season strong but suffered mechanical issues that forced him to miss a couple of events finished in third place. Arelano won four features and also picked up two wins in non-points races.
Chester Ace of Oregon, Wisconsin, took home top honors in the Roto Rooter Bandits. On his way to the title Ace picked up seven feature wins including five in a row. He also led the division by setting fast time on eight nights. Ace was also
recognized as “Fan Favorite” for the Bandit division.
“I want to thank all of my sponsors and friends and family especially my mom and dad because I couldn’t do it without you. This was a lot of fun this year. My fellow racers made it fun every night. We are looking at a couple of possibilities for next year,” said Ace who hinted that he may be back to defend his title.
Stephen Scheel of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, finished in second place in the Bandit division while Cory Skolaski of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, finished in third place. Pat Richgels of Middleton, Wisconsin, was Rookie of the Year based on his seventh place
Five Star donated two stock car bodies for the drivers with Cliff Rucks and Bob Wilberg being randomly selected as the lucky winners. Chad Stevens won a chassis donated by Lefthander Chassis. Many other door prizes were also presented to those
in attendance. MIS would like to thank Five Star and Lefthander for their gracious donations along with all of the area businesses who donated door prizes.
Madison International Speedway General Manager Dave Grueneberg recognized The Oregon Fire Department and EMS for all of their efforts at MIS and long-time fan Gary Schmelzer was honored with a plaque designating him as “Official Historian” of MIS.
Grueneberg also thanked the race teams, fans and sponsors for all they do for racing at MIS. Grueneberg also indicated that the Speedway Educational Series for high school students will continue in 2009 with participating students who are members of
pit crews or drivers can win scholarships to Ohio Technical College in Cleveland, Ohio. This will be the second year this program has been offered at MIS and more students are expected to participate this year. He also mentioned that drivers in the Rockweiler Insulation Late Model division in 2009 will be eligible for the ASA Member Track Champion program.
MIS Owner Terry Kunes also thanked the racers and discussed the New Fan Initiative for 2009 in which teams will be encouraged to invite new fans to the track. Kunes also mentioned that adult admission for regular weekly events will be $9.00 in 2009.
The 2009 racing season begins at Madison International Speedway with two practice sessions on Saturday, April 25th and Saturday, May 2nd. The season opener will be on Sunday, May 3rd with the ASA Midwest Tour and Big 8 Series. Weekly Friday night racing featuring Late Models, Area Sportsman, Hobby Stocks, Legends, and Bandits will begin on Friday, May 8th.
For more information about MIS checkout the track website at madisoninternationalspeedway.com.
By John Wells