Cheeshead Triple Crown brings best of the best to Wisconsin
By Bert Lehman
In 2013 something unprecedented happened in the local racing community — a $10,000-to-win Modified feature was planned for the Clash at the Creek at 141 Speedway. It was, and continues to be the highest paying Modified event in Wisconsin.
The ante was upped last year when the Cheesehead Triple Crown Series was introduced. In addition to the $10,000-to-win feature at 141 Speedway, a $5,000-to-win feature was added at Luxemburg Speedway the next night, followed by a $5,000-to-win feature at Chilton Speedway the next night.
The Cheesehead Triple Crown Series returned this year, with Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway and Shawano Speedway replacing the events at Luxemburg and Chilton.
Toby Kruse, promoter and co-owner at 141 Speedway, who helped organize the series said the series is crucial to bring more drivers to race at the events.
“This year we have teamed up with some very good race tracks,” Kruse said. “I think that brings credibility to the whole series. With the three tracks we have it going with, it should be an outstanding week.”
Kruse said the series originally started with “talk amongst promoters” and the urging of drivers.
“Brian Mullen was always saying we need a big speed week up in Wisconsin,” Kruse said. “It makes it work when you get race promoters who are willing to work together. We’re all here for the benefit of the sport.”
Mullen who has done plenty of traveling to race in out of state events said it is nice having three high paying races in northeast Wisconsin, not only to bring in out of state drivers, but to allow local drivers who can’t travel, the opportunity to race for big money.
“The good competition makes all the local guys better too,” Mullen said.
Mullen has competed in the last several Dakota Classic Modified Tours, winning it one of those years. This year’s tour includes six races at six different tracks.
“They do it in other places and they do it successfully,” Mullen said. The Dakota Tour has been a pretty good example. That thing has been going on for 20-plus years. It just seems to be getting bigger all the time. You get a good established tour, it brings a lot of good drivers because it gets some notoriety and then they want to win that.”
Mullen hopes that the Cheesehead Triple Crown Series will continue to grow.
“When you get something rolling it will get bigger and better,” Mullen said. “Until it gets rolling and you get this many cars and then shows can pay for themselves. Then you get a big event for your local drivers and fans. Once you get it established you get a lot of travelers because it’s a unique event.”
Kruse said he hears from travelers all the time about how Wisconsin is one of the toughest places to win in the IMCA series.
“Those guys want to come up here and see how they size up with some of the best racers in the country,” Kruse said. “Without a doubt, if you look around these pits, they’re here. Anybody who has accomplished anything in the IMCA world, they’re here and they’re ready to go racing.”
With the chance to win $20,000 in three nights of racing, what do traveling drivers have to say about the event?
“Obviously it costs money to race so we want to make sure that when we travel far from the house it is worth our while,” said Kyle Strickler of North Carolina. “This field gets bigger and bigger every year. Last year we won one of the $5,000 [races]. If you can come up here and run good it’s definitely something you can make money at, so I really look forward to coming to this every year.”
“I never raced in Wisconsin and I thought it would be one of those things that it would be cool to do,” said Shane Demay of Iowa. “It’s a lot of good money for all three nights.”
Jason Wolla of North Dakota said having three high paying events in one area makes the decision to travel easier.
“You have the opportunity to pay and cover your expenses for the trip,” Wolla said. “Having them all grouped together just makes good sense. We have the mod tour in North Dakota and people can race a bunch of different tracks. It’s a similar deal [here] except there is more money on the line here and that’s a big deal.”
“It’s nice when you have a six hour drive and you have three nights of racing at three different tracks,” said Joel Rust of Iowa. “Each track is a little bit different so you get a challenge each night.”
(This article appeared in the July 2016 issue of Full Throttle magazine.)