Balog is once again atop of the IRA Sprint Car standings
By Joe Verdegan
Full Throttle Magazine contributor
Billy Balog continues to be one of the hottest drivers in the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw series.
The 33-year-old native of Fairbanks, Alaska has won 6 out of 16 racing events he’s entered so far in 2013 as of late June. Balog put on a dominating performance at Oshkosh Speedzone on June 21. The hot start has once again put Balog atop of the IRA Sprint Car standings through the first part of the season as he shoots for his sixth straight IRA Sprint Car title.
While he’s still chasing the IRA Sprint Car Series he’s not necessarily “chasing points” per se for the series.
“I’m trying to run some more shows down in Knoxville, Iowa,” Balog says. “IRA is a great series, but I learn so much when I branch out and run with those guys out of state. The competition is tough. I’m happy to get a top ten most of time out there. It’s just a whole different level of competition to deal with. It makes you better.”
Balog had a chance to shine and dice with one of the country’s biggest names in racing on both dirt and asphalt — former Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart. “Smoke’s” appearance June 15 at Plymouth Dirt Track drew a capacity crowd of 3,000 people.
“We actually had to give refunds to people who got there late because there simply wasn’t any room for them to stand anymore,” says IRA president Steve Sinclair.
Balog went wheel-to-wheel with “Smoke” for a balance of the race on the third-mile, clay oval at Sheboygan County Fair Park. Stewart inched past Balog at the checkers to a crowd that was on its feet the whole race.
“I guess second place never felt so good,” Balog says. “Stewart’s one of the best, and to race side-by-side by him all those laps was unreal.”
Balog’s success hasn’t come without a band of “haters” if you will. There have been allegations and whispers of the team using traction control and what not.
“I’m not really phased by talk of that stuff at all,” Balog says. “We just go out and race as hard as we can every week.”
He lists Fredonia’s Mike Kertscher as his favorite IRA driver to go wheel-to-wheel with.
“Not everybody does all the time but right now, he’s fast, and I really like racing with Mike,” Balog says.
Balog lives in Harland and is a mechanic by trade when he’s not racing. His team, B Squared Motorsports is the combined efforts of Balog and crew members Ryan Buesser, Matt Myers, Ben Kruse, Dave Ranthum and Matt Myers.
“None of this success comes without all of these guys,” Balog says. “It’s a true team effort all the way around.”
The IRA travels to several dirt tracks across the Midwest, hosting races in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.
“I love all of ‘em but I really like Cedar Lake Speedway and Rice Lake Speedway especially,” Balog says. “And of course I can’t forget about Oshkosh Speedzone, either. We’ve been fortunate and have had a lot of success there.”
Balog cut his teeth racing both Sprint Cars and asphalt Late Models in the state of Washington, and wound up moving to Wisconsin.
Has the thought of running with the World of Outlaw Sprint Car Tour ever crossed Balog’s mind?
“No doubt it has over time,” he says. “It would be nice but I’ve got my son Dylan. Those guys are on the road constantly. I’ve got to be around for him. So for that reason I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Balog’s machine is a Maxim chassis powered by Parker Engines. The team sponsors include Buesser Concrete, Hoeft Builders, HRP, Keizer Wheels, K & N Filters, Gleason Equipment, FK Rod Ends, Auto Meter, Saldana Racing Products, Astro Titanium, Maxim Chassis, DMI, Fibrestar Industries, Super Shox, Stumble Inn, Xtreme Stainless, AllStar Performance, Competition Driveline and Service and BLZ.
(This article first appeared in the July 2014 issue of Full Throttle Magazine. Since then Balog did win the 2014 IRA Sprint Car championship.)