Shawano Speedway finally gets racing season underway
By Bert Lehman
After a three week delay due to the unseasonably cold and wet spring, Shawano Speedway got its first race of the season in the books, Saturday, May 10.
By the size of the crowd, it was easy to see area race fans couldn’t wait to see some racing action.
The car count was less than previous openers at the speedway. A total of 83 drivers were on hand, including: 23 Late Model, 13 IMCA Modified, 17 IMCA Stock Car, 13 IMCA Northern SportMod, and 17 Mighty 4’s.
Yes, you read that right, the Late Model division had the most cars of any of the divisions. There has been much talk over the last several years about the future of the Late Model division. With the influx of some young drivers into the division, the future is looking a little brighter for the division.
Unfortunately several Late Model drivers experienced motor problems during the evening. Cody Grosskreutz’s car started smoking during hot laps. When I had the chance to talk to him later in the evening he said he blew the motor, that there were a couple of holes in the oil pan.
Joe Reuter’s car displayed smoke during his heat race, and he immediately pulled off the track. He did not return to the feature. He also blew his motor.
Joel Bennett also pulled off the track during his heat race after his car displayed smoke. He did not return for the feature.
There was a familiar Late Model driver who was not racing. Justin Ritchie was at the races, but he didn’t have is race car with him. When asked where his race car was, Ritchie said it was in the race shop. He said he plans on racing at Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie on Friday nights and at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond on Saturday nights. Late Models weren’t racing on Saturday night at Cedar Lake Speedway.
Ritchie said the decision to travel to the western part of the state to race was due to the fact he doesn’t like the Late Model rules package at Shawano Speedway. He said he may race at Shawano Speedway later in the season, but for now the plan is to travel on the weekends to race.
I had the chance to talk with Late Model driver Nick Anvelink prior to the races. He said he is racing the same car as last year. He also said his plans for 2014 will be similar to last year. That means you can expect him to miss the races the first week of August when the USA Nationals take place at Cedar Lake Speedway.
Defending Late Model track champion Ron Berna served notice to the rest of the drivers in the division that he is out to defend his championship. Berna started on the pole and won the feature.
Berna said this victory was extra special for him.
“My engine builder Bruce Mueller passed away Friday night so we kind of dedicate this one to him. He’s the one who designed the motor in this thing. I was supposed to call him on Monday, we were going to talk about the cam. It’s a little bit different deal there now. We got this race for him. I’m glad we won. Hopefully he’s watching above us,” Berna said.
The hard charger in the Late Model feature was Troy Springborn. He started 16th and finished third.
Jerry Wilinski won the IMCA Modified feature. Matt Oreskovich led the first laps before giving way to Wilinski. The best battle in this race took place between father and son, Jerry and Eddie Muenster. Jerry won that battle to finish third in the feature. Eddie Muenster finished fourth.
Travis Van Straten is back racing this season, this time in the IMCA Stock Car division. He led the majority of the race, but succumbed to Kyle Frederick late in the race. It was Frederick’s first appearance at the speedway for a regular night of racing for some time.
Jason Jach had luck on his side early in the IMCA SportMod feature, as he fell from first to last on the second lap. A caution on that lap brought out by Jordan Bartz put Jach pack in the lead on the restart. Jach’s luck ran out with three laps to go as his car became a ball of fire for a split second. The fire went out, but Jach retired to the pits. Tracy Wassenberg wound up winning the feature.