The Midwest Racing Connection With Charlie Spry

June 6, 2013

We are finally getting some nice weather here in southern
Wisconsin, and the Columbus 151 Speedway has been able
to get a couple of shows in since I last wrote.
Late model rookie John Beale looks to learn the ropes in
this new division, as he moves up from the four cylinder
Bandit division. It is quite a step up to be sure, but he has
shown a lot of driving talent, and I think he will do quite
well. “It’s a lot different, that’s for sure,” stated Beale.
“With the Bandit, you could just throw it into the corner on
the outside and go by people. In the late model you would
think I would stick to the inside groove, but I’m actually
more comfortable on the outside. I’m not worried about
passing anyone, just trying to stay out of trouble and do
what I can do.”
Hobby stock racer Jay Bergin is chasing gremlins in his car,
and not the American Motors kind. “It runs just fine at
home, but I get it here at the track and it just cuts out on me
when I need it to get going. It’s getting real frustrating; you
just keep trying different things and hope you find it. Last
year I had an old junkyard motor in it and it ran just fine,
now I’ve got a fresh motor and I have had nothing but
trouble. We will keep at it until we get it.”
Street stock racer Terry Wangsness was present on
opening day. “I won my very first feature here,” said Terry.
“I ran in front of Chico Riedner, and kept moving up in the
groove just enough so that he couldn’t get in his groove. I
won, and afterward, he came up to me and said, “You really
wanted to win that, didn’t you?” I said, “Of course.” He
just smiled, shook my hand, and said, “Way to go, good
job.” Terry won the feature on this day as well, and didn’t
have to push anyone up out of the groove, as he is a very
clean racer.
I have to tell a story that Late model veteran Jerry Eckhardt
told. “I was in the pits on race night, and was waiting for
time trials to begin, just sitting there, and a young driver
came up to me and asked, “Why don’t you go out to
practice?” to which Jerry replied, “I’ve been racing since
the early 1960’s... Do you really think I NEED to?” Truth be
told, Jerry could probably race blindfolded at Columbus,
Slinger and Jefferson, and still beat the pants off most of
the others!
The regular Friday opener at Columbus saw Tiffany
Desjarlais take the popular win in the street stock feature.
Some pretty good competition behind her throughout had
nothing for her, as she won her first career in this division.
She joins Bobbi Bishofberger and Jeni Westargaard as the
only female feature winners in this division. She was
pulling double duty, as she raced a late model as well on
this night. There has never been a female feature winner in
the late model class here....Could she be the first?
We also took in the regular Thursday season opener at the
State Park Speedway near Wausau. It was a very cold night
out there, and they ran without an intermission, which was
appreciated by all.
Todd Handrick is racing in the newly formed limited late
model class this year. When asked the lineage of his car, he
said, “It was built back in 1980, by Lefthander, probably
before they were known as Lefthander. It was raced by
John Paszek, and a bunch of other people owned it as well
who never raced it.” It is nice to see older cars being
brought back out on the track, and Todd ran really well
with it tonight, leading most of the feature. The race itself
was a caution plagued affair, with the end result of all the
fracas being Jeff Nowak taking the win after officials had
had enough and called the race complete after a final
caution with two or three laps to go. This is called being in
the right place at the right time, and Mr. Nowak definitely
was. Nice job by newby Jeff Spatz, who may have been the
only car not to sustain any damage!
Scott Hoeft made the long haul up from Watertown to race
in the Mini-mod class. A regular at the Rockford Speedway,
Scott has been fighting with fuel starvation problems
recently, but thinks he finally found the culprit, changing
several things at one time to try to solve the issue. Fuel
pump and fuel filter were the order tonight, and the car
seemed to run great, netting a fifth place feature finish for
him. Brad Conant is absolutely dominant this year here,
recording a clean sweep in a full field of cars.
Jeremy Lepak took the super late model feature win,
passing up M.G. Gajewski for the lead and win. Mark
Mackesy slowly picked away at passing cars one by one,
and made it up as far as second, where he finished. It is
always fun to watch him, as he is methodical in his
Super late model racer Jesse Haase was present again, but
isn’t sure how much longer he will race, stating, “I was
ready to call it quits last year, but then we won the Lodi
(Wayne Lodholz) race, and were having fun. I’m looking at
running this year, and then my son is getting to the age
where he can do it, I’d like to convert it to a limited late
model and have him start out the way I did. I learned so
much racing at different tracks that way when I started
Burton Brown has a neat looking car this year, painted gold
and black in tribute to Smokey Yunick. He even has a
picture in the back window of the car of himself standing
with Yunick in front of his shop. The one thing that won’t
happen, however, is the running of Yunick’s number,
thirteen. Burton plans to stick to his usual number 07!
Mariah Gajewski scored a clean sweep in the mini-stock
division, with Josh Opper making a strong run to finish
second. Karl Genett won the pure stock feature over Nick
Erickson Jr. and Travis Volm. Seems like some of the former
Tomahawk area pavement racers switched to dirt, and now
back to pavement, as Steve Brown and C.J. Hedges Jr. are
back racing paved tracks again.
Took in the weekly show at the Rockford Speedway this
past Saturday. Steve Rubeck won the feature by doing
something few people have been able to do this year, finish
ahead of Alex Papini.
In my “99 Chronicles” where I report each time on how
both number 99 cars fared in the sportsman division,
Johnny Robinson stated before the races, “We put the
spring setup in the car that we used in the hobby stock
back in ’03 at Jefferson. We are trying some things for
racing at Columbus. The car really isn’t too bad with this
setup.” Johnny made the fast dash, where he finished
second, then won his heat, and finished seventh in the
feature. His number “99” counterpart, Justin Sellers noted
after the races, “We had a coil go bad in time trials, and that
is why I timed so bad, We’re hoping to time in much faster
next week and run up front in the feature.” Justin also won
his heat, and finished sixth in the feature.
Brett McCoy was the dominant factor in the sportsman
division tonight, setting fast time, winning the dash,
placing a close second in his heat, and winning the feature.
That is as close to a clean sweep as you can get without
actually getting it.

Daryl Gerke makes the long trip down from his home near
Appleton, WI., to race here. In talking to his Dad, Brad, he
noted that the cost of gas is the big issue, as it just seems
to keep going up in price, making the long haul more
difficult as time goes on. They field an absolutely beautiful
car in this division, and take pride in keeping it looking that
The Roadrunner challenge race this week was simply a
smokey burnout contest. Terry Van Hise won the event by
utilizing a rolling burnout, with Raymond Hardesty adding
a little fun as he did his, throwing his steering wheel out the
window, and nearly running it over as he let the tires spin.
Jason Van Hise put out quite a display of spinning donuts
while smoking the hides. No mosquitoes were present
during or after this event! Dennis Smith Jr. won the regular
Roadrunner feature.
Jason Bragg took the American Short Tracker feature win,
with a pack of six cars doing battle at one time. Nick Cina Jr.
looked to take the win away, but Bragg had none of it. very
good racing amongst the whole field.
Adam Cartwright closed the show with a win in the figure
eight, which rarely runs on Saturdays, with the complete
show being finished before ten o’clock, giving everyone
time to visit after, in what was the first actual pleasant race
night, weather-wise.

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