Once the host of more than a half-dozen major races a season, the 106-year-old Milwaukee Mile has sat relatively idle the past four years.
Now it’s time to shake the cobwebs off the concrete and awaken the ghosts of hundreds of races past.
The ARCA Midwest Tour regulars and a number of high-profile traveling drivers from around the country will hit the State Fair Park oval this weekend, headlined by the Father’s Day 100. Also on the schedule are the Vintage Indy Registry, Midwest Truck Tour, Mid-American Stock Car Series and Upper Midwest Vintage Series.
Saturday is a practice day, with qualifying and racing scheduled for Sunday. Qualifying begins at 11 a.m. and racing at 1 p.m. with the Midwest Tour main event targeted for about 3.
The weekend will mark the first professional racing on the oval since Sebastien Bourdais won in IndyCar in 2015.
An entry list and complete weekend schedule can be found midwesttour.racing, and further information is available at trackenterprises.com.
Speed51.com has scheduled a live pay-per-view broadcast, beginning at 11 a.m.
The Midwest Tour raced at the Mile under various sanctioning bodies numerous times over the decades, but its most recent run was a three-race stretch that concluded in 2014, when Erik Jones, then 18 and a high school graduate of just one day, won a 150-lapper on his way to NASCAR. (Kyle Busch and Travis Sauter won the others.)
Here is a look at some of the drivers and the key storylines to watch this weekend.
Repeat visit? First-time winner?
Granted, the opportunities have been limited for this generation of drivers, but it appears only two entered have won at the Milwaukee Mile.
Dan Fredrickson, a two-time Midwest Tour champion from Lakeville, Minnesota, took a 50-lapper for the Midwest Allstar Racing Series that was part of the 2004 American Speed Association weekend.
Casey Johnson of Edgerton won in Big 8 Series limited late models in 2013 before the Midwest Tour main event.
Most prominent among the non-winners may be Edgerton native Rich Bickle, one of the top barnstormers of the 1990s and a winner of more than 500 races. Bickle, 58, led two races in what was then the NASCAR Busch Series at the Mile and finished third there in NASCAR trucks.
In addition to Fredrickson, past Midwest Tour champions Andrew Morrissey (2011), Ty Majeski (2014-'17) and Dalton Zehr (2018) are entered.
» Josh Brock of Corbin, Kentucky, the defending champion and points leader in the ARCA/CRA Super Series.
» Preston Peltier of Brighton, Colorado, the 2010 Pro All Stars Series champion.
» Matt Craig of Kannapolis, North Carolina, the three-time and defending PASS champion, who also has competed with Brock in ARCA/CRA this season.
» Donnie Wilson of Oklahoma City, the 2016 Southern Super Series title-holder.
Big-track big name
The Mile will be somewhat of an unknown for drivers who typically race on quarter- and half-mile tracks, but a few of those entered have had some experience, and success, on the bigger tracks.
Eddie MacDonald, 38, of Rowley, Massachusetts, has won four times at New Hampshire International Speedway, a slightly flatter and tighter 1.018-mile oval in Loudon. Two of those victories have come in late models on the regional American-Canadian Tour and two in heavier NASCAR East cars. MacDonald also has raced NASCAR Cup races at the New Hampshire and a truck race at ISM Raceway, the odd-shaped mile outside Phoenix.
Can momentum carry over?
Speaking of drivers with big-track experience, Majeski has more than many and is on a roll, having won consecutive ARCA Menards Series races at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway and 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway and finished second at the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway.
The 24-year-old native of Seymour – the Midwest Tour’s all-time victory leader with 19 – has raced twice at Milwaukee. He fought through myriad problems in 2012 – engine, flat tire, vibration – to finish 21st in 2012 and dropped out with an engine failure in 2014.
Schedules present an interesting opportunity this weekend, with the ARCA Menards Series national tour racing at Madison International Speedway on Friday night.
Travis Braden, a two-time ARCA/CRA champion, plans to do double duty. The 25-year-old aerospace and mechanical engineering graduate from Wheeling, West Virginia, sits third in the ARCA Menards Series standings after finishing fifth last year.
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What’s happened so far?
Johnson leads the Midwest Tour standings over Austin Nason with one victory (Jefferson Speedway) in the two races so far. Nason was the top Tour regular (behind visiting Bubba Pollard) in the series opener at Madison International Speedway. Bickle, Paul Shafer Jr. and John DeAngelis round out the top five.