We have been in Wisconsin for more than a month now and have seen lots of great racing and racetracks. Our next three races mark the end of our stay in this region and we will be heading west to Montana soon.

For this leg, we’ll be visiting I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Iowa, first, then the following week travel up to Kaukauna, Wisconsin, to Wisconsin International Speedway for a Thursday night show, then on up to the UP, or Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Norway Speedway for a special Friday event to support cancer awareness.

Each one of these tracks has something unique about them and we’ll tell you all about those features that stand out. All three are somewhat, if not totally, club tracks that exist because the racers banded together to make it happen, or continue making it happen. Otherwise, the racing would have ended long ago.

I-35 Speedway

We arrived at I-35 on Sunday afternoon after a trip from Viking Speedway that is located far away in Minnessota above Minneapolis. It will be the third track in three days we will have visited in a journey that took us from Superior, Wisconsin, all the way down here to 25 miles south of the Wisconsin border into Iowa, some 350 miles traveling between the three.

This is a dirt track and it is surrounded on three sides by a huge corn field, not that that is so uncommon around here. It is bordered on the south by the North Iowa Fair Ground of which it is a part. The dirt for this track is black and I just have to wonder why? I don’t think I have ever seen dirt this black.

It had rained the day before we showed up and there was plenty of moisture in the dirt, so we never saw the water truck come out. By the time several heats had been run, the track had come in nicely and the racing got really good.

The track had some good banking, but the drivers took to the bottom most of the time. And the straights were very long at this track. The length is upwards of a half-mile and looks it. With the outside walls in the turns made up of concrete highway barriers, you don’t want to run too wide here, least you end up in the wall. Fortunately, with the track being so wide, there was little chance of that.

The classes run here are the Modifieds, Stock Cars, Sport Mods, Hobby Stock, Hornets, and Junior Hornets. There were a good many entries in all of the classes and the competition was close.

One of the coolest things I saw here, aside from the racing, was a sign on the pit entrance hut that said, “No Cry Babies Allowed.” I thought that was great. How many times have you wanted to say that. It sets the tone for the whole evening.

After a fun night of great racing, we got up the next morning to travel to our base camp in central Wisconsin to rest up for our next two, and final, races before moving to Montana.

Wisconsin International Raceway

This track used to be known as Kaukauna, at least that is how I remember it when I first visited back in 1999. I remember it was my first race at a relatively flat track having been “raised” back east on the higher banked tracks in and around Virginia and North Carolina.

WIR was not on our original schedule if you remember, but I got a call from Dave Schneider who along with Mike Randerson, convinced me to include this track in our Tour. You can’t miss WIR, they told me. I looked at our plans for traveling up to Norway and decided that because WIR ran on Thursday nights, it wouldn’t be too much trouble to stop there on the way north.

The track is operated under the sanction of the Fox River Racing Club and run by Roger Vandaalwyk. It is a well run facility and well kept. There is a dedicated spotter area off Turn 4 where every part of the track can be seen easily.

When I was here before, I tried to run a bigger right rear spring on the car I was consulting for and we could never get off of Turn 2 without spinning the rear tires. I reluctantly went to a 15-pound lower RR spring and raised the Panhard bar way up to compensate and we did fairly well finishing Third when this team couldn't get in the top ten here prior to this race. Of course, since then setups have evolved.

And so I learned that you sometimes have to adapt, in a calculated way, to the track conditions wherever you are. And the layout of this track is so different than what we usually see in a circle track. There is a sort of tri-oval design here and the track itself is extremely wide.

With the track being long and wide, it is therefore super fast. So much so that the lower stock classes run on a shorter and separate inner track that also contains a figure-8 track. I could see where the stockers would gain way too much speed for the way they are built to withstand an impact with the walls here.

The classes run here include the Late Models, Limited Late Models, Super Stock, Sport Truck, Sizzling 4's, and the always-fun, Figure 8. The Super Stocks were modified stockers and had bodies and chassis that were more like the purpose built Late Models.