State Park Speedway was the...
State Park Speedway was the first of a “four races in four days” run. We covered much of Wisconsin in our travels that week. The SPS was situated right next to the park and the backdrop was great. Despite high temperatures, the racing was clean and the show moved along on time.
Now that we are firmly entrenched in Wisconsin, we are about to undertake an ambitious run of four racetracks in four days. We started out from our KOA campground site in central WI, at Hixton, and traveled to State Park Speedway for a Thursday night event. SPS is located next to Rib Mountain State Park in Wausau, hence the name.
Next, we hit the road to Madison International Speedway, some 140 miles south for a Friday night show, then west to Elko Speedway on Saturday and finally wrapping up the string for a Sunday afternoon race at the high banked Slinger Speedway.
All in all, we will put 1,200 miles on the Tour bus and be on the road for six days. It was well worth it though, because we got to see some great promoting, innovative teams, and fans who would come to a race during the middle of the week and on Sundays. This issue, we will be highlighting the races at State Park and Madison Int. Speedways. Here goes.
The track was a low banked quarter mile and we were treated to the Mid-American Stock Car Series sportsman type, stock front clip cars. They put on a good show for cars that are more affordable than the Super Late Models.
SPS is an ASA affiliated track that is a quarter-mile in length, owned and operated by long time racers, Ron and Scott Wimmer. On this Thursday, it was very hot, hitting 94 degrees, while back in Florida, where I came from, it was only 84. The standard question when people saw where we were from was, “Did you come up north to cool off?” Evidently not.
The Wimmers are hands on owners and run this track very well. They had the services of Mike “Lumpy” Lempke on hand to oversee the tech’ing of the cars and I had the chance to finally meet Mike and talk a little bit about the current rules packages for ASA and others. The feeling among some racers and car owners is that the rules might be due for some review and changes made to reflect the way the cars are setup in this day and age.
Overall, I found that Mike was firm in his interpretation of the current rules, but fairly flexible about looking into next years and beyond wording of the rules. This is something that is ongoing with the staff at Circle Track and we find most sanctions and tracks to be willing to listen to us on various issues. And that is a start.
The Mid-American Stock Car Series was here on a scheduled appearance for their tour. This series is a very cool sanction for Sportsman car type of racing where you can bring your car to different racetracks, not spend a fortune doing that and receive a fair set of rules that allow for different engine packages and, somewhat, body styles.
Attention to the families...
Attention to the families and kids keeps tracks open. It was no different at SPS, where we saw they had a very nice play area for youngsters among other amenities. When the kids are having fun, they always want to come back next week.
This year, 28 teams have scored points in this series at 12 race events held at eight different racetracks within this region. Series co-owners, Doug and Julie Strasburg took over the series after the passing of the founder, Gary Vercauteran. The first race under their leadership was on April 1, 2006.
They came back to a series that they had left due to reasons only they can speak about, but were determined to grow the numbers of teams. As Julie explains on their website, “In being able to increase (car) counts, we are first enforcing the rules.”
I can only surmise from that, that there was some problem with enforcement in previous years. As we have pushed in CT, when you enforce the rules for everyone, you stop losing teams and start growing your car counts.
The track owners here are very sensitive to the families who attend the races. A very centrally located and modern play area was setup for the kids and to help them with the heat, a water spray area behind the grandstands drew many youngsters who ran through the sprinklers to cool off. It was fun to watch and I wanted to take a trip through the spray myself, but refrained.
My notes from the event (this is written some nine weeks later) show that the racing was clean, with little or no cautions for the divisions, even with plenty of two wide racing going on.
The feeling among some racers and car owners is that the rules might be due for some review and changes made to reflect the way the cars are setup in this day and age.
I finally had the chance to...
I finally had the chance to meet the head tech official for ASA, Mike “Lumpy” Lempke. He was on hand to oversee the tech inspections for SPS. He travels to various tracks during each week and we would run into him again at Norway Speedway in a few weeks. Lumpy is known for being strict, but fair. If it’s in the rules, it will be enforced. He is also keen to keeping the rules package current to stay up with modern setup and engine advancements.
There is a very cool track bar setup where many fans gathered during and after the races. The party there went on well into the wee hours of the next morning, a Friday I do recall. The announcers were excellent, a plus we have talked about numerous times, and the race was broadcast live via a local radio station, 100.5 FM.
Despite the heat, we had a cool time at State Park and we got the feeling that everyone enjoyed coming here and being a part of the event. The track management just made it that way. So, we see a good future for SPS and it should continue to grow as does the economy. Our hats go off to Ron and Scott Wimmer for all of their hard work and thanks for having us.
Madison International Speedway
This is not the first time I visited Madison. I came here in 1999 as one team’s engineer and again with Pete Raskovic and the Urban Force Racing Team from Beloit Memorial High School. I find the track to be fast, technical to a degree and where it is hard to pass, but possible with the right setup.
I met Kevin Ramsell, the Director of Public Relations for ASA, upon arrival and he treated us to a downtown tour of Madison, the state capital of Wisconsin. During lunch we discussed the track, his home track, and all that goes on with it. Kevin was a big help here and at other tracks where we would run into him at. He knows all of the teams and the story behind them.
The temperatures were up from the day before and we saw 103 degrees on the thermometer in the afternoon. Several tracks in the vicinity cancelled their programs that weekend due to the extreme heat. But once the sun went down, the temperatures came down to tolerable levels and the racing was not affected.
Plenty of race teams showed up and the grandstands were showing good numbers of fans in attendance. Madison has struggled as of late with their class structures and rules packages. But the management, including Jason Tyler, is hard at work reviewing how things have gone in the past and how they can make things better for the future.
Due to the high heat, the...
Due to the high heat, the kids took advantage of a sprinkler system installed behind the grandstands at SPS. They would run through the spray of water, get soaked and be cool for a time. Then when things heated up again, they would reappear for another run.
Doug Strasburg (clipboard...
Doug Strasburg (clipboard in hand) speaks to the racers of the Mid-American Stock Car Series before the races. He, along with his wife Julie, own and run the series. It’s very popular with racers in that class and they get to travel, like the Super Late teams, to different racetracks around the region. I liked the concept a lot, and there is room for variation in the body styles like using the Camaro and Mustang or Challenger bodies that will become available soon.
The track management for MIS...
The track management for MIS put us right in the middle of the pit action. We setup our Tour bus between the tracks turns one and two and the hot pits. Our brightly colored AMSOIL bus stands out wherever we go.
Madison was a track I had...
Madison was a track I had been to several times before. I always enjoyed seeing the competition here and we did well a few years ago with our support of the Beloit Memorial High School Urban Force race team. It is a fast and technical track that can be setup for. Most of the winners were teams who setup for consistency coming from the back in several instances.
Everything is there for success, they just have to find a set of rules and a class structure that will appeal to the teams, and then stick with it to encourage better attendance. Many tracks struggle with this and along the way on this Tour, we have uncovered various methods and tricks that other tracks have developed that have enhanced their programs. We will be sharing that information as we write about each track visit.
One thing I liked here at Madison was that the Legends class ran the shorter infield course instead of the half-mile track. I think that was both more entertaining and safer. Some tracks like Madison are too long and fast for these types of cars. They have a high power to weight ratio and can attain very high speeds. But the chassis may not be well suited for high speed impacts with concrete walls in my opinion.
In some of the classes, we saw some interesting cars. One of the late models had a true Camaro looking body on it and one of the Sportsman cars had a station wagon body style. He actually won his race in that car. It’s kind of cool to see different body styles racing in these events and I think the fans feel the same way.
The 81 car of T.J. Goldade is clad in a great looking Camaro body. We need to see more of these cars that look like current or true Late Model street cars. The “late models” we see more of don’t resemble the stock car at all. Remember, we featured a car on the cover of CT a few years ago built by Bobby Wilberg that had a Dodge Challenger body over a stock clip Sportsman chassis. It was a hit at that time and ran here at Madison.
The Mid-American Stock Car Series was here on a scheduled appearance for their tour. This series is a very cool sanction for sportsman car type of racing where you can bring your car to different racetracks, not spend a fortune doing that and receive a fair set of rules that allow for different engine packages and somewhat body styles.
The show was well run and everything ran on schedule. The racing was over at 10 p.m., something other tracks seems to struggle with. Most attendees, including both fans and racers, want to get home at a decent hour. Having an event run late is hard on everyone.
We were especially glad to have the opportunity to retire before midnight because we had a 305-mile run to our race the next day at Elko Speedway. And that is a convenient segue into speaking of the next issue of our Tour report for next month’s CT.
The next race is indeed at Elko Speedway located just south of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, metropolis and we then travel east the following day all the way across the state of Wisconsin to Slinger Speedway. It’s a high-banked and very fast quarter-mile racetrack that I have wanted to see for some time now, having spoken with many of the racers who run there over the past few years.
That will conclude our four racetrack run in four days and then we are off to a few more Wisconsin tracks and adventures before heading west for Montana. We are learning a lot so far and we will be sharing those lessons with you as we do our monthly report. I thought the Michigan and Wisconsin regions would be the greatest learning experience for us this year, but I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw when we moved farther west.
This Sportsman class car at...
This Sportsman class car at Madison was built to look like a station wagon and was a big hit. It even won its race coming from behind late in the going. Fans love different looking cars. Note that it doesn’t have a spoiler. Could that roof line be an advantage? We might see more of these in the near future.
There were plenty of Legends...
There were plenty of Legends cars racing at Madison. They ran on a smaller infield track around concrete highway barriers which caused a few problems. If they tried to take too much of an inside line, they got pinched into the wall and then tore up some suspension parts.
The track at Madison was technical...
The track at Madison was technical and here we see the No. 25 Late Model team going over notes in a team meeting. The hardest thing for a team to do is practice at 110-plus degrees and then race at temps less than 80 degrees track temperature. The car will be loose off during practice from the hot asphalt, and then tighten up come race time. If the car is loose in practice, leave it alone and don’t “chase” the setup or you’ll end up way too tight at night.