Five classes should offer competitive racesBy:
By Morgan Rode [email protected]
Rob Berna placed third in the Late Model Division last year and is hoping to compete for the title this year. Pictured is Berna’s paint scheme for the upcoming season.
Leader File Photo
Chris Madden led from start to finish to win the 2018 Sun Drop Shootout. This year’s Sun Drop Shootout is scheduled for July 30.
With warmer temperatures and the snow from the latest storm almost melted, it’s time for local racers to start racing at the half-mile track the Shawano Speedway offers.
The snow postponed the start of the season to this Saturday, but that won’t diminish the excitement surrounding a new season of racing.
“The longer it goes (without racing), the more the itch gets in with the fans,” said Brad Luepke, the speedway’s marketing and promotions director. “There’s nothing like opening night. It’s sort of like opening day for baseball; it’s like a holiday for baseball fans. For race fans, (opening night) is like a holiday. They can’t wait to get to the track.”
The Dirt Kings Late Model Special that was planned for April 13 will happen this week instead. The speedway’s other five classes — IMCA Mods, IMCA Sport Mods, Shawano Late Models, IMCA Stock Cars and the Mighty Fours — will also be in action.
The Dirt Kings are also scheduled to return June 29 in a packed Shawano Speedway schedule that runs until the last week of August.
The World of Outlaws will return to the speedway July 30, with a rain date of July 31.
Last year, Chris Madden stole the show, leading all 50 laps of the Sun Drop Shootout to claim the $10,000 prize.
Racing for a Reason will also return July 20.
Funds raised that evening will go toward childhood cancer. Since the start of the event eight years ago, more than $110,000 has been raised. The event was started for Luepke’s son Reed, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3.
There will also be a special $1,500 prize for the stock cars and another $1,500 prize for the modifieds, making July 20 a can’t-miss evening of action.
The speedway will also host a couple of tribute nights. On May 25, firefighters, policemen and EMS members will be honored. On August 24, there will a tribute to veterans.
On June 15, there is a kid’s bike giveaway. Kids picking up bikes will have to retrieve them from the pits, where drivers will be posing for pictures and signing autographs.
Aside from all the special events, racing on the track should also be exciting within each of the five classes.
Travis VanStraten returns to try and win a sixth consecutive Late Model title this year. Luepke expects plenty of competition within the class.
Dan Michonski and Larry Karcz Jr. placed second and third, respectively, a year ago, while Trent Nolan won four races.
“This is probably going to be the class to watch this year because there’s maybe six to 10 guys that could win on any given night,” Luepke said.
Marcus Yarie will try and defend his IMCA Mod title from a year ago in another loaded division.
Lance Arneson placed second a year ago, while Lucas Lamberies, the IMCA Sport Mod title winner from last year, is moving up.
With Lamberies moving up a class, and Kyle Raddant, last year’s second-place finisher in the class, moving up to the Late Model class, the IMCA Sport Mod class is wide open.
Jordan Barkholtz won four races in the class a year ago and placed in the top five in 13 of his 16 races. Outside of Barkholtz, Luepke said the class will feature plenty of young drivers with solid roots in the sport or those who have placed well in other divisions.
Brett Swedberg won four races and had 11 top-five finishes to claim the Late Model title last year. Like last year, the class will feature plenty of racers who could claim first on any given night.
Chris Engels, the second-place finisher, is back — as is third-place finisher Ron Berna. Nick Anvelink won four races last year and finished fifth. Raddant will look to continue his success in his new class.
Luepke also expects some tight competition among the Mighty Fours, a class Brad Nelson won last year. Brad Wedde, who took second, is also back.
Of the class’s 15 races last year, eight different drivers won at least one race, and Luepke expects much of the same this season.
To view the entire Shawano Speedway schedule for 2019, visit www.shawanocountyfair.net/shawano-speedway-race-schedule.