by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI — With a much more favorable weather forecast in sight, the staff of the ABC Raceway will try again to kick off the 2016 stock car racing season opener on Saturday night with a program to be presented by the Northern State Bank and the Auto Value Auto Parts stores of Ashland and Ironwood.
A full 16 events are scheduled for the upcoming summer months at the award-winning three-eighths-mile red-clay oval just south of Ashland. WISSOTA-sanctioned Modifieds, Super Stocks, Midwest Mods and Pure Stocks, plus the track’s own Six-Cylinders, will run a complete program of qualifying heats and features each night.
The Raceway’s volunteer crews have worked hard over the past six weeks to get the facility ready for the season opener, and the track itself is in excellent condition, according to Raceway president Eric Erickson. And several area drivers have already had opportunities to “shake down” their cars at other tracks, so there should be outstanding action right from the drop of the first green flag.
Al Uotinen of Superior is set to return for his 37th season of racing and defend his sixth Modified division championship at Ashland, although fellow six-time champ Jeff Spacek of Phillips and Ashland’s own Steve Stuart, who tied for second in points last season, will lead a strong contingent of challengers in the track’s marquee division.
The Super Stock line-up at ABC is expected to be one of the most competitive in all of WISSOTA, with Tomahawk’s Jeff Klopstein Jr coming off of his first career track championship. Nick Oreskovich of Mason, who has already won two features in the young season, and 11-time ABC champ Scott Lawrence of Superior are among the many contenders who will vie for feature wins at the track this summer.
Paul Suzik of Ironwood, MI, worked hard to win his first-ever track title in ABC’s Mid-Mods last year, but repeating will be no easy feat. No less than six drivers were within 28 points of Suzik at season’s end, including Ryan Adamzak and Tyler Vernon, both of Ashland. And the division will only get more competitive, as several new drivers have crowded into an already talented field.
Hayward’s Dale Coddington collected his third ABC Raceway Six-Cylinder title in 2015, but Tiffany Hudack of Ashland, who earned the division crown in ‘14, and Ashland’s Forrest Schultz, among others, will provide Coddington with increasingly tougher challenges.
Matt Deragon of Ashland has moved up into the Mid-Mod division for 2015, meaning his Pure Stock title is up for grabs. Heading up the list of possible contenders are former champ Tim Carbon of Highbridge, who finished second in points last summer, as well as Randy Graham of Trego and Brandle Pupp of Ashland.
Younger fans ages 3-8 are encouraged to come out to the track this Saturday and sign up for the ABC Raceway Kids’ Club. There are many fun activities slated for the kids to do all season long, as well as treats and surprises.
The Upper Midwest’s only live pre-race radio program, “Z-93 Race Night,” will air each racing night beginning this Saturday on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and online at www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30-6 pm with up-to-date track news and weather information.
Hot laps begin at 6:15 pm, and the first green flag of the season is scheduled to be thrown at 7. Adult tickets are just $11 each, and kids ages 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult admission.
The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. For raceday information call (715) 682-4990