Historic Slate Set for ABC Raceway’s 55th Season
Schedule includes four national & regional touring series; track adds Hornets
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, March 24 — The ABC Raceway is pulling out all the stops for the 2019 stock car racing season.
The award-winning northern Wisconsin speedplant will host visits by four national and regional touring series during its 55th season under the direction of the Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association. In addition, the Raceway will add competition in a sixth division to its regular weekly format.
High on the list of spotlight events on the calendar is a date with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models on Tuesday, July 9. This high-profile national touring series, featuring many of the country’s top-caliber dirt Late Model drivers, began its 2019 campaign in early February in Sylvania, GA, and its schedule includes 47 race events at 36 different short-tracks in 16 states, concluding during the second weekend in November in Charlotte, NC. The historic night in Ashland is set for just after the Series’ halfway point.
The “Red’s Auto Badgerland 50 Outlaw Challenge” will pay a track-record $10,000 to win and is expected to draw such popular and talented drivers as Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, IL, who at press time had already won five of the Series’ eight features completed heading into a two-night stop at Farmer City, IL, on April 5-6; 2018 WoOLMS champion Mike Marlar of Winfield, TN; three-time Series champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, KY; Chase Junghans of Manhattan, KS; Shane Clanton of Zebulon, GA; and Chris Madden of Gray Court, SC.
2000 Red Clay Classic Late Model champion Brent Larson of Lake Elmo, MN, who finished tenth in points in his first year with the WoOLMS; and 2018 RCC Late Model champ Ricky Weiss of Headingsley, MB, who is the Series’ current top-ranked rookie driver, are a couple of locally familiar drivers from the national tour who should be on hand for this event. Many other top WISSOTA Late Model drivers from the region could also be in town for this show, helping to create what should be one of the most star-studded fields this region has ever seen.
Advance-seating tickets for this very special are available through the Raceway’s website, www.abcraceway.com. Additional information is available via the track’s Facebook page.
Also of significant note for the upcoming season will be the addition of the entry-level WISSOTA Hornet division, which will run at ABC on a regular basis as its sixth weekly offering. Hornets are small, four-cylinder, mostly front-drive cars that have been mildly modified, with an emphasis on safety and simplicity rather than speed. They are quickly becoming popular at many dirt tracks regionally due to their affordability, allowing younger drivers, or drivers on a very limited budget, to experience the thrills of short-track stock car racing without taking on large operating costs.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for folks who have always wanted to try racing to see what it is like, without a big financial risk,” explained ABC Raceway president Eric Erickson recently. “If they find they don’t care for being a driver, they haven’t invested a huge amount of money to find out.
“But if they enjoy it, they will be even more involved in a great sport, and they can continue on racing as far as their talent, success and budget will take them.”
Hornets will be included in 12 of the 15 regular-season shows on the ABC Raceway’s 2019 schedule, and drivers will compete for purses and points just like the other five divisions do.
Those other five divisions – the WISSOTA-sanctioned Modifieds, Super Stocks, Midwest Modifieds and Pure Stocks, and the Raceway’s unique Six-Cylinders – all return to help fill out what will be a busy summer schedule.
The season is set to start on May 18, and the first seven shows of the schedule will include full programs every Saturday night. May will also include a tribute to those serving in the United States military on the 25th to open the Memorial Day weekend.
The month of June includes five race nights and features a return to the Ashland track by the regional Advantage RV Modified Tour on June 8. The Tour will attract many of the best Mod drivers from the area, like Dan Ebert of Lake Shore, MN, who won in the series’ visit here last year and went on to take the Tour championship; 2017 Red Clay Classic winner Dave Cain of Corcoran, MN; and Jeremy Nelson, the 2017 Tour champ from Alexandria, MN.
Also included in June will be the popular “Meet the Drivers” night on the 1st; the “Racing for a Reason” annual charity fundraiser on the 15th; the Raceway’s sixth Hall of Fame induction ceremony on the 22nd; and the WISSOTA Race of Champions qualifiers, to be held on Friday the 28th.
After a night off on July 6 and the WoOLMS date on the 9th, the schedule gets back in sync in mid-July, with the final seven programs all penciled in for Saturday nights, starting with the kids’ bike races on July 13. The FastLane Motorsports Northland Super Stock Series will make its fifth straight appearance at Ashland on the 20th with the anticipation of well over 40 entries competing. And the return of another exciting traveling group – the Interstate Racing Association’s 410 winged sprints – will take place on July 27, marking the seventh time the lightning-fast winged sprinters have been added to the ABC schedule.
In the four times the IRA sprints have completed their race programs in Ashland, Bill Balog of Hartland has won each of the features.
Midwest Mods and Sixes help kick off the August stretch run, with the “Mid-Mod Madness” special set for the 3rd and the Six-Cylinder “Summer Sizzler” to be held on the 10th; the Northern Vintage Stockcar Racers group will also be on hand during the “Sizzler” night. The Raceway’s “Summer Blast” fan appreciation night will take place on the 17th, and Championship Saturday Night will close out the regular-season schedule on the 24th.
The ABC Raceway tops off its 2019 campaign with the 44th annual Red Clay Classic, the hugely popular traditional finale for stock car racing in the Northland that is expected once again to draw over 200 Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks and Midwest Mods for a chance at over $100,000 in total purse.
The Raceway welcomes Red’s Auto Sales of Ironwood, MI, to its list of season-long sponsors helping to make the 2019 season possible. Other sponsors include the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce; the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportsmen’s Club; the Bad River Lodge, Casino & Convention Center of Odanah; Chicago Iron & Supplies of Ashland; FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating of Ashland; Heartland Communications Group of Ashland; the Kwik-Trip convenience stores of Ashland; Lake Shore Cafe of Ashland; Little Caesar’s Pizza of Ashland; Miller Lite and Northwest Beverage of Superior; Mountain Dew and North Star Beverage of Hurley; the NAPA Auto Parts stores of Ashland & Washburn; Northern Clearing Inc; Northern Wisconsin Fence of Phillips; the Northern State Bank; Outlaw Wraps & Apparel of Ashland; the Safari Bar of Ashland; ServPro Cleaning & Restoration Services of Hayward; WIMI-FM of Ironwood, MI; Tim’s Automotive Machine of Bloomer; and Zar’s Bar & Banquet Hall of Ashland.
The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland, WI. More information is available on the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com.