IRA Winged Sprints Return to ABC Raceway this Saturday
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, July 30 – Race teams from the Interstate Racing Association’s “outlaw” winged sprints will invade the ABC Raceway for this Saturday night’s Heartland Communications Group Night at the Races, to be presented by the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportsmen’s Club.
The scheduled five-division race program will also include a full complement of heat and feature races for the WISSOTA Modifieds, Midwest Modifieds and Hornets, and the ABC Six-Cylinders.
Saturday will also be the final night to purchase tickets from the Sportsmen’s Club as part of its annual fundraising raffle. Tickets will be sold at the track right up until intermission of the race program, at which time the Club will hold its drawing. Interested persons can also purchase tickets from any Club member or by calling (715) 373-2088 right up until Saturday’s race program. Raffle ticket purchasers need not be present at the Raceway to win.
The IRA 410 winged sprints have raced on the historic northern Wisconsin red-clay oval five times in the past nine seasons, and in each of those five shows Bill Balog of Hartland has stood in Victory Lane after winning their A-main. A native of North Pole, AK, Balog has won the IRA championship a Series-record nine times, including seven straight from 2008-‘14. Leading up to this weekend’s three-race swing in Plymouth (Thursday), Antigo (Friday) and here, Balog had won six straight IRA features dating back to June 13.
Other Series stars expected to compete here on Saturday include former IRA champs Jake Blackhurst of Hanna City, IL, and Jeremy Schultz and Scotty Neitzel of Beaver Dam. Along with Balog, these drivers have laid claim to 13 Series titles and all currently sit in the top-five in the IRA standings. Other drivers who have voiced their intentions to travel to Ashland include Sheboygan’s Scotty Thiel, Russ Borland of Kewaskum, Kris Spitz of Salem, Wayne Modjeski of Oak Creek, and Sean Rayhall of Woodstock, GA.
Like most everything else, the IRA has had to endure several postponements, cancellations, and rearrangements of its schedule in 2020. The event at ABC became the 26th event on the Series schedule when it was added late last month, out of 41 now slated, but prior to Thursday’s show in Plymouth the tour had only completed nine events.
“Our drivers haven’t raced as much as they’ve hoped to this summer,” IRA Series director Steve Sinclair stated recently. “Adding Ashland to our schedule is a huge plus for us and for the fans there – it gives our teams a chance to run at another track that they enjoy, plus gives the fans up there a chance to see these cars reach some awesome speeds on that track.”
The 1,400-pound, 700-plus-horsepower cars, with their huge nose- and roof-mounted wings creating enormous amounts of downforce to help them stick to the ground, are easily capable of reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph on nearly every track they compete at, including here. IRA driver Thiel holds the all-time track record for a timed single lap around the Raceway’s three-eighths-mile oval, at 12.373 seconds, for an incredible 109.109 mph average. By comparison, the fastest lap recorded in a WISSOTA Modified at ABC is 15.979 seconds (84.486 mph average) by former Raceway champ Steve Stuart of Ashland.
Grandstand admission ticket prices will be just $18 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6-12; children ages 5 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. Advance tickets are also available online via the My Race Pass website, www.myracepass.com.
The grandstand and pit gates will open at 4:30 pm on Saturday, and hot laps will start at 6:15. IRA timed qualifying will take place shortly after hot laps, and the first green flag of the night is set to fly at 7 pm.
The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. Additional event information is available on the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com.
On Saturday, August 1, the ABC Raceway will welcome the Interstate Racing Association’s “outlaw” winged sprint cars as part of a program to be presented by the Heartland Communications Group of radio stations and the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportsmen’s Club. The IRA 410 sprints are capable of lap speeds of over 100 mph on the sticky red-clay oval, and they will be part of a program that will include the Modifieds, Midwest Mods, Hornets & Six Cylinders.
The pit gates will open at 4:30 pm and the grandstands will be open at 5, with hot laps set for 6:15 followed by sprint-car qualifying; the first heat races of the night should get the green flag by 7 pm. Grandstand admission tickets are just $18 for adults, and $5 for kids’ ages 5-12. Tickets are available either at the gate on race night or online via www.myracepass.com.
“Race Night” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, as well as online at www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30 until 6 pm with the latest news and weather information from the track.
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, log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com, or check out the track’s FaceBook page.