by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, February 26 — The staff of the ABC Raceway is putting the finishing touches on an action-filled schedule for the 2017 stock car racing season.
When finalized, the 17-event schedule will include four major regular-season special events, a rare Friday night program, and all of the Raceway’s traditional fan-favorite shows, as well as the 42nd annual Red Clay Classic. The ambitious slate will include one first-time stop and one long-awaited return appearance by two long-running regional touring series.
The award-winning three-eighths-mile red-clay oval located just south of Ashland will be the site of the 53rd consecutive season of action under the direction of the all-volunteer Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association, and it will once again present racing under the sanction of the WISSOTA Promoters Association. The schedule will include weekly five-division race programs on every Saturday night but one from mid-May through the end of August, featuring WISSOTA-sanctioned Modifieds, Super Stocks, Midwest Modifieds and Pure Stocks, as well as the track’s own Six-Cylinder division, before capping off the season with the popular Red Clay Classic invitational in late September.
Making its first-ever appearance ever at ABC will be the Advantage RV Modified Tour, which consists of 12 stops at tracks in South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, broken into four stages. The visit to Ashland will be part of the second of the stages, known as the “Race to the Hill Swing.” The four-race stage will begin at Grand Rapids, MN, on Thursday, June 8, then continue to Superior on Friday the 9th before its inaugural run at Ashland on Saturday, June 10.
Modified drivers from at least four states and parts of Canada are expected to visit the northern Wisconsin speedplant for a crack at a $1,500 feature winner’s paycheck. The track’s other four regularly-run divisions will also be a part of this special program.
The stage concludes at the prestigious “King on the Hill” event on Sunday, June 11, in Proctor, MN. Mike Stearns of Hecla, SD, is the Tour’s defending champion; Ashland’s Kevin Eder competed in the series on a somewhat regular basis for the first time last year, winning two of the Tour’s 12 events and finishing sixth in the overall standings.
Returning to the ABC Raceway for the first time since 2009, the WISSOTA OneMain Financial Late Model Challenge Series includes 17 premier events at tracks in South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. The tour heads into the local area for a three-day visit beginning on Friday, August 11, in Menomonie, and continuing north to Ashland on Saturday the 12th before closing out the weekend on Sunday the 13th in Proctor.
While at ABC the Late Models will compete for a shot at a starting spot in a 40-lap feature, which will pay $2,000 to win. The event should draw nearly all of the region’s big-name Late Model stars, plus quite possibly a few additional drivers from the western and southern reaches of WISSOTA country who have never been here before but will be chasing the Series’ big-money points fund. The headline class will be joined by WISSOTA Modifieds, Midwest Mods and Pure Stocks on this night.
Jake Redetzke of Eau Claire, who claimed his fourth Red Clay Classic Late Model feature win here last October, was the Challenge Series champion in 2016. Redetzke also won in the Series’ last visit to Ashland.
Also returning to the ABC Raceway after a one-year hiatus will be the Interstate Racing Association’s 410 “outlaw” winged sprint cars. The 800-horsepower winged sprinters will stop at Ashland for the tenth of their 35 events on the IRA’s 2017 schedule on Saturday, May 27, and speeds of over 100 mph will be the norm on the sticky red-clay surface.
Billy Balog of Brookfield, the IRA’s all-time A-main win leader, has claimed each of the three features the series has run at ABC, in 2011, ‘12 and ‘14; the event was rained out twice, and scheduling conflicts kept the tour from competing in Ashland last summer.
ABC’s oval will also be the middle stop for the FastLane Motorsports Northland Super Stock Series, to be held July 21-23. On the Friday of that weekend the third annual running of the Series kicks off at AmsOil Speedway in Superior, and after the stop at Ashland on Saturday the 22nd it culminates at the Proctor Speedway. Curt Myers of Cameron (2015) and Scott Lawrence of Superior (‘16) have each collected Series points titles.
The one exception to regular Saturday night racing on the Raceway’s 2017 schedule will be on June 30, when the track will offer a free-admission night to all fans in the grandstands for its five-division race program. On that night fans will be invited to donate to a free-will offering for the annual American Cancer Society “Relay for Life” fundraiser organized by the Raceway and Northern Clearing Inc of Ashland.
The 2017 season kicks off with the May 13 season opener presented by Northern State Bank of Ashland, and it concludes with Championship Saturday Night, presented by Pepsi, North Star Beverage of Hurley, and WIMI 99.7 FM of Ironwood, MI, on August 26. The final schedule will also include popular annual events such as the “meet the drivers” night and kids’ bike races; the “Mid-Mod Madness,” Six-Cylinder “Summer Sizzler” and “Pure Excitement 25” Pure Stock specials; the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and more.
The Raceway will also again offer a Kids’ Club during the 2017 season, with a variety of special activities, gifts and prizes for the younger fans on race nights. More information will be available on these items soon.
The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. “Z-93 Race Night” will air live each Saturday on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and stream on www.wbszfm.com, from 4:30-6 pm with up-to-date track news and weather information. For raceday information call (715) 682-4990, or log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com.