Ashland, WI, March 27 — For its 55th stock car racing season, the ABC Raceway will add a sixth division as part of its regular weekly program – the strictly-stock, entry-level WISSOTA Hornets class.
Hornets are front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder cars that are restricted to an absolute minimum of modification – other than in the interest of safety – in order to compete. The intent is to keep the costs of building and racing as low as possible, to attract potential drivers who may want to get into the sport but don’t want to commit a major financial investment.
“Hornets allow for a perfect opportunity for people interested in the sport of stock car racing – especially younger fans – to get out onto the track and compete,” said ABC Raceway president Eric Erickson recently. “The cars don’t cost a lot of money, and that’s by design. If someone buys or builds a Hornet, they aren’t going to go broke. And if they discover that being a racer is not something they want to do, they shouldn’t be out thousands of dollars.
“But if they come to realize that they have what it takes to be a racer, then this class is an ideal first step in this sport’s learning curve.”
WISSOTA rules state that the minimum age a driver can be to compete in a sanctioned race division is 16, but there are provisions within the rules for “restricted” permits for even younger drivers. These “restricted” licenses are at the discretion of each WISSOTA sanctioned track, but regarding the Hornet division tracks have tended to allow drivers in their early to mid-teens to race in order to encourage their interest.
“Getting kids interested in racing at a young age helps them learn and understand what it takes to be successful in the sport,” said Erickson. “It can also help them in other aspects of their young lives, like developing responsibility and good sportsmanship.”
It’s the first time the ABC Raceway has offered a six-division weekly race program since the 2008-‘09 seasons, when WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds were added. The track adjusted its show back to five divisions when the WISSOTA Street Stocks were deleted due to very low car counts.
Though they have been a popular entry-level class in a variety of iterations throughout the country for a couple of decades, Hornets have been competing as a WISSOTA-sanctioned division since 2015. The Proctor (MN) Speedway has been the closest race facility to the Chequamegon Bay area to offer Hornets a place to race, adding them to their Sunday night weekly program that same year.
During its twice-delayed season opener last May 26, Hornets raced at the ABC Raceway for the first time, with three-wide battles for the checkered flag in both the division’s heat (won by Paul George of Princeton, MN) and feature (won by Dan Prissel of Mondovi).
The Raceway Board opted to require sanctioning of the Hornet class for several reasons. WISSOTA sanctioning offers a consistent set of rules for car builders and racers to follow, although with this class the rules are not complex and emphasize the “OEM stock” aspect of the division.
Also, by running the class under the sanction, drivers from other nearby tracks, such as Proctor, will be welcome to compete in Ashland, and drivers just getting into the sport at ABC will have opportunities to compete at other tracks, giving them more chances to learn and enjoy the sport.
The WISSOTA Hornets are slated to run 12 of the 15 regular-season events on the current ABC Raceway schedule. The division will compete in qualifying heats and a feature here each night, just as the other divisions do, and points will be awarded and purses will be paid out.
Race programs in 2019 at the award-winning three-eighths-mile red-clay oval will be held every Saturday night from May 18 through August 24, except for June 29 and July 6. The schedule also includes one Friday night show (June 28, all divisions) and one Tuesday night special (July 9, World of Outlaws Late Models plus WISSOTA Super Stocks and Midwest Mods).
For more details on the Hornets and other WISSOTA division rules and procedures, a copy of the WISSOTA Promoters Association rule book is available for download online at www.wissota.org. The ABC Raceway’s schedule and other track information is available on its website, www.abcraceway.com, and on its Facebook page.
The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland, WI.
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.
Raceway Closes Out 2018 Season with Annual Banquet
by Nick Gima
Ashland, WI, January 19 — A huge crowd of nearly 250 fans, crew persons,
racers and track personnel gathered at the Bad River Lodge, Casino &
Convention Center in Odanah on Saturday, January 19, to look back at the 2018
stock car racing season during the ABC Raceway’s annual Awards Banquet.
Following a buffet-style meal, Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association
president Eric Erickson addressed the large gathering by extending
congratulations to the Raceway’s five divisional points champions, thanking the
all-volunteer staff and Board of Directors, and showing appreciation for the
track’s sponsors, fans and racers who supported the award-winning
three-eighths-mile northern Wisconsin speedplant during the past summer.
Erickson recognized the Raceway’s all-volunteer staff and its Board of
Directors, praising their “dedication, commitment and professionalism,” and
calling them up to the stage in front of the gathering. Then, in a very
emotional moment, Erickson called up his long-time close friend, former Board
member and track president Kurt Beeksma, for the presentation of a special
crystal trophy and a toast in honor of his over 30 years of leadership,
contributions and support of the Raceway.
Erickson included in his comments that the track paid out a total purse of over
$277,000 to its drivers in 2018, and that in November it had received the
WISSOTA Promoters Association “Award of Excellence” (formerly the Track of the
Year award), marking the second time that the ABC Raceway had been so honored
by its sanctioning body. He also mentioned that the track would add an
entry-level Hornet class to its regular weekly schedule in 2019, and that the
track was invited to be included on the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late
Model Series national touring schedule, with a date set for July 9.
Erickson later honored several members of the track’s staff with “Valuable
Volunteer” plaques, which he presented to Jerry & Joanne O’Brien, Margie
Dufek, Ken & Cheri Deragon, and Ray & Terri Stuart.
Drivers who finished in the top-ten in final points during the 2018 racing
season in each of the five regular weekly divisions, along with other racers
who were recognized for special accomplishments, were introduced by emcee and
Raceway announcer Nick Gima and presented with trophies and points-fund checks.
The divisional champions were also awarded commemorative jackets and banners.
Kevin Eder of Ashland became one of those first-time champions, running away with
the track’s 2018 WISSOTA Modified title. His season included collecting
division-leading win totals in heats and features (three each), three other
top-five feature finishes, and three more top-ten feature runs to manufacture a
49-point final advantage. He also finished fifth in the “big Mod” feature
during the season-ending Red Clay Classic invitational in late September.
In his 15 seasons of racing, which includes laps turned on Ashland’s red-clay
oval in six different divisions, Eder has accumulated 15 top-ten points
finishes and 32 feature wins – the latter mark tied for 13th-highest on the
Raceway’s all-time victory list. It is Eder’s first track championship.
A feature win during the season helped Steve Lavasseur of River Falls earn his
best-ever points finish at ABC with a second-place effort, while five-time
track champion Steve Stuart of Ashland landed third in the Mod standings thanks
to two feature victories. Neil Balduc of Bessemer, MI, the track’s 2016 Modified
champ, took fourth in the points, followed by Washburn’s Pat Cook.
Rookie Cody Carlson of Superior led the second five in the final Mod standings,
ahead of a pair of six-time ABC points champs – Jeff Spacek of Phillips, and Al
Uotinen of Superior. Mason’s Jake Hiatt and 2017 track champ Bill Byholm of
Glidden completed the top ten.
For the third straight season, Mason’s Nick Oreskovich claimed the WISSOTA
Super Stock championship at ABC in 2018. “The Flyin’ Farmer,” who started his
16th season with six feature wins at five different tracks – including
back-to-back wins at Ashland – added a division-leading third win in August to
bring his career total to 20, then capped the campaign with a third-place
finish in the Super Stock feature at the Red Clay Classic.
Oreskovich, who finished 11th of the over 330 qualifying Super Stock drivers in
WISSOTA’s national standings, becomes the 11th different driver in ABC Raceway
history to record three or more consecutive track championships.
Ashland’s Shawn McFadden Jr used his eighth career feature win to secure his
best-ever points finish, albeit a full 91 points behind Oreskovich, and third
in points fell to Cory Casari of Montreal who also picked up a feature win and
tied for the division lead with four heat victories. Fourth place was presented
to Matt Deragon of Ashland, the three-time ABC Pure Stock champion who finished
a successful second season in Supers, and fifth went to Superior’s Scott
Lawrence, who holds track records here for total career titles (14) and
consecutive championships (11, in Super Stocks).
The second five in the division’s standings included Terran Spacek of Phillips,
who also finished 12th in WISSOTA’s national rankings; Greg Kuklinski of
Ironwood, MI, the Raceway’s all-time feature win leader; Aaron Mashlan of
Ashland; Don Muzzy of Ironwood; and 2015 track champ Jeff Klopstein of
Paul Suzik of Ironwood returned to the champion’s stage after a year away,
picking up his third career trophy in the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds. Suzik, who
earned back-to-back titles in 2015-’16, rebounded from a second-place finish
last year thanks to his sixth career feature win and three more second-place
feature finishes. He also earned a heat win at this year’s Red Clay Classic.
Suzik announced in his acceptance speech that he will be moving up into the
Modified division in 2019 while hoping to extend his current impressive run of
top-five points finishes in each of his seven seasons in racing.
Superior’s Dan Kingsley battled with Suzik to the very end of the season but
settled for second, just three points away from the title; Kingsley also
recently announced that he will be competing in the “big Mods” in the upcoming
season. Third-finishing Tanner Hicks of Ashland was also in the hunt for the
crown going into the final night of the season, with help from his first career
feature win in late July. Brandon Copp of Brule scored the first two feature
wins of his career and finished fourth, just ahead of Ashland’s Tyler Hudack.
Finishing sixth in the Mid-Mod standings was Ross Fuhrman of Ashland, just
ahead of rookie Jack Rivord of Superior. Ryan Barningham of Bayfield finished a
solid eighth, followed by David Simpson of Thunder Bay, ON, who scored three
feature wins. Clay Passuello of Ironwood grabbed tenth after earning his first
feature win at Ashland since his Pure Stock victory in 2004.
Tiffany Hudack of Ashland started her 2018 ABC Six-Cylinder campaign strong and
then held on for her third track championship in five seasons. Hudack tallied
five feature victories while also collecting four second-place performances and
one third-place finish, along with six heat wins, to produce one of the most
dominant seasons in the division in over 25 years. Her other titles came in
2014 and in ‘16.
It’s the sixth straight season in which Hudack has finished either first,
second or third in Sixes points here. During her acceptance speech she told the
story of how she befriended a six-year-old race fan, meeting him at his
birthday party and treating him to a trip to the pits during a race night. She
presented the boy with a gift and invited him to stand with her in her trophy
Trego’s Randy Graham was Hudack’s primary nemesis all season, matching the
champ for feature wins with five and heat wins with six but finishing second by
52 points. No other driver won a Six-Cylinder feature here in ‘18. Forrest
Schultz of Ashland parlayed eight top-five finishes to third place in the
standings, ahead of fellow Ashland drivers DeJay Jarecki and rookie Jake
Josh Saunders of Spooner finished a career-best sixth, while seventh place went
to Mashlan for his second top-ten trophy of the night. Jonathon Popp of Iron
River, Ashland’s Devin Dalbec, and Bubba Anderson of Trego completed the top
Graham was also successful in the WISSOTA Pure Stocks and, on the strength of
three feature wins, including one on each of the final two nights of the
seasons, garnered his first-ever track championship. The fifth-year driver also
finished 16th in WISSOTA’s national standings for the class, and he has taken
top-four points trophies home in two different divisions in each of the past
Graham finished first, second or third in nine of the ten Pure Stock features
run at ABC in 2018. Combined with his efforts in the Sixes, he led all drivers
at ABC with eight total feature victories.
Don Livingston of Washburn scored six top-ten feature finishes, including a
runner-up by a whisker to Graham in the season finale, to score a career-best
second-place trophy. Andrew Hanson of Iron River, the 2017 Pure Stock champ
here, missed a week due to a non-racing injury and settled for third despite a
division-best five feature wins, plus two runner-up showings, over the first
seven race nights; he also finished second in WISSOTA’s national standings.
Darren Dudley of Ashland took home the fourth-place trophy, while Hayward’s
Brock Beilke repeated his fifth-place success of a season ago.
The second five in Pure Stock points was led by Duluth, MN’s Aaron Bernick, who
was also ninth in national points, followed by Kyle Copp of Brule, who won his
sixth career feature in early June. James Vendela of South Range collected his
first career win in mid-August to finish eighth ahead of veteran Jeff
Christman, also of South Range, and Superior’s Tyler Keup.
Brandon Copp was awarded the coveted Sportsman of the Year award, while Mashlan
was named the Most Improved Driver at the track in 2018. Carlson (Modifieds),
Rivord (Midwest Mods), and Nevala (Sixes) were recognized as the ABC Raceway’s
top rookies from the recently completed season.
All five champions provided praise of the Raceway during their acceptance
speeches, noting the hard work of the staff, the excellent track preparation,
and the generous weekly purses and points fund.
After the awards presentation, DJ-provided music completed an enjoyable evening
for all in attendance.
An exciting schedule is in store for the 2019 stock car racing season at the
ABC Raceway, to be highlighted by the aforementioned World of Outlaws Morton
Buildings Late Model Series visit, as well as the return of the Advantage RV
Modified Series, the FastLane Motorsports Super Stock Series, and the
Interstate Racing Association’s winged sprint cars. The 44th running of the
prestigious Red Clay Classic in late September is sure to be another
The track is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one
mile west on Butterworth Road. For more information, log on to the track’s