STAR JOURNAL REPORT
After three consecutive weeks of rainouts, the racers and fans came out in full force for dirt track racing at Eagle River Speedway on Friday night. Whether it was the warm weather or lack of racing during the Northern Wisconsin ‘monsoon’ season, mechanical problems knocked some of the fastest cars out of the action.
In the Micro Sprint 600 Heat, 14-year-old Ty Springer jumped out to an early lead. The Eagle River racer hit speeds of over 85 mph. However, in the fifth lap, all the crowd could see was a big blue cloud of smoke and Springer’s Sprinter came to a halt.
Then in the Micro Sprint 600 Feature, Deerbrook’s Jake Reif worked his way around Woodruff’s Fred Suchy early in the race. Then it looked like Reif was going to walk away from the competition. That is until he had mechanical problems and had to leave the race. Jake’s father, Jerry, went on to win the feature.
It was in the Junior Sprint final that Zach Rein looked to be one his way to the Auto Value Victory Lane that is until he lost a rear wheel in the final lap. A few feet down the track, Josie Rae Reif, running second, had mechanical problems and also came to a stop. That gave the win to Phelps’s Dustin Kangas.
“It looked like a night where the last one standing, would be standing in the Victory Lane,” said Eagle River Speedway track promoter, Kevin Dawson.
After losing the WISSOTA Midwest Modified Feature in the season opener, the only other race that the 1/3-mile Tri Oval had run this year, Jesse Aho won the feature. In that season opener, C.J. Hedges, Jr., ‘spanked’ the field. This set up what was to be expected a duo between two defending champions, Aho and Hedges. However, it was not meant to be as the defending Midwest Modified champion for the last four years, Aho’s closest competition came from Eagle River‘s Tad Schoonover. Hedges, the defending Pure Stock champion, ended up in sixth place.
“I really think that this year, the Midwest Modified class is going to be up for grabs. (Tadd) Schoonover is getting used to his new car. If (C.J.) Hedges wasn’t involved in an accident at another track the previous week, he would have run stronger tonight. Then you put in (Jerry) Grasse and the boys from Marenisco, this class is going to be exciting,” said Eagle River Speedways director of competition, Mike Trinka.
One of the biggest surprises of the night took place in the WISSOTA Street Stock class. Eagle River’s Ryan Valeria had a motor issue with his car, so Bruce Crossing, Michigan’s Jordan Kurtti, loaned Valeria his car. Valeria than came out and not only won the heat but also the feature.
“’Flying’ Ryan was impressive! Here he jumps in a car he is not familiar with and not only wins, but he had little competition, other than Nate (Langberg),” said track announcer, Skip Schulz.
It’s not just the WISSOTA-sanctioned class championships that are going to be competitive, so will the Pure Stock class. With last year’s champion, Hedges, moving up to the Midwest Modifieds, many are wondering if this is the year that the runner-up many times over the years, Eagle River’s Don Scharf, is going to make this the year to win the points title. Scharf won the feature in the season opener.
Another racer that was in the running for the Pure Stock points championship last year was Eagle River’s David Blackberg. It was neither Scharf nor Blackberg that would win one of the three heat races. They were won by Dennis LaCrosse, Jr., Ken Valeria, and Dustin Miller.
It was in the 15-car feature that Blackberg ran away from the pack to take the checkered flag.
The Speedway Trucks made their debut Friday Night. The top truck racer on dirt in Northern Wisconsin, Rhinelander’s Cory “Cowboy” Allen, took the heat and was expected to be the one to beat in the feature.
Allen may have won the heat, but Pelican Lake’s Herb Dettman was “untouchable” in the feature. Allen was involved in a tangle-up toward the end of the race and finished in fifth.
Eagle River’s Matthew Britt worked his way through the seven-car field to win the Spectator Race final.
This coming Friday night will be the make-up of the postponed Tori Stevens Memorial Race, which was postponed due to rain. The race is a fund-raiser to help find a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which took the life of 11-year-old Tori Stevens from Tomahawk. More than 30 new bicycles were donated by racers, sponsors and fans. Those bikes will be given away to children Friday night.
History will also be made at the June 24 races, when for the first time in the 42-year history of the track, the races will be broadcast live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on WCUP, 105.7, and will be “streamed” worldwide on the Internet.
JUNE 17 RESULTS
WISSOTA Midwest Modified Feature: 1) Jesse Aho, Toivola (MI); 2) Tad Schoonover, Eagle River; 3) Duane Dunbar, Marenisco (MI); 4) Brady Jokinen, Mellen; 5) Marcus Dunbar, Wakefield (MI); 6) C.J. Hedges, Jr., Tripoli; 7) Guy Carley, Eagle River; 8) Jerry Grasse, Phelps; 9) Darren Zorich, Marenisco (MI); 10) Jonathon Miller, Eagle River; 11) James Koga, Eagle River.
WISSOTA Midwest Modified Heat 1: 1) Aho; 2) Carley; 3) Duane Dunbar; 4) Jolkinen; 5) Marcus Dunbar; 6) Jonathon Miller.
WISSOTA Midwest Modified Heat 2: 1) Hedges, Jr.; 2) Schoonover; 3) Grasse; 4) James Koga; 5) Zorich.
WISSOTA Street Stock Feature: 1) Ryan Valeria, Eagle River; 2) Nate Langberg, Tomahawk; 3) Ryan Glembin, Eagle River; 4) Dustin White, Eagle River; 5) Frank Gasperini, Eagle River; 6) Britt Broman, Eagle River; 7) Ron VanDusen, Eagle River; 8) Troy Larock, Laona; 9) Jason Jenson, Eagle River.
WISSOTA Street Stock Heat: 1) Ryan Valeria; 2) Gasperini; 3) Langberg; 4) Glembin; 5) Broman; 6) White; 7) VanDusen; 8) Larock; 9) Jenson.
Micro Sprint 600 Feature: 1) Jerry Reif, Deerbrook; 2) Fred Suchy, Woodruff; 3) Zachary Rein, Conover; 4) Jake Reif, Deerbrook.
Micro Sprint 600 Heat: 1) Jake Reif; 2) Jerry Reif; 3) Suchy; 4) Rein; 5) Ty Springer.
Speedway Trucks Feature: 1) Herb Dettman, Pelican Lake; 2) DJ Koga, Eagle River; 3) Ron Vernick, Harshaw; 4) Josh Drivas, Hazelhurst; 5) Cory Allen, Rhinelander; 6) Jake Diefenthaler, Harshaw.
Speedway Trucks Heat: 1) Allen; 2) Dettman; 3) DJ Koga; 4) Dustin Koga; 5) Vernick; 6) Drivas; 7) Diefenthaler.
Pure Stock Feature: David Blackberg, Eagle River; 2) Dustin Miller, Rhinelander; 3) Dennis LaCrosse, Rhinelander; 4) Ken Valeria, Eagle River; 5) Isabelle Valeria, Eagle River; 6) Don Scharf, Eagle River; 7) Jason Eisel, Rhinelander; 8) Michael Rick, Tomahawk; 9) Ethan Holm, Crandon; 10) Kyle Schneider, Eagle River; 11) Ben Haring, Tomahawk; 12) Louis Malluege, Merrill; 13) Mike Heikkila, Iron River (MI); 14) Brandon Zappa, Tomahawk; 15) John Johnson, Jr., Lac Du Flambeau.
Pure Stock Heat 1: 1) Lacrosse Jr.; 2) Scharf; 3) Blackberg; 4) Eisel; 5) Heikkila.
Pure Stock Heat 2: 1) Ken Valeria; 2) Malluege; 3) Isabelle Valeria; 4) Zappa; 5) John Johnson, Jr.
Pure Stock Heat 3: 1) Dustin Miller; 2) Rick; 3) Holm; 4) Schneider; 5) Haring.
Junior Sprint Feature: 1) Dustin Kangas, Phelps 2) Josie Rae Reif, Deerbrook, 3) Zachary Rein, Conover.
Junior Sprint Heat: 1) Dayton Rein; 2) Zach Rein; 3) Josie Reif.