By: Paul Reichert
May 19, 2023
As the 2023 racing season was trying to fire up, Mother Nature and the weather was not being so cooperative in the month of April. Rain showers kept passing through the area leading to rising river levels. Of course colder weather can return and lead to that dreaded ‘S’ word. Now that the calendar has turned to May, Mother Nature wais still being a nuisance for us at Tomah-Sparta Speedway. We were ready to go racing but rain prevented the season from starting the previous two Fridays. Luckily the third time was the charm this past Friday as we got the first racing action of the new year in the books. A lot of great fender bending action highlighted the first race of 2023, including a first time winner from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Landon Lockington surged ahead of Aaron Hendricks to lead the opening lap of the Clark Powersport of Hillsboro Hobby Stock feature. Hendricks stuck to his line on the outside to power by Lockington to take charge of the top spot on lap two. The rest of the field was trying to sort itself out as Hendricks was opening up a lead on the pack. Minnesota racer Jesse Fischer was the first car to break out of the pack and take over third on lap six. Fischer quickly caught and passed Shelby Lockington for the runner-up spot at the halfway mark of the race. Fischer began to eat away at Hendricks’ lead before using the outer groove to whoosh past Hendricks for the top spot with two laps to go. The last two laps would not be easy for Fischer as he had his hands full with both Andy Moore and Charles Vian, Jr., who were fighting over second. Their battle allowed Fischer to open up enough of a lead to pull away and proudly ring the Victory Bell in TACU Credit Union Victory Lane.
The Zoellick Home Repair and Log Staining Modified feature was a battle of the veteran Bill Schott against the newcomer Anthony DeVito. DeVito would just nose ahead of the 2021 champion to hold onto the race lead for the first few circuits. Schott stepped on the gas down the back straight on lap four to get to the race lead. DeVito would not let Schott get away from him that easily as DeVito stayed within a couple of car lengths of Schott for much of the rest of the race. With three laps to go DeVito was experiencing some sort of problem with acceleration coming off of the turns. DeVito did finish the race, but Schott pulled away to win his first Modified feature since his championship season.
Matthew Heim was able to maneuver his way by the cars in front of him to take the early lead in the Command Post Saloon Hornet feature. The faster cars were struggling to come from deep in the field as Heim was opening up his advantage. The first of those fast cars that broke out of the pack was Jamie Pearson, who moved into third place as the crossed flags were displayed. The yellow flag flew shortly after that for an incident on the track. Lining up outside of Heim for the restart, Pearson wasted little time to power by Heim to take command of the race. Pearson’s hold on the lead would not go unchallenged the rest of the way as Tristan Drazkowski moved up to second by lap ten. Draz, Jr. slowly began to close the gap on Pearson over the final five laps. Pearson still held a couple car lengths gap on Drazkowski as he took the checkered flag first.
Even though he had a new number on his race car, it was the same Tim Murphy, Sr. that quickly took command of the TACU Credit Union Six Shooter feature. After starting shotgun on the field, fast qualifier Dustin McCracken shot up to second on lap four. He only needed two laps to catch and pass Murphy, Sr. to move into the lead position. As McCracken began to pull away from the field, Mike Gratz would drive under Murphy, Sr. to settle into second with six laps to go. Gratz was unable to make a dent in McCracken’s huge lead over the final six laps as McCracken won his first win of the year at his hometown race track.
The Mini-Van feature saw Ken Hart take the race lead early in the going. Tight racing among the rest of the pack allowed Hart, last year’s surprise in the class, to continue on his merry way. Mike Gratz was the first driver to separate himself from the rest of the field on lap five. Over the next several laps Gratz’s mini-van was growing larger and larger in the rear view mirror of Hart. Gratz worked the outside lane to motor around Hart for the race lead with four laps left to run. The lead for Gratz opened up a lot as he drove away with his first victory of the new season.
The quest to crown a new ‘Caption Chaos’ champion began with the Stop-N-Go race, the first Chaos event of 2023. Before you finish every lap, you must come to a full and complete stop in the marked zone before moving on. Some drivers may have forgotten about the rules for this race, but not Mike Gratz. Gratz did come to a complete stop before completing each of the five laps to win the Stop-N-Go race. Could Gratz become the first two time and repeat champion of the Chaos division? Stay tuned because there are a lot more wacky Chaos events still to come this season.
Action continues next Friday, May 26 with the first appearance by a traveling series. The Midwest Dash Series pays ‘Daytomah’ their annual visit to salute Greg Oliver with the Godfather 30. Joining those high powered four cylinder cars will be the Sportsmen, Hobby Stocks, Hornets and Six Shooters. The kids will be working hard this coming week to paint up their favorite race car for the first of two Kids’ Box Car Races after qualifying. Gates open at 5:00, qualifying begins at 6:15 and the close quarters racing kicks it up a notch at 7:30.
Call the track office at 608-461-1920, visit our web site at tomahspartaspeedway.com or check out the track’s Facebook page for more information about Tomah-Sparta Speedway and the 2023 schedule of events.
Clark Powersport of Hillsboro Hobby Stocks
Feature (15 laps): 1. Jesse Fischer, 2. Andy Moore, 3. Charles Viah, Jr., 4. Aaron Hendricks, 5. Mike Stoer, 6. Shelby Lockington, 7. Landon Lockington, 8. Jimmie Jorgenson, 9. Seth Gnewikow
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Charles Vian, Jr., 2. Aaron Hendricks, 3. Jimmie Jorgenson, 4. Andy Moore, 5. Mike Stoer, 6. Shelby Lockington, 7. Landon Lockington, 8. Seth Gnewikow, 9. Jesse Fischer
Qualifying: 1. Andy Moore 17.583, 2. Charles Vian, Jr. 17.697, 3. Jimmie Jorgenson 17.870, 4. Jesse Fischer 17.971, 5. Mike Stoer 18.228, 6. Shelby Lockington 18.712, 7. Seth Gnewikow 18.888, 8. Aaron Hendricks 19.205, 9. Landon Lockington 19.921
Zoellick Home Repair and Log Staining Modifieds
Feature (15 laps): 1. Bill Schott, 2. Anthony DeVito
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Bill Schott, 2. Anthony DeVito
Qualifying: 1. Bill Schott 16.356, 2. Anthony DeVito 17.394
Command Post Saloon Hornets
Feature (15 laps): 1. Jamie Pearson, 2. Tristan Drazkowski, 3. Matthew Heim, 4. Samantha Linnehan, 5. Paul Finch, 6. Tristan Finnegan, 7. Davey Pennel, 8. Shawn McCarthy, 9. Shawn Breese, 10. Matt Drazkowski, 11. Doyle Cavender, 12. Josh Schwartz, 13. Eric Tourville, 14. Bentley Knaack, 15. Ron Pearson, 16. Chris Kunk, 17. Jamie Muller, 18. Jordan Finch, 19. Dakota Clauson, 20. Andrew Lamb, 21. Jesse Sanwald
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Shawn McCarthy, 2. Ron Pearson, 3. Jesse Sanwald, 4. Andrew Lamb, 5. Josh Schwartz, 6. Jordan Finch, 7. Shawn Breese
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Tristan Finnegan, 2. Andrew Lamb, 3. Dakota Clauson, 4. Matt Drazkowski, 5. Chris Kunk, 6. Bentley Knaack, 7. Matthew Heim
Heat #3 (8 laps): 1. Jamie Pearson, 2. Samantha Linnehan, 3. Tristan Drazkowski, 4. Paul Finch, 5. Davey Pennel, 6. Jamie Muller, 7. Doyle Cavender
Qualifying: 1. Paul Finch 18.604, 2. Tristan Drazkowski 18.693, 3. Samantha Linnehan 18.887, 4. Shawn McCarthy 18.875, 5. Jamie Pearson 18.905, 6. Jamie Muller 19.072, 7. Davey Pennel 19.315, 8. Matthew Heim 19.728, 9. Matt Drazkowski 19.746, 10. Dakota Clauson 19.773, 11. Eric Tourville 19.979, 12. Bentley Knaack 20.048, 13. Chris Kunk 20.187, 14. Trtistan Finnegan 20.216, 15. Andrew Lamb 20.237, 16. Jordan Finch 20.312, 17. Josh Schwartz 20.420, 18. Ron Pearson 20.518, 19. Doyle Cavender 21.248, 20. Shawn Breese 21.591, 21. Jesse Sanwald 21.603
TACU Credit Union Six Shooters
Feature (15 laps): 1.Dustin McCracken, 2. Mike Gratz, 3. Tim Murphy, Sr., 4. Austyn Blank, 5. Daniel Loendorf, 6. Chris Brown, 7. Greg Brown
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Austyn Blank, 2. Daniel Loendorf, 3. Austin Finnegan, 4. Trenton Frye, 5. Devin Glass, 6. Zachary Morgan, 7. Jon Beenken
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Mike Gratz, 2. Dustin McCracken, 3. Tim Murphy, Sr., 4. Chris Brown, 5. Greg Brown, 6. Andrew Moore
Qualifying: 1. Dustin McCracken 19.031, 2. Mike Gratz 19.095, 3. Andrew Moore 19.159, 4. Greg Brown 19.475, 5. Chris Brown 19.713, 6. Tim Murphy, Sr. 19.983, 7. Zachary Morgan 20.050, 8. Austyn Blank 20.185, 9. Daniel Loendorf 20.392, 10. Trenton Frye 20.806, 11. Jon Beenken 21.105, 12. Austin Finnegan 21.965, 13. Devin Glass NO TIME
Feature (15 laps): 1. Mike Gratz, 2. Kevin Laufenberg, 3. Ken Hart, 4. Jay Raines, 5. Ryan Bentz, 6. Anita Reinhart
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Mike Gratz, 2. Kevin Laufenberg, 3. Ryan Bentz, 4. Ken Hart, 5. Jay Raines, 6. Anita Reinhart
Qualifying: 1. Kevin Laufenberg 19.949, 2. Ryan Bentz 20.304, 3. Jay Raines 20.342, 4. Mike Gratz 20.365, 5. Ken Hart 21.033, 6. Anita Reinhart 22.694
Stop-N-Go Race: 1. Mike Gratz, 2. Tim Murphy, Sr., 3. Bill Schott, 4. Rick Porter