By: Paul Reichert
June 30, 2023
Fireworks on the race track are always breathtaking and they make the race fans say things like “WOW” and “YIKES”. Fireworks in the air are always breathtaking as well, and they always make everybody say “OOOHHH” and “AAAHHH”. Tomah-Sparta Speedway helped to kick off the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend with tons of fireworks during the 2nd annual Firecracker 58. Not only did Victory Fireworks shoot off one of the biggest fireworks show in Monroe Country, but the Big 8 Late Model Series returned to ‘Daytomah’ and produced some intense fireworks of their own. Jon Reynolds, Jr. found himself in the lead after the leaders collided and tangled with four laps left, then pulled away from the field on the final restart to capture his second victory of the year.
The Firecracker 58 for the Big 8 Late Model Series got off to a rough start when Tyler Hromadka and Hanna Raley tangled coming to the green, which caused Raley to hit the front straight wall. Take two on the start saw Brady Liddle power to the front of the pack at Gregory Borchardt’s expense. Devin Schmidt used the outside lane to power by both Borchardt and Liddle to move into the lead on lap three Borchardt spun out in turn one on lap 12 to bring out the first yellow flag. As the field was coming to the green, Grant Brown and Randy Sargent tangled on the front straight. As the same time Liddle’s engine expired to cause a red flag and an extended cleanup on the front straight. Schmidt pulled away on the restart while Brown and Kody King make the outside work and moved into second and third spots. Cautions began to breed more cautions around the one-quarter mark of the race, with turn one being the trouble spot. Sargent spun out on lap 14, Hromadka and Drew Bernhagen tangled in on lap 17, and Jerry Mueller spun in front of the field on lap 18. Borchardt tried to avoid Mueller and ended up hitting the outside wall in turn two hard. On every restart Schmidt was able to open up an advantage on both Brown and King, but it was gone just before halfway thanks to Trevor Robinson spinning in turn one also.
On the restart Grant Brown and Kody King were ready to pounce on the lead as Devin Schmidt’s car started to get to be a bit of a handful. Brown dove low on Schmidt to take over the top position on lap 34, and a lap later Schmidt gave up the number two spot to King. Now the ‘battle of the 14s’ was on as Brown and King put on one heck of a battle over the top spot. Just at King was getting under Brown to make the pass for the lead and the possible win, yellow returned with 11 laps to go when fast qualifier Jacob Gille suffered a flat right front tire. Gille was able to duck into the pits, replace the tire and get back in the race. The intensity over the fight for the win between Brown and King was ramped up even more on the restart. King was able to dive low on Brown to assume the race lead with five laps to go. Brown then moved to the inside to try and pull off the same move on King. Their spirited fight came to a crescendo with four laps to go when the leaders made hard contact in turn three. Brown got briefly airborne in the melee that sent both 14s to the end of the lead lap line. Schmidt spun out to avoid the chaos, but was given his spot back in fourth for the restart. Thanks to that moment of on track fireworks, ‘Driver X’ was now in command of the Firecracker 58. After several unsuccessful tries to restart on the outside, Jon Reynolds, Jr. now had the lead all to himself as the field got ready for a quick four lap shootout. It was the battle of Rockford as Reynolds, Jr. was able to drive from Randy Sargent in that final showdown to capture his second victory of the year and strengthen his grip on the Big 8 Late Model points lead after four races.
A dozen American Super Cup Series racers took the green flag for their 15 lap main event. Before they ever started the field was reduced to 11 when JoJo Fadke had an issue with her steering wheel. Quickly making his way through traffic right from the green was 15 year old Brandon Wynd Vaulting from his fourth starting spot Wynd powered his way around Maxim Labak to take charge of the feature. Michael Rose started right behind Wynd on the third row, but he needed a couple of laps to also surge past Labak to take over second. Rob Basske followed in Rose’s tire tracks as he moved to the outer line and shot past Labak to settle into third on lap three. Rose was doing everything he could to keep up with Wynd’s torrid pace, but Wynd was running fast than the wind as he dominated the night. Wynd claimed the win in a third straight feature to go without a yellow, and Wynd also scored the second clean sweep of the evening.
The Command Post Saloon Hornet feature started with a side-by-side battle between James Gardner and Jim Hendricks, Sr. Gardner nosed ahead at the end of the first, but Hendricks, Sr. powered around Gardner to take control of the lead on lap two. Andrew Gardner has put in a few strong performances to start 2023, and that included tonight as he caught up to and motored by Hendricks, Sr. on lap five. Paul Finch and Adam Hayden have been the fastest machines all season, and they proved just how fast as both drivers broke into top three just before the halfway mark. They wasted little time to eat up the advantage that Gardner had and were on Gardner’s rear bumper by lap nine. Hayden stuck to the outside groove as he shot past both Finch and Gardner to move into first place with three laps left. Hayden pulled away over the final laps to claim his second win of the year in a caution-free feature and achieved a rare clean sweep of the division.
Tory Lockington charged by A.J. Finnegan to take the lead at the start of the TACU Credit Union Six Shooter feature. Taylor McMullen was behind the wheel of the race car normally piloted by Kenan Shaw, and he was making quick work of the field coming from his eighth starting spot. McMullen needed only four laps to catch and pass Lockington to lead the field. Despite starting last in the field, Mike Gratz was working his way through the field although he was having to work a little harder to get to the front. By lap six Gratz moved into second place and began to slowly reel in McMullen. As the crossed flags were displayed, Gratz powered around McMullen on the outside to take over the race lead. Tim Murphy, Sr. powered around Lockington to settle into third position on lap nine, but was not able to keep up McMullen’s pace. As the same time McMullen was losing sight of Gratz over the second half of the race. Gratz was no match for the field as he drove off with his second checkered flag of the year in another green-to-checkered feature event.
The Six Shooters will have their night in the spotlight next Friday, July 7 with the annual Six Shooter Mania event. A 30 lap feature will headline next week’s program with a little more money in the feature purse thanks to series sponsor Tomah Area Credit Union. They will be joined by the Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Hornets and the High School Racing Association. Gates open at 5, the race to see who is the quickest in qualifying commences at 6 and the ‘edge of your seat’ racing takes the green 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.
Big 8 Late Model Series
Firecracker 58 (58 laps): 1. Jon Reynolds, Jr., 2. Randy Sargent, 3. Jerry Mueller, 4. Devin Schmidt, 5. Drew Bernhagen, 6. Jacob Gille, 7. Tyler Hromadka, 8. Grant Brown, 9. Doug HIllson, 10. Trevor Robinson, 11. Paul Dygon, 12. Kody King, 13. Gregory Borchardt, 14. Hanna Raley, 15. Brady Liddle
Heat #1 (10 laps): 1. Gregory Borchardt, 2. Tyler Hromadka, 3. Drew Bernhagen, 4. Hanna Raley, 5. Brady Liddle, 6. Doug Hillson, 7. Paul Dygon
Heat #2 (10 laps): 1. Randy Sargent, 2. Jon Reynolds, Jr., 3. Kody King, 4. Jerry Mueller, 5. Jacob Gille, 6. Trevor Robinson, 7. Grant Brown, 8. Devin Schmidt
Qualifying: 1. Jacob Gille 15.670, 2. Kody King 15.680, 3. Jon Reynolds, Jr. 15.685, 4. Randy Sargen 15.721, 5. Jerry Mueller 15.815, 6. Grant Brown 15.831, 7. Trevor Robinson 15.852, 8. Devin Schmidt 15.931, 9. Gregory Borchardt 16.054, 10. Brady Liddle 16.078, 11. Hanna Raley 16.311, 12. Tyler Hromadka 16.323, 13. Drew Bernhagen 16.335, 14. Doug Hillson 16.335, 15. Paul Dygon 16.757
American Super Cup Series
Feature (15 laps): 1. Brandon Wynd, 2. Michael Rose, 3. Rob Baaske, 4. Mick Ellis, 5. Giovanni Sallee, 6. Shane Davis, 7. Maxim Labak, 8. Rylee Baaske, 9. Nathan Feary, 10. Kevin Langenecker, 11. LIndsey Herwald, 12. JoJo Fadke
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Brandon Wynd, 2. Michael Rose, 3. Rob Baaske, 4. Giovanni Sallee, 5. JoJo Fadke, 6. Maxim Labak
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Mick Ellis, 2. Shane Davis, 3. Rylee Baaske, 4. Kevin Langenecker, 5. Linsey Herwald, 6. Nathan Feary
Qualifying: 1. Brandon Wynd 18.767, 2. Rob Baaske 19.815, 3. Michael Rose 19.904, 4. Giovanni Sallee 20.297, 5. JoJo Fadke 20.298, 6. Maxim Labak 20.367, 7. Mick Ellis 20.399, 8. Nathan Feary 20.943, 9. Rylee Baaske 21.020, 10. Kevin Langenecker 21.063, 11. Shane Davis 21.272, 12. Lindsey Herwald 22.446
Command Post Saloon Hornets
Feature (15 laps): 1. Adam Hadyen, 2. Andrew Gardner, 3. Paul Finch, 4. Jamie Pearson, 5. Samantha Linnehan, 6. Matthew Heim, 7. Jim Hendricks, Sr.. 8. Josh Schwartz, 9. Tristan Finnegan, 10. Caitlin Wood, 11. James Gardner, 12. Aubrie Leis
Qualifying: 1. Adam Hayden 18.257, 2. Jamie Pearson 18.735, 3. Paul Finch 18.762, 4. Samantha Linnehan 18.880, 5. Andrew Gardner 19.198, 6. Matthew Heim 19.403, 7. Josh Schwartz 19.567., 8. Tristan Finnegan 19.651, 9. Jim Hendricks, Sr. 19.970, 10. James Gardner 20.674, 11. Caitlin Wood 20.979, 12. Lonnie Wood, Sr. 21.394, 13. Aubrie Leis 23.495
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Tristan Finnegan, 2. Josh Schwartz, 3. Caitlin Wood, 4. Jim Hendricks, Sr., 5. Lonnie Wood, Sr., 6. James Gardner, 7. Aubrie Leis
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Adam Hayden, 2. Matthew Heim, 3. Jamie Pearson, 4. Samantha Linnehan, 5. Andrew Gardner, 6. Paul Finch
TACU Credit Union Six Shooters
Feature (15 laps): 1. Mike Gratz, 2. Taylor McMullen, 3. Tim Murphy, Sr., 4. Tory Lockington, 5. Zachary Morgan, 6. Austyn Blank, 7. Alex Lueth, 8. Brayden Bernhagen, 9. A.J. Finnegan, 10. Greg Brown
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Zachary Morgan, 2. Tory Lockington, 3. Alex Lueth, 4. A.J. Finnegan, 5. Feather King, 6. Brayden Bernhagen
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Taylor McMullen, 2. Tim Murphy, Sr., 3. Austyn Blank, 4. Greg Brown, 5. Mike Gratz, 6. Dustin McCracken,
Qualifying: 1. Mike Gratz 18.955, 2. Dustin McCracken 19.084, 3. Taylor McMullen 19.302, 4. Greg Brown 19.798, 5. Tim Murphy, Sr. 19.821, 6. Austyn Blank 20.038, 7. Alex Lueth 20.170, 8. Brayden Bernhagen 20.224, 9. A.J. Finnegan 20.429, 10. Tory Lockington 20.526, 11. Zachary Morgan 21.021, 12. Feather King 21.102