By: Paul Reichert
August 18, 2023
When we witness dominance at one track or one series by a driver, you have to wonder who will be the driver to take the bull by the horns and look to break that driver’s red hot streak. In the Mid-Am Racing Series presented by Wilkins Rebuilders Supply, Ron Vandermier, Jr. has been the unstoppable force over the previous five seasons. Tied with James Swan for the most titles in series history, Vandermier, Jr. is in a huge dogfight with Clay Curts for his sixth career championship. Vandermier, Jr. is also the man to beat at Tomah-Sparta Speedway as he has been to TACU Victory Lane the past three trips to ‘Daytomah’. The field may be catching up to Vandermier, Jr. as Timmy Stewart outran the future G.O.A.T. to earn his first career Mid-Am Racing Series feature victory.
Former Tomah flagman Speedy Lemmons was given the honor to flag the 30 lap Finish Line Flooring Mid-Am Racing Series feature as he continues his battle with Stage 4 cancer. Tomah Sportsmen regular Jake Schiller charged by Rick Redig-Tackman to take the lead early on and gave the hometown fans some hope for a win. As Schiller began to open his lead on the pack, three-time and defending Tomah race winner Ron Vandermier, Jr. was quickly making his way through traffic from his ninth place start. Vandermier, Jr. got up to second by lap seven and quickly ran down Schiller for the race lead before powering around Schiller to become the new top dog on lap nine. Cameron Vandermier, Ron’s son, spun out in turn three on lap 10 to bring out the first of a rash of yellows. Devin Schmidt and rookie leader Daniel Calhoun tangled on lap 12 in turn four to cause another caution period. The restart did not get very far when Schiller spun out in front of the majority of the field in turn one. Steve Blair and Timmy Spatz also spun in turn one to avoid the chaos. Timmy Stewart stuck right behind Vandermier, Jr. as they assumed the top two spots on the restart, then moved to the outside to power past Vandermier, Jr. and settle into the #1 position as the crossed flags were displayed. Soon the battle for the series points lead would be happening on the track as Clay Curts tracked down his points rival. Curts drove around the five-time and defending series champion with 12 laps to go to become the new second place driver. Curts tried to challenge Stewart for the win in the late going, but Stewart would not be denied his first career Mid-Am Racing Series feature victory as the checkered flag was displayed.
The night started with the running of the TACU Credit Union Six Shooter make-up feature from last week’s rain shortened program. Tim Murphy, Sr. shot past Greg Brown, Jr. to assume command of the race, but Mike Gratz stuck right behind Murphy, Sr. and charged around him to lead the race on lap two. Murphy, Sr. tried to keep up with Gratz but the point leader was setting a torrid pace and pulling away from his competition. Gratz was long gone as he captured his fourth checkered flag of the season and added more distance over his fellow racers in the quest for the track championship.
Chris Brown motored around HSRA rookie Monty Odegard to lead the start of the scheduled TACU Credit Union Six Shooter feature. The top guns of the division were struggling to make their way through the traffic to get to the front and challenge Brown for the race win. While Brown was running like he was on a Sunday drive on a Friday night, Mike Gratz was picking his way through the field one car at a time. Once Gratz powered past Murphy, Sr. for second place with four laps to go, the chase was now on. Could he run down Brown in those four laps to claim a complete clean sweep of the night? Gratz was able to get right on Brown’s back bumper on the final lap, but Brown stood his ground to ruin Gratz’s sweep party and capture his first ever feature win.
The make-up feature for the Command Post Saloon Hornets featured a driver putting in a surprise debut at Tomah. Jefferson racer Landon Peterson drove under Matthew Heim to take the lead at the start of the race. Tristan Drazkowski had to work a little harder to move into second place on lap six as he fought hard with both point leader Samantha Linnehan and Heim. Over the next four laps Drazkowski would slowly whittle away at the advantage that Peterson had built up. Drazkowski nosed ahead of Peterson at the line to lead with five laps remaining, but Peterson drove underneath Drazkowski to take back the top spot a lap later. The engine in Terry Lafleur’s race car said “Good Night, Irene” in turns one and two with only two laps to run. Drazkowski used the outside lane to his advantage on the restart to take over the lead from Peterson. It was a welcome return to Tomah Area Credit Union Victory Lane as Drazkowski captured his first career Hornet feature win, which was his first victory in three years.
This time Landon Peterson was on the pole for the scheduled Command Post Saloon Hornet feature, and he was able once again to get around Matthew Heim for the lead. Peterson tried to pull away and open up a lead on the field just like he did in the first feature, but Paul Finch would have something to say about that. Finch was making quick moves to leapfrog his way through the competition from his eighth starting spot. Adam Moore lost control of his race car in turn three on lap eight to bring out the yellow. Finch wasted little time right off the restart to surge past Peterson to take over the lead position. Finch was pulling away, but yellow returned with five laps to go when daughter Jordan spun out in turn one. Finch quickly pulled away from the field on the restart to make his second trip to TACU Credit Union Victory Lane this season, and closed right up on Samantha Linnehan for the championship with only a few weeks of racing left.
Charles Vian, Jr. powered by rookie contender Seth Gnewikow to lead the start of the Clark Powersport of Hillsboro Hobby Stock feature. Gnewikow’s car had his hands full trying to hold off the rest of the field as Vian, Jr. was easily opening up his lead. The rest of the field not only had to deal with Gnewikow but also the unbreakable side-by-side battle for third between Shelby Lockington and Chad Leis. That neck-and-neck fight over third became a battle for the runner-up spot when Gnewikow slowed with five laps left as he pulled out of the race. Andy Moore was hoping for a break in the battle between Lockington and Leis, but Moore would have to settle for a rare fourth place finish in the feature. Lockington ended up nosing ahead of Leis to take home second, but Vian, Jr. was already back home in Sparta with his first feature victory of the year.
The final Mini-Van feature this season had a lot of bumping and banging as Mike Gratz and Kevin Laufenberg started the night tied for the title. Ken Hart powered into the lead at the start, but Gratz was all over Hart looking for the lead. Gratz muscled around Hart for the top spot on lap three, but Hart was not going to let Gratz drive away with the lead scot-free. Kevin Laufenberg joined those two to make the fight for the lead that much more exciting and competitive. Laufenberg took over second spot from Hart on lap six and the fight was on for everything between Gratz and Laufenberg. Laufenberg gave Gratz several shots to the rear bumper with his ‘chrome horn’, but those bumps did not faze Gratz as he maintained the lead position. Laufenberg tried one last bump entering turn three on the final lap, but Gratz stood his ground on the inside line as he charged to the win and wrapped up his first ever track crown.
While the weather has not been kind to the Chaos division, we have had some very entertaining events. The Double Spin to Win Event, when the racers had to spin around twice on designated laps, was the final Chaos event of the season. Jay Raines gave the best head spinning performance to win the event, while Mike Gratz finished in second to be crowned “Captain Chaos” and locked up his second championship of the night.
The next big crown jewel race of the season takes place at Tomah-Sparta Speedway on Sunday, August 27. HobbyFest has become the biggest race for the Hobby Stock class in the Midwest. A huge 30 lap main event with a big money purse and contingencies galore await the final field of 24 drivers that make the big show for the fourth edition. The Sportsmen, Hornets and Six Shooters will also be in action, plus the Modifieds will settle their season long championship battle. Gates open at 11:00, the fast and furious qualifying session starts at 12:15 and the battle to crown the newest HobbyFest champion begins at 2.
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.
Mid-Am Racing Series presented by Wilkins Rebuilders Supply
Feature (30 laps): 1. Timmy Stewart, 2. Clay Curts, 3. Ron Vandermier, Jr., 4. Dale Lecus, Jr., 5. Andrew Meyerhofer, 6. John Ventrello, 7. Brandon DeLacy, 8. Bobby Gash III, 9. Devin Schmidt, 10. Jake Schiller, 11. Daniel Calhoun, 12. Steve Blair, 13. Timmy Spatz, 14. Mark Challet, 15. Cameron Vandermier, 16. Rick Redig-Tackman
Heat #1 (10 laps): 1. Mark Challet, 2. Rick Redig-Tackman, 3. Bobby Gash III, 4. Steve Blair, 5. John Ventrello, 6. Brandon DeLacy, 7. Clay Curts, 8. Devin Schmidt, 9. Cameron Vandermier
Heat #2 (10 laps): 1. Daniel Calhoun, 2. Jake Schiller, 3. Andrew Meyerhofer, 4. Ron Vandermier, Jr., 5. Dale Lecus, Jr. 6. Timmy Spatz, 7. Timmy Stewart, 8. Jim Thorson
Qualifying: 1. Clay Curts 16.092, 2. Ron Vandermier, Jr. 16.217, 3. Devin Schmit 16.239, 4. Timmy Stewart 16.322, 5. John Ventrello 16.379, 6. Andrew Meyerhofer 16.407, 7. Brandon DeLacy 16.456, 8. Dale Lecus, Jr. 16.494, 9. Rick Redig-Tackman 16.506, 10. Jake Schiller 16.588, 11. Bobby Gash III 16.668, 12. Jim Thorson 16.685, 13. Cameron Vandermier 16.693, 14. Daniel Calhoun 16.713, 15. Steve Blair 16.870, 16. Timmy Spatz 17.044, 17. Mark Challet 17.643
Command Post Saloon Hornets
Feature #1 (15 laps/Make-up from August 11): 1. Tristan Drazkowski, 2. Paul Finch, 3. Landon Peterson, 4. Samantha Linnehan, 5. Matthew Heim, 6. Andrew Gardner, 7. Jordan Finch, 8. Jim Hendricks, Sr., 9. Matt Drazkowski, 10. Jim Gardner, 11. Tristan Finnegan, 12. Terry Lafleur, 13. Austin Albrecht, 14. Kaleb Hardy, 15. Lonnie Wood, Sr., 16. Caitlyn Wood, 17. Josh Schwartz
Feature #2 (15 laps/Scheduled): 1. Paul Finch, 2. Tristan Drazkowski, 3. Landon Peterson, 4. Samantha Linnehan, 5. Matthew Heim, 6. Adam Moore, 7. Andrew Gardner, 8. Tristan Finnegan, 9. Shawn Breese, 10. Jordan Finch, 11. Travis Atkinson, 12. Matt Drazkowski, 13. Jim Hendricks, Sr., 14. Marissa Stanley, 15. Jim Gardner, 16. Caitlyn Wood, 17. Aubrie Leis, 18. Lonnie Wood, Sr., 19. Clint Hagstrom
Qualifying: 1. Paul Finch 18.221, 2. Andrew Gardner 18.776, 3. Adam Moore 18.850, 4. Tristan Drazkowski 18.865, 5. Samantha Linnehan 18.877, 6. Jordan Finch 18.972, 7. Matthew Heim 19.042, 8. Landon Peterson 19.085, 9. Terry Lafleur 19.177, 10. Caitlyn Wood 19.551, 11. Travis Atkinson 19.696, 12. Jim Hendricks, Sr. 19.777, 13. Shawn Breese 19.797, 14. Matt Drazkowski 19.820, 15. Josh Schwartz 19.920, 16. Tristan Finnegan 20.156, 17. Jim Gardner 20.229, 18. Lonnie Wood, Sr. 20.404, 19. Marissa Stanley 21.031, 20. Aubrie Leis 21.562, 21. Clint Hagstrom (NO TIME)
TACU Credit Union Six Shooters
Feature #1 (15 laps/Make-up from August 11): 1. Mike Gratz, 2. Tim Murphy, Sr., 3. Greg Brown, Jr., 4. Alex Lueth, 5. Brandon Young, 6. Zachary Morgan, 7. A.J. Finnegan
Feature #2 (15 laps/Scheduled): 1. Chris Brown, 2. Mike Gratz, 3. Alex Lueth, 4. Greg Brown, Jr., 5. Zachary Morgan, 6. Monty Odegard, 7. A.J. Finnegan, 8. Brandon Young, 9. Tim Murphy, Sr. (DQ)
Qualifying: 1. Mike Gratz 19.136, 2. Greg Brown, Jr. 19.629, 3. Tim Murphy, Sr. 19.834, 4. Alex Lueth 19.845, 5. A.J. Finnegan 19.847, 6. Zachary Morgan 20.109, 7. Monte Odegard 20.228, 8. Chris Brown 20.276, 9. Brandon Young 20.352
Clark Powersport of Hillsboro Hobby Stocks
Feature (15 laps): 1. Charles Vian, Jr., 2. Shelby Lockington, 3. Chad Leis, 4. Andy Moore, 5. Chris Weber, 6. Jarrod Sutherland, 7. Landon Lockington, 8. Seth Gnewikow
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Chris Weber, 2. Andy Moore, 3. Shelby Lockington, 4. Jarrod Sutherland
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Landon Lockington, 2. Charles Vian, Jr., 3. Seth Gnewikow, 4. Chad Leis
Qualifying: 1. Andy Moore 17.580, 2. Jarrod Sutherland 17.874, 3. Chris Weber 17.962, 4. Shelby Lockington 18.034, 5. Chad Leis 18.095, 6. Charles Vian, Jr. 18.237, 7. Seth Gnewikow 18.416, 8. Landon Lockington 19.608
Feature (12 laps): 1. Mike Gratz, 2. Kevin Laufenberg, 3. Ken Hart, 4. James Gratz, 5. Anita Reinart
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Ken Hart, 2. Mike Gratz, 3. Kevin Laufenberg, 4. James Gratz, 5. Anita Reinart
Qualifying: 1. Kevin Laufenberg 19.826, 2. Mike Gratz 20.234, 3. Ken Hart 20.767, 4. Anitz Reinart 22.099, 5. James Gratz 22.410
Double Spin to Win Race: 1. Jay Raines, 2. Mike Gratz, 3. Ken Hart, 4. Alex Erickson, 5. Kevin Laufenberg, 6. Monty Odegard, 7. James Gratz