A few years ago, Dells Raceway Park promoter Jerry Auby was having a conversation about his season-opening Icebreaker with two former racers.
“A couple of years ago, I had a couple of drivers come up to me, both retired drivers,” Auby told Speed51. “One gentleman says, ‘This Icebreaker is turning into one of the premier events in the United States.’ The other guy kinda pooh-poohed that and said, ‘Nah.’ I’ve been on a vendetta to prove that guy wrong ever since.”
Now entering its fifth season, more than 30 cars are entered for the 2019 edition of the 100-lap race. The kickoff to Wisconsin’s Super Late Model season continues to grow in prestige and interest.
“We wanted the first race in Wisconsin at the Dells to kick off the season,” said Auby. “It’s turned into one of the premier events as far as premier short track drivers in the Midwest attend every year.”
A trio of ARCA Midwest Tour champions – Dan Fredrickson, Andrew Morrissey, and Dalton Zehr – are among the entrants for Sunday’s race, along with Wisconsin racing legend Rich Bickle, World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing breakout driver Gabe Sommers, and back-to-back TUNDRA Super Late Model champion Casey Johnson.
Auby credits the interest received from and generated by those drivers has enabled the growth of the event in an area rich with racing history and lore.
“The drivers grew the interest,” said Auby. “The interest came from the drivers. Wisconsin is the hotbed of short track racing. Anywhere in the United States, Wisconsin has the most stock cars per capita of people.”
The event is also a quick four-tire, 100-lap race around the 1/3-mile bullring. This allows teams to kick off the rust from a long winter’s offseason without a grueling or demanding event.
“The Icebreaker 100 is a way to kick the season off and knock some of the rust off, get ready to go,” said Auby. “The drivers really like it. It’s a 100-lap race, it’s not an endure. It’s one set of tires. That just adds to the popularity. The competition is outstanding. I’m never bored watching a race at Dells Raceway Park.”
The Icebreaker 100 has also increased interest in Dells Raceway Park as a whole, earning it a spot of recognition alongside some of the most famous short tracks in the Midwest.
“Now we’re in our fifth year, and I feel it’s becoming one of the premier short track events of the season, especially in Wisconsin,” said Auby. “We have a lot of good tracks, we’ve got Madison, we’ve got Slinger, Rockford Speedway in Illinois. The Dells was never on the map back years ago.
“Now we open in April and draw the crowds that we do, the fans are already asking for Icebreaker shirts as soon as Christmas is over and looking forward to the event.”
Grandstands will open on Saturday for open practice, free of charge for fans from noon to 5 p.m. Central time.
Sunday’s Icebreaker 100 program begins with practice at 11:30 a.m. Central time, with qualifying at 12:30 p.m. and feature racing at 2:00 p.m.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Dells Raceway Park