It was back in 2015 when NASCAR Truck Series rookie Derek Kraus put his name on the Wisconsin short track racing map by winning the Midwest Truck Series championship. Four years later, it was another Central Wisconsin young gun bursting onto the scene with a Midwest Truck championship as Levon Van Der Geest won a series-record five races on his way to the title.
The season didn’t start off well for the 15-year-old after a wreck during the Joe Shear Classic weekend at Madison. However, his bad luck immediately turned around during the next race at perhaps the most famous race track in the state.
“It started off kind of rough, at Madison in the opener I wrecked my Truck about halfway through the race, just got caught up in something ahead of me. We were kind of dejected after,” Van Der Geest told Speed51.com. “We made it to the second race at Milwaukee and I ended up putting in my first win.”
The win surprised even Van Der Geest himself, who was only ten years old when racing last took place at The Milwaukee Mile. The triumph then led to other wins at Marshfield, Madison, and Dells, all but locking up the championship after the penultimate race at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway.
“That was a big deal because it was on Father’s Day and at a track I had never raced at. I was pretty surprised I had won that,” he said. We thought that was maybe just a lucky day but then we went to Marshfield and won that one too. We had three more wins and five fast times.”
He also made his Super Late Model debut in his father Jay’s car for the Future’s Race at Oktoberfest, scoring a fifth-place finish in a stout field. Van Der Geest would go on to finish third in the Midwest Truck race that Sunday, crediting his Super Late Model start toward his run.
“The Future’s Race taught me about how hard I can drive the Truck into the corners and how quick I can get on the gas. In the car, it’s a lot faster, you need a lot faster reflexes,” he said. “After I did that it made the Truck seem easier and I think I did better in the Truck because of that.”
Plans for Van Der Geest in 2020 consists of an attempt at a second-straight Midwest Truck championship while making select Super Late Model starts at Madison and Golden Sands, with other tracks to be determined. As he ascends his climb up the ranks of short track racing in a state full of history, his goals are simple.
“The goal for 2020 is to try to get another Truck championship and maybe win my first Super Late Model race.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com