The sixth edition of the George Scheffler Memorial is now in the books with the first repeat winner taking home the $7,000 purse. Getting this event in was the challenge after the Friday date at Oshkosh Speed Zone was rained out. This was a point race for the Corn Belt Clash late model tour, whose teams came from six states for a weekend in Wisconsin. Saturday’s event at another track was lost to rain, and the Scheffler Memorial was moved to Sunday. With apologies to all the IMCA mods and Grand National teams who had to race for points at other tracks, the Scheffler family and Speed Zone crew are to be lauded for their efforts. Not only did the event run to completion, but the entire program was complete before dark.
This event has always been a reunion for the defunct Hales Corners race track, whose members have moved to other venues since 2003. Forty mods were on hand for the King of the Ring title here as well as the $1,000 win. Joining the action for a non-point race were the Grand National cars, also for the bonus money. Larry Richards brought his rarely-used late model as well as his weekly Grand National car. Finding his late model tires were wrong, Richards packed up his late model, but Steven Wirtz fielded his Grand National as well as his mod.
Former Memorial winners Rick Scheffler, Nick Anvelink, Jimmy Mars, A. J. Diemel and Cornbelt Clash point leader Chad Simpson all returned Sunday. Mars, Simpson and Diemel won their heat races, which moved the top three finishers to the feature field. Paul Parker and Mitch McGrath posted the other heat wins. Taylor Scheffler and Iowa’s Jason Rauen led the finalists from the B mains and five provisional starters were added to the 50-lap finale. The crowd came to its feet to wave as the 26-car field rolled four abreast around the third-mile oval. Simpson and McGrath started in front of Diemel, Mars, Parker and modified ace Mike Mullen. At the green flag it was Simpson in charge, beginning to lap the back of the field after nine circuits.
The black, slick surface was a challenge that everyone mastered as the race went caution-free. Mars worked his way past Simpson shortly after the midway mark and Diemel was right behind him. The teammates left a trail of lapped cars behind them as the race continued. The crowd cheered as Diemel nearly got past Mars while negotiating through a cluster of lapped machines, but Mars prevailed to the end. Simpson hung on for third and padding his Corn Belt Clash point lead. McGrath, Mullen and Heckenast were next across the finish line. Jason Feger came from the ninth row to finish sixth, with Anvelink and Parker the final cars on the lead lap at the end. Mars later told of the slippery track conditions and was happy to have his name posted on the Memorial trophy for the second time. This event will only be run four more times, with next year’s purse increased to $8,000.
The mod heats were won by Mike Wedelstadt, Eddie LeMay, Brad Drexler, Benji LaCrosse and Todd Dart. The first fifteen feature berths were set, with Marcus Yarie and Steve Schneider winning the B mains. Dart and Wedelstadt were in front of the 26-car field and Wedelstadt took charge for the first seven circuits. A spun car regrouped the field and the next time around it was LaCrosse getting ahead. Five laps later another spun mount regrouped the field again. LaCrosse stayed ahead of Wedelstadt again, but with five laps remaining the field saw another caution.
The 30-lap contest had a pair of cautions for more spins with three laps remaining, finishing with a dash to the finish line. LaCrosse fended off Wedelstadt to the end, followed by Drexler, Steve Schneider and Johnny Whitman. Only a couple cars were lapped and all but three finished the contest. Waiting for the points to be tallied for the King of the Ring title, the audience cheered at hearing Wedelstadt had earned the crown.
Tim Doehling and Brian Cesar won the Grand National heats and the cars were realigned for the feature. Donald Schumacher and Derek Schrauth began ahead of Donny Kulow, Larry Richards, Brian Henry and Roger Lee. Richards led the opening laps, Schumacher took over on the fourth orbit, and Richards was ahead again just before the caution on lap eleven for a spun car. The crowd cheered after the next green flag when Charlie Sancinati charged into the lead after moving up from his sixth-row start. Sancinati held the point to the finish line without another caution slowing his pace.
After arriving late and having no time to change his setup from the previous night at another track, Sancinati was as amazed as anyone at the outcome. He was still floating on his championship cloud from Saturday when posting this win and still couldn’t believe his good fortune. Schrauth hung on for second place, with Henry, Richards and Schumacher completing the top five.
The day’s qualifying began at four o’clock and the entire program was complete before eight, thanks to a nonstop program and no time taken for track maintenance. It was not yet dark when grateful racers and fans headed home in plenty of time to rest up for the work week. We joined many others for the awesome food, drinks and reunion hosted by the Scheffler family. With Russ Scheffler not joining his brothers and nephews on the track, he cooked up some 500 pounds of meat for the visitors. Stories were shared as the full moon rose overhead, and we bade farewell to this race family before heading to our other race family to see what happened at another track. Our three-race weekend turned into a solo event, but it was no less awesome. Thanks to all for the treat.
-Fay Hendricks Story & Photo