KAUKAUNA, WISCONSIN — As many as six new late model drivers are expected to compete in “Thursday Night Thunder” weekly action when the season opener kicks off at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna May 18.
Among the familiar faces who will compete for the division crown are a pair of local dirt trackers – Green Bay veteran Eddie Muenster and Two Rivers Brett Wenzel. However both are far from rookies when it comes to racing on the D-shaped, half mile paved oval.
In 2015 Muenster won the Red, White and Blue state championship in the late model class wheeling a car owned by his son-in-law Brad Anthony. That after several seasons in the super late model division. This winter Muenster purchased a car from Oconto’s Scott Stewart that he’ll compete with weekly at WIR. Muenster will be one of the busiest racers in northeast Wisconsin as he still has plans to wheel his IMCA modified on the dirt Friday nights at Luxemburg Speedway and Saturdays at Shawano Speedway.
“With Brad getting me into that car it gave me the excitement to try racing at WIR again,” said Muenster. “Plus having Ken’s Sports as a sponsor, and they are a track sponsor, it just seemed like a real good fit to come back.”
Wenzel has been a feature winner and consistent front runner in the division in the past. “I like the fact that the Big 8 rules cars can run weekly and I do like the direction the (Fox River Racing Club) is headed in,” said Wenzel, a second-generation driver. Like Muenster, Wenzel still plans on slinging some dirt as well with another car in 2017.
Former Mid American series driver Travis Rodewald of Manitowoc will make the trek west from the Lakeshore weekly. Other newcomers include Randy Yaeger of Appleton who purchased a car from Jim Duchow. Mike King Jr. of Appleton will be a weekly competitor as will be Ripon’s Jesse Bernhagen.
In all, most of the top 20 drivers in the 2016 point standings plan on returning weekly – most of them racing on a full time basis.
Third generation driver Braison Bennett from Neenah will defend his division crown. Last year Bennett beat out Freedom’s Tim Springstroh by a mere nine points to collect the title. Both are expected to be frontrunners again in 2017.
Hilbert drivers Mike Meyerhofer Jr. and Corey “Rainman” Manders are also expected to give a run for the crown, along with Kaukauna drivers Todd Verhagen and Nathan Van Wychen. 2016 division rookie-of-the-year Evan Beattie of Little Chute will be back as will Appleton drivers Bryan Monday and Scott Baker and Neenah’s Terry Miller. Others expected to see at least part time action on Thursday nights include Reedsville’s Kyle Bauknecht, Green Bay’s Louis Goss and Manitowoc’s Jake Fuller.
The season opening race for “Thursday Night Thunder” will be May 18, with racing getting underway at 6:45 p.m.
The annual FRRC Tech and Practice day will be held Saturday May 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spectator admission is free that day.
For more information please check the club’s website at frrcracing.net. You can also follow the FRRC on its Facebook page.
-Wisconsin International Raceway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com