Wisconsin’s weather is never boring. A group of Harley riders had just entered Slinger Speedway for their sponsor night when a short shower wet the track, the brisk wind helping dry it in short order. The warm, sticky day turned into a chilly night with temperatures in the fifties and chilled the faithful fans. Your scribe began with a summer shirt and sunscreen, a rain poncho and jacket. Adding a sweatshirt and bringing blankets for our group, we watched the program rain-free as the wind drilled the cold into our bones. The night’s experiences left some steaming, but not from the weather. Colder weather resulted in less tire grip and many surprises. The heat races really warmed things up, most of which were decided at the final stripe.
Steve Apel topped Rob Braun’s time in super late model qualifying, rolling the die to begin the feature in the fifth row. Curt Tillman, Mike Egan and Lowell Bennett won their heat races, and Braison Bennett led the four transferees from the semi. Braison Bennett and Dave McCardle shared the front row, with Lowell Bennett, Austin Luedtke, John DeAngelis, Dennis Prunty and Braun following. A few hot laps gave the field a chance to heat up their tires before the 60-lap contest got the green flag. They barely made it through the second corner when McCardle and Braison Bennett slid, Bennett ending at the wall. Behind them cars crunched trying to avoid collisions and several pitted for repairs. Ten of the eighteen starters remained on the track, with three more able to return. The lineup quickly changed for the lucky thirteen.
Lowell Bennett and McCardle led DeAngelis, Prunty, Braun and Dale Prunty to the green flag, and sixty laps later the race was complete. Unmarred with another slowdown, Lowell Bennett led every lap, although Dennis Prunty was in his shadow to the checkered flag. The top pair was challenged by Apel, who found no openings to get past. By the end of the race the top three were half a lap ahead of the rest, with fourth-place Braun a quarter-lap behind and DeAngelis completing the top five. Bennett was happy to capture another win, claiming, “I had my hand full with Dennis (Prunty). The bottom is tough when you get pinched down. Asked about lack of grip at the start, Bennett replied, “I had the same problem. I only had two laps on my tires. I couldn’t be happier.” We were told later that Braison Bennett apologized to those caught in the opening mishap. Earlier an incident between Chris Blawat and Tommy Hromadka ended with Blawat taking the blame for contact and giving Hromadka his position back. We applaud the sportsmanship of these drivers, for it’s hard to humble yourself.
The Area Sportsman field began with Bill Prietzel capturing quick time, followed by Ken Schraufnagel and Kyle Chwala winning the heats. The 30-lap feature began with Joe Shelby and Nick Egan ahead of Andy Welter, Brad Hetzel and Steven Sauer. Shelby took charge right away as the pack remained two abreast. Sauer found his way through to take the lead after ten circuits, giving the others a chance to catch up two laps later when a spun car brought out the caution. Choosing their lanes, the others found themselves still closely packed as Sauer crossed the final stripe to capture his first win at Slinger. First-time visitor Randy Bruenig followed, with Egan, Chwala and Prietzel founding out the top five. Sauer was heard to exclaim, “I don’t even know how we did it. I just made my move.”
The limited late model field began with Danny Church topping the qualifiers before rolling the die for the feature invert. Duke Long and Mike Meyerhofer won the heats before the 40-lap contest began. Tyler Schley and Wayne Freimund began ahead of Alex Prunty, Mike Held, Church, Meyerhofer and Jack Stern. The green flag was followed by Freimund leading the way until Prunty got past on lap eleven. The next lap ended in a caution for a spun car, and Prunty was in charge until another car spun on the twenty-third circuit. Everyone chose their lanes for the next green banner, which ended with Freimund and Church having contact and catching Stern in the process. Freimund was shown the black flag as a result and had to retire despite his explanation.
Prunty’s blaze of glory ended in a blaze, literally, with eight laps remaining when huge flames erupted under Prunty’s car. Dousing the flames and all hopes of success, Prunty retired from the race and Church was the beneficiary at the final restart. Challenged at the end by Meyerhofer, Church crossed the finish line first, the pair followed by Steven Schulz, Grand Griesbach and Tim Lange. The night’s results ended with Prunty losing the point lead to Church as the season winds down.
Brandon Tackes edged out Dale Kiley-Schaefer for fast time honors, and heats were headed by Nicole Mueller, Marty Tackes and Heather Stark. Steve Zoromski led the final four transferees from the semi to the 25-lap feature. Dave Lembke and Stark began in front of Jake Schraufnagel, Paul Reagles, Matt Rose and Nick Schmidt, with Stark leading the pack at the green flag. Schraufnagel took the point on the sixth lap, and the next time around the yellow flag was in the air when three of the top five cars had contact.
The survivors chose their lanes as Schraufnagel led until just past the halfway mark. Schmidt’s wheel flew off in the fourth corner, rolling safely away while another car spun in the second turn. The rest of the race went to the checkered flag unhindered, Schraufnagel capturing his second win. Close behind was Brandon Tackes, Isaac Daniel, Stark and Rick Schaefer from the seventh row.
The spectator eliminations preceded the Figure 8 finale, with Rick Bruskiewicz claiming the final trophy of the night. It was shortly after ten o’clock when everyone was able to warm up, and we had to remind ourselves this was the end of July.
(Editors Note: Fay Hendricks is a long-time racing columnist and periodically will share her racing stories on Speed 51.com)
Photo Credit: Fay Hendricks.