Father’s Day was celebrated at Slinger Speedway Sunday with several fathers enjoying their offspring racing. Generations of some families were here to participate as uniformed Scouts were treated to a free night of racing and kids rode a bus around Slinger’s high banks. The chilly weather of the previous night quickly turned into a very warm day, and the forecast chances of rain were wrong by a mile.
Travis Dassow was the first car to qualify in the super late models, posting a time that could not be beat. Heat races were won by Dan Jung, Conrad Morgan and Fred Winn and third generation racer Braison Bennett led the four transferees from the semi. Dassow rolled the die to set feature inverts, setting his car in the fourth row for the 60-lap contest. Dale Prunty and Mike Egan were in front of Winn, Rob Braun, Ryan DeStefano and Tim Lampman at the start. Chris Blawat left the lineup before the start and never returned. Prunty got ahead at the green flag, only to see the yellow banner on the third time around when Winn and Braun had an incident and were sent to the rear of the field.
The race got up to speed quickly as Egan charged ahead for a few laps, then Prunty again in the first dozen circuits. A bit of jostling among the double-file contenders resulted in Steve Apel the next leader from his fourth row start. Dennis Prunty drove his new machine through the field from the sixth row to the front as the laps ticked by, getting past his brother Dale to challenge Apel at the end. The top trio was followed by Dassow and Lowell Bennett from the fifth row. Apel knew Prunty was there, telling the crowd, “Once we got up front we didn’t want to see a yellow,” adding, “I’m glad my dad’s here.” Dale Prunty talked about using his old setup in the new car, quipping, “I couldn’t wait for that caution, it just didn’t happen.” Dale Prunty was asked about racing his brother and replied, “I figured he was going to tangle with Apel and I was going to win.”
Kyle Chwala topped the area sportsman in qualifying to begin hopes of another clean sweep. Mark Deporter cancelled that chance by getting past Chwala for the heat win, the other heat taken by Rich Wagner. The feature began with John Daley on the pole, followed by Joe Shelby, Nick Egan, Deporter, Kody Hubred and Chwala. Shelby led the opening laps before Deporter charged past, followed by Chwala taking the lead on lap ten. Daley’s car came to a stop before the first dozen circuits were scored and was pushed to the pits by Jim Schmittinger, who returned for the restart. Everyone chose their lane for the next green flag, and the announced 25-lap contest turned into a 30-lap race. That made all the difference. Chwala was hounded by Deporter after the restart, and the pair raced side by side in the closing laps. At the finish line it was Deporter ahead of Chwala by inches, with Hubred, Ken Schraufnagel and Egan completing the top five.
The limited late models began with Alex Prunty posting quick time displaying his father’s old race number for Father’s Day. Stephen Scheel and Wayne Freimund were the heat winners and the feature invert set Prunty in the fourth row. The 40-lap contest started with Tyler Schley and Jack Stern ahead of Gregg Pawelski, Ricky Heinan, Danny Church and Prunty. Schley was passed by Stern after five circuits, and the first caution flag flew six laps later when Heinan and Schley made contact. It took Pawelski two laps to take the lead after the restart, surviving the next restart for a spun car before twenty laps were complete. Church worked the outer lane for three laps before getting past Pawelski, only to face two more restarts before the end. Keeping Pawelski behind him at the checkered flag, Church was mobbed by his happy family afterwards. Freimund, Mike Held and Scheel completed the top five.
Brandon Tackes led the Slinger Bees in qualifying and heats were won by Isaac Daniel, Carl Benn and Jake Schraufnagel. Daniel doubled his fun by also winning the semi, the final four getting a feature berth. The 25-lap main was headed by Heather Stark, Rick Schaefer, Marty Tackes, Schrafnagel and Paul Reagles when the green flag flew. The next time around Schaefer was the leader, but Stark rallied to take charge a few laps later. A slowed car forced the first caution after eight orbits, followed by Schraufnagel taking the point. The next two circuits ended in cautions, the latter when Schaefer had a wheel come off his mount. The second half of the race went to the checkered flag with Schraufnagel challenged by defending champion Nick Schmidt in the closing laps. Schmidt tried everything he could, but Schraufnagel was determined to earn his first win of the year. Behind the top duo were Stark, Brandon Tackes and Reagles.
A band of Bandoleros came to Slinger’s high banks for the first time with Luke Fenhaus sweeping the events. Youngsters can move up easily from go-karts to Bandeloros, which are more like karts with bodies on them.
The Figure 8 race closed the show with Ron Schmitt the final winner of the evening. Just after ten o’clock we had enjoyed a full night with the full moon beginning to wane overhead. It was a happy Father’s Day indeed.
(Editors Note: Fay Hendricks is a long-time racing columnist and periodically will share her racing stories on Speed 51.) Photo Credit: Fay Hendricks.