Father’s Day at Slinger Speedway was made more special by having free admission for all uniformed Scouts. Slinger, like other tracks, is filled with proud fathers helping and sometimes racing with their offspring. Sunday we saw the love they shared as well as the hardships they encountered. Kyle Chwala’s limited late model broke loose and hit the wall during a practice session, so his father thrashed on the car to make extensive repairs before qualifying time. Super late model driver Tommy Hromadka had his hauler break down on the way to the track, but made sure son Tyler’s limited late model got there to compete in his rookie year. A friend was called to get the father’s car to Slinger by race time.
More new faces showed up in the super late model field, but Steve Apel still ended with fast time honors and rolled the die to start tenth at feature time. James Swan, Rich Lock and Brad Keith posted heat wins, and Jeff Holtz got past Ty Majeski in the semi. The 60-lap feature started with Matt Kocourek and Natalie Decker in front of Travis Dassow in his wife’s car, Gary LaMonte, Brad Keith and Duke Long. Kocourek edged ahead after the green flag with Decker powering past after six orbits in the outer lane. Many eyes were on Apel and Dennis Prunty, who had forged their way up to the front group. Before twenty laps were scored, Apel dove under LaMonte for third place, but his car slid up and LaMonte spun. Using the gentleman’s agreement at Slinger, Apel tapped on his roof to take the blame, allowing LaMonte to return to his position while Apel restarted at the back of the 19-car field.
Decker was ready at the restart, again leading the way past the midway mark, with Dennis Prunty reaching her back bumper and getting past on lap 33. Dassow was about to do the same five laps later, but slid into Decker to spin her car for the second caution flag. Decker pitted and returned and Dassow restarted in the rear of the field as the rest chose lanes for the next green flag. Conrad Morgan’s car came to a halt with twenty laps remaining, and the ensuing restart found Majeski improving from the penultimate starting row to start inside Prunty. Majeski nosed ahead after the green flag, but Prunty roared along the high groove to regain his lead the next lap. There were eleven laps remaining when Decker’s car was spun again, this time Brad Keith taking the blame and restarting in the rear.
The final laps saw a whirlwind of action as Prunty staved off Majeski to the end. Seventh-row starter Johnny DeAngelis finished third, Apel got past eighth-row starter Jeff Holtz for fourth place, and Dale Prunty improved from twelfth to fifth. Older brother Dennis Prunty earned his second consecutive win in two different cars and his third victory of the season. Prunty stated, “I drove harder on the outside. It was pretty cool. We had the car getting close, so we get better every week.” Asked about Majeski’s challenges, Prunty added, “I’m sure he’ll be a force to reckon with at the Nationals.” Slinger’s annual event comes up the second Tuesday in July and brings in big names from all over for the coveted title.
The limited late model field again ended qualifying with Alex Prunty leading the chart, this week sporting his father’s old number at Slinger decades ago. The last time this was done the son ended up winning, and the plan was to repeat the feat. Rookie R.J. Braun posted his first win in a heat, with Jerry Mueller claiming the second race. Dan Jung led the four transferees from the semi and the 40-lap field was set. The invert started Jack Stern and Brian Holtz ahead of Al Stippich, Ryan Zielski, Corey Funk and Mike Held. Stern led one lap before Holtz claimed the point, but a pair of spun cars brought out the yellow flag after eight laps. The ensuing restart ended after two orbits when Mueller and Tyler Schley spun, but Schley took the blame and restarted in the rear alone.
The rest chose their lanes for the next green flag, and one lap later Stippich was the leader. Just past the halfway mark another spun car forced the third caution, with Funk’s car finding the wall with fifteen laps remaining. Another tangle of cars resulted in the final slowdown with a lucky thirteen laps of racing left. Stippich was up to the challenge one more time, staying ahead of Jordon DeVoy, Zielski, Prunty and Held at the finish line. This was Stippich’s first win in the late model class, having numerous victories in other divisions at Slinger. There were plenty of congratulations on Stippich’s win. His father, Joe Mueller, later posted a Figure 8 win to double the celebration Sunday, and super late model racer Jerry Eckhardt is the proud car owner.
The Area Sportsman field began with Bill Prietzel claiming quick time and Andy Welter winning the heat. The 30-lap feature started with Nick Ostberg and Scott Hoeft in front of Paul Wagner, Adam Peschek, Welter and Nick Egan. Hoeft led the opening laps and Egan took the point on lap eight. The next lap ended badly when Hoeft and Prietzel got together and Prietzel pitted with damage. Hoeft had a run-in, literally, with Peschek on the thirteenth lap, which turned out to be Hoeft’s unlucky number when retiring from the race. The rest of the race was caution-free as Egan was heavily challenged by Andy Welter the rest of the way. Fending off Welter at the finish line, the top pair was followed by Wagner, Pescheck and Josh Fehrmann. This time Egan’s win did not come after his father wrecked his car, although other problems kept Mike Egan from the super late model feature. The Father’s Day victory was special to Egan, exclaiming, “It’s definitely something I’ve looked forward to. My father did so much for me I wanted to win this race for him. There’s a lot of love in my family.”
The Slinger Bees had Brandon Tackes top the qualifiers with father Marty Tackes winning his heat. The other heat races were won by E. J. Waldron and Heather Stark, with Brandon Berens leading the final four from the semi. The 25-lap feature began with Stark and Steve Zoromski in front of Dave Lembke, Matt Ross, Nick Schmidt and Jake Schraufnagel. Stark led the opening lap, only to be greeted by the yellow banner on the first lap when Zoromski crashed into a spun car. Schraufnagel took the point on the third circuit, but Stark stayed alongside and regained the lead on lap six. With eight laps left another spun car forced the final caution, and the ensuing restart saw Schraufnagel get ahead again. Stark stayed with him to the final flag, with Tackes, Schmidt and Tom Berens completing the top five. The winner’s father Ken Schraufnagel has chosen to put his own racing on hold to help his son, making this victory a special Father’s Day present.
The American Super Cups returned to Slinger’s high banks and it was all Derek Doerr. Claiming quick time, Doerr roared into the lead in the heat race, getting closer to a clean sweep. The 15-lap feature began with Chris Deren and Andy Forster in front of Ken Jones, Doerr and Mick Ellis. The green flag waved and the tiny machines buzzed around the oval to the finish line without incident. Deren led the opening laps, Forster followed for the next four orbits, and Doerr took charge on lap eight. Three generations of racing is in the Doerr family, and they are all proud of this young man.
Spectator racing followed before the Figure 8 finale. Ron Schmitt provided a scare for all when riding the wall and the emergency crew called for an ambulance. Schmitt received warm applause when he climbed out and walked over to be checked out. The race ended prematurely with three laps remaining for another incident, and Joe Mueller became the final winner of the night. This was a special Father’s Day for Mueller and many others, although it was after 10:30 when all was complete. Next week fireworks in the sky will be added to the action on the track.
-By Fay Hendricks. Photo Credit: Fay Hendricks