It was the early 1990s, the track was a half-mile in length, and Jerry Redetzke’s #27 late model was winning races all over the Midwest. Fast-forward 20 years, St. Croix Valley Raceway is a wide quarter-mile bullring, and Jerry’s son Jake is rivaling the success of his father in a very familiar looking red #27.
WISSOTA late models made a triumphant return to the St. Croix valley with The Bullring Blast! as an intrepid field of seventeen curious and eager late model pilots willing to sample the track that is fast becoming a haven for area sprint cars. Mike Nutzmann and Jake Redetzke manned the front row for the night’s finale, and the fever-pitch action commenced immediately. Nutzmann grabbed the point, Redetzke threw a slide job at Nutzmann 300 yards later in turn three, and Nutzmann stole the top spot right back in turn four. Fresh off his win in the Modified feature, Brent Larson blasted to runner-up by lap three. Also in the mix up front were Steve Laursen, Mike Goodremote and Mike Prochnow. Larson, Redetzke and Laursen chased Nutzmann until halfway, when the leader’s car became more difficult to handle. After losing the lead to Redetzke, Nutzmann lost several more spots and pulled off – his night finished by what turned out to be a cut tire. Redetzke would spent the rest of the distance trying to fend off Larson who threw multiple slide job attempts at the leader, but none with lasting success. With just five laps remaining a mid-field crash on the front stretch took out a number of cars, with the 22G of Kyle Gavel receiving the worst of it. Mike Hesselink and Robbie Cooper were also eliminated in the wreck. Another caution with two laps remaining did not provide Larson with an opportunity to claim the lead as Redetzke motored on for the action filled main event in front of Larson, Goodremote, Prochnow and Jerry Bloom.
Making their second appearance of the season, the Modifieds also were seventeen strong in the evening’s penultimate race. Brent Larson started on the pole alongside of Kent Baxter, with Larson grabbing the point. Former track champion Kevin Adams took just a handful of laps to charge up from his sixth starting position to challenge Larson for the lead while simultaneously jostling with Rick Kobs and Jason Gross in the battle for second. Adams’ best opportunities for the lead came with the leaders negotiating lapped traffic, but Larson was equal to the task and parked his IOU1 Modified on “The Hill”, St. Croix Valley’s victory lane, after besting Adams, Kobs, Gross and Tony Bahr.
The UMSS Traditional Sprints provided another one of their thrilling features, matching a season high of thirteen cars for the class that is in just its second year of existence. Rob Caho Jr. and Ryan Olson paced the field to green with Caho showing the way early. Caho, who tends to run a high groove, was leading a line of Johnny Parsons III, Lucas Milz and Olson around the bottom of the track. Meanwhile, Kevin Bradwell was throttling his #95 sprinter in Caho’s customary line, high off the cushion. Bradwell, making steady progress, got by Olson on lap four, and Milz two laps later. It took
another two laps to get around Parsons, who followed Bradwell up the track after being passed. There’s the old adage, live by the sword…die by the sword – and on this night the berm in turn one proved to be Parsons’ sword. On lap ten, Parsons was just a whisker too high entering the turn and the loose clay above the racing groove gobbled up his #12 sprinter, spinning him into the protective tires at the track exit. Parsons was unhurt, but the hit was hard enough and the damage heavy enough to end the night for the driver with a series best six wins this season. On the restart, Bradwell continued his high-side charge and shot past Caho into the lead. Caho immediately climbed the ladder to his comfort zone and would mount a series of challenges to Bradwell, each one coming oh-so-close, but ending just short. With five laps to go, Caho’s hunt for a line around Bradwell opened the door for third running sprint car rookie Ryan Olson to shoot by and into second. At the double checkers it was “The Rocketman” Bradwell adding to his sticker collection in front of Olson, Caho, Milz and Denny Stordahl.
Sporting the most cars at twenty six, the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds rumbled to green led by Mike Mueller and Mitch Weiss. Mueller grabbed control early followed by a two and three wide swarm that included Weiss, Jason Schill, John Remington, Ryan Viltz, Ryan Olson and Tito Viltz. Ryan Viltz emerged from the fray by lap three, and on the fourth circuit, he overtook Mueller for the lead. Once in front Viltz left the racing to the rest of the field as they continued their multi-grooved frenzy while he cruised at the point. Through multiple cautions and restarts, Jason VandeKamp, Tito Viltz, Mueller and twelfth starting Josh Bazey emerged in what settled into a series of two-wide battles. As the checkers waved, it was Ryan Viltz picking up his second consecutive win in front of VandeKamp, Tito Viltz, Bazey and Mueller.
After nine year old Sarah Lehnertz’s a cappella rendition of “God Bless America”, the first feature of the night belonged to the Pure Stocks. Since week two of the season, Jason Havel has won every feature, leading to the creation of a bounty. On August 17, $100 was put up to anyone who could best Havel, Havel started at the rear of the field and claimed the C-note for himself. The following week, the bounty doubled, and again Havel elected to start last – finished first and claimed the $200 bounty. For the Bullring Blast!, thanks to area sponsors and fans, the bounty doubled again – to an eye-popping $400. So once again Friday night, Jason Havel started at the back of the field and watched Jay Folz lead the first five laps from the pole. On lap six, Dustin Doughty took over, but the lead was short-lived. By the time the crossed flags were displayed, “The Bounty Hunter” shot his Ford past Doughty, then methodically stretched his lead the rest of the way. For the virtually impossible twelfth consecutive race, Havel’s #5 parked in front of the flag stand to celebrate. After the first few weeks of his streak, Havel has shunned The Hill in favor of celebrating his wins by passing out treats to young fans in the grandstands, and Friday was only slightly different. Fourth finishing Brandon Davis and runner-up Folz stopped by the work area in turn three along with Havel and all three cars returned to the grandstands with goodies to give away. Loaded down with candy and beverages (for both kids and adults), the three drivers spent a few minutes distributing their wares to the enthusiastic throng. As has been the case for several weeks, a young fans was plucked from the crowd, awarded the winning trophy, and posed on top of the car with Jason for the commemorative “victory lane” photos.
The next event on the St. Croix Valley Raceway calendar is a unique “arrive and drive” session for prospective Traditional Sprint car drivers. Jack Clark, Rob Caho, Jeff Pellersels and Kevin Bradwell are hosting the event that will give experienced drivers an opportunity to drive the new and unique sprint cars. Drivers must provide their own safety equipment and pay a per-lap fee, then get a first-hand sense to gauge their own interest in taking the sprint car plunge. The event runs from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 8. Prospective drivers and owners can drive the cars and the current drivers will be available to address any queries regarding the UMSS Traditional Sprint Cars Series. More information can be provided by Dr. Jeff Pellersels via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The final event of the St. Croix Valley Raceway calendar is the first annual Badger State Championships – a two night event, featuring completer shows both nights, on Friday night, September 21 and Saturday night, September 22. All five of the track’s regular divisions will be in action – North Branch Bullseye Future Fours, Pure Stocks, UMSS Micro Sprints, UMSS Traditional Sprints and the headlining WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds. Updates and information can be found on the track’s website: www.scvraceway.com, or by following the Raceway on Facebook.
Pure Stocks – feature: Jason Havel, Jay Folz, Krysta Swearingen, Brandon Davis, Jon Wigchers, Dale Spychalla, Dustin Doughty
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds – feature: Ryan Viltz, Jason VandeKamp, Tyler Viltz, Josh Bazey, Mike Mueller, Jason Schill, Nick Koehler, Tony Schill, Kevin Marlett, Jason Haugerud, Mitch Weiss, Kyle Matuska, Corey Fogelson, Shawn Carlson, Greg Arnt, Miranda Carlson, Doug Toepper, John Remington, John Hettinga, Chuck Lambert, Mike Halvorsen, Ryan Olson, Mike Truscott, Vince Corbin, Scott Meeds, Eric Gadach.
UMSS Traditional Sprints – feature: Kevin Bradwell, Ryan Olson, Rob Caho Jr., Lucas Milz, Denny Stordahl, Jeff Pellersels, Jack Clark, Adam Taubert, Jori Hughes, Katrina Sautbine, Mike Huesmann, Tom Porter, Johnny Parsons III.
Modifieds – feature: Brent Larson, Kevin Adams, Rick Kobs, Jason Gross, Tony Bahr, Scott Duval, David Baxter, Kevin Viebrock, Jake Miller, Denny Trimble, Ron Korpi, Doug Gustafson, Mike Gibson, Dagan Heim, Kent Baxter, Shaun Kreyer, Ted Marrs.
WISSOTA Late Models – feature: Jake Redetzke, Brent Larson, Mike Goodremote, Mike Prochnow, Jerry Bloom, Bryan Wennen, Scott Meeds, Ben Hanke, Mike Raboin, Ryan Johnson, Todd Frank, Chad Mahder, Mike Hesselink, Robbie Cooper, Kyle Gavel, Steve Laursen, Mike Nutzmann.