A lot happened in the local racing scene in 2018, so without a long introduction, here is a look:
A Year of Firsts
Several drivers picked up their first career feature wins locally.
—That included modified veteran Tim Thomas of Fargo, who won his first career feature in the IMCA mods at the Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo. Thomas is a long-time competitor locally so getting to victory lane was a huge highlight.
—Kaitlyn Skalicky of Fargo won her first INEX Legend feature in thrilling fashion at the Norman County Raceway in June. Skalicky outdueled Tim Estenson for the hard fought win. Skalicky enjoyed a very good summer in her 8JR car with 15 top five finishes. Skalicky also won the Minn-Kota Legends Tour title locally.
—Brad Staples of Herman won two Limited Late Model features during his rookie season, his first career win coming at Viking Speedway in Alexandria.
Some other firsts
—15-year-old Brody Carlsrud won the first track title of his career by winning the INEX season championship at Norman County Raceway in Ada.
—Hickson, N.D., driver Tyler Peterson won his first IMCA Modified track title at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo. Peterson had a terrific season with 13 wins (seven in IMCA, six in Wissota), highlighted by an Advantage RV Tour win at Brown County Speedway and a Dirt Dominator win at River Cities Speedway.
—Eric Riley of Morris had several firsts this season — he won his first career feature in the Wissota Street Stocks at Greenbush Race Park in May, and also won his first career track championship at Madison Speedway. He also qualified for the Wissota 100. Riley’s stats were five wins and 25 top five finishes in what was a breakout season for him.
Wissota National Points
—Scott “Rebel” Bintz of Jamestown — who says he is planning to retire following a racing trip to Arizona this winter — finished fourth in the Wissota Midwest Modified national points. Cody the Cobra Lee was seventh after another strong season while Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls, the track champion at I-94 and Norman County Raceway, was 10th.
—Justin Vogel of Brooten won a season-long battle with Kyle Dykhoff to win the Wissota Street Stock national title by 38 points. Vogel was also the Wissota 100 champion and had 26 wins. Dykhoff was second and had 8 wins, Jonny Carter of Lisbon was third with 17 wins, Jeff Crouse of Alexandria fourth (14 wins) and Justin Tammen of Clara City fifth. Ryan Setter of Dent was seventh and Maria Broksieck of Goodwin, S.D., accomplished her goal of a top 10 finish by finishing eighth.
—Kasey Ussatis of Nome won the Wissota Street Stock Rookie of the year standings. He finished 14th overall in the national points with one win and 19 top five finishes.
—Jeff Crouse also finished eighth in the Wissota Super Stock national points.
—Ward Imrie of Winnipeg picked up his second straight Wissota Modified national title over Dave Cain of Corcoran. Imrie had a tremendous season with 25 wins, including the $2,600 to win Gierke Memorial at Viking Speedway in Alexandria in June. No other Wissota Mod driver had more than 14 wins.
—Canadian Ricky Weiss made a late surge to win the Wissota Late Model national title. Despite running only 32 events, Weiss had 21 wins and 28 top five finishes. He won the Wissota 100, the Seitz Memorial and the Jamestown Stampede. It was announced recently he plans to race the World of Outlaw Late Models full-time in 2019.
—Cole Schill of Horace defended his I-94 Speedway track title in the late models and finished a solid ninth in national points. He had three wins and 14 top five finishes on the season.
IMCA National Points
—Fargo driver Kelly Jacobson finished in a tie for 19th in the IMCA Northern Sport Mod National Points.
—West Fargo driver Torey Fischer finished sixth in the IMCA Northern Sport Mod Rookie of the year standings. She made some great strides throughout the season in what is a very competitive class locally.
—Fargo driver Jesse Skalicky finished fifth in the IMCA Modified Rookie of the Year race.
INEX National Points
—Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes won the INEX Semi-Pro Dirt National title with 1,973 points. Sean Johnson of Kindred was fifth in that division, Alex Braseth of Ulen was seventh in that division while Kaitlyn Skalicky of Fargo was ninth.
—Tim Estenson of Fargo had another great season in his 14T INEX Legend Carilke with 28 wins and a fourth-place finish in the INEX Pro Dirt national standings.
—Dean Julsrud of Barnesville (fourth) and Scott Richardson of Pelican Rapids (fifth) finished in the top five in the INEX Masters Dirt national standings.
Best Races of the Year
–There were many but here are a few highlights.
–The Wollak Construction Wissota Late Model Challenge Series race at I-94 was the best late model race I saw all year. That turned into a battle between two veterans with a ton of victories — Darrell Nelson of Hermantown and John Kaanta. The last six laps were a side by side duel with Kaanta prevailing.
–Another great race was at the Corn Cob Nationals at Buffalo River Race Park between Bryce Borgen of Perley and Tyler Hall of Fertile in the IMCA Modifieds. Borgen worked the high line patiently and was able to sneak by Hall for a thrilling win.
—I saw a few in person and some on videos. The most terrifying ride was the 1R Late Model of Travis Robertson in Grand Forks, N.D., which became a heavily-viewed Facebook video. His machine had something break and he went flying Dukes of Hazzard style off of turn 3, which at River Cities is a huge jump. His car hit the retention fence off of the corner and came to a sudden stop. Fortunately he was ok and he was back to racing shortly after the crash.
–Another video I saw was a big rollover by Mark Dobmeier of Grand Forks in his NOSA Sprint Car at Dacotah Speedway in Mandan in July, he was fortunately uninjured.
There were some pretty rough crashes I saw in person.
–Two I saw at Viking Speedway — one was Gary Reents in the Wissota Street Stocks in June (that was a big tumble off the backstretch), he suffered a back injury in that crash. The other was Brad Seng’s late model rollover during the Labor Day NLRA doubleheader. That 12S car went for a wild ride going off of turn and was badly damaged but he was injured.
Al Cleveland of Breckenridge made very hard contact with the wall at Sheyenne Speedway in his 4A Super Stock. The contact was so hard the rear end of the car had to be towed separately. He was ok and returned to action later in August.
There was a big multi-car pileup at I-94 Speedway in August in the Wissota Midwest Modifieds that led to several cars, including Justin Froemming and McKenzie Gerdes, receiving heavy damage. Both were uninjured and returned to racing later in the year.
I saw some rollovers too but in those cases there weren’t any injuries. And aside from Reents, most of the drivers involved in crashes were OK which is what ultimately what matters.