One of the great things about racing is that there are people of all ages who enjoy it. That is especially true if you take a look at the wide variety of ages of drivers. You can teenage talents like Tim Estenson, Brody Carlsrud and Tye Wilke and drivers in their 60s and 70s who’ve raced for 40-50 years or more.
Several 60-somethings won features across the region area this season. That includes Ron Saurer of Dalton, who won a Wissota Midwest Modified feature at Viking Speedway in Alexandria during the season.
That also includes Wisconsin veteran John Kaanta, who won the Wissota Late Model Challenge Series race at I-94 Speedway after an epic late-lap duel with Darrell Nelson.
That also includes 62-year Lance Matthees, who won the NASCAR Late Model portion of the USA Nationals and took home $2,500 for the win, which was highly-popular with the fans.
That also includes 68-year-old Jerry Lamb of Lisbon, who won some Wissota Street Stock features this season. The “Old Man” can still wheel it with anyone.
There are even drivers in their 70s — late model drivers Rich Thomas of Aberdeen and Clarence Washburn of Hector, Minn. — who are still behind the wheel and having fun.
Transitioning to an unrelated matter…
A funny story: I was working the MSU Moorhead wrestling events this weekend for my day job, and saw a guy with a picture of Jarrett Carter’s 91 IMCA Modified on his laptop at the scoring table. I went up to talk to him and said “you’re a Jarrett Carter fan?” He looks at me and says, “I’m Jarrett.” Jarrett, as it turns out, was running the Track Wrestling brackets and results for Saturday’s Dragon Open.
Yeah I was a bit embarrassed but it was no big deal. Fortunately we found some time to talk racing; of course his dad, Todd, is a long-time racer out of the Lisbon area in his familiar 19 car (super stock, modified and now street stock). Jarrett, who had a pretty good year in his modified, informed me he has purchased a Razor Chassis to race in 2019 after racing a Sidebiter in recent years. He will likely race at Jamestown and at his home track of Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon.
Speaking of Sheyenne Speedway, the track has been busy this offseason. Dirt has been added to the 1/4-mile oval (something that was needed). It was also announced that the IMCA Modifieds will run at least six times at Sheyenne in 2019, and the Wissota Super Stocks will race at least six times as well. There was plenty of talk about the future of the super stocks as their car counts have dwindled; however, Sheyenne announced on its Facebook page that it will coordinate with Casino Speedway in Watertown to make sure they aren’t running the class on the same night, when possible.
The IMCA Sport Mods also will make at least four appearances at Lisbon next year. Possible specials include a late model special (which was rained out in 2018 but highly popular in 2017) and a lightning sprint special.
Stay tuned about Sheyenne. Benji Froemke and Hunter Carter are always looking for ways to improve that track and racing program.
….I am a big advocate for seeing more female drivers in racing. I have done several feature stories on women drivers — to me, they are simply racers — and many in this area are talented and fun to watch race. Many have won features and this year, Brittany Smith won the Wissota Hornet national title. While progress has been made, there is still sexism out there. I hear passing comments about the looks of a female driver from time to time, like that would have anything to do with ability. That is nonsense. I long for the day when we just refer to all racers as “racers” and not specify by gender.
….I haven’t/don’t have the time to figure this out, but a common top memory for racers is his/her first career win.
This summer, three drivers that I know of — Kaitlyn Skalicky (INEX Legends), Tim Thomas (IMCA Modified) and Eric Riley (Wissota Street Stock) picked up their career feature wins. I remember Skalicky’s win in particular — I was checking out the live results at Norman County Raceway — and I remember telling my wife what a cool thing that was. Kaitlyn had a very good year in her 8JR car, by the way.
Riley had his best season in a street stock, winning four features and the track championship at Madison Speedway in addition to placing in the top 15 in the Wissota Street Stock national points. A great example of a driver putting in the time and learning to get better each year.
Thomas has raced a long time and picked up the win on June 9.
There are several drivers who I know are searching for that first win. Some have been very close and they will get there. It takes persistence and patience and sometimes a little luck.