SEPTEMBER 8, 2012; OSHKOSH, WI – What started out to be a near fall like sun baked afternoon turned into a dreary early evening as Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway’s 3rd Annual Fall Classic fell to unexpected thunderstorms which rolled into the area just after the Modifieds had hit the racing surface for their feature contest.
In spite of the fact that most of the consolation races which set the final starting spots for the main event went green to checkered it soon became obvious that the track was in a race with Mother Nature as storms began rolling in from the west.
Prior to rain arriving at the track fans were treated to an impressive show by the IMCA Type Stock Cars which made their first appearance at the raceway as part of the Fall Classic weekend. Mike Cole and Jesse Colwell spent the final 15 laps of their feature contest running literally wheel to wheel around the third mile clay oval. The pair swapped the lead back and forth nearly a dozen times before Colwell surged ahead during the final laps to become the inaugural winner of the IMCA Type Stock Car main event at the Fall Classic.
The Street Stocks also turned in an impressive performance as local competitor Jerry Kope kept the pressure on race leader Gary Kasperek until the checkered flag. For Kasperek is was his second straight victory in Fall Classic action.
The Modifieds had made their way onto the racing surface for their main event a race which was hindered by three early cautions. As the field was getting ready to return to action rain began to fall. It was determined the track was too wet to restart the event. The cars headed to pit lane in hopes that the rain would halt but showers and storms intensified. Track officials had no choice but to call the show.
The program was considered complete as the feature events had already been presented and drivers would be paid equal money within each division which did not complete a feature race.
The Street Stock main event was the first to take to the track, a starting field of 20 drivers took the green flag as clouds gathered on the horizon. Jerry Kope would sit on the pole for the contest with Trevor Schmid the most recent feature winner at the track to his outside. Kelly Brown and Gary Kasperek made up row two as the field took the green flag.
Kope darted into the lead initially fending off Brown who had secured the second spot. Kasperek however was on the move working under Brown for the runner-up spot before lap two began.
Kope would cling to the bottom groove while Kasperek opted for a higher line finding bite and momentum in the outer groove. Kasperek would surge ahead of Kope on lap three before dropping back to the inside lane in effort to defend his slim lead.
Kope would manage to work back under Kasperek on the next lap and the pair ran side by side for the next several circuits. Kasperek again would wrestle the top spot from Kope motoring back ahead on lap six.
This time Kasperek was able to clear Kope and maintain his momentum forcing Kope to fall into line behind him. Meanwhile Brown began to work his way into the picture having closed in on Kope.
At the hallway point the lead duo of Kasperek and Kope had separated themselves from the field with Brown, Schmid and Kenny Richards driving a car normally driven by Mark Schultz in weekly competition running in the top five.
Richards a former track champion in the Grand National division adapted well to the Street Stock machine having come from deep in the field.
The only caution of the event occurred on lap twelve when Derek Leckner spun in turn two. This bunched the field and a mad scramble for the lead ensued at the drop of the green flag. Kasperek managed to retain the lead with Kope still sticking to his rear bumper. Richards advanced into the third spot with four laps to go in the contest while Kasperek continued set the pace.
On the final lap Richards work move alongside Kope to challenge for the runner-up spot all but assuring Kasperek the victory. Kasperek would flash under the checkered flag with the win while Kope and Richards came off turn four toward the checkered dead even. By a matter of inches Kope would be awarded second with Richards narrowly missing the spot in third. Schmid and Brown would complete the top five.
With storm clouds inching ever closer, officials now knew they were in a race with impending rain as the IMCA Type Stock Cars took to the track.
Long time Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway Grand National pilot Tim Doehling would sit on the pole of the Stock Car contest with Dave Degrave to his outside. Mike Coel would complete a pass of Dave Degrave for the top spot to officially lead lap one while Larry Karcz Jr. and Jesse Colwell were executing three wide passes to move forward.
A multi-car tangle on the front stretch on lap three would result in the only slowdown of the event. At the drop of the green flag Coel went back to showing the way with Degrave working back into the second spot. Colwell powered his way into third and soon began to pressure Degrave. Colwell would take the second position on lap five bringing Larry Karcz Jr. with him.
Coel meanwhile tried to cling to the inside lane and force Colwell to the outside to make a passing attempt for the lead. Coel would slip off the bottom line on lap six allowing Colwell to work to his inside, it would be the start of a side by side war for the top spot which would run the remainder of the contest.
The pair of Colwell and Cole would swap the lead no less than a dozen times during the duration of the contest. It seemed that every time one driver or the other gained the slightest advantage the other driver would change their line and find additional speed to maintain the battle.
While the lead duo of Colwell and Coel thrilled the crowd Larry Karcz Jr. quietly slipped into the third spot only a couple care lengths behind the leaders ready to take advantage of any miscue.
With five laps to go Cole appeared to have gained the upper hand but moments later Colwell again rallied to nose ahead. As the pair raced down the back stretch with three laps to go Colwell surged ahead and with two laps to go he finally cleared Coel.
Colwell managed to increase his lead to a car length as the while flag flew and Karcz Jr. now attempted to grab the second spot from Coel. The resulting battle for second allowed Colwell a brief bit of relief and he crossed the finish line with a one car length advantage on Coel who successfully fended of the passing attempt by Karcz Jr. who settled for third.
Bob Czarapata had started deep in the field methodically picked off cars during the duration of the event earning fourth place. Jeremy Janquart completed the top five finishers.
The Modified main event field quickly took to the track accepting the green flag with rain already falling in the area. Chad Bartel would set the opening pace being challenged by Brian Mullen. A spin in turn two would bunch the field for a quick restart with everyone now scrambling just to complete the feature contest.
On the restart Mullen would surge ahead of Bartel for the top spot with the race reaching lap four before the second caution appeared again for a multi-car spin.
Light drizzle began to hit the track as the green flag flew again but before a lap could be completed the machines of Mike Mullen and Mitch McGrath tangled on the front stretch with McGrath spinning into the infield. As the field was sorting out for the restart rains intensified and the field headed down pit lane. Unfortunately a soaking rain moments later would force officials to stop the program.
It became apparent that the rain would continue until very late in the evening and with no hope of getting the track back in racing condition the show as considered complete signaling the end of the 2012 racing season.
Drivers in the Modified, Sport Modified, Grand National and Dirt Devil divisions split their feature money equally.
All totaled 151 cars checked into the pit area for the 3rd Annual Fall Classic.
The plans are already underway for the 2013 racing season with the goal of topping what has been a very successful 2012 season. Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway had the highest weekly car count in the Modified division in the United States, and ranked among the highest in the Midwest in the Sport Modifieds.
On every night where all five weekly divisions participated the car count never dropped below 100, establishing a new record for the track. In addition even with record car counts only two programs ran past 10:30pm in spite of a later starting time of 7:00pm which made its debut in 2012.
The 2012 Awards banquet will be held at LaSure’s Banquet Hall in Oshkosh on Saturday Night January 12th.
Additional information about banquet, the 2013 racing season and upcoming drivers meetings will be posted on the track website at www,oshkoshspeedzone.net and on various social media.
Additionally a FREE multi-media newsletter is distributed several times during the off-season to those who subscribe on the track website.
IMCA TYPE MODIFIEDS:
Feature: Rained Out:
First Consolation Race: 1.) Mike Wedelstadt; 2.) Joe McGrath; 3.) Mike Klenz; 4.) Tom Schaal; 5.) Pat Zdroik; 6.) Johnny Whitman
Second Consolation Race: 1.) Kyle Lentz; 2.) Craig Priewe; 3.) Tyler Hackett; 4.) Benjamin Brinkman; 5.) Jason Zdroik; 6.) David Hoerning
IMCA TYPE STOCK CARS:
Feature: (Top 15) 1.) Jesse Colwell; 2.) Mike Coel; 3.) Larry Karcz Jr; 4.) Bob Czarapata; 5.) Jeremy Janquet; 6.) Parry Pouts; 7.) Jamie Colwell; 8.) Barry Van Straten; 9.) Greg Wichman; 10.) Mitch Stankowski; 11.) Jon Courchaine; 12.) Dave Degrave; 1.3) Harley Simon; 14.) Mike Gilson; 15.) Steve Thorton
Consolation: 1.) Wichman; 2.) Gilson; 3.) Van Straten; 4.) Czarapata; 5.) Kevin Heebe; 6.) Mark Schuenemann
SALES STREET STOCKS:
Feature: (Top 15) : 1.) Gary Kasperek; 2.) Jerry Kope; 3.) Kenny Richards; 4.) Trevor Schmid; 5.) Kelly Brown; 6.) Jerry Winkler; 7.) Justin Lindner; 8.) Jeff Jungwirth; 9.) Jon Ashcraft; 10.) Ronnie Mink; 11.) Jeff Wicinsky; 12.) Eric Derks; 13.) Nick Everard; 14.) Patty Winkler; 15.) Alicia Wichman
Consolation: 1.) Wicinsky; 2.) Jungwirth; 3.) Jason Jansen; 4.) Ashcraft; 5.) Everard; 6.) P. Winkler
Feature: Rained Out.
Consolation: 1.) Jeremy Cota; 2.) N/A 3.) Dion Wahl; 4.) Jordan Barkholtz; 5.) Jeremy Bjenaes; 6.) Rod Solem
Feature: Rained Out
Consolation: 1.) Jason Fairbank; 2.) Trent Nolan; 3.) Chris Maas; 4.) Brandon Geiser; 5.) Eddie Lemay; 6.) Matt Dewilde
MILLER LITE GRAND NATIONALS:
Feature: Rained Out
This article was posted to the website on September 9th, 2012