By Jeffrey Sachse
Saturday, 11, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - The second day of the WAPL / LaSure's Banquet Hall Fall Classic began on a sun-soaked afternoon. With additional cars checking into the pit area for the show, a two-day total of 164 cars participated during the program. All totaled fans were treated to 560 laps of racing action during the event.
In the IMCA Type Modifieds, Chris Engels who had been unable to obtain a victory during the course of the 2011 season at the Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway was able to take advantage of his starting position and fend off hometown pilot Brian Drexler for the victory. For Engels the win was redemption for a heart breaking loss earlier in the year where he had secured the lead late in a feature contest only to drop from the event with mechanical troubles. Engels pocketed $2,000 in prize money for his efforts.
The IMCA Sport Modifieds saw Rod Solem successfully defend his Fall Classic title earning his second straight division with a late race pace of Brad Lautenbach to grab the top prize.
In Grand National action Tim Reichenberger put on a passing exhibition. Having had mechanical troubles during the qualifying heats yesterday, Reichenberger had to earn a starting spot in the feature by means of the Last Chance event. In that contest Reichenberger charged through the field to win the contest. He then started 10th in the main event and worked to the lead in seven laps, cruising to a convincing victory.
The Street Stock division saw Gary Kasperek put his sharp looking Pontiac Ventura in the winner's circle after working by 2011 Oshkosh Speedzone champion Jeff Jungwirth for the lead. In 4 cylinder action Brian Johnson captured the checkered flag.
Highlighting the program were the feature contests held Saturday Night with the IMCA Type Modifieds showing the way. Fans would witness many of the state's finest Modified pilots take to the raceway.
After an emotional 9/11 tribute the field of 24 cars did a 4-wide salute to the fans carrying the American Flag. When the field was turned loose there were some initial cautions due to spins and minor tangles. It would take three tries to get in the first lap of the event.
Once past that however the 30 lap main event would run green to checkered with no interruptions.
Weekly competitors Chris Engels and newly crowned 2011 Oshkosh Speedzone Modified champion Brian Drexler would square off as the field accepted the green flag for the third starting attempt. The pair would wage a side by side battle with Engels hugging the low line and Drexler opting to try and run a higher groove. Behind them R.M. Van Pay and Jason Zdroik contested the third position.
Engels would gain a slight advantage over Drexler as Drexler moved into the low groove by lap five. Van Pay continued to hold down the third slow while Brian and Scott Mullen sought to advance. Brian Mullen had been using the outside line to advance moving alongside Van Pay in effort to wrestle away the third spot.
Further back Tim Lemirande was working traffic moving up from his tenth starting spot. Lemirande was picking off car after car.
The halfway point would show Engels leading Drexler by two car lengths and the lead duo had moved away from third running Van Pay. Just past the halfway point Drexler started closing the gap on Engels and moved to his outside. Lap after lap the pair did battle with Drexler often drawing alongside Engels but unable to find the traction to nose ahead.
Van Pay continued in the third slot a dozen car lengths behind the lead pair as Lemirande advanced to the fourth spot as the race entered it's final 10 laps.
With no cautions the leaders began to reach lapped traffic by lap 22. Engels carefully worked lapped cars keeping Drexler in his tire tracks. Drexler again attempted to use the outside line with five laps to go with the same result, only being able to move alongside Engels but not having the momentum to take the top spot.
At the same time further back Van Pay was finding his third position in jeopardy as Lemirande began to look for a way to steal the spot. Taking the position with two laps to go.
On the final lap Engels found himself with a one car length lead and though Drexler made a last ditch effort to steal the win, Engels drove a flawless line to secure the victory worth $2,000. Drexler would settle for second followed by Lemirande, Van Pay and Benji LaCrosse in the top five.
The IMCA Type Sport Modified race would have a similar look as the event would also run caution free. Wisconsin State IMCA Sport Modified Champion Brad Lautenbach would start on the pole and grab the opening lead in the 25 lap contest.
Josh Long who started outside the front row would fall to the charge of Rod Solem giving up the second spot during the opening lap of the contest.
The lead trio of Lautenbach, Solem and Long began to distance themselves from the fourth place battle which waged between Scott Boyea and Adam Pugh.
By lap 10 Lautenbach found himself with a slim two car length lead over Solem. Long still running third began to fall back from the lead pair.
By midway it was apparent that without a caution the race would become a two car shoot-out between Lautenbach and Solem. Approaching the 20 lap mark Solem began to reel in Lautenbach reaching his rear bumper on the next lap. Heading into turn own on lap 20 Solem worked under Lautenbach and would motor by for the lead. Once out front Solem would extend his margin and take the victory by eight car lengths. Lautenbach would settle for second followed by Long, Boyea and Pugh.
Polesitter Tim Warner would do battle with outside front row starter Tim Doehling during the opening circuits of the 25 lap Grand National feature event. Warner hugging the low line would prove successful in taking the lead.
Tim Thompson would slip by Doehling for the second spot by lap two and settle into the second slot with Don Sorce working into third on the next lap.
Further back Tim Reichenberger was making a charge through the field after starting in the 10th position.
A caution would appear for debris on lap four and the slowdown was the first of only two cautions for the event. Underway again Warner went back to the lead, this time pressured by Sorce who used the outside line to challenge for the top spot. Thompson meanwhile had his hands full with Reichenberger who was already up to the fourth position.
Warner would fend off the challenges of Source to maintain the lead and Sorce soon had his hands full with Reichenberger who would take the second spot on lap six.
With Warner still hugging the low groove Reichenberger opted to stay in the high line which he had been using successfully and soon found himself drawing even with Warner. After a brief battle Reichenberger would secure the top spot to officially lead lap seven. It would be the last time the lead would change hands.
Once out front Reichenberger methodically extended his lead with each passing lap. The race soon became a contest for the second position. Warner moved up slightly off the bottom groove on lap eight allowing Sorce to slip by for second. Tim Thompson was next to work by Warner reaching third by lap ten.
For the second half of the race the real battle would be for second as Thompson tried several times to surpass Sorce for the second spot.
The field would have one last shot at Reichenberger with a caution would bunch the field on lap 18. When the green flag fell Reichenberger chose the high line briefly allowing Sorce to move alongside him. Sorce did nose ahead briefly before Reichenberger again would prove the speed of his machine retaking the top spot. Warner meanwhile used the restart to get back past Thompson for the third position.
Reichenberger drove a clean line the final laps of the event and moved out to a four car length lead at the checkered. Sorce would earn the second slot with Warner taking third. Kenny Richards who transferred into the feature event through the last chance qualifier finished fourth ahead of Nick Strobbe who made a late race charge to reach the fifth spot.
The Street Stock event proved to be an emotional contest with a caution appearing on lap two when Jerry Winkler the defending division Fall Classic champion spun after being tagged by Shawn Haydon. A decision had been made that Haydon had been the cause of the spin and Winker returned to his second spot behind race leader Jeff Jungwirth. Post race however Winker spoke with officials and indicated he felt he should have been placed to the rear of the field due to the contact rule and voluntarily gave up his third place finish in an act of sportsmanship. He was officially credited with 10th.
When the green flag flew again Jungwirth the 2011 division champion came under pressure from Winkler, as Kenny Richards, Mark Baker and Gary Kasperek gave chase.
Kasperek methodically worked past his fellow competitors since the opening green and soon found himself up to the third spot by lap five. Kasperek quickly displaced Winkler in the second spot and set out after Jungwirth. On lap six Kasperek shot to the high line and worked past Jungwirth for the lead.
Once out front Kasperek would increase his lead with each passing lap. Jungwirth and Winker would soon find themselves locked in a battle for the second spot. Winkler would find the inside line to slip past Jungwirth on lap 14.
With ten laps to go the top five would show Kasperek, Jungwirth, Winkler, Brian Drexler and Trevor Schmidt in the top five. Over the remaining laps Kasperek would continue to extend his lead while Jungwirth worked back inside Winker to retake the second spot with four laps to go. At the stripe it was Kasperek, Jungwirth, Winkler, Drexler and Schmidt crossing the line in the top five. However after Winkler asked to be moved down the standings for his involvement in the lap two spin, Drexler was elevated to third, with Schmidt credited fourth and Chad Knaus elevated to fifth.
The 4 cylinder division would see 16 cars take the green flag and Brian Johnson the 2011 champion at Seymour Speedway come from the tail of the field to take the win in the 25 lap contest. Johnson was also given the Hard Charger award for passing the most cars in a feature contest of all the divisions during the Fall Classic weekend. Ralph Legious Jr the 4 cylinder champion from 141 Speedway finished second. Steve Lemay, Phil Lehl and Matt Jahnke comprised the top five positions.
With the conclusion of the Fall Classic the oval track has completed racing action for the year. One final event will take place at the Oshkosh Speedzone however as fans can enjoy Short Course Off-Road racing at the facility.
The Oshkosh Speedzone is going to become the home for the Traxxas Torc Off-Road Racing Series Sportsman Championship Race September 17 and 18, 2011.
Last year served to be an outstanding race with a challenging race course; this year will be no different.
Drivers from Wisconsin and surrounding states will take to the course Saturday and Sunday, a weekend you will not want to miss. For all the information and up to date racing details for the event please go to www.oshkoshoffroad.com.
Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway is a 1/3 mile semi-banked clay oval located at the Sunnyview Expo Center which resides near the intersection of Highways 76 and County Trunk Y in Oshkosh.
Weekly racing Friday Night racing will resume in May of 2012. Fans and drivers are encouraged to visit the track website at www.oshkoshspeedzone.net for additional information and are encouraged to signup for the FREE E-Newsletter for information on upcoming racing events during the off-season including meetings and the upcoming awards banquet.
This article was posted to the website on September 11th, 2011