By Jeanne & Larry Starr
April 25, 1998; JEFFERSON WI. – A good crowd was on hand for the 1998 Season Opener at Wisconsin’s Action Track. The night started with a threat of bad weather, but as qualifying, heat races and Last Chance races got underway it began to look like it was only a threat.
As the Late Models took to the track, for the 50 lap feature, the threat became a reality as the skies opened up and washed away the remainder of the show.
Two, of the track’s 4 divisions were able to complete their 1998 debut before the rains came, and all divisions completed qualifying, heat and Last Chance races.
In Late Model action Charlie Mierendorf set the qualifying pace with a 14.817 second circuit of the quarter mile.
Victors, in 10 lap heat races were Butch Mierendorf of Waterloo, Gary Krueger of Edgerton and Denny Stair of Sullivan.
Transferring to the main event via the 20 lap Last Chance race were Duane Deppe of Waterloo, rookie driver Mark English of Edgerton, John Ovadal of Johnson Creek and Krueger.
In the International division Darnell Mepham of Ft. Atkinson flew to victory, in the 20 lap main event. Starting from the outside of row 6 Mepham was up to the 7th spot when the first caution came out on lap 2, when a stuck throttle sent Bill Kelz of Sun Prairie into the turn 1 wall. On the restart Mepham continued his charge to the front as D.R. Moore of Madison held the point. The final caution came on lap 8, for a spin in the fourth turn. The restart saw Mepham up to the third spot behind Moore and Mike Drays of Milton. On the restart Mepham moved around Drays and set his sights on Moore. Mepham made the winning pass on lap 15 and streaked to the checkered flag. Defending track champion Justin Nottestad of Edgerton moved around Moore, into the second in the final laps of the race. At the stripe it was Mepham for the win followed by Nottestad, Moore, Drays and Mike Cusick of Edgerton.
Mepham set the fast mark in qualifying with a 16.078 orbit of the quarter mile.
Moore and Nottestad were victorious in 8 lap heat races.
In Sportsman division action, former track champion, Dave Oswald of Cottage Grove claimed victory in the 25 lap feature. Starting from the back of the field Oswald patiently picked his path to the front, moving up to sixth by lap 8, as Dave Pankow of Oregon and Curt Thompson of Palmyra battled side-by-side for the lead. Oswald claimed the third spot on lap 12 and began to close on the leaders. As the leaders rounded turns 3 and 4 on lap 14, still side-by-side, Oswald moved to the bottom, passing both cars to claim the lead as they pulled out of the fourth turn. Oswald guided the way from there to the checkered, opening up nearly a half lap lead on the way. At the stripe it was Oswald for the win, followed by Thompson, Bob Selsing of Ft. Atkinson, Matt Jessie of Milton Ryan Ley of Rome and Pankow.
Thompson subsequently failed the post race technical inspection, moving those behind him up one position in the official finish.
Oswald set the fast pace in qualifying with a 15.848 second tour of the quarter mile.
Claiming 10 lap heat race victories were Josh Courtney of Janesville and Curt Thompson of Palmyra.
Transferring to the feature via the 10 lap Last Chance race were Noel Ramge of Hellenville, Ron Reynolds of Janesville, Joe Wendorf of Jefferson and Rick Stenli of Stoughton.
In Hobby Stock action Jeff Kohloff of Watertown set the pace in qualifying with a 17.105 second circuit of the quarter mile.
Nick Golich of Ft. Atkinson and Randy Strasburg of Jefferson notched victories in 8 lap heat races.
Transferring to the feature lineup via the 12 lap Last Chance race were Lincoln Keeser of Johnson Creek, Ernie Wittle of Johnson Creek, Dan Schmidt of Farmington and Jim Blucher of Madison.
Next week at Jefferson Speedway the action begins with the Spring Sizzler 50 Late Model feature and the Hobby Stock feature, followed by the full regular racing program.
Gates open at 4:00, qualifying and racing will commence ½ hour early with qualifying at 5:00 and racing to begin at 7:00 sharp. Jefferson Speedway is located on highway 18 half way between Jefferson and Cambridge.