By Jeanne & Larry Starr
June 13, 1998; JEFFERSON WI. – It was “Ladies Night” at Jefferson Speedway and a huge crowd was on hand for fast paced racing action. They were rewarded with an evening of “edge of the seat,” racing in all four divisions.
Former Track Champion Andy Wendt of Watertown notched his second Late Model Feature win, in as many weeks, in the 35 lap main event on Wisconsin’s Action Track. Starting from the outside of row 7 Wendt began the long drive to the front, as Eric Gerlach drove ahead for the early lead. As Gerlach held off Jason Erickson of Cambridge for the lead Wendt moved through the field, finding the openings that he needed, when he needed them. By lap 10 Wendt had moved up to the sixth spot behind Kenny Olson of Ft. Atkinson.
Olson held off Wendt for six laps, before Wendt moved under to claim fifth on lap 16. As Wendt moved toward the front, rookie Late Model driver Roy Aitchison of Deerfield found the line and the opening that he needed to follow Wendt to the front. Wendt moved under Erickson for the second spot, on lap 20, pulling up on the inside of Gerlach. As Wendt pulled ahead of Gerlach, Erickson moved to the low side motoring past Gerlach to hold onto second. Behind the leaders Aitchison moved to the bottom of the track, flying to the front of the field, moving up to challenge Erickson by lap 25.
Aitchison moved under Erickson on lap 26 and set his sights on Wendt. Aitchison pulled up to Wendt by lap 33, running strong and looking for an opening. In the final laps of the race Wendt appeared to be slowing a bit and Aitchison was right there, but lap traffic became a factor and Aitchison was never able to find the opening he needed, as Wendt guided the way to the checkered flag. As they charged around the fourth turn, on the last of 35 caution free laps, Wendt saw Aitchison moving to the inside, in a final move for the lead. At the stripe it was Wendt by a half car advantage over Aitchison followed by Dan Chesmore of Janesville, Roger Behlke of Jefferson and Tom Dorn of Ft. Atkinson.
Behlke set the fast qualifying pace with a 14.933 second circuit of the quarter mile speed plant.
Claiming victory in 10 lap heat races were Russ Goodwin of Beloit, Aitchison and Gary Krueger of Edgerton.
Transferring to the feature via the 20 lap Last Chance race were rookie driver Steve Seals of Janesville, Mike Taylor of Stoughton, Bruce Clark of Watertown and rookie driver Mark English of Edgerton.
In International class action Darnell Mepham of Ft. Atkinson claimed his third main event of the season in the 20 lap feature. Starting from the inside of row 6 Mepham began his trek to the front, slicing through the field to claim the 4th spot by lap 6, as Mike Drays of Milton pulled ahead in the early lead. As Mepham battled with Matt Nickel of Madison for third, defending track champion Justin Nottestad of Cambridge moved up to challenge Mepham. Mepham moved under Nickel on lap 8, closing on Matt Frey of Cambridge for the second spot, with Nottestad close behind.
Mepham moved under Frey for the second spot on lap 11 and moved in on Drays to make his bid for the lead. Drays held off Mepham for one lap, with Mepham moving to the bottom making the winning pass on lap 12. As Mepham claimed the point, guiding the field to the checkered flag Nottestad moved past Drays into the second spot, and worked to catch Mepham. Two cars spinning on the back stretch brought out the only caution of the race, on lap 17. On the restart it was Mepham at the point pulling ahead of Nottestad, in his sprint to the checkered. At the stripe it was Mepham by over a car length ahead of Nottestad followed by Frey, Mike Cusick of Edgerton and Chris Quam of Stoughton.
Mepham set the fast qualifying pace with a 16.045 second tour of the quarter mile.
Ten lap heat race victories went to Mike Bingham of Jefferson and D. R. Moore of Madison.
Transferring to the feature via the 10 lap Last Chance race were Tory Adams of Madison, Ken Edmundson of Lima Center, Pete Weston of Ft. Atkinson and Scott Uttech of Beaver Dam.
In Sportsman division action Dave Oswald of Cottage Grove drove the “Cow Car” to a “Clean Sweep” and his sixth feature of the season in the 25 lap main event. Starting from the outside of row 7 Oswald began his journey to the front, powering under cars at the rear of the field while Josh Courtney of Janesville grabbed the early lead. Courtney held the point for 6 laps before Chris Purdy of Milton, in his first outing this season, made his bid for the lead, on lap 6.
Courtney held off Purdy for one lap, surrendering the lead on lap 7. As Purdy claimed the point, Oswald moved up to 8th, patiently picking his openings as he wound his way through the field. Up front Purdy stretched out a comfortable lead, as Kale Peterman of Juneau moved into the second spot and tried to run down the lead. As Peterman moved into second, Oswald was on the move motoring under Kyle Munro of Ft. Atkinson, for third and Peterman for second on lap 16 setting his sights on Purdy.
Purdy saw his lead evaporate, on lap 17, as a car lost a wheel on the front stretch bringing out the second caution of the race. On the restart it was Purdy at the front with Oswald line up on his back bumper. As the green flag flew, Purdy fought hard to stay in front, holding off Oswald for three laps before surrendering the lead on lap 20. Oswald guided the field to the checkered flag with Purdy close behind. At the stripe it was Oswald for the win, followed by Purdy, Peterman, Bob Selsing of Ft. Atkinson and Munro.
Oswald set the fast qualifying pace with a 15.790 second orbit of the quarter mile.
Victors, in 10 lap heat races, were Bill Kettle of Janesville, Peterman and Oswald.
Transferring to the feature from the 12 lap Last Chance race were rookie driver John Ovadal Jr. of Johnson Creek with his first career win, Ron Reynolds of Janesville, Noel Ramge of Hellenville and rookie driver Chris Matz of Sullivan.
In Hobby Stock action, former Track Champion Dennis Gaserude of Oregon notched his first feature of the 1998 season, in the 20 lap main. Starting from the inside of row 5 Gaserude began his drive to the front, with Dan Schmidt of Jefferson grabbing the early lead. Schmidt was still at the point, with Gaserude up to sixth when the second place car of Edgerton’s Chris Jackson lost the drive shaft, bringing out the only caution of the race on lap 5. On the restart Schmidt fought to stay ahead of the field, with Gaserude jumping up to the third spot to challenge Gerald Chapman of Juneau for second.
The battle for second carried the pair under Schmidt on lap 9 with Gaserude pulling ahead and Chapman claiming the second spot. Coming from behind was defending track champion Jim Pfeifer of Ft. Atkinson, moving around Jeff Kohlhoff of Watertown. Pfeifer moved around Chapman for second on lap 11, in a tree way battle for the lead, with Kohlhoff close behind looking for an opening. Gaserude managed to hold onto the point as Kohlhoff moved in on Pfeifer for the second spot.
Kohlhoff found his way under Pfeifer on lap 17 and moved up to battle Gaserude for the lead. Gaserude proved up to the battle holding off Kohlhoff over the final 3 laps, as they streaked toward the checkered flag. At the stripe it was Gaserude for the win, followed by Kohlhoff, Pfeifer, Chapman and Pete Elgas of Janesville.
Kohlhoff set the fast pace in qualifying with a 17.002 second loop of the quarter mile.
Claiming victory in 8 lap heat races were Ron Coppernoll of Madison, Ernie Witte of Johnson Creek and Elgas.
Rounding out the evening’s racing action were two, 8 lap, Powder Puff races, in the Sportsman and Hobby Stock divisions.
In the Sportsman division Melanie Bishofberger claimed top honors in the 8 lap Powder Puff. Starting from the outside of row 3 Bishofberger charged to the front, taking the checkered flag ahead of tough competition from Vickie Cottam of Janesville.
In Hobby Stock action Heather Kampmeier of Madison started from the pole position, holding off all challengers as she guided the way to the checkered flag.
The final event of the evening was the Ladies One-on-One Street Drags where Traci Kohlmets took top honors in the 6 cylinder division and Sheri Buerger topped the 8 cylinders. In a runoff for the overall championship Kohlmets outdistanced Buerger to win the overall title.
Next week Jefferson Speedway hosts WJVL Night at the Races, with the Bubble Race. A fleet of cement trucks will douse the track with a mixture of soap and water before bringing a field of cars to run on the soapy surface. This event provides thrills and laughs for kids of all ages. This will round out a full night of racing action in the Late Model, Sportsman, International and Hobby Stock divisions.
Gates open at 4:00, qualifying at 5:30 and racing to begin at 7:30 sharp. Jefferson Speedway is located on highway 18 half way between Jefferson and Cambridge.