By Larry & Jeanne Starr
September 12, 2002; Jefferson, Wis. — The 22nd annual Pepsi Wisconsin State Championships has brought out the cream of the Wisconsin and Illinois racers to do battle on Wisconsin’s Action Track. Over 200 top teams and drives will be competing with Jefferson’s finest in hopes of taking home the coveted Wisconsin State Champion label. Defending champion Jimmy Jarlsberg, Cambridge, stated “given the field expected, I am a long shot to repeat as State Champion.” “The Wisconsin State Championship is our Daytona 500.” “There isn’t a race held in Wisconsin that means as much to the driver as winning this one.” “The competition this year is even stronger than last year, and my team will have to be on it’s marks to win again.” Jarlesberg’s quest to repeat as Wisconsin State Champion will be determined by his finishing positions in the twin 65 lap finales, held Saturday night.
Top cars from Northern Wisconsin, led by Dan Friske, track champion at State Park Speedway, Bob Gereau from Tomahawk Speedway, and the Switlick brothers of Wausau, lead a talented group from the great white north, hoping to take the championship trophy home, for the first time. Other top challengers from the North include, Darrin Siebert of Wausau, Nick Larsen of Tomahawk and Matt Schulz of Tomahawk.
The northern cars’ aspirations for a championship have been complicated by a strong contingent from Illinois. The Illinois drivers are led by Squirt Stevens of Orfordville and Jim Reynolds of Rockford. Both these seasoned veterans have adapted well to the tricky Jefferson track and have posted impressive times in practice. Stevens a veteran of numerous seasons at Jefferson Speedway before competing at the Rockford Speedway has put the local contingent on notice that he will be a force in the finale. Reynolds, known as one of the fiercest competitors at the Rockford Speedway has adapted well to the Jefferson oval and expects a successful weekend outcome.
A stellar field of area racers are also prepared to challenge the Jefferson racers for a purse of over $32,500, the largest ever posted in Jefferson Speedway’s history. Madison International Speedway competitors Mark Muller of Columbus, Mike Cusick of Edgerton and Chris Purdy of Milton have proved themselves worthy competition for Jefferson’s best.
The Columbus 151 Speedway contingent is led by Butch Mierendorf of Waterloo, Aaron Wilke of Waterloo, and Don Gaserude of Ft. Atkinson. The Columbus Speedway cars have adapted to the longer Jefferson oval well and bring a high level of tenacity to the championship program.
The Jefferson Speedway 2002 champion, Ron Bishofberger of Ft. Atkinson, the winner of this event in 1999, and Dan Chesmore the 2000 and 2001 point champion at Jefferson will have to deal with even tougher competition than on a normal Saturday night.
Roger Behlke, Jefferson, always a tough competitor in the longer races, is poised to make a run for the most prestigious victory of his career. Other top Jefferson regulars expected to be in the thick of the battle include Scott Nottestad, Stoughton, Andy Wendt, Watertown, Steve Dobbratz or Rio, Mike Taylor of Stoughton, Gene Olson of Jefferson, and over 50 other Late Model competitors.
The Jefferson regulars in the International, Sportsman, Hobby Stock and Bandit classes also face tough competition from both the North and the South, as well as racing the longest events of the season. Top competitors from Tomahawk Speedway, State Park Speedway, Rockford Speedway, Lake Geneva Raceway, and Columbus 151 Speedway will vie for the crown.
Action begins with time trials, Friday night at 5:30 PM, with a full program of qualifying races, champion of champions race, preview features, in all divisions and one-on-one Street drags commencing at 8:30 PM.
The 2002 Wisconsin State Champions will be crowned Saturday night following a full program of Last Chance races. The program begins at 7:00 PM with championship presentations scheduled for 11:00.
Jefferson Speedway is on Highway 18, half way between Cambridge and Jefferson Wisconsin.
For further information contact the Jefferson Speedway at 920-648-2705.