La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway

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LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway
LaCrosseFairgroundsSpeedwayTurn1.jpg
Turn 1
Location Town of Hamilton, near West Salem, Wisconsin, United States
Date opened 1957
Race type 5/8 mile (outer), 1/4 mile (inner)
Course type Asphalt
Notable races ASA Midwest Tour
Mid American Stock Car Series
ASA Late Model Series
Official website

The La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway is a semi-banked asphalt oval racetrack in West Salem, Wisconsin.[1] The outer track is 5/8 mile and the inner track is a 1/4 mile.[1] The track was built on at the fairgrounds for La Crosse County. It used to host an event on the American Speed Association (ASA) before the demise of the series. It currently hosts annual touring events on the ARCA Midwest Tour, Mid American Stock Car Series, and the ASA Late Model Series.[2] It hosts weekly stock car races which are sanctioned by NASCAR's Whelen All-American Series.[1] It was the first NASCAR-sanctioned race track in Wisconsin, and the only NASCAR-sanctioned asphalt race track.[3]

Track history[edit]

The track opened as a half mile dirt track in 1957 in West Salem, Wisconsin as part of the relocation of the La Crosse Interstate Fairgrounds from the site of Veterans' Memorial Stadium on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus.[4] It originally ran a single annual International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) event and it was known as the La Crosse Inter-State Fairgrounds.[4] The event featured IMCA "Big Car" (now known as sprint cars), midgets, and "New Model" stock cars (similar to stock cars raced by USAC cars and NASCAR's Grand National series [now Sprint Cup Series]). The event ran until 1966, and numerous notable drivers competed in these events including: Johnny Beauchamp, Jim Hurtubise, Dick Hutcherson, Ramo Stott, Parnelli Jones, Johnny Rutherford, and Tom Bigelow.[4]

The track was paved in 1970 as a half mile, with the track's current banked grandstand being built at the same time.[4] Robert Morris and Larry Wehrs were the promoters for the first two seasons before Wehrs became the sole promoter in 1972. Racing alternated between Friday and Wednesday nights for the first five seasons before permanently running on Wednesday nights in 1975. The Central Wisconsin Racing Association (CWRA) Late Models were the featured division at La Crosse from 1970 until 1991. Following the 1986 season the La Crosse County Agricultural Society, the owners of the racetrack, decided to make a change with the promoter. Instead of renewing with Wehrs, the La Crosse County Ag Society went with Midwest Motorsports Management as the new promoter. Longtime ARTGO Challenge Series president John McKarns and Rockford Speedway president Jody Deery headed up the new promoter group, with Deery's youngest son Chuck named the track manager. In 1989 La Crosse became the first track in Wisconsin to become a part of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series (now the Whelen All-American Series), NASCAR's national weekly short track program. The track would run the NASCAR shows on Saturday nights, which would become the main race night starting in 1992. Four drivers (Kevin Nuttleman, Paul Proksch, Charlie Menard and Steve Carlson) would go on to claim either a regional, divisional or state championship. Carlson would capture the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship in 2007, the first for a driver from the state of Wisconsin. Nuttleman would become the first driver in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series history to claim a championship under all three formats (Great Northern Region in 1989, Division III in 2005 and Wisconsin State Championship in 2009), and is one of the 25 greatest drivers in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series history.

Weekly racing[edit]

2009 Sportsman

LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway hosts weekly stock car races on Saturday nights which are sanctioned by NASCAR.[5]

The headline division at the track is the NASCAR late models.[1] Other classes include Grand National Sportsman, Thunderstox, Hornets, Outlawz (formerly the R.A.Y.S.), plus several novelty events are scheduled throughout the season.[1] Starting in 2008, the track featured Friday Night Street Drags the second Friday of the month from May to September. Starting in 2009, the Street Drags concluded with the 300' Nationals the Saturday following the Oktoberfest Race Weekend.

Notable Drivers[edit]

current notable drivers include: Steve Carlson(2007 NASCAR Weekly National Champion), "Dr Noise" Billy Martin, Justin Mullikin, Bill "Doc" Niles, Jay Herbst and Brent Kirchner

Special events[edit]

Eve of Destruction[edit]

The track hosts an annual "Eve of Destruction" event the first Saturday after Labor Day.[6] It features a trailer race where the last car with a trailer left wins, along with Doug Rose's Green Mamba Jet Car, hornets, skidders, monster trucks, and motorcycle stunt riders.[6] A similar event called the "Smash-O-Rama" takes place the third Saturday night in June.

Oktoberfest Race Weekend[edit]

Trickle (right) at the 2009 Dick Trickle 99
Erik Darnell after winning the 2013 Dick Trickle 99

Since 1970 the track has featured the annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend as its season finale, usually the weekend after La Crosse's Oktoberfest celebration concludes.[4] It began as a two-day event, then expanded to three days in 1975 and expanded to its current four-day format (Thursday through Sunday) in 1998. Touring series that race at the event include the Mid American Stock Car Series, the Big 8 Late Model Series, the ASA Midwest Truck Tour and the ASA Midwest Tour.[7][8] The Friday night headliner in the Dick Trickle 99, a 99 lap super late model event. It runs in three 33 lap segments[9] with the length taken from Trickle's #99 that he had raced in Wisconsin before moving to NASCAR. Past winners include:

The sanctioning body for the main event for the weekend has varied through the years. It began using the Central Wisconsin Racing Association rules between 1970 and 1986.[11] The ARTGO touring series took over sanction from 1987 until 1997.[11] ARTGO was sold to NASCAR and the series took various names between 1998 until 2006.[11] The 2006 main event was a Wisconsin Late Model event even though NASCAR ran its final Elite Division race that Friday night.[11] The ASA Midwest Tour took over the main event in 2007 and has held it ever since.[11]

Images[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway". NASCAR. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway FAQ". La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway". Racing Online. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Dick. "La Crosse Speedways history". Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "The La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway". UW-LaCrosse student marketing analysis. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway Eve of Destruction". Wisconsin Department of Tourism. 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Neisius Takes Care of Business by Winning ‘Fest, Championship". Racing Online. October 11, 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  8. ^ Ramsell, Kevin (October 4, 2008). "Ross Kenseth Wis BRP Big 8 Series Feature at Oktoberfest". Big 8 Series. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  9. ^ ""Dick Trickle 99" Returns to Oktoberfest in 2008". Kevin Ramsell. April 27, 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Iwanski, Ashley. "Knoblock Makes History in Dick Trickle 99 at Oktoberfest". La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "History". Oktoberfest Race Weekend official website. 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°54′15″N 91°06′15″W / 43.9043°N 91.1043°W / 43.9043; -91.1043