La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway
|Location||Town of Hamilton, near West Salem, Wisconsin, United States|
|Race type||5/8 mile (outer), 1/4 mile (inner)|
|Notable races||ASA Midwest Tour
Mid American Stock Car Series
ASA Late Model Series
The La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway is a semi-banked asphalt oval racetrack in West Salem, Wisconsin. The outer track is 5/8 mile and the inner track is a 1/4 mile. 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. It hosts weekly stock car races which are sanctioned by NASCAR's Whelen All-American Series. It was the first NASCAR-sanctioned race track in Wisconsin, and the only NASCAR-sanctioned asphalt race track.
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. It originally ran a single annual International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) event and it was known as the La Crosse Inter-State Fairgrounds. 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.
The track was paved in 1970 as a half mile, with the track's current banked grandstand being built at the same time. 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.
LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway hosts weekly stock car races on Saturday nights which are sanctioned by NASCAR.
The headline division at the track is the NASCAR late models. Other classes include Grand National Sportsman, Thunderstox, Hornets, Outlawz (formerly the R.A.Y.S.), plus several novelty events are scheduled throughout the season. 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.
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
Eve of Destruction
The track hosts an annual "Eve of Destruction" event the first Saturday after Labor Day. 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. A similar event called the "Smash-O-Rama" takes place the third Saturday night in June.
Oktoberfest Race Weekend
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. 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 Midwest Truck Tour and the ARCA Midwest Tour. The Friday night headliner in the Dick Trickle 99, a 99 lap super late model event. It runs in three 33 lap segments with the length taken from Trickle's #99 that he had raced in Wisconsin before moving to NASCAR. Past winners include:
- 2014 Dan Fredrickson
- 2013 Erik Darnell
- 2012 Skylar Holzhausen
- 2011 Neil Knoblock
- 2010 Dan Fredrickson
- 2009 Chris Weinkauf
- 2008 Nathan Haseleu
- 2007 Steve Holzhausen
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. The ARTGO touring series took over sanction from 1987 until 1997. ARTGO was sold to NASCAR and the series took various names between 1998 until 2006. The 2006 main event was a Wisconsin Late Model event even though NASCAR ran its final Elite Division race that Friday night. The ARCA Midwest Tour took over the main event in 2007 and has held it ever since.
- 2014 Travis Sauter ARCA Midwest Tour
- 2013 Nathan Haseleu ARCA Midwest Tour
- 2012 Travis Sauter ARCA Midwest Tour
- 2011 Travis Sauter ASA Midwest Tour (Johnny Sauter was the original winner of the race, but two weeks later ASA Midwest Tour officials revealed that Sauter's car had parts that were not from ASA Midwest Tour-approved vendors. Sauter had all points and purse money taken away, but he was allowed to keep the win. La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway officials felt differently and stripped Sauter of the win and being the overall Oktoberfest champion, which was given to Travis Sauter.)
- 2010 Dan Fredrickson ASA Midwest Tour
- 2009 Travis Sauter ASA Midwest Tour
- 2008 Dan Fredrickson ASA Midwest Tour
- 2007 Dan Fredrickson ASA Midwest Tour
- 2006 Steve Holzhausen (Wisconsin Late Model; The Wisconsin Late Models were the headliners of the 2006 Oktoberfest, even though the NASCAR AutoZone Midwest Series ran on Friday of Oktoberfest weekend. This was the NASCAR AutoZone Midwest Series' final race ever.)
- 2005 Tim Schendel (NASCAR AutoZone)
- 2004 Brian Hoppe (NASCAR AutoZone)
- 2003 Tim Schendel (NASCAR ITEMS)
- 2002 Brian Hoppe (NASCAR Re/Max)
- 2001 Eddie Hoffman (NASCAR Re/Max)
- 2000 Steve Carlson (NASCAR Re/Max)
- 1999 Eddie Hoffman (NASCAR Re/Max)
- 1998 Eddie Hoffman (NASCAR Re/Max)
- 1997 Terry Baldry (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1996 Joe Shear (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1995 Joe Shear (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1994 Joe Shear (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1993 Matt Kenseth (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1992 Tom Carlson (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1991 Tom Carlson (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1990 Scott Hansen (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1989 Joe Shear (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1988 Ted Musgrave (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1987 Dick Trickle (ARTGO Challenge)
- 1986 Rich Bickle (CWRA)
- 1985 John Ziegler (CWRA)
- 1984 Bryan Reffner (CWRA)
- 1983 Tom Reffner (CWRA)
- 1982 Jim Back (CWRA)
- 1981 Junior Hanley (CWRA)
- 1980 Mark Martin (CWRA)
- 1979 Butch Miller (CWRA)
- 1978 Dave Watson (CWRA)
- 1977 Larry Detjens (CWRA)
- 1976 Larry Detjens (CWRA)
- 1975 Tom Reffner (CWRA)
- 1974 Jerry Makara (CWRA)
- 1973 Marv Marzofka (CWRA)
- 1972 Joe Shear (CWRA)
- 1971 Dick Trickle (CWRA)
- 1970 Tom Reffner (CWRA)
- "LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway". NASCAR. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
- "La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway FAQ". La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
- "La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway". Racing Online. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
- Johnson, Dick. "La Crosse Speedways history". Retrieved 27 January 2010.
- "The La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway". UW-LaCrosse student marketing analysis. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
- "La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway Eve of Destruction". Wisconsin Department of Tourism. 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
- "Neisius Takes Care of Business by Winning ‘Fest, Championship". Racing Online. October 11, 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
- Ramsell, Kevin (October 4, 2008). "Ross Kenseth Wis BRP Big 8 Series Feature at Oktoberfest". Big 8 Series. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
- ""Dick Trickle 99" Returns to Oktoberfest in 2008". Kevin Ramsell. April 27, 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
- Iwanski, Ashley. "Fredrickson surpasses Murgic for Trickle 99 victory". LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
- Iwanski, Ashley. "Knoblock Makes History in Dick Trickle 99 at Oktoberfest". La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
- "History". Oktoberfest Race Weekend official website. 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
- Shear-Carlson, Kari. "Frozen Butts and Mini-Donuts: Just Another Reason Fest Is Best". shortracks.us. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
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