Families from all over the region simmered through the sticky late afternoon and early evening for the annual Ultimate Kids’ Night celebration at St. Croix Valley Raceway on Friday and were rewarded with a fun-filled night at the race track. Eight year old Nicole Lehnertz kicked off Ultimate Kids’ Night with her rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, and that was just the start of the kids’ party night. Over three dozen bikes were raffled off to young fans throughout the program that was capped off with a thunderous fireworks display. On the track, the Northern Vintage racers provided their own fireworks in the form of Butch Bethke’s nasty rollover that mangled his historic racer. Bethke walked away unharmed but his beautiful #31 vintage super modified sustained heavy damage. Mark Peine and Steve Baker had much better luck, each winning their respective vintage car feature races via dramatic last lap passes. Regular weekly division winners included John Erickson, Kayla Lallier, Ty Sampair, Cam Schafer, Mitch Weiss and Jason Gross.
In the first feature to take the track, John Erickson made it look easy in the Pure Stocks. Erickson was dominating, leading every lap of both his heat race and the feature in claiming an impressive clean sweep. Opening night feature winner Darren Kohler started third behind Erickson and chased him in vain the entire distance as Erickson’s #145 was on rails in the route. The big mover early was Krysta Swearingen, who vaulted from deep in the field to the third in the opening laps, but as the field settled down and stretched out, she was unable to continue her advance. Erickson won comfortably over Kohler, Swearingen, Tim Baxter and first heat race winner Casey Ogilvie.
Fittingly, youth was served in the Future Four/Minivan main event as eighteen year old Kayla Lallier ran virtually flawlessly to earn her win. Lallier started on the pole, but her first ever SCVR feature win would be no walk in the park. Dan Rick provided the early pressure, repeatedly looking for a groove below Lallier. Further back, division point leader Damon Roberts was jockeying with Derrick Johnson, Darrel Johnson, Nathan Anderson and eventually Dan Rick in his bid to get back to The Hill. Late in the race, Roberts made a bold three-wide outside move to jump from fourth to second. A few laps later, Roberts jumped the high-side cushion, allowing Darrel Johnson to move back up to second. Johnson would spend the last handful of laps flashing his fender to the inside of Lallier, only to be rebuffed at each attempt. As the double checkers waved, it was Lallier earning the hard-fought contest over Darrel Johnson, Damon Roberts, Dan Rick and Nathan Anderson.
Teenagers glutted the podium in the UMSS Micro Sprint feature also, with opening night feature winner Val Urman, pre-teen Jack Berger and Ty Sampair working the front of the pack for the win. Berger led the first half of the race until Sampair powered under him coming off turn four at the halfway mark. Once out front Berger only had a few more significant opportunities and was consistently fended off by Sampair. At race’s end, it was Sampair parked in Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup victory lane for a series best fourth time in 2014, in front of Berger, Urman, Grant McIntosh and Jett Kobs.
From the “this never happens” department, the UMSS Traditional Sprints put on a race that wasn’t a nail-biter for the first time in recent memory, at least in terms of the race win, but there was plenty of action behind eventual winner Cam Schafer. Schafer started on the pole and worked past first heat race winner Mike Mueller early on. Once out front, Schafer saw few serious challenges while the field furiously jostled for top five honors. A quick high-low battle developed between Rob Caho Jr. and “The New Richmond Nightmare”, Chase Viebrock for third. On lap six, Viebrock’s #50 went for a spin, sending him tail end, but allowing Jake Kouba to make a big splash on the restart, taking over the second spot. After working into the top five, Johnny Parsons clipped the infield tire in turn two, ending his night early. After having early success down low, Viebrock was coming back to the front in a higher groove and was back into the top five with ten laps remaining. Out front, Schafer was only worried about lapped traffic, and eventually sat in Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup victory lane for a series best sixth time in 2014. Kouba was the best of the rest finishing a strong second in front of Caho, Viebrock and Mueller.
The WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds hosted the tightest finish of the night in their time-limit shortened main event, but what the drivers lost in laps, they made up for in exciting, tight racing action. Tony Schill shot from fourth to first within the first half mile, and kept his #8s at the point through a series of cautions. Under green, Mitch Weiss tested Schill’s resolve by hinting at a low groove pass for the lead, only to be fended off by Schill each time. Working his way up from eighth, Jason VandeKamp joined the party up front and at one point was part of a three-wide chase for the lead. VandeKamp cut down his left rear, sending him to the work area for a new Hoosier before rejoining the back of the field. On the restart, Josh Bazey simply replaced VandeKamp in the three car competition at the point but Weiss and Schill whittled things down to a two man race. Weiss was relentless in squeezing his #23 down low and Schill was equally resilient in his middle groove. As the laps dwindled, Schill and Weiss alternated being scored the race’s official leader, but the margin never was more than a single car length. With just a few hundred feet remaining, Weiss let it all hang out; driving fast and deep into the final set of turns, under Schill, but sliding up in front of him in turn four pulling off the dramatic final turn pass for the win. The win was the first of year for Weiss, accomplished on the same clay where he collected his first career dirt race feature win a few years ago. The rest of the top five behind Schill were Bazey, David Mastell and John Remington.
After an intense and loud fireworks display, the WISSOTA Modifieds wrapped up Ultimate Kids’ Night at The Valley with a display of dominance from Jason Gross. The former track champion has been strong this season, but various gremlins and formidable competition have denied Gross his first SCVR red-and-white checkered flag so far this year. On Friday, Gross rectified that denial – with authority. While Steve Lavasseur, Adam Ayotte, Justin Oestreich and Brandon Jensen were all involved in myriad battles for second, Gross was off racing in his own ZIP code. Lavasseur ran second most of the race before eighth starting Brandon Jensen took over the runner-up spot with five laps remaining. But for as strong as Jensen was coming through the field, he had nothing for Gross who cruised to his first Valley win of the summer over Jensen, Lavasseur, Oestreich and Ayotte.
Another Family Night is on tap this Friday night, August 8, at St. Croix Valley Raceway featuring their six regular weekly divisions. The following week, August 16, will be a rare Saturday night event, as the track hosts the second night of the Friday/Saturday two-night, two-track Kouba Memorial in conjunction with Princeton Speedway in Princeton, Minnesota. More information for these and other future events may be found on the track’s website, www.SCVraceway.com, as well as their Facebook page.
Feature – Jason Gross, Brandon Jensen, Steve Lavasseur, Justin Oestreich, Adam Ayotte, Doug Gustafson, Kyle Steffen, Shawn Kelley, Jake Miller, Keith Tourville, Tim Baxter, Kelly Anderson
Heat 1 – Oestreich, Jensen, Ayotte, Kelley, Baxter, Jake Miller
Heat 2 – Gross, Lavasseur, Anderson, Tourville, Scott Miller, Steffen
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature – Mitch Weiss, Tony Schill, Josh Bazey, David Mastell, John Remington, Jason VandeKamp, Cory Bruggeman, Kyle Hallin, Greg Arnt, Kevin Marlett, Jacob Toepper, Tim Baxter, Jared Gorka, Greg Anderson
Heat 1 – Bazey, Remington, Hallin, Bruggeman, Gorka, Toepper, Baxter
Heat 2 – Weiss, VandeKamp, Schill, Mastell, Arnt, Marlett, Anderson (DNF)
UMSS Traditional Sprints
Feature – Cam Shafer, Jake Kouba, Rob Caho Jr., Chase Viebrock, Mike Mueller, Kevin Bradwell, Alex Peper, Mike Haseltine, Jake Hendrickson, Johnny Parsons, Mike Walters
Heat 1 – Mueller, Shafer, Kouba, Bradwell, Haseltine, Parsons (DNF)
Heat 2 – Viebrock, Caho Jr., Walters, Peper, Hendrickson
Feature – John Erickson, Darren Kohler, Krysta Swearingen, Tim Baxter, Casey Ogilvie, Kyle Dahlheimer, Manty Knoll, Jack Barta, Ben Kaphing, Kaylee Remington
Heat 1 – Ogilvie, Kohler, Swearingen, Dahlheimer, Kaphing (DNF)
Heat 2 – Erickson, Baxter, Remington, Knoll, Barta
Feature – Kayla Lallier, Derrick Johnson, Damon Roberts, Dan Rick, Nathan Anderson, Steven Johnson, Darrel Johnson, Kaleb Harr, Nicki DuBois, Eric Anderson, Adam Nelson, Duane Roberts, Brock Anderson, Natalie Rogers, Trevor Reding
Heat 1 – Harr, Damon Roberts, Darrel Johnson, Duane Roberts, DuBois, Reding, Brock Anderson (DNF)
Heat 2 – Nathan Anderson, Lallier, Derrick Johnson, Rick, Rogers, Eric Anderson
UMSS Micro Sprints
Feature – Ty Sampair, Jack Berger, Val Urman, Grant McIntosh, Jett Kobs, Dave Madsen, Shawn Kelley, Scott Kobs, Al Sachs
Heat – Sampair, Berger, Urman, Scott Kobs, Madsen, McIntosh, Sachs, Jett Kobs, Kelley (DNS)