Shawano Speedway ready to get another season rolling

Season set to open April 17
By: 
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

Shawano Speedway is about ready to get its 2021 season underway, with many fan-favorite promotions and drivers back.

With the favorable weather in the past few weeks, the speedway looks to be on track to starting the season on April 17 as originally planned.

The usual five classes — Mighty 4s, IMCA Sport Mod, IMCA Modified, IMCA Stock Car and Late Models — are back.

Troy Springborn (Late Models), Lucas Lamberies (IMCA Modified), Travis VanStraten (IMCA Stock Car), Jayden Schmidt (IMCA Sport Mod) and Tanner Westphal (Mighty 4s) are the reigning champions in the classes. Those five are scheduled to be honored on May 1, the Night of Champions.

The Dirt Kings Late Model Series will make a couple of appearances this season, including opening night. The Spectator Eliminators are also scheduled to make a handful of showings.

Speedway marketing and promotions manager Brad Luepke is especially excited for the IMCA Stock Car class this season. “There’s gonna be 20 guys that can win a feature on any given night.”

“From all the rumblings that I hear is that all our drivers are going to be back," said Luepke. "Our pit board is pretty full. We got some new Late Model drivers, some new Stock Car drivers. Every division will have some new faces, and every division will have the veterans too. It’s gonna be a fun year.”

Luepke said some safety precautions have been added around the track, including Whelen LED lights and extra caution beacons. A transponder system is also new, and will be able to give drivers and fans lap and finish times in real time.

Ed Bertram and George Giesen are set to be inducted into the Shawano Speedway Hall of Fame on June 19.

The speedway will host its second Mid-Summer Classic on July 23-24. The event replaced the World of Outlaws last summer and received strong reviews.

“People loved it," said Luepke. "In fact, we did get a little feedback when we didn’t bring the Outlaws back but we exchanged it with this and actually got more positive feedback than negative.

“These kind of events grow, they get bigger. So your first year is usually your feel out year and it was a really good year. I’ve gotten messages from drivers that weren’t here (last year) and have every intention of coming here (this year). So the car count will be higher, I can promise you that. We’re going to have a lot of fun stuff planned for those two days.”

The following Saturday, July 31, will be the annual Racing for a Reason night. Approximately $170,000 has been raised for childhood cancer awareness in the first 10 years of the event. There will also be an increased purse for the Late Model division that evening.

Championship night is scheduled for Sept. 4. For the entire schedule, visit the speedway website at https://www.shawanospeedway.net/shawano-speedway.

The start of the 2020 speedway season was delayed because of coronavirus concerns. When racing began in early June, many COVID precautions were put in place.

Luepke says the start of this season will look similar.

“We’re not actually going to change much from last year, we’re going to keep a lot of the protocols in place,” said Luepke. “Still sanitizing bathrooms, and even the food will be in to-go containers just like last year.”

“I believe that our crowds will mirror what it was last year. They did a nice job up there, they spread out. It looked packed, but when you looked straight on, there was a lot of holes.”

Admission prices are $10 for adults, $5 for teens and $2 for children — with children 11 and under getting in free with a paid adult. Pit passes are $25. For more admission options, visit https://www.shawanospeedway.net/shawano-speedway-admission.

The speedway has a pair of practice days, April 10 and 16, set before the April 17 opener.

“Dirt racing is a fraternity, I call it a fraternity,” said Luepke. “We’re a really tight-knit group, whether it’s the drivers or the fans. We take new members to the fraternity every day, so just come on out, check it out. It’s inexpensive, and you get a lot of bang for the buck. Once you come, you’ll probably get hooked and want to come back again.”

sports@newmedia-wi.com