Eric Blumer
Eric Blumer

Eric Blumer
Sun Prairie, WI

Blumer Makes Badger Midget Debut, Thanks to Bill Ecker in APS Go
133
8/18/2022

8/18/2022

Eric Blumer


Blumer Makes Badger Midget Debut, Thanks to Bill Ecker in APS Go

Last Sunday, August 14, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin's, Eric Blumer got to live a dream as owner, Bill Ecker put him in his Midget for the first time. The occasion was extra special as it took place at Blumer's hometown track, Angell Park Speedway.

Like so many kids, Blumer has spent Sundays since he was a toddler at the famed facility, first playing on the bleachers with his toy cars during the races. By the time he was 12, he was getting signed into the pits to help crew on the DOC360 Micro. Then, at age 18, he walked in as a driver for his INEX Legend. In his third season running the 6E, he rolled it into Victory Lane. But, of all the classes at APS, Midgets are the staple. They are what made this 1/3 mile clay oval famous.

THE GREETING

A few friends were told of the Midget go, but most were not. The fewer distractions, the better, was the thought. Eric said he was both nervous and excited as he walked into the (outer) pits of APS with his helmet bag in one hand and his OWL driving suit and gear in another. Mom and Dad were in tow. The trio went right to Brandon Waelti, someone Eric's been a fan of forever and a driver who has supported Eric since his early days in a Legend. After well wishes and advice from those around the 3W crew, Eric headed to the infield pit area.

Here, he met the principals of the Badger Midget Series, Quinn McCabe and Amy Schulz. Amy had been given a heads up that Eric would be there. Quinn was surprised. Amy gave advice and encouragement to Eric and his folks. Seeing Dad looking pretty peaked, Amy smiled, and like a teacher consoling a parent on the first day of school, simply said, "He'll be fine." Later, Quinn took Eric aside to tell him what to expect from the car.

Then the Bollig boys, Bill and Chuck, who are second cousins to Eric and BMARA officials, got their turn. Bill sincerely offered that Mom could sit in his truck, as she was not quite sure what she was going to do during the race. Chuck, donning a pair of faux pop bottle glasses told Eric he'd, "Get no special treatment, I look at everyone the same!"

In the driver's meeting, Derek Doerr, a regular with Badger and someone he'd raced against in the Legend, told Eric how the cars would differ. Former Midget pilot Aaron Fiscus, who'd had a few goes in a Legend, offered similar advice.

STRAPPING IN

Ecker and his right hand man, Steve Wineke pulled in with the powerful #57. These two bring a car capable of winning on any given evening. They've been doing this a long time. Running a great car was so important, as Eric could then concentrate on his driving, knowing it would handle as a good machine should. Half the learning curve was gone.

Another (second) cousin, Cody Weisensel, a Badger driver for over 20 years has been to many of Eric's Legends races. "Cody really stepped up, he kept me grounded and let me know what was coming up. Thanks to Jeremy Bredeson, his crewman, for helping out too," noted Eric.

Preston and Brian Benisch, of the aforementioned DOC360 Micro, came to the pits, saying they wouldn't miss it for the world. As Bill and Steve went about their logistics, the rest of the makeshift crew had a hand in getting Eric settled and strapped into the car. Brian cinched Eric's belts, just like he did the first time Eric buckled into his Legend.

ON THE TRACK

The records will show Eric was DQ'd in qualifying. He was; as the car came in light. For his time trial, he didn't roll around the bottom, as you might expect for his first time in a Midget. Rather, he gassed it up to his comfort zone and bumped (and jumped) the cushion, to the dismay of Dad, especially. As one onlooker noted, "You can't tell it's his first time in a Midget." Had it stood, he would have timed in 21st out of 27.

His heat was cut short after a lap by a mechanical issue. It was quickly resolved and he was ready for the B-Main. He started last, 11th, and needed to be in the top 8 to make the A. Dad was grateful the night would be over in ten laps, or so he thought.

The green dropped and Eric gassed it again. He went high and low, racing and learning along the way. He made it three-wide on the back stretch and the 57 stuck as he went high into turn-three. He put it solidly in the show, just missing a top-five finish, at the line.

THE MAIN

Eric started shotgun on the field for the 25 lap feature. He got to wave to the crowd as they waved back, prior the the drop of the green by Alex Gilhart. Once racing commenced Eric gassed it up once again. Dad took a deep breath. "Mary Jo was doing fine, you were a wreck," Brian would later tell Dad. He wasn't wrong.

From here, Eric did just what he should have, which was have fun. He raced with those around him learning along the way. When Gilhart displayed the blue and yellow, "hold your line," flag indicating the leaders were coming, he moved to the bottom and stayed there for the rest of the race. It went green to checkers. Had there been a restart he might have been able to race a bit more and gain a spot or two. In the end, the official line will show he finished P-20 out of 22.

THANKS TO THE 57 TEAM

"Thanks so much to Bill for letting me drive his car. It's takes a lot to put someone with no experience in such a good ride. Plus, he and Steve are fun to be around.

I've been able to do some small things on the 57's at the Chili Bowl with Bill and Steve. They've shown me a lot. To trust me with their car is really special. Fun fact, I actually helped carry the chassis I ran tonight when Bill bought it at the Chili Bowl a few years go.

I was more comfortable than I thought I'd be in the car and I was grateful for all the support I had all day," Eric said after the races.

When all was said and done, Ecker concluded, "I've won races here, but this is the most fun I've had. We've talked about doing this for a couple of years now, so it was time."

UP NEXT

We don't anticipate any more Midget goes this year.
Saturday the 6E Legend will be back in action at Beaver Dam Raceway. We still have two free tickets for a whole carload of people, for anyone interested.

NOTES

Work logistics dictate that Eric's best friend and supporter Owen Leatherberry could not be at the race, nor will he have knowledge for perhaps weeks, that this ever happened. Even so, we were pleased that Owen's dad, Greg, was able to make this momentous event. Owen, thanks for everything! And if you or anyone else wants to watch the race, it's archived on www.badgerracing.tv

Grandpa Blumer, who first saw racing at APS in the 1950's, was in attendance. So was longtime supporter, Stan Otis from Club LaMark, the place the deal was brokered for Eric to get this ride.

Stephanie and her fiance' Logan Stevens and his family were there to cheer Eric on. Logan and Stephanie seldom miss a race!

Thanks to the other friends who stopped down and those who sent congratulations via social media!

These are the businesses and folks who are helping to keep Eric on the track through their generous support in 2022! BRS Radiator, Machine & Fabrication; Northern Air Systems, Inc.; Dog Guard of Wisconsin; North Central Utility of Wisconsin LLC; East Central Coin Inc.; Stan at Club LaMark; Ground Up Lifts; Owen Leatherberry; Sieg Law Office; OWL Graphics and Lettering; Grandpa Blumer, Legends.Direct, Mary Lybeck in memory of Denny.

Here are the people who go hands on the 6E to get it in top shape every week: Justin Hoium, Greg Leatherbeary, Big Dumb Guy, Joe Wipperfurth, Brian Benisch, Faith Piepenburg, Logan Stevens and Stephanie Blumer.

We salute Owen Leatherberry (U.S. Navy) and Andrew Upperman (U.S. Marine Corps.)!

Thank you all for your part in Eric Blumer Racing!

About the photos: 1) Blumer along the historic APS back wall in the 57. 2) Eric starting a 3-wide pass on the outside. 3) Club LaMark, on the back wall; on the 57's hood and on Eric's driving suit! 4) Getting lapped by Todd Kluever, in Brandon Waelti's car.


Submitted By: William Blumer

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