Doer, McMullen and Schlafer with Wilmot Triumphs
The 9th Annual IRA (Interstate Racing Association) Founders Night Open Wheel Spectacular saw three first time winners end up in victory lane along with a first time Wilmot Raceway season champion.
The 25-lap Founders Night IRA Feature victory went to Gibson's Danny Schlafer. "I've been coming to Wilmot a long time with my dad and now driving a 410 winged sprint car myself, and finally I put it in victory lane," said D. Schlafer, a second generation driver who was joined by his dad Al, and the family and friends, for the historic victory lane. "It means a lot to win on a night like this. I especially have to thank my Dad."
D. Schlafer jumped out in front from the front row of the main and was never headed. A complete restart was called when the red flag flew as Scott Neitzel of Beaver Dam hit the wall in turn three nearly flipping the car. Neitzel was checked out by the track medical team after walking to the ambulance.
Yellows seven, nine and 11 laps kept closing the field. The last caution flew as Jake Blackhurst of Hanna City, IL and Jeremy Schultz of Beaver Dam, who were battling for fourth place at the time, both spun in turn four.
D. Schlafer was up to the challenge each time going on to his first Wilmot win and third IRA victory. Sheboygan's Travis Arenz scored a career best second place. Blake Nimee of Oswego, IL was third. Jake Newman of New Berlin, IL took fourth. Jordan Goldesberry of Springfield, IL was fifth.
Danny Schlafer's name will be added to the perennial Founders Night Feature Winner Trophy sponsored by the Southeastern Wisconsin Auto Racing Hall of Fame with the trophy being displayed at the Hall of Fame in Hartford. Other previous winners were Scott Neitzel in 2021, Bill Balog in 2020, 2017 and 2016; Jeremy Schultz in 2019, Jake Blackhurst in 2018 and Dale Blaney in 2014 and 2015. The Founders Night is done in memory of the three individuals who originally started the IRA over 50 years ago, Whitey Harris, and the late Ray Toft and late Junior Dodd. The original home track of the IRA is Wilmot.
Goldesberry's late race charge ended up earning the 2022 Wilmot Raceway 410 Winged Sprint Car Season Championship by 3 points over Nimee. "It always means a lot to win a track championship of any kind, even though we had our struggles," said Goldesberry. "We only ended up with two full point shows here due to the weather, and ending up joining the list of previous champions at this historic place means a lot. We look forward to next year and hopefully Mother Nature will allow us to get more shows in."
Plymouth's Brandon McMullen made it three MSA 360 Sprint Car features in a row by winning his first ever at Wilmot. McMullen shot to the outside in turn two on the restart following a pair of mid-race cautions, overtaking the lead from early pacesetter Waupun's Will Gerrits eight laps from the finish. McMullen powered to the win pulling away. Sheboygan's Travis Arenz, doing double duty, matched his second place IRA feature win by getting the runner-up spot in the closing circuits of the 1/3-mile clay oval. Gerrits finished a close third. West Bend's Alex Pokorski was fourth. Waupun's Tim Haddy was fifth.
"The car has really been dialed in," said McMullen. "To get a win finally here is really great. I have to thank my crew, all of my sponsors, and the great fans who come out and support racing on the local level."
The Badger Midget 25-lap feature saw another first time winner with Derek Doerr of Watertown scoring his initial Badger and Wilmot victory. Doerr took over the lead when early pacesetter Zach Boden got caught up with a lapped car and spun in turn two bringing out a caution seven laps from the finish. Doerr maintained top spot for the win. Sun Prairie's Todd Kluever was second. Jake Neuman of New Berlin, IL, who was doing double duty and had a top five finish in the IRA sprint cars as well, finished third. Aaron Muhle of Beaver Dam was fourth. Jeff Zelinski of Joliet, IL was fifth.
"It's awesome to finally get one," said Doerr. "It feels great and to win with these great Badger drivers, it feels fantastic."
Wilmot Raceway has a pair of race nights remaining on its 2022 schedule. The Season Championship Night is next up Labor Day weekend on Saturday, September 3. The five regular Wilmot division season champions will be crowned. The closest battle is the Bandit 4-Cylinder Stock Cars as defending 2021 Champion Scott Ellis of Lake Villa, IL holds a 4-point lead 857-853 over Chris Abel of Salem. Third place 2019 Champion Ryan Johnson of Salem, is 9 points out of the lead with 848. John Cole of McHenry, IL, 2020 Champion, is within striking distance in fourth 27 points back with 830.
The Gerber Collision & Glass Modifieds has been a season long family feud as all eight feature winners have come from the Simons family. Genoa City's Mike Simons, who has 5 feature wins and is a 3-time champion, holds a 33-point lead over his younger brother, Nick Simons, 1,121-1088. Nick Simons has three feature victories this year.
Cody Erickson of Algonquin, IL in quest of his first ever track title holds a 32-point advantage, 804-772, over 3-time champion Rob Maule of Hebron, IL. With an outside shot is Kenosha's Blake Kreuser in third 41 points back 763.
The AutoMeter/Brewington Electric Wisconsin WingLESS Sprints has multiple Wilmot champion Tim Cox of Park City, IL leading 2021 Wilmot Rookie of the Year 16-year-old Clayton Rossmann of Wadsworth, IL by 55 points 1,221-1,166. Cox captured the Wilmot MRA Modified title in 1989 and the 2018 Wilmot and Wisconsin Series WingLESS Championships.
Pleasant Prairie's Mike Neau holds a 54-point lead, 666-612, over Union Grove's Andrew Kiedrowski in quest of his first ever Wilmot crown driving for his Dad, Larry Neau's Dream Chaser Racing Team in the Pfeiffer Trailer Sales IRA Lightning Sprints.
Grandstands open at 5 p.m. on September 3, with on track activity getting underway at about 5:30 p.m. and racing slated for 6:30 p.m.
The final night of the 2022 season for Wilmot is the 5th Annual Jim "Wildman" Watson Classic for the Dirt King Late Models on Sunday, September 10. Modifieds, street stocks and Bandit 4-cylinder stock cars are on the program, along with the AutoMeter/Brewington Electric Wisconsin WingLESS Sprints in a point show for their traveling series. Wilmot points will have concluded for the year. In addition over 100 bikes are slated to be given away to youngsters in attendance. Persons desiring to donate toward the purchase of the bikes or actually give a bike should contact Nick Simons at the track or Tiffany on the Raceway's Facebook page.
For updated weather information phone the Raceway's race line 262-862-2090, check the official website wilmotraceway.com of Facebook page.
Article Credit: Mike Babicz
Submitted By: Dakoda Tennyson