Ebert Steals Show at Fall Classic; Big Wins for Vogel, Mikkelson and Pederson
I attended the 18th annual Fall Classic at Ogilvie Raceway as a fan on Saturday. So since I was a paying customer this will be more opinion-based. A total of 316 cars were on hand on a nice October weekend.
The Fall Classic is fun because it's a wrap to the year for many. I like the atmosphere, and am becoming a bigger fan of Ogilvie Raceway every time I go there. I wish it was closer!
Three RaceChaser-area drivers — Justin Vogel (Wissota Street Stocks), Ryan Mikkelson (USRA Late Model) and Matt Pederson (Wissota Hornet) — won Fall Classic titles. Saturday’s program was moved from 5 p.m. to 1 p.m. because of the forecast for later in the evening. Daytime racing is not ideal — usually a dry track because of the sun and wind that rubbers up fairly quickly.
Ogilvie Raceway is one of my favorite facilities. It is well kept up, has a huge pit area, and usually produces good racing. The stands, concession area and tailgate area are top notch. Hats off to the track and everyone involved for working to get that show in. It turned into a long day of racing but as I a fan appreciated the efforts to get the show in, even though it meant racing in the day.
The story of the night will be the ending to the Wissota Modified feature, in my opinion. That one still has my heart racing.
The modified feature had more intrigue because of the national point battle between Tyler Peterson of Hickson and Shane Sabraski of Rice. Peterson led going into the feature by just three points. If Sabraski would win, he would take over the national point lead with just one weekend remaining.
Sabraski had the inside pole with Dan Ebert of Lake Shore on the outside. Matt Aukland of Glyndon and Peterson had the second row.
From the green, Sabraski took the lead and set a pretty frantic pace. Aukland ran in second but had his hands full with Ebert and Jeremy Nelson of Alexandria. Peterson settled into the fifth spot.
Ebert and Nelson eventually got by Aukland, as did Peterson, and those two gave chase to Sabraski, who is the defending Wissota Mod track champ at Ogilvie. Ebert was all over him for a while and looked for a way around, but couldn’t do so. And slowly Sabraski opened up a lead as the laps waned, and it appeared to be over.
Ebert, however, went for broke over the final five laps. Trailing Sabraski by 1.689 seconds, Ebert went up to the top side and drove the #60 incredibly hard inches from the wall. And the gap closed. I, like many, thought he would run out of time.
As the white flag waved, Ebert was right on Sabraski’s tail. The question was did he have enough to make a pass. Ebert stayed up high. Sabraski ran a lower line — perhaps to protect from a slider — and slid up. Ebert had a huge surge of momentum off of turn four and made the pass to win in dramatic fashion. He erased a 1.689 lead in less than five laps and the crowd went nuts. It was one heck of a finish and perhaps the best modified feature I’ve seen all year.
Peterson finished fourth, but more importantly, with Sabraski’s runner-up finish, stayed in the national points lead. His lead is down to two, with a two-night show scheduled for next weekend at Gondik Law Speedway in Superior. Hats off to Ryan Gierke of Villard, who started seventh but finished a solid fifth. He is having a heck of a season. Aukland finished a solid seventh.
Nick Traynor of Barron, Wis., led the entire Wissota Street Stock feature and had a nice lead at the checkered. However, he was disqualified in postface tech because of an illegal carburetor. Vogel, who ran second almost the whole race, was the winner. It was his fourth Fall Classic win of his career. For the Wolverine, it was a big win as it solidified his hold on second place in the Wissota National Standings.
Defending street stock champion Ryan Satter of Dent finished fifth after starting way back in 17th. There wasn’t a ton of passing in the street feature but Satter, who has sold his #67 machine, made good progress through the field.
Ryan Mikkelson dominated the USRA Late Model feature — winning by more than four seconds. It was disappointing to see only 11 show up in that class, frankly.
Matt Pederson led every lap of the Wissota Hornet main event. There was a rough crash on the front stretch that tore up a bunch of cars on lap two and led to a red flag.
Pat Doar of New Richmond out dueled Dave Mass of East Bethel for the Wissota Late Model win where lapped traffic played a pivotal role. I was worried about a rubbered-down one-lane in the lates, but it was a pretty good race. The driver who impressed me was Nick Panitzke of Lonsdale. Panitzke ran in the top five the whole race and had a great battle with Don Shaw of Ham Lake for the third spot for several laps.
Travis Budisalovich of Minneapolis always seems to run well when I see him. He ran in the top five almost the whole late model feature and finished a solid fifth. He won the Silver 1000 at Proctor earlier this year.
Two RaceChaser-area drivers finished in the top 10 in the late models — Brad Seng of Grand Forks took ninth, and 2021 NLRA champion Mike Greseth of Harwood, who started 22nd, finished 10th.
It was a tough, rubbered up race track for the midwest modifieds, frankly. In fact, four of the top five finishers had their right rear tires worn completely. Travis Schulte of Clear Lake won, but it was a really good run for Justin Froemming of Elbow Lake; he finished fifth. I was impressed with Ryan Savoy of Superior who finished second and battled Schulte for a while. Kennedy Swan of Chippewa Falls was seventh after starting 13th.
Cody the Cobra Lee of Starbuck was behind the wheel of the #21B midwest modified. He had qualified from one of the B features. There were an amazing 71 midwest modified cars on hand.
The Wissota Mod 4 feature had a damaging crash at the end, which saw Tommy Bawden’s 81TB machine roll. Bawden was part of a multi-car crash that included Tommy Pogones and Landon Randt. All three had significant damage. Bawden had just been sent to the tail after being charged with a caution while running second.
Dustin Holtquist of St. Joseph won the feature and did a nice job.
A few Wissota Pure Stocks I recognized — Cory Jorgenson of Hermantown was one — but for the most part I didn’t recognize many of the drivers. One driver who I did recognize was Margo Butcher of Warba, who races at tracks on the Iron Range. I don’t get to see her race all that often.
Sabraski is almost unbeatable in his super stock and he dominated for another win. I can’t remember a driver dominating a class like he has in recent years — that car is absolutely flawless. Dylan Nelson of Merrifield ran well, taking second after starting sixth.
Sam Zender of Fergus Falls was on hand in Scott Rachels’ 44 late model. He didn’t finish the main event but got some good seat time in that car heading into next year. He bought the #7S limited late model from Rachels and sold his midwest modified.
Parker Anderson (street stock) and Sabraski (super stock) had national titles clinched already in their classes. Cole Searing of Huron already has the Wissota Late Model national title wrapped up as well.