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Final Thoughts on Seitz Memorial; Skalicky Makes A Main at Boone; Gerdes Wins at Madison

Aaron Turnbull (21) won the Seitz Memorial. (Photo by Mike Spieker/Speedway Shots)

Let’s wrap up the John Seitz Memorial at River Cities Speedway with a few more observations.

Car counts were good in all classes. The NOSA Sprints had several DNFs — again — and some of the lesser experienced drivers seem to have struggled this year. Part of the learning process. Friday’s show attracted 160 cars including an outstanding field of 49 late models. Which I never would have guessed, considering the non-essential travel ban between the US and Canada (which cost River Cities as many as eight late models by my count).

One Canadian found his way to town — Aaron Turnbull of Estevan, Saskatchewan — and man what a weekend it was for him. He left town with more than $10,000 thanks to his A main win on Saturday and winning the dash on Friday. He has barely raced this summer but I’ll tell you this: his performance was unbelievable all week. He was second in the NLRA race on Thursday, too.

Aaron I’ve seen run in the mods in the past and he was very formidable. But to beat a field like the Seitz two years in a row should cause everyone to take some notice about his late model prowess.

The Seitz pulled in 18 cars from South Dakota, including six late models and six modifieds. Part of the appeal to me as a fan is seeing some drivers from outside the area come to town, and in this case, most are quality foes. You had some quality late models from Wisconsin (Chad Mahder, A.J. Diemel and Jesse Glenz) and two from the Iron Range (Jeff Provinzino and Jeffrey Massingill).

Jeffrey Massingill of Keewatin, Minn., looked like he had a legit shot of winning the race as the laps waned. He had to go through the B main, made it through it, and then started 23rd on the field. He ran about as low as you could run at River Cities and steadily worked through the field. He ended up in fifth — certainly a great run — but he put on a show during that feature. He always seems to run well in Grand Forks.

Glenz was making his first appearance at the Seitz but man did he put on a show. He battled Turnbull for the lead and was part of the frantic final lap 3-car battle with Turnbull and Diemel.

I think I might be a curse for the Tollakson family of Montevideo, especially Jordan. Usually when I watch him his #32 machine is a strong foe. But this year pretty much each time I’ve seen him he’s wrecked, and none where his doing. Both he and his brother Jon, a modified rookie, had crappy weekends at the Seitz.

The Meyer racing team out of Wahpeton had a nice Seitz Memorial. Casey Meyer finished fourth in the late model feature on Saturday and thoroughly impressed me. His cousin Shawn finished 13th. Considering earlier this season both were in a rough crash at River Cities I think both erased memories of that with their performances this week.

Ryan Gierke of Villard might be the most improved driver in the RaceChaser area this year. He ran a really nice race in the mods on Saturday and nearly had a top five out of it. He finished sixth after starting 14th. He’s come a long way over the past two years and got his first career win and A mod win on July 9.

I visited with Mike Stearns of Hecla, S.D. some during Friday’s rain delay. Stearns is one of those guys who loves the Seitz event and usually runs pretty well at River Cities. He has one win this season but has finished in the top five 17 times in 29 starts.

Matt Gilbertson of Montevideo and Zach Johnson of Lowry are two Minnesota mod drivers who run well every year at the Seitz. Gilbertson, who has five wins this season, including a big win at ABC Raceway in Ashland, Wis., earlier this month, finished fourth both nights; Johnson was a DNF on Friday but finished third on Saturday in Corey Svor’s #6x machine.

What an outstanding race for the lead between Michael Greseth of Harwood and Tyler Peterson of Hickson in Saturday’s mod feature. It was good, hard, clean racing and the type I’d like to video and send to young drivers on how to race that way. Peterson held on for the hard-fought win.

The street stock A feature was stacked — I counted 15 of the 24 starters having at least one win this season. Speaking of street stocks, how about the night for Justin Vogel. He arrived on Saturday — coming after Madison postponed till Sunday — started in the back of the B main, made the feature, and made a big-time charge through the field to finish fourth. Had there been another caution, who knows. Vogel is a former street stock national champion.

Saturday’s mod feature was the same — 15 of the 24 starters had feature wins this season.

It was really a fun night Saturday at River Cities after a cruddy weather night on Friday.

Skalicky Makes Big Show at Boone

Weather made a total mess of the IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa. It meant racing well into the morning and starting racing at 9 a.m. Talk about an exhausting week for everyone there.

One positive for RaceChaser area was Jesse Skalicky of Fargo making the A main — out of more than 250 modifieds. To me that’s a huge accomplishment for a driver who isn’t that long into his IMCA Mod career. Remember, it was a few years ago when he was dominating the IMCA Sport Mods around here. Skalicky finished 25th out of 33 cars but to me making the show in Boone is what the big news is.

Skalicky is the two-time IMCA Mod Track Champion at Norman County Raceway in Ada.

Andrew Jochim of Glyndon also competed in the IMCA Stock Cars in Boone.

Gerdes Wins at Madison

I was really hoping to make it to Madison Speedway this season. It is the track I grew up going to and it is the track I have so many memories of. I wish we had a track in this area that was shaped and prepped like Madison (I watched the show on DRC). Some great racing in most classes.

Madison started late because of Covid rules (July 18 was the opener) and rained out twice. Their Saturday show was postponed to Sunday. So the track hasn’t had great luck in those areas this year.

By the way, have to give a shoutout to drivers from my hometown who won features at Madison — Josh Grinager (Wissota Pure Stock) and Mike Jans (Wissota Street Stock). Grinager’s older brother Jeremy was two years older than me in school (and a good racer in his own right) and I think Josh is 3 years younger than me. Josh looked good in his 44X machine.

Jans had a short-lived retirement but has been a top street stock driver in that area for years. He passed Justin Vogel of Brooten (which doesn’t happen often) and Cory Dykhoff of Perham to get the win, his second of 2020.

Brian Haben of Appleton was unbeaten in the Wissota Mods this season and it looked like he’d make it 7-of-7. He and Brady Gerdes of Villard set a feverish pace and extended a big advantage on the rest of the field. Haben had a 4-5 car lengths on Gerdes, but the Viking Speedway track champion was slowly closing in. Then, all of a sudden — and I didn’t see how it happened on the video — Gerdes was in front by a decent margin. Gerdes became the first driver not named Haben to win a mod feature at Madison this season. The win was the fourth for Gerdes, who is a consistent top five car wherever he goes — he has 18 top fives in 27 starts this year.

Haben, the Madison track champ, had right-front trouble according to the announcer and slowed big-time late, and limped to fourth. Haben was also the runner-up to Dusty Bitzan of Brandon at I-94 Sure Step Speedway. He’s dang tough in that Ford-powered #6.

The Midwest Modified feature went caution free, which meant if you were in the back you had a real uphill climb. Cody the Cobra Lee started eighth on the field and finished fourth, which was a good run considering how much ground he had to make up. Justin Bjorklund of Glenwood, who by the way runs a Crate motor, won the race. I actually used to watch Bjorklund in a mod 4 years ago when I announced at Grove Creek.

Kukowski, Rodin Win at Day of Sauerkraut 500

Night 2 of the Sauerkraut 500 was held Sunday at Tri-County Speedway in Wishek, N.D.

Alex Kukowski of Edgeley won the INEX Legend feature. Ryan Braseth of Ulen, who won at Southwest Speedway in Dickinson on Saturday, was second.

Lucas Rodin of Marion won the modified feature. Jordan Sours of Lisbon was fourth.

Kyle Anderson of Jamestown was second in the Wissota Street Stock feature with Billie Christ of Jamestown taking fourth. Christ won for the seventh time on Saturday.

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