Seven champions crowned in Manitowoc swan song
By Jeff Pederson, Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS) September 3, 2016 – With a capacity crowd of well-wishers in a bustling grandstand and an overflow contingent of 179 cars in the jam-packed pit area, Eastern Wisconsin Stock Cars crowned track champions and honored race winners for the final time ever at the Manitowoc Speedway Saturday, Sept. 3.
The spectacular turnout of present and past drivers, crews, sponsors, fans and track workers provided for a fitting conclusion to EWSC’s 12-year run at the Manitowoc Speedway facility.
The evening was bittersweet for all racing supporters on hand as the speedway is scheduled to close and be removed as the Meijer store chain is currently in final negotiations with Manitowoc County to purchase a portion of the Manitowoc Expo Speedway, including the grandstand and race track area.
As a result, the future of EWSC, which has sanctioned races in the area since 1960, remains in doubt.
On the track, the competition on the track’s final night was in large part what racers and fans have come to expect at Manitowoc Speedway – highly competitive and action-packed. The evening featured 36 total races, including 23 heats, 5 B mains and 8 A mains completed in a span of 5 and a half hours.
The final group of Manitowoc Speedway track titlists etched their names into the record books. The list of 2016 EWSC champions includes Brandon McMullen of Plymouth (Sprint Cars), Tim Buhler of Greenbush (Late Models), Jamie Schmidt of Seymour (Modifieds), Brian Bruechert of Kewaunee (Sport Mods), Brad Lubach of Kiel (Grand Nationals), Shaun Bangart of Chilton (Sport 4s) and Walker Bergene of Whitelaw (Thunder Trucks).
Seven A main winners took home trophies as well. Jim Melis of Glenbeulah earned his first Sprint Car A main triumph of the season, Mitch McGrath of Waukesha earned his second Late Model A main victory of 2016 at Manitowoc, Shawn Kilgore of New Franken made his first Manitowoc Speedway appearance of the season count with an A-main victory in the Modified headliner, Sheboygan’s Travis Arenz racked up his fourth A-main triumph of the season in the Sport Mod division, Kodiak Wirtz of Menomonee Falls claimed his third Grand National main event win, Chilton’s Shaun Bangart won the Sport 4 main event for the sixth time this year, Brandon Peterson of Sturgeon Bay earned his first Thunder Truck main event victory and Edward Anschutz of Two Rivers claimed the victory in the SBR Customs Matt Schuh Memorial Street Stock feature race.
The evening’s events began with a tribute to Matt Schuh of Manitowoc, who lost his life after suffering a medical problem while competing in a Grand National heat race, during the EWSC racing program on Aug. 24.
Schuh’s fellow firefighters from the Valders and Whitelaw volunteer fire departments were on hand, as well as the firefighters and first responders who tended to Schuh at the track on Aug. 24. All 29 Grand National drivers in attendance took a lap around the track and the Street Stock car of Erik Turner of Two Rivers carried the black flag during the National Anthem in Schuh’s honor.
After the initial start of the 20-lap Sprint Car A main was waved off for a spin involving outside front row starter Nich Melis of Plymouth, polesitter Jim Melis jumped into the lead on the drop of the green flag.
Third starter Lance Fassbender of Burnett followed closely in Melis’ tire tracks along on the far outside lane of the smooth, multi-groove racing surface.
The second caution flag of the race appeared on lap 7 after Tyler Brabant of Waupun spun in turn three.
On the ensuring restart Fassbender attempted a slide job in the first and second turns, but Melis was able to power around on the outside to maintain the top spot. Melis, Fassbender and fifth starter Scotty Neitzel of Beaver Dam, who was running third in Bob Hood’s 10w car, encountered lapped traffic on lap 15, which allowed Fassbender to close in and make another bid for the lead.
Fassbender was able to pull even with Melis as the two maneuvered around a slower car in turn four on lap 18, but again Melis was able to maintain the lead.
The 35-year veteran driver held on over the final two laps to notch his 17th career Midwest Sprint Car Association (MSA) A main victory and his first of the season at Manitowoc. Fassbender was second, Neitzel took third, Kurt Davis of West Allis came from his ninth starting spot to finish fourth and fourth starter Wayne Modjeski of Oak Creek placed fifth.
Brandon McMullen, who came into the A main leading Paul Pokorski of West Bend by just two points in the race for the Sprint Car track title. McMullen placed seventh in the A main, while Pokorski was ninth, giving McMullen his first EWSC Sprint Car championship at Manitowoc Speedway.
Polesitter Randy Markwardt of Sheboygan led the first lap of the 25-lap Late Model A main, while seventh starter Mitch McGrath charged through the pack to wrestle the lead away from Markwardt in turn three on lap 2.
By lap 13, McGrath had to deal with lapped traffic, which helped fifth starter Justin Schmidt of Cleveland move within striking distance. After hounding McGrath for eight laps, Schmidt pulled to the outside and maneuvered around McGrath and a slower car to assume the lead on lap 21.
However, Schmidt’s lead was short-lived as McGrath battled back to regain the lead using the outside groove on lap 22.
McGrath pulled way over the final three laps to notch his second victory of the season at Manitowoc, while Schmidt wound up second in the caution-free race. Tony Peterson of Big Bend recorded a strong third-place showing after starting fourth, eighth starter Jim Schmidt of Cleveland took fourth and sixth starter Taylor Schleffler of Waukesha came home fifth.
Tim Buhler placed sixth to secure the 2016 EWSC Late Model championship.
A highly competitive Modified A main featured four different leaders over the action-packed 20 lap race distance.
Outside front row starter Matt Jackson of Sheboygan paced the first lap before fourth starter Jamie Schmidt took over the top spot on lap 2. One lap later, third starter Mark Joski of Denmark passed Schmidt to grab the lead.
As Joski held the top spot over the next nine laps, heated battles were taking place all over the place behind him as Shawn Kilgore sliced through the field from his 12th starting spot to assume third place on lap five.
Following a caution on lap 10 for debris, Kilgore made his move on lap 11, sliding past Schmidt to assume the top spot with 11th starter Jeremy Jacobs of Luxemburg trailing close behind.
As Kilgore held his own in front of the field, Jacobs and Joski dueled back and forth in the closing laps for the runner-up spot. Kilgore raced away to score the A main victory in his first appearance at Manitowoc this year. Joski took second, Eric Scribner of Kiel placed third after starting fifth, Jacobs was fourth and Russ Reinwald of Iron Ridge, who started sixth, took fifth.
Jamie Schmidt finished sixth to secure the 2016 EWSC Modified track championship.
Polesitter Jayden Schmidt of Seymour grabbed the lead in turn one on lap 1 of the 20-lap Sport Mod A main, while Hunter Parsons of Green Bay, John Rothmund of Manitowoc and Cody Schroeder of Manitowoc engaged in an epic duel for second place.
After a five-car pileup brought out a caution on lap 4, Travis Arenz began to make his presence felt as he moved into second on lap 6 before powering past Schmidt in turn three on lap 9.
Over the final 11 laps, Rothmund charged in to pull up to Arenz’s bumper on a few occasions and Chris Budzban of Luxemburg moved up from his 11th starting spot to seize the third position.
Arenz held on to claim his fourth victory of the season at Manitowoc, followed by Rothmund in second, Budzban took third, Schroeder placed fourth and eighth starter Travis Hansen of Brillion was fifth.
Brian Bruechert finished seventh to wrap up the 2016 EWSC Sport Mod Manitowoc Speedway track championship.
After two multi-car incidents negated the first two attempts to start the 20-lap Grand National A main, polesitter Steven Wirtz of led the first three laps of the race.
On lap four, third starter Tyler Kulow of Plymouth passed Wirtz with a low move to take over the lead. One lap later, 10th starter Kodiak Wirtz raced past both Steven Wirtz and Kulow with a nifty low move on lap five.
One lap later, Don Sorce Jr. of West Allis raced into second place from his 13th starting spot and began to close on Kodiak Wirtz at the front of the field.
Kodiak Wirtz held off runner-up Sorce Jr. and sixth starter Brad Lubach, who came home third to secure the Grand National season points championship. Eighth starter Mark Fieber of Cascade placed fourth and Jeff Lammers of Plymouth finished fifth after starting 16th.
Ryan Minster of Sheboygan went into the night as the Grand National point leader. However, a rear end failure relegated him to a 19th place finish in the A main and allowed Lubach to claim the Grand National track title.
In the 10-lap Sport 4 A main, Shaun Bangart notched his sixth main event victory of the season to nail down the 2016 track championship. Nathan Lisowe of Chilton was second, Chris Maas of Oakfield placed third, Cody Pankow of Lomira took fourth and Brody Rivest of Sheboygan rounded out the top five.
Brandon Peterson was the winner in the 6-lap Thunder Truck A main, followed by 2016 Thunder Truck track champion Walker Bergene in second and Mark Starr of Seymour in third.
Edward Anschutz prevailed in the SBR Customs Matt Schuh Memorial Street Stock A main over Erik Turner (second), Andy Fuhrmann of Brillion (third), Dustin Holland of Burlington (fourth) and Cody Potter of Pell Lake (fifth).
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1, Paul Pokorski. 2, Kurt Davis. 3, Mitchell Yurmanovich. 4, Tim Haddy. 5,
Justin Miller. 6, Andrew Westphal. 7, Ryan Mayr. 8, Randy Walter.
1, Doug Wondra. 2, Brandon McMullen. 3, Jim Melis. 4, Will Gerrits. 5,
Shane Wenninger. 6, Danny Schlafer. 7, Jeff Ludwig. 8, Samantha
1, KenJay Fiedler. 2, Tony Wondra. 3, Lance Fassbender. 4, Wayne
Modjeski. 5, Garrett Timothy. 6, Dannon Tessmer. 7, Josh Teunissen. 8,
1, Scotty Neitzel. 2, Chris Clayton. 3, Nich Melis. 4, Dick Kaiser. 5, Douglas
Pietz. 6, Derek Siegel. 7, Tyler Brabant. 8, Bill Taylor.
1, Danny Schlafer. 2, Mitchell Yurmanovich. 3, Dick Kaiser. 4, Dannon
Tessmer. 5, Tyler Brabant. 6, Scott Conger. 7, Andrew Westphal. 8, Garrett
Timothy. 9, Ryan Mayr. 10, Josh Teunissen. 11, Randy Walter. 12, Bill
Taylor. 13, Samantha Portschy. 14, Derek Siegel. 15, Jeff Ludwig. 16, Will
1, Jim Melis. 2, Lance Fassbender. 3, Scotty Neitzel. 4, Kurt Davis. 5,
Wayne Modjeski. 6, Danny Schlafer. 7, Brandon McMullen. 8, Doug
Wondra. 9, Paul Pokorski. 10, Chris Clayton. 11, Mitchell Yurmanovich. 12,
KenJay Fiedler. 13, Justin Miller. 14, Tim Haddy. 15, Douglas Pietz. 16,
Shane Wenninger. 17, Scott Conger. 18, Dannon Tessmer. 19, Andrew
Westphal. 20, Tyler Brabant. 21, Tony Wondra. 22, Nich Melis.
1, Jim Schmidt. 2, Chris Carlson. 3, Justin Schmidt. 4, James Letizia. 5,
Charlie Schmidt. 6, Scott Haugstad.
1, Taylor Scheffler. 2, Randy Markwardt. 3, Turk Letizia. 4, Kyle Odekirk. 5,
Ron Stroika. 6, Phil Rehberg.
1, Tim Buhler. 2, TJ Dolhun. 3, Tony Peterson. 4, Mitch McGrath. 5, David
Jaeger. 6, Eric Michaels.
1, Mitch McGrath. 2, Justin Schmidt. 3, Tony Peterson. 4, Jim Schmidt. 5,
Taylor Scheffler. 6, Tim Buhler. 7, Kyle Odekirk. 8, Randy Markwardt. 9, TJ
Dolhun. 10, Chris Carlson. 11, Turk Letizia. 12, Charlie Schmidt. 13, Ron
Stroika. 14, David Jaeger. 15, James Letizia. 16, Phil Rehberg. 17, Eric
Michaels. 18, Scott Haugstad.
PROFESSIONAL PLATING MODIFIEDS
1, Eric Scribner. 2, Matt Jackson. 3, Jeremy Jacobs. 4, Brad Theys. 5, Joel
Seegert. 6, Bill Tandetzke. 7, Randy Theys. 8, Jeff Bodendorfer Jr..
1, Mark Joski. 2, Russ Reinwald. 3, Jay Matthias. 4, Shawn Kilgore. 5, Randy
Markwardt Jr. 6, RJ Gerber. 7, Logan Rhode. 8, Marcus Hoeppner.
1, Jamie Schmidt. 2, Kyle Kudick. 3, Mike Klenz. 4, Greg Gretz. 5, Josh
Lambert. 6, TJ Smith. 7, Mark Sehvenemaun. 8, Mark Brunner.
1, Randy Markwardt Jr. 2, Joel Seegert. 3, Josh Lambert. 4, TJ Smith. 5, RJ
Gerber. 6, Mark Sehvenemaun. 7, Randy Theys. 8, Logan Rhode. 9, Jeff
Bodendorfer Jr.. 10, Marcus Hoeppner. 11, Mark Brunner. 12, Bill
1, Shawn Kilgore. 2, Mark Joski. 3, Eric Scribner. 4, Jeremy Jacobs. 5, Russ
Reinwald. 6, Jamie Schmidt. 7, Randy Markwardt Jr. 8, Jay Matthias. 9,
Brad Theys. 10, Logan Rhode. 11, Randy Theys. 12, Matt Jackson. 13, TJ
Smith. 14, Mark Sehvenemaun. 15, Mike Klenz. 16, Josh Lambert. 17, Joel
Seegert. 18, Kyle Kudick. 19, RJ Gerber. 20, Greg Gretz.
CALIBRE COATINGS UNLIMITED SPORT MODS
1, Travis Hansen. 2, Jayden Schmidt. 3, Brandon Berth. 4, Glen Blanke. 5,
Rick Kretschmann. 6, Mark Hoeppner. 7, Spencer Long. 8, Rory Welch.
1, Sawyer Haese. 2, Chris Budzban. 3, Brian Bruechert. 4, Brandon
Knepprath. 5, Russ Franks. 6, Craig Gessner. 7, Gabe Zellner.
1, Hunter Parsons. 2, Cody Schroeder. 3, Bill Edler. 4, Ryan LeMieux. 5,
Seth Hoeffner. 6, Justin Bauer. 7, Andrew Meyerhofer.
1, Travis Arenz. 2, Jacob Zellner. 3, John Rothmund. 4, Justin Green. 5,
Barry Maas. 6, Cole Fenske. 7, Kassi Krause.
1, Ryan LeMieux. 2, Barry Maas. 3, Justin Green. 4, Russ Franks. 5, Brandon
Knepprath. 6, Cole Fenske. 7, Rick Kretschmann. 8, Justin Bauer. 9, Seth
Hoeffner. 10, Glen Blanke. 11, Andrew Meyerhofer. 12, Craig Gessner. 13,
Spencer Long. 14, Mark Hoeppner. 15, Rory Welch. 16, Kassi Krause. (DNS)
1, Travis Arenz. 2, John Rothmund. 3, Chris Budzban. 4, Cody Schroeder. 5,
Travis Hansen. 6, Jayden Schmidt. 7, Brian Bruechert. 8, Brandon Berth. 9,
Russ Franks. 10, Justin Green. 11, Brandon Knepprath. 12, Hunter Parsons.
13, Cole Fenske. 14, Justin Bauer. 15, Bill Edler. 16, Barry Maas. 17,
Sawyer Haese. 18, Jacob Zellner. 19, Rick Kretschmann. 20, Ryan LeMieux. (DQ)
1, Justin Erickson. 2, Tim Simon. 3, Kevin Lubach. 4, Richard Hed. 5, James
Pagel. 6, Don Singer. 7, Shane Long.
1, Steve Wirtz. 2, Brad Weiss. 3, Mark Fieber. 4, Brian Gilles. 5, Steven
Weber. 6, Melissa Singer. 7, Chase Solomon.
1, Gregg Haese. 2, Ryan Minster. 3, Matt Yancey. 4, David Gauger Jr. 5,
Josh Pierce. 6, Brian Goetsch. 7, Chris Gilson. 8, Collin Skindzelewski.
1, Tyler Kulow. 2, Kodiak Wirtz. 3, Brad Lubach. 4, Don Sorce Jr. 5, Kurt
Davis. 6, Jeff Lammers. 7, Dale Cayemberg.
1, Don Sorce Jr. 2, Brian Gilles. 3, Kurt Davis. 4, Jeff Lammers. 5,
Steven Weber. 6, Josh Pierce. 7, David Gauger Jr. 8, Dale Cayemberg. 9,
James Pagel. 10, Don Singer. 11, Chris Gilson. 12, Collin Skindzelewski. 13,
Melissa Singer. 14, Chase Solomon. 15, Richard Hed. 16, Shane Long (DNS).
1, Kodiak Wirtz. 2, Don Sorce Jr. 3, Brad Lubach. 4, Mark Fieber. 5, Jeff
Lammers. 6, Tyler Kulow. 7, Justin Erickson. 8, Kevin Lubach. 9, Gregg
Haese. 10, Tim Simon. 11, Steven Weber. 12, Matt Yancey. 13, Dale
Cayemberg. 14, Brad Weiss. 15, David Gauger Jr. 16, Kurt Davis. 17,
Steve Wirtz. 18, Brian Gilles. 19, Ryan Minster. 20, Josh Pierce. (DNS).
1, Shaun Bangart. 2, Mitch Meier. 3, Alvin Testroete. 4, Scott Schlafke. 5,
Mark Kuhfuss. 6, Scott Kafka. 7, Justin Finlan.
1, Chris Maas. 2, Roger Braun. 3, Tony Fox. 4, Matt DeWilde. 5, Dusty
Salm 6, Brody Rivest. 7, Adam Broehm. (DNS).
1, Mike Meier. 2, Courtney Atkinson. 3, Tony Fletcher. 4, Jason Dondlinger.
5, Jordan Klemmer. 6, Robby Schlafke. 7, Sarah Van der Vaart.
1, Nathan Lisowe. 2, Cody Pankow. 3, Mike Zitzer. 4, Corey Suttner. 5,
Philip Campanella. 6, Adam Broehm (DNS).
1, Brody Rivest. 2, Scott Schlafke. 3, Jordan Klemmer. 4, Mark Kuhfuss. 5,
Matt DeWilde. 6, Corey Suttner. 7, Robby Schlafke. 8, Justin Finlan. 9, Scott
Kafka. 10, Jason Dondlinger. 11, Dusty Salm. 12, Sarah Van der
Vaart. 13, Philip Campanella (DQ). 14, Adam Broehm (DNS).
1, Shaun Bangart. 2, Nathan Lisowe. 3, Chris Maas. 4, Cody Pankow. 5,
Brody Rivest. 6, Mike Meier. 7, Mike Zitzer. 8, Courtney Atkinson. 9, Jordan
Klemmer. 10, Mark Kuhfuss. 11, Matt DeWilde. 12, Scott Schlafke. 13,
Robby Schlafke. 14, Mitch Meier. 15, Tony Fletcher. 16, Corey Suttner. 17,
Tony Fox. 18, Justin Finlan. 19, Roger Braun. 20, Alvin Testroete.
1, Walker Bergene. 2, Brandon Peterson. 3, Mark Starr.
1, Brandon Peterson. 2, Walker Bergene. 3, Mark Starr.
1, Edward Anschutz. 2, Erik Turner. 3, Andy Fuhrmann. 4, Dustin Holland,
5, Cody Potter. 6, Jason Condrad. 7, Allen Dillon. 8, Jason Jensen. 9, Mike
Carter. 10, James Anderson. 11, Ford Maluitz. 12. Brian Krejcarek. 13. Noah