(by Nick Gima) Ashland, WI — It doesn’t seem that long ago the ABC Raceway capped off its 2011 stock-car racing season with one of the most exciting Red Clay Classic events in recent history.
But with the calendar quickly turing to spring and summer not far behind, the all-volunteer staff which operates the three-eighths-mile red-clay oval located just south of Ashland are already well into their preparations for the 48th season of action under the direction of the Ashland-Bayfield County Racing Association.
Once again the facility will host stock car racing under the lights on 16 Saturday nights from mid-May though the end of August. Five divisions will be in action – WISSOTA-sanctioned modifieds, super stocks and Midwest modifieds, plus the Raceway’s own six-cylinder class and the entry-level pure stocks.
As has become its custom, the venerable speedplant will officially start up the Northland’s racing season with its annual Car Show and Swap Meet, to be held this coming Saturday, May 5, from 10 am-2 pm at FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating, on US 2 and Industrial Park Drive in Ashland’s East End. Area racers are invited to bring their stock cars to FastLane for display to the general public, plus the racing equipment and specialty shop will welcome fans in for an “open house.” Food and refreshments will be served, and a live radio broadcast can be heard on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and on www.wbszfm.com.
Also during the Car Show, drivers can complete license and registration paperwork necessary for the upcoming season. Downloadable driver forms are also available online at www.abcraceway.com, with easy access to forward completed forms to track officials via the website.
Following the Car Show, the track will host an open practice session from 3-6 pm, weather permitting. The session is open to the public, and admission to both the grandstands and the pit area is free, but there will be a $25 fee for each race car brought in.
The on-track action then begins in earnest on May 12, and it continues every Saturday until the Championship Saturday season finale and Fan Appreciation Night on August 25.
In between there are lots of great events scheduled, including long-time popular staples of the ABC Raceway, special events for each of the track’s five weekly divisions, and the return of the IRA Outlaw Sprints.
Two of the traditional favorite race dates are aimed for younger fans. The Kids’ Meet the Drivers Night on June 2 includes a pre-race session where youngsters are welcomed onto the track to get an up-close look at the race cars and meet their racing heroes. Also, the kids take center stage on July 14, when they will get to race their bikes on the red-clay oval.
Another long-established event on the ABC calendar is the annual visit by the Northern Vintage Stockcar Racers club, to be held during “Turn Back the Clock Night” on June 16. And fans will appreciate the five-dollar adult admission ticket price on June 23 when the Raceway invites them to “Jam the Stands.”
The Interstate Racing Association’s traveling sprint car series made such a strong first impression on area race fans last summer that track management easily made the decision to welcome them back. The July 28 date is slated as part of a two-night race trip for the 410 winged sprinters, which hail primarily from southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. The group wowed last year’s capacity crowd with the fastest lap times ever attained here and are expected back with even sronger numbers.
Each of the ABC’s regular divisions will be spotlighted during different nights during the summer of ‘12, with enhanced purses offered for each headline division. The six-cylinders will be featured first, with their Summer Sizzler to be held on July 7, in conjuction with the AmsOil Qualifiers for the track’s three WISSOTA divisions.
The winners of each of the Qualifier features receives an invitation to compete in the prestigious AmsOil Race of Champions during the WISSOTA 100 weekend in Huron, SD, September 12-15.
Two weeks later, on July 21, the big mods get their chance at some extra money with a new “Modified Mayhem” event. With the discontinuation of the Como Mod Series, the ABC Raceway has taken the initiative among area tracks to come up with an event to replace the Series’ summer stop here.
The annual Super Stock Challenge returns and will be run along with the IRA sprint car show on July 28, and on August 4 the Mid-mods get their turn at an enhanced purse with “Midwest Mod Madness” night.
The ninth annual “Pure Excitement 25” pure stock special is set for August 18 and again promises to live up to its name as drivers from around the area compete in the entry-level division for a chance at big paychecks, made possible in large part from fan and sponsor contributions.
And no ABC Raceway calendar would be complete without the Northland’s traditional racing season finale. The 37th Red Clay Classic will feature the high-powered WISSOTA late models making their only appearance of the season here, as well as Mid-mods, super stocks and modifieds. Last year’s event saw 170 racers compete for a purse in excess of $70,000 and boasted three first-time winners.
The schedule includes 16 regular-season events plus the Red Clay Classic, and all five divisions will be in action in all but two of the regular-season nights – super stocks will get the night off on June 30, and modified, Mid-mod and pure stock drivers will take a break from action on July 28.
Two new sponsors – PetroChoice and Northern Finnish Mutual Insurance – join the list of great season-long supporters of racing at ABC Raceway, including the ABC Sportsmen’s Club; the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce; the Bad River Lodge, Casino & Convention Center; Chicago Iron & Supply; Baxter’s Speed Shop; FastLane Motorsports & Custom Powdercoating; Heartland Communications; Little Caesar’s Pizza; NAPA Auto Parts of Ashland & Washburn; Northern Clearing; the Northern State Bank; Northstar Beverage and Pepsi; Rivord Trucking; WIMI-FM; WITC-Ashland Campus; and Xtreme Sign & Graphix and X-Wraps.
A Fast-Lap Bonus will again be awarded to drivers in two features each race night who post the fastest lap based on the track’s electronic scoring system.
Track workers and other interested persons are reminded that weekly Monday night meetings will begin at the track on April 30 and continue through October 1. On Memorial Day and Labor Day Mondays, the meetings will be held the following Tuesdays.
The grandstand and pit gates will open at about 2 pm this Saturday for the practice session. For opening night on May 12, the pit gates will open just after 4 pm and the grandstand gates will open right at 5, with hot laps starting at 6:15 and the first race of the season set for around 7 pm. Admission prices will hold the line as in recent seasons, with tickets for fans ages 13 & older set at only $10, while fans ages 12 and under are welcome in for free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Prior to every race program all season long, “Race Night” will once again return to bring fans up-to-date with track news and weather information live on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and via webcast at www.wbszfm.com from 4:30-6 pm.
The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. For raceday information call (715) 682-4990, or log on to the track’s website, www.abcraceway.com.
2012 ABC Raceway Season Schedule
May 5 – Car Show @ FastLane Motorsports 10 am-2 pm; practice @ track 3-6 pm
May 12 – season opener
May 19 – full race program
May 26 – full race program
June 2 – Kids’ Meet the Drivers Night
June 9 – full race program
June 16 – Turn Back the Clock Night w/vintage racers
June 23 – Jam the Stands Night
June 30 – full race program (no super stocks)
July 7 – Amsoil Qualifiers, Six-Cyl Summer Sizzler
July 14 – kids’ bike races
July 21 – Modified Mayhem
July 28 – IRA sprints, Super Stock Challenge, sixes
August 4 – Midwest Mod Madness
August 11 – full race program
August 18 – Pure Excitement 25
August 25 – Championship Saturday, Fan Appreciation Night
September 28-29 – 37th Red Clay Classic
ABC 2012 schedule release