By: Paul Reichert
Photo By Kevin Ramsell
October 8, 2023
The sun finally shined on the LaCrosse Speedway to close out the 54th Oktoberfest Race Weekend, and the finish to the 54th edition will be remembered for years to come. When the home team is being soundly outplayed, you see the crowd making their way to the exits to beat the traffic. Sometimes it is appropriate but other times they will regret it when the home team puts together an unbelievable comeback. The same holds true in racing when a caution stymies a driver’s dominant performance. You have to stick around for the finish because you never know what can happen at the end of a race. That was the case with the final 20 laps of the Oktoberfest 200. Ty Majeski and Dalton Zehr tangled while battling for the win on a restart and ended Majeski’s quest for $20,000 in the Ultimate Challenge. Gabe Sommers was the beneficiary of that incident as he drove away with both an Oktoberfest championship and the ASA Midwest Tour season points title.
The big 200 lap Oktoberfest feature for the ASA Midwest Tour saw Bryan Syer-Keske (Lakeville, MN) charge by young lion Ty Fredrickson (Webster, MN) for the lead at the start Ryan Farrell (Big Bend, WI) powered by Fredrickson to move into second on lap three. Coming from his ninth starting spot, Johnny Sauter (DeForest, WI) was quickly on the move to the front as he broke into the top five on lap 22. After accepting the Ultimate Challenge that had grown to just over $20,000 overnight, Ty Maejski was slicing his way through traffic after starting shotgun on the field. Majeski would crack the top ten on lap 36 and he was still seeking to further advance himself through the pack. Joseph Scholze (Holmen, WI) got wicked loose on lap 47 and tagged the inside front straight wall. Somehome Scholze was able to get his race car back under control, but he would retire from competition a couple of laps later. Dillon Hammond (Grand Marsh, WI) spun in front of the leaders in turn one on lap 56 to bring out the yellow. Sauter wasted little time on the restart in passing Syer-Keske to take command of the race on lap 62. Two laps later Majeski’s forward progress got him into the top five at the expense of Ty Fredrickson. Dan Fredrickson (Lakeville,MN) shot past Syer-Keske for second on lap 65 and began to slowly reel in Sauter for the lead. Majeski was a man on a mission as he powered around Syer-Keske to take over third place on lap 74. Just when it looked like Fredrickson was going to challenge Sauter for the lead, Sauter may have put on the afterburners on lap 85 as he began to pull away and open up a huge advantage on Fredrickson. The top five at the crossed flags were Sauter, Dan Fredrickson, Majeski, Zehr and point leader Gabe Sommers.
Lapped traffic suddenly created a huge fight over the runner-up spot just after the mid-race point. Dalton Zehr (Port Orange, FL) was able to catch up to Dan Fredrickson and Majeski despite the occasional puff of black smoke from the rear of the race car. Once that trio got through the traffic, Zehr went right to work in driving around Majeski to claim third on lap 108. Zehr did a killer crossover move to power under Fredrickson to become the new second place runner on lap 116. The competition caution came out on lap 121, and could not have come at a better time for several drivers to make adjustments to their race cars for the final 75 laps or so. As Sauter remained in command of the race, Fredrickson tried to challenge Zehr on the outside on the restart. Zehr powered back by Fredrickson to remain in second on lap 127 and began to close up on Sauter for the lead. Zehr was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Sauter in his quest for a first Oktoberfest championship. Zehr took several looks low to find that opening, but could not complete the pass despite have a missing hood pin that was causing a corner of Zehr’s hood to flap in the breeze. Zehr got under Sauter again for the lead, but this time the move paid off as he surged by Sauter for the lead on lap 146. A little further back Majeski was applying a lot of pressure on Fredrickson for third, which finally resulted in Majeski moving up on lap 153. Whatever adjustments Zehr’s crew made during the competition caution were working as Zehr was pulling away from Sauter. Another competition caution flew with 23 laps, but then the action got very interesting over the final 20 laps.
Majeski tested the limits by going three wide under both Zehr and Sauter on the restart. Majeski and Zehr cleared Sauter and ran side-by-side down the back straight. Majeski may have drifted up in three and four, causing Zehr to touch him and send Majeski into the spin cycle. Zehr ran over the left front of Majeski’s car and both went into the wall. Dan Fredrickson suffered heavy right side damage, while Chris Weinkauf (Merrill, WI) had nowhere to go and became the innocent bystander of the incident. As the field was coming to the green on the back straight, Sauter suddenly slowed with a possible broken rear axle. Sommers and Ty Fredrickson brought the field to green on the final restart. Sommers got shot out of a cannon to pull away from Fredrickson, while Syer-Keske found a way under Fredrickson to move into second with eight laps to go. Sommers put the cherry on top of the sundae as he became the 32nd Oktoberfest champion and wrapped up the ASA Midwest Tour championship. Syer-Keske fought back Ty Fredrickson to claim second and wrap up the Rookie of the Year title.
In the Gandrud 602 Cratetoberfest Challenge feature, Mason Hellenbrand (Verona, WI) charged past Brent Kirchner (Stoddard, WI) for the lead at the start. Kirchner was fighting a loose race truck as he started to slip back through the field. Scott Mahlum (Onalaska, WI) spun out in turn three and tagged the outside wall on lap six to slow the action. Hellenbrand pulled away from the field on the restart, but the fast cars of Tom Carlson (West Salem, WI), Brad Warthan (Sparta, WI) and new track record holder Adam Peschek (Oconomowoc, WI) were quickly making their way to the front. Once all three made in up to the top four, Warthan and Peschek got into their own little battle for third that eventually went to Warthan. Suddenly Hellenbrand broke loose in turn four and touched the wall on lap 14, but Hellenbrand was able to continue without a ton of damage that could have ended his day. That gave the lead to Carlson on the restart, and the win became a three horse race. Carlson maintained a three car length lead over Warthan during the second half of the race to drive away with a second consecutive 602 Cratetoberfest victory. After the race, Carlson got to draw someone’s number out of the box to win a brand new 602 crate motor. The lucky winner of this year’s drawing was multi-time LaCrosse Hobby Stock champion Jason Bolster.
Tracey Prissel (Tomah, WI) made quick work of Michael Breckenridge (Northfield, MN) to lead the early going of the 15 lap Midwest Vintage Racing Series feature. As Prissel began to open up his lead on the field, the faster cars were working a bit harder to get to the front. Todd Korish (Holmen, WI), Brian Hesselberg (Bangor, WI), Rich Bickle, Jr. (Edgerton, WI) and Dan Linnehan (Leon, WI) broke into the top five by lap six and were fast closing in on Prissel. Hesselberg was the first to catch up to Prissel on lap eight, and Hesselberg moved to the outside to power around Prissel to take the lead on lap nine. Korish was sticking right behind Hesselberg and it only took Korish two laps to dive under Hesselberg to take the lead with three laps to go. Le Larsen (Brooklyn, WI) lost control of his car and tagged the turn one wall with two laps to go. Prissel also spun to avoid the incident and may have been touched by Bickle, Jr. Korish pulled away from Hesselberg and Bickle, Jr. in the final two lap showdown to win his second straight UMVRS feature.
Now that the final checkered flag has been displayed, the 2023 racing season is in the books at the LaCrosse Speedway. We want to thank the race fans and race teams that traveled great distances to be a part of Wisconsin’s biggest racing weekend, the 54th Oktoberfest Race Weekend. We hope you all can return for the 55th running of Oktoberfest on October 3 through 6 of 2024. A big thanks to the local race fans and race teams that supported the local racing scene on Saturday nights throughout the 2023 racing season here at LaCrosse. A huge round of applause goes out to our track staff and race officials in the pits for their hard work and efforts to make things run as smoothly as possible every race night.
Now we settle in for a long snowy and cold winter, but we will be thinking about and looking forward to the brand new 2024 racing season on the horizon. Visit our web site at lacrossespeedway.com or make sure to like our Facebook page to stay in the news loop on our plans for the upcoming 2024 racing year. Once we know the details of the racing season to come, you can call the track office at 608-786-1525. LaCrosse Speedway is proud to be a NASCAR Hometrack, part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series.
ASA Midwest Tour
Feature (200 laps): 1. Gabe Sommers, 2. Bryan Syer-Keske, 3. Ty Fredrickson, 4. Ryan Farrell, 5. Riley Stenjem, 6. Travis Volm, 7. Dan Fredrickson, 8. Kole Guralski, 9. Jacob Goede, 10. Justin Mondeik, 11. Tristan Swanson, 12. Doni Wanat, 13. Harley Jankowski, 14. Johnny Sauter, 15. Dalton Zehr, 16. Ty Majeski, 17. Chris Weinkauf, 18. Braison Bennett, 19. Max Kahler, 20. Dillon Hammond, 21. Cameron Clifford, 22. Levon Van der Geest, 23. Carter Christenson, 24. Andrew Morrissey, 25. Matthew Henderson, 26. Joseph Scholze, 27. Barrett Polhemus, 28. Jason Weinkauf
Gandrud 602 Cratetoberfest Challenge
Feature (25 laps): 1. Tom Carlson, 2. Brad Warthan, 3. Adam Peschek, 4. Casey Korsmo, 5. Danielle Behn, 6. Cody Vanderloop, 7. Austin Powers, 8. Rob Braun, 9. Dave Edwards, 10. Brent Kirchner, 11. Nick Quinnell, 12. Mason Hellenbrand, 13. Bob Fort, 14. Mark Challet, 15. Brett Wachowiacz, 16. Bryce Miller, 17. Zach Oliver, 18. Jason Bolster, 19. Tanner Berge, 20. Jason Stark, 21. Scott Mahlum
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Mark Challet, 2. Brett Wachowiacz, 3. NIck Quinnell, 4. Zach Oliver, 5. Scott Mahlum, 6. Jason Bolster, 7. BIll Prietzel, 8. Bob Fort
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Rob Braun, 2. Dave Edwards, 3. Jason Stark, 4. Danielle Behn, 5. Brent Kirchner, 6. Mason Hellenbrand, 7. Bryce Miller
Heat #3 (8 laps): 1. Tanner Berge, 2. Brad Warthan, 3. Adam Peschek, 4. Kasey Korsmo, 5. Tom Carlson, 6. Cody Vanderloop, 7. Austin Powers
Qualifying: 1. Adam Peschek (New Track Record–19.838), 2. Brad Warthan, 3. Tom Carlson, 4. Kasey Korsmo, 5. Cody Vanderloop, 6. Braden Berge, 7. Austin Powers, 8. Danielle Behn, 9. Mason Hellenbrand, 10. Jason Stark, 11. Dave Edwards, 12. Rob Bruan, 13. Bryce Miller, 14. Brent Kirchner, 15. Bill Prietzel, 16. Bob Fort, 17. Brett Wachowiacz, 18. Mark Challet, 19. Nick Quinnell, 20. Zach Oliver, 21. Jason Bolster, 22. Scott Mahlum
Upper Midwest Vintage Racing Series
Feature (15 laps): 1. Todd Korish, 2. Brian Heseslberg, 3. Rich Bickle, Jr., 4. Dan Linnehan, 5. Jim Kulseth, 6. Sean Herzog, 7. Justin Jessop, 8. Tom Gille, 9. Travis Gordon, 10. Tracey Prissel, 11. Eric Melchior, 12. Jamie Dummer, 13. Roger Frank, 14. Michael Breckenbridge, 15. Tim Buck, 16. Paul Dolphy III, 17. Le Larsen, 18. Brian Hanson, 19. John Meyer, 20. Roger Peterson, 21. Brian Lee, 22. Ken Christenson, 23. Tim Lind
Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Justin Jessop, 2. Tracey Prissel, 3. Ken Christenson, 4. Eric Melchior, 5. John Meyer, 6. Travis Gordon, 7. Roger Frank, 8. Michael Breckenridge, 9. Le Larsen, 10. Tim Buck, 11. Paul Dolphy III
Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Brian Hesselberg, 2. Kenny Baum, 3. Sean Herzog, 4. Jim Kulseth, 5. Todd Korish, 6. Dan Linnehan, 7. Tom Gille, 8. Brian Lee, 9. Jamei Dummer, 10. Tim Lind