By Kevin Ramsell
Monday, September 18, 2006 (West Salem, WI) – Recently, Steve Carlson was running third in a Wisconsin Challenge Series event at Madison International Speedway when the white flag flew. When he came off of turn four, he saw that the leader was upside down and the second place runner was also involved. Carlson came to victory lane, sat on the driver side door and shook his head. All he could say was, “Wow!”
The West Salem, WI driver and nine-time ARTGO/NASCAR Autozone Elite Division Midwest Series champion will tell you that a lot of times that luck has been a factor in his racing career.
But, with La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in his backyard, one would think that he would have a more successful record at the speedway. “Well, it’s my home track and I should know how to make my car fast there and usually I tend to screw it up and end up slow,” Carlson recently stated. “I usually have better luck at other tracks than my home track.”
Carlson finally did break his bad luck streak when he claimed his only Oktoberfest Race Weekend championship in 2000 when he took home a record amount of $6,925. “I have been racing that deal since 1975. I won it one time and I finished second or third, I can’t count how many time that has happened. I sure would like to win it again if I could.” Carlson recalled.
When asked about the first thing that comes to his mind about Oktoberfest he gives a simple answer, “A lot of racing,” Carlson stated. Carlson is expected to compete in the Wisconsin Late Models, La Crosse Late Models, and the NASCAR Autozone Elite Division Midwest Series point standings.
Carlson so far has a good streak going. Besides winning last Friday night at MIS, he also captured the season finale feature event at La Crosse Fairgrounds on September 2nd. He ended the season finishing sixth in the point standings. He also sits third in the NASCAR Autozone Elite Division Midwest Series standings.
Steve’s son, Mike Carlson, completed his rookie season in the Kwik Trip Late Model division by finishing 10th in the standings. “Mike drives well, he finishes well and he keeps his nose clean,” Carlson stated when asked about his son’s progress.
If it is ever said that a racetrack owes a favor to a driver, it can be easily said that La Crosse owes one to Carlson. It was on July 9, 2005 when Carlson was involved in what was probably the worse wreck ever when he hit the wall head on and flipping in front of a packed crowd. At that time Carlson stated that it was his HANS device that saved him from any severe injury.
“Anybody who races without a HANS device is crazy,” Carlson strongly stated. “I would never turn a lap again without one. I had a bad wreck and walked away unhurt and I had been in lesser wrecks and had my bell rung and my neck stretched out. That is my feeling on that.”
Will Carlson’s luck change for the better at this year’s Oktoberfest Race Weekend? We will all know the answer as the 37th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend event will take place on October 5-8. Fest is the best place for “Racing’s Family Reunion.”