By: Eric Huenefeld
It appears that the lengthy wait to get the 2014 season underway for the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet will be well worth it.
When the ‘Best Weekly Warriors in the County’ gather this Monday May 26 at Columbus (WI) 151 Speedway, a solid cast of racers from across the region are set to greet those in attendance.
Champions from tracks across the region along with former Big 8 Series champions are among the names who have entered their machines for the Memorial Day tilt. The field ranges from drivers who have experienced victory at the tight quarter mile facility, to drivers who have never even seen the bullring located northeast of Wisconsin’s capitol city.
Leading the charge are the two drivers who battled for last season’s Big 8 Series championship, Casey Johnson and Dale Nottestad. Johnson, the two-time Jefferson Speedway track champion, bested Nottestad for the 2014 Big 8 title by the smallest of margins in a thrilling finale at the Oktoberfest Race Weekend last October. Putting the heartbreak of 2013 in his rear view, Nottestad has started 2014 strong by winning a feature at Jefferson Speedway while also holding the track point lead. Nottestad does have a Big 8 podium finish to his credit at Columbus, taking third place in the series’ first ever race at the track in 2011.
Two top weekly racers and reigning track champions will race on the same track for the first time ever on Monday, as defending Dells Raceway Park champion Nick Nolden and defending Elko Speedway champion ‘Cruiser’ Chris Marek have both filed their entries for the holiday afternoon matinee. Nolden was dominant last season at Dells Raceway Park, picking up six feature wins on the way to his first ever track championship. Nolden has already started 2014 strong, winning one feature and setting a new Late Model track record. Marek was equally strong in 2013, winning four features at Elko en route to the track championship. Marek also closed 2013 winning two of the last three Big 8 Series races (Elko and LaCrosse) while also winning the ‘JMcK 63’ Invitational at Oktoberfest.
Other track or series champions who have thrown their hat in the ring for this Monday at Columbus include 2010 Rockford Speedway champion Tim Sargent, two-time Slinger Speedway champion and former Big 8 Series champion ‘Driver X’ Jon Reynolds Jr, former Dells Raceway Park champions Mike Ehde and ‘Rocketman’ Dan Lensing, two-time LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway champion J Herbst and former Slinger Super Speedway champion ‘Insane’ Wayne Freimund.
The racing youth movement will also be represented Monday at Columbus 151, as 2013 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year Casey Strese and 2012 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year Jesse Bernhagen have committed to the race. Bernhagen has tasted past success at the mighty quarter mile, finishing fourth in his rookie campaign two years ago. Also entered for the all-star event are Hubertus Wisconsin’s John DeAngelis Jr and Roscoe Illinois’ Austin Nason. Both DeAngelis and Nason have been busy early this 2014 season, competing in both Big 8 Late Model and Super Late Model races regionally.
To go along with the Late Model excitement, the Great Northern Sportsman Series (GNSS) opens their season at Columbus this Monday. The GNSS event at Columbus 151 marks the series’ first ever trip to the facility. Also appearing on the busy holiday afternoon card will be the four-cylinder ‘Bandit Blast’ and the Back Up Cars, a Columbus 151 Speedway staple.
Spectator gates open Monday at Noon, with time trials set to begin at 12:30 PM. Racing begins at 2 PM, with a full slate of preliminaries and feature races for the Big 8 Late Models, GNSS and Bandits plus the ‘wild n crazy’ Back Up Race . Adult general admission tickets are $15, Children ages 6-10 are $5 with kids ages 5 and under admitted free.
Columbus 151 Speedway is located northeast of Madison on US 151 at Exit 111 between Columbus and Sun Prairie. For more information on Columbus 151 Speedway, please visit www.columbus151.com or call 920-623-4393.
For more information about the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet, please visit www.big8series.com.
Entry List (as of 5/22/14)
4th Annual Memorial Day Special
Big 8 Late Model Series
Columbus (WI) 151 Speedway
Monday, May 26, 2014
2 Kyle Kirberger Ramsey, MN
2 Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL
03 Cody Kippenhan Menasha, WI
3 Chris Marek Lakeville, MN
5 Casey Johnson Edgerton, WI
5 Dave Edwards Salem, WI
7 John DeAngelis Jr Hubertus, WI
X Jon Reynolds Jr Rockford, IL
14 Austin Nason Roscoe, IL
15 Michael Clapper Dane, WI
17 Eric Connell Ft Atkinson, WI
17 Gregg Pawelski Muskego, WI
18 Mike Ehde Prairie du Chien, WI
18 Brady Liddle Oregon, WI
19 Dan Lensing Roscoe, IL
23 Casey Strese Johnson Creek, WI
28 Jesse Bernhagen Markesan, WI
30 Mark Hartline Gilberts, IL
32 Mike Meyerhofer Hilbert, WI
41 Mike Taylor Stoughton, WI
46 Tom Jasinski Pewaukee, WI
46 Ryan Miles Crystal Lake, IL
50 Jake Gille Machesney Park, IL
51 Dale Nottestad Cambridge, WI
52 Steve Dobbratz Rio, WI
57 Mark English Edgerton, WI
66 Adam Peschek Oconomowoc, WI
67 Nick Nolden Sun Prairie, WI
82 J Herbst West Salem, WI
84 Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI
87 Brent Edmunds Monticello, WI
88 Mark Miller Columbus, WI
95.3 Wayne Freimund Elkhorn, WI