By: Eric Huenefeld
No one has been hotter than Michael Bilderback over the last two years in a Big 8-type Late Model.
The South Beloit resident has picked up 16 wins over the last two seasons and this summer became one of the youngest Track Champions in the history of Rockford Speedway. In the matter of a couple weeks, the 25 year-old could also become a two-time champion of the Big 8 Late Model Series.
To add to all those accolades, Bilderback was dominant in last year’s 108 lap Big 8 Late Model Series race during the 50th Anniversary National Short Track Championships (NSTC) at Rockford Speedway, outrunning Casey Johnson and Alex Papini for the win. Can Bilderback go back-to-back this year at NSTC? If he can…he’ll certainly help his chances for a second straight Big 8 Series title.
But there are several contenders standing in his way, including the aforementioned Casey Johnson, a former winner of the 108 lap race at NSTC and a driver who has racked up wins in both Big 8 and Super Late Model competition in 2016. Multi-time Jefferson Speedway champion Dale Nottestad returns to Big 8 Series action this weekend at Rockford and will be joined by four-time Big 8 Series champion Jeremy Miller, who is always in the conversation at Rockford, while seven-time track champion and 2016 Madison International Speedway champion Bobby Wilberg is also gunning for his chance to take top honors on Saturday night.
A trio of former Rockford Speedway track champions are ready for the challenge this weekend at NSTC. Three-time track champion Jerry Gille returns this weekend, looking to get back to NSTC Victory Lane while his nephew Jake Gille will also be among the drivers to watch. Jake, the 2015 Rockford Speedway champion, won the ‘Weekly Warrior’ Late Model race at NSTC in 2014. Former Rockford Speedway champion and Big 8 Series champion ‘Driver X’ Jon Reynolds Jr is a master of the 108 lap race and is looking for an unmatched fifth victory in the event this weekend.
The rest of the “Big 8’s best” will be on hand as well, including current Series runner up Michael Ostdiek, who followed Bilderback across the line at Elko last Saturday night following a thrilling finish, two-time LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway champion J Herbst, two-time Rockford feature winner and former Slinger Speedway champion ‘Insane Wayne’ Freimund.
Wisconsin teenager Grant Greisbach leads the Loves Park Motorsports Rookie of the Year chase and will be at Rockford this Saturday night along with fellow Rookie contenders and Iowa natives Brody Willett and Zach Less.
What: 51st Annual National Short Track Championships
Where: Rockford Speedway (9572 Forest Hills Road Loves Park, IL)
When: Saturday October 1
Schedule and Information:
8:30 AM- Pits Open
10:30 AM- Big 8 Series Practice Begins
2 PM- Fan Gates Open
2:15 PM- Qualifying
5 PM- Racing begins
Big 8 Late Model Series along with Super Late Models, Illini Midgets and Vintage Racers of Illinois
(Ten total divisions take to the track Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
RESERVED SEATING (Sections D, E & F) Adults $20, Children $10
GENERAL ADMISSION SEATING: Adults (13 & up) $18, Ages 12-17: $9, Ages 6-11: $5
REMAINING 2016 BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES SCHEDULE:
Sat Oct 1- 51st Annual National Short Track Championships (Rockford Speedway, Loves Park, IL)
Sat Oct 8- 47th Oktoberfest Race Weekend (La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, West Salem, WI)
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please visit big8series.com