By: Eric Huenefeld

Following a rain out last month at Rockford Speedway, a bullring battle awaits the ‘Best Weekly Warriors in the Country’ this Monday afternoon.

The Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet officially kicks off its tenth anniversary season Memorial Day Monday May 26 at Columbus 151 Speedway, the tight quarter mile oval located northeast of Madison Wisconsin.

This season marks the fourth consecutive season the Big 8 Late Model Series has scheduled a stop in Columbus on Memorial Day Monday. Back in 2011, scorching weather and wild racing were the name of the game. When the dust settled on that inaugural 68 lap affair, four-time Big 8 champion Jeremy Miller held off eventual series champion Steve Rubeck for the victory.

In 2012, Miller was in line for another Columbus triumph. However, late race lap traffic hampered Miller’s chances, and opened the door for Ryan Carlson. Carlson completed a three wide pass for the lead with three laps to go, clearing both Miller and the lapped traffic, en route to his last Big 8 Series win to date.

Last season’s event was cancelled due to a day-long deluge on Memorial Day, making Monday’s return to Columbus a much anticipated return. A record number of entrants for the Columbus event include representatives from nine tracks throughout the Midwest. Twenty track and series championships are represented and drivers from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa all plan to converge on Columbus 151 Speedway Memorial Day Monday, looking to take top honors in the 78 lap feature event.

Along with the Late Model excitement, the Great Northern Sportsman Series (GNSS) opens their second season this Monday at Columbus. 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 or call 920-623-4393.

For more information about the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet, please visit


By: Eric Huenefeld

The state of Minnesota will be well represented this weekend at Rockford Speedway’s 37th Annual Spring Classic, as three young and accomplished drivers have filed their entries for the opening event of the 2014 Big 8 Late Model Series season.

Leading the charge is Lakeville Minnesota’s Chris Marek, the 2013 Elko Speedway Track Champion. The 25 year old ended last season red hot behind the wheel of a Big 8 Late Model, winning two of the Series’ final three races (Elko and LaCrosse), while also winning the ‘JMcK 63’ Big 8 Late Model Invitational at Oktoberfest.

23 year old Kyle Kirberger has also filed his entry for this weekend’s Rockford opener. The Ramsey Minnesota native was last year’s Late Model ‘Rookie of the Year’ at Elko Speedway and also pocketed his first ever Late Model feature win last season at his hometrack. The “Ramsey Rocket” makes his first trip to Illinois this weekend looking to tame Rockford’s high banks.

One of the youngest drivers in the field this weekend will be Hugo Minnesota’s Collin Olson. At just 15 years old, Olson hops behind the wheel of a Big 8 Late Model for the first time at Rockford Speedway. Despite his youth, Olson already has racked up some major racing accomplishments, including the 2012 USAC Quarter Midget Championship.

The 37th Annual Spring Classic kicks off the Midwestern racing season this Sunday April 13 at Rockford Speedway. The Big 8 Late Model Series will headline the day, running a 108 lap feature event. Also on the Spring Classic card are the Mid American Stock Car Series and the Illinois Vintage Racing Series. Gates open at 11 AM, with the first green flag at 1 PM.

For more information on Rockford Speedway and the 37th Annual Spring Classic, please visit or call 815-633-1500.

For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit


By: Eric Huenefeld

When the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet rolls into Rockford Speedway this Sunday afternoon April 13 for the 37th Annual Spring Classic, the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” will be greeted by a strong local contingent looking to keep the winner’s trophy close to home.

Over the last several years, the local talent at Rockford Speedway has made things tough on the Big 8’s best. Thirteen of the twenty-one Big 8 Series events held at Rockford Speedway since September of 2004 have been won by Rockford regulars. Most recently, Rockford regulars have won the last four Big 8 races held at the high banked quarter mile.

“Driver X” Jon Reynolds Jr has been the man to beat when the Big 8 Series competes at Rockford Speedway. The 2005 Series champion has visited Big 8 Series victory lane five times at his hometrack. Reynolds himself has captured four of the last six National Short Track Championships as well as the 2012 Spring Classic.

2013 Rockford Speedway Track Champion Alex Papini plans to challenge for victory Sunday afternoon. Papini, who collected eight feature wins last summer en route to the Rockford track championship, is also the defending Spring Classic winner. Last April, Papini held off numerous challenges on the way to his first ever Big 8 series triumph.

Three former Rockford Speedway Track Champions also plan to run Spring Classic this weekend, including seven-time track champions Ricky Bilderback and Bobby Wilberg and 2010 track champion Tim Sargent. Bilderback, the 2006 Big 8 Series champion, won last year’s ‘Star Spangled 76’ at Rockford, charging from his 15th starting spot to claim the win. Wilberg, one of the most consistent drivers in Big 8 history and always a threat at Rockford, will go into Sunday still looking for his first ever series win. Sargent comes into Rockford riding the momentum of 2013, which included five Big 8 Series top-five’s and a pair of podium finishes.

Michael Bilderback, the 2008 Spring Classic champion, returns to Rockford this weekend. Bilderback aims to become only the second Big 8 driver to win multiple Spring Classics, joining Mike Beyer, who accomplished the feat in 2005 and 2006.

Teenager Austin Nason, the 2012 Rockford Speedway Rookie of the Year, is set to compete at Spring Classic. Nason was among the Big 8’s elite in 2013, finishing fourth in series points, with two runner-up finishes. Jake Gille, a multi-time feature winner at Rockford, is also entered for the weekend’s events, along with former Slinger Speedway champion “Insane” Wayne Freimund and Former Spring Classic NASCAR Touring Series competitor Mark Hartline

The 37th Annual Spring Classic is set for this Sunday afternoon, April 13 at 1 PM, with the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet headlining the day with a 108 lap main event. The season-opening card also includes the Mid American Stock Car Series and the Illinois Vintage Racing Series.

For more information on Rockford Speedway and the 37th Annual Spring Classic, please call 815-633-1500 or visit For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit


By: Eric Huenefeld

With one of the most relentless winters in recent memory slowly fading away, the thoughts of race fans across the Midwest are shifting towards Rockford Speedway and the season opening Spring Classic featuring the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet.

The ‘Best Weekly Warriors in the Country’ kick off their 10th Anniversary Season Sunday afternoon April 13, testing Rockford’s ‘high banks’ for 108 laps. Over the past two weeks, entries have begun flooding in as drivers throw their hats into the ring for the season opening affair.

Leading the way is 2013 Big 8 Series champion Casey Johnson. The two-time Jefferson Speedway Track Champion is looking to duplicate his success of a season ago, which included a Super Late Model Track Championship at Madison International Speedway and five race wins. Johnson, who is also a past winner of Spring Classic, plans to run a majority of the Big 8 Series events this season, while also vying for ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year.

No driver ended the 2013 season hotter than Lakeville Minnesota’s Chris Marek. The 2013 Elko Speedway Track Champion won two of the last three Big 8 Series races last season while also pocketing the JMcK 63 during Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. “The Cruiser” has entered his machine for action at Rockford while also eyeing the Big 8 Series championship.

2012 Dells Raceway Park Track Champion “Rocketman” Dan Lensing is focused on being number one this season. Lensing, who finished third in Series points in 2013, is looking to capture his first Big 8 Series win this year and figures to be a contender for the Series Championship. Two-time LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway Track Champion J Herbst also looks to be among the Series’ elite this year. Herbst, an eighth place finisher in 2013 points, will adapt a barnstorming schedule in 2014 while also chasing the Big 8 crown.

Milwaukee area veteran Jeff Holtz is among those planning to open his season at Rockford, along with young hard chargers John DeAngelis Jr and Austin Nason. Holtz, a former Modified and Sportsman champion at Slinger Super Speedway, is looking to shake the bad luck that usually greets him at Rockford. DeAngelis is fresh off a sixth place finish in 2013 Big 8 points while Nason began his racing season in February with solid finishes in New Smyrna Florida during Speedweeks.

2013 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year Casey Strese and 2012 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year Jesse Bernhagen are both ready to kick their seasons off at Rockford’s Spring Classic. Strese is eyeing a top ten finish in Big 8 Series points in 2014, while Bernhagen continues to work towards his first Series win.

The sparks are sure to fly when the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet begins its tenth anniversary season at Rockford Speedway Sunday April 13 for the 37th Annual Spring Classic. The Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet will take center stage, with their 108 lap main event highlighting the day. The season-opening card also includes the Mid American Stock Car Series and the Illinois Vintage Racers. The first green flag flies Sunday April 13 at 1 pm.

For more information on Rockford Speedway and the 37th Annual Spring Classic, please call 815-633-1500 or visit For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit

Big 8 Series Spring Classic Entry Available Online

2014 Spring Classic Schedule (PDF) // Spring Classic Entry Form (PDF)

The Official Entry Blank for the 37th annual Spring Classic Big 8 Late Model Series event being contested at Rockford Speedway on Sunday afternoon April 13 is now available online at The 108 lap feature event kicks off the ten race schedule during the 10th anniversary season. The popular Weekly Warrior Wages program which rewards each driver up to $250 per event based on their weekly racing success and Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet accomplishments will also continue. The 1pm green flag officially brings the Midwest racing season to life during an afternoon which will also showcase the Mid-American Stock Car Series and Illinois Vintage Racing Series. Saturday April 5 and April 12 will both host practice sessions for the Big 8 teams. For additional information regarding the Spring Classic event including a complete schedule of events visit or call the Speedway Box Office at 815-633-1500.