Hales Corners Speedway, Full Results
Hales Corners Speedway:
1948 - 2003 . . . Thank-You
By John Shea
Franklin, Wis., Aug. 31--The historic Hales Corners Speedway hosted its
final night of stock car racing on Sunday -- the venerable old speedplant set
to be demolished and cleared to make way for a new Menard's home improvement
"super store" in the near future.
Rick Scheffler won the night's headliner, the 56-lap feature for the
powerful UMP late models. Each lap of the main event marked one year in the
track's storied history. Joining Scheffler as drivers to etch their names into the
record book, for the final time, as feature winners were Roger Lee in
sportsmen, Jason Zdroik in modified, Jeremy Bregant in Hales Whales, and Chris Blake
in Mud Puppies.
A quiet sense of urgency filled the pit area while a full house packed
the bleachers all around the third-mile oval. Over and over through the night
you watched as drivers gave it their best to stake their final bit of glory at
the legendary Hales Corners Speedway -- the same place where legends like Alan
Kulwicki, Whitey Harris, Mike Melius, Al Schill and countless others have
entertained throughout the years.
On this, the final night, the racing family of Hales Corners Speedway got
together for one final time. A lot of laughs were shared, along with tears.
Old acquaintances were renewed. And a lot of new faces, people curious about
what this little track was all about, got a first, and final, taste of what
it was like.
The records will show that Rick Scheffler won the final UMP late model
feature ever. The story will say that he did it in commanding fashion, leading
flag to flag with a half-lap advantage at times. Scheffler may have lapped
the field in a non-stop event, but his pace was slowed on two occasions by
yellow flags, at lap 15 for a spin by Dan Sorce and on lap 47 when Bill Rezutek
popped the frontstretch wall and coasted to a stop.
The second yellow at lap 47 brought Bret Sievert, Chris Carlson, Scott
Specht and Al Atkinson back to within sight of Scheffler for the restart. With
a group of five lapped cars separating Scheffler and his pursuers, however,
when the green flag dropped Scheffler immediately opened up an advantage he was
able to enjoy through to the checkered flag. Carlson got around Sievert in
the final six circuits to place second in the final order, with Sievert third,
Specht fourth and Atkinson fifth.
Rick's brother Russ Scheffler won his 10th late model track championship.
The track's LM kingpin set fast time in qualifying but had mechanical
problems during the night which prevented him from running his heat race. His
advantage in the points race was enough, however, that all he had to do was take
the green flag for the main event to sew up the title. Five feature wins dotted
Scheffler's march to the title, along with three fast qualifier awards.
The 28-lap sportsmen feature was a classic battle throughout between
Roger Lee and Dave Gorny. Lee started from the pole and took command at the start
while Gorny moved from his eighth place starting spot to third behind Lee and
Don Sorce Jr. by the event's lone caution flag at lap 12 for a pair of spins
in turn four involving Mike McNeil and Jeff Tondryk.
When the race resumed, Gorny moved to his usual spot in the outer lane
and began to move forward. After dispatching Sorce Jr., Gorny caught Lee at the
end of the backstretch on lap 14 and used his momentum to drive past exiting
turn four. Once in front, Gorny opened a two car-length advantage as the race
closed in on a finish.
Lee was able to keep pace with Gorny in the bottom lane and gradually
closed the gap back down to the point where it was a side by side fight for the
win with five laps to go. On lap 25 Lee got the advantage on Gorny in turns
one and two and was able to re-take command of the event. In the final two laps
Gorny chased Lee from a car length back but could find no way past as Lee
picked up the win. Gorny settled for second with Sorce Jr., Bob Brent and Don
Scheffler rounding out the top five.
Sorce Jr. won his second consecutive sportsmen track title, having
visited victory lane five times during the 2003 season.
The modified class boosted the car count for the night -- four heat races
and two semi-features were needed to thin the herd to a manageable amount for
the 28-lap main event. Seven caution flags slowed the proceedings, with the
final yellow appearing on lap 24 not for an over-ambitions passing attempt
gone wrong, but rather for a piece of debris.
That yellow brought the field back to Jason Zdroik's rear bumper -- the
bumper he had been showing them since the start of the event when he took the
lead on the opening lap and never once looked back. Mike Knurr tried but could
not do anything with Zdroik, who was simply the man to beat again on this
night. Trailing in Zdroik's wake were Knurr in second, Joe McGrath in third,
Brian Crapser in fourth and Mike Bodendorfer in fifth.
Jason's efforts in the main event, coupled with uncle Jim Zdroik's car
problems throughout the night, resulted in the youngster taking an upset victory
in the championship chase. Looking back at the results from 2003, however,
one could also think it would have been an upset had Jason not won the title,
given his tally of eight feature wins, including five in a row from July 25 -
Aug. 16 in Saturday night and special event competition.
The final appearance ever by the Hales Whales produced six lead changes
in 28 laps of competition. Jerry Orvis and Justin Haas swapped the top spot in
the opening three laps before Orvis got out front at lap four and led through
lap 10 when Rob Braeger got the advantage.
Braeger stayed up front until lap 15 when Jeremy Bregant took the lead.
Barry Cates soon joined the frontrunners and used the outer line up the
backstretch to take the lead from Bregant at lap 19.
Bregant didn't let Cates get away from him as the race got closer to its
conclusion. In a near perfect ending to the Hales Whales story at Hales
Corners Speedway, Bregant used the cushion in turns three and four to guide his
classic Pontiac GTO, arguably the best-looking car ever raced in the Whales
class, past Cates to take the victory on the final lap. Newly crowned 2003 champ
J.J. Weickowski was next under the checkered flag, with Orvis fourth and Ken
Fleury Jr. fifth.
The speedway's newest division, the 4-cylinder Mud Puppies, provided the
night's final feature battle -- a 14-round main event which was won by Chris
Blake, the 2003 champ. Kevin Kuhnke, second in points, was also second on this
night, with Eddie Lemay III, Pat Krimmer and Todd Wojciechowski rounding out
the top five.
After two legends races were won by George Scheffler and Dick Stalter,
all the drivers brought their cars out onto the speedway for the final time,
parking them along the wall for the final lap of the night, a parade lap by track
owner John Kaishian and his wife Lynn. As "This Used to Be My Playground"
played on the P.A. system, chief starter Mike Phelps waved twin checkered flags
for the final time, capping 56 memorable years of racing, and many lifetimes
of great memories.
On behalf of the entire Hales Corners Speedway staff -- Thank-you to all
UMP LATE MODEL
56-lap Feature--1. Rick Scheffler, Waukesha; 2. Chris Carlson, South
Milwaukee; 3. Bret Sievert, Franklin; 4. Scott Specht, Sheboygan Falls; 5. Al
12-lap Semi-Feature--1. Art Meinig, Franksville; 2. Letizia.
8-lap Heats--First: 1. Jim Letizia, Milwaukee; 2. Phil Rehberg, Waukesha.
Second: 1. Scheffler; 2. Specht. Third: 1. Sievert; 2. Atkinson.
Fastest Qualifier--Russ Scheffler, Waukesha.
28-lap Feature--1. Roger Lee, Wind Lake; 2. Dave Gorny, West Allis; 3.
Don Sorce Jr., West Allis; 4. Bob Brent, Milwaukee; 5. Don Scheffler, Wauwatosa.
12-lap Semi-Feature--1. John Schultz III, Milwaukee; 2. Joe Altenhofen,
8-lap Heats--First: 1. Jeff Graf, Milwaukee; 2. Bob Parker, South
Milwaukee. Second: 1. Altenhofen; 2. Schultz III. Third: 1. Lee; 2. Tommy Moore,
Muskego. Fourth: 1. Scheffler; 2. Sorce Jr.
28-lap Feature--1. Jason Zdroik, Big Bend; 2. Mike Knurr, Muskego; 3. Joe
McGrath, Neosho; 4. Brian Crapser, Milwaukee; 5. Mike Bodendorfer, Waterford.
12-lap Semi-Features--First: 1. Jim Zdroik, Big Bend; 2. Scott Barnharst,
Franklin. Second: 1. Dan Mech, Greenfield; 2. Bill Tandetzke, Milwaukee.
8-lap Heats--First: 1. Jim Zdroik; 2. Marc Caswell, West Allis. Second:
1. Jimmy Muth Jr., Greenfield; 2. Mech. Third: 1. Jeff Bodendorfer Jr.,
Waterford; 2. Jason Zdroik. Fourth: 1. Spencer Frost, Waterford; 2. Mike Conn, Big
28-lap Feature--1. Jeremy Bregant, West Allis; 2. Barry Cates,
Greenfield; 3. J.J. Weickowski, Waukesha; 4. Jerry Orvis, Butler; 5. Ken Fleury Jr.,
8-lap Heats--First: 1. Jim Reinhardt, Milwaukee; 2. Weickowski. Second:
1. Dave Popovic, Milwaukee; 2. Steve Rack, Pleasant Prairie. Third: 1. Justin
Haas, New Berlin; 2. Dean Olla, Milwaukee.
4-CYLINDER MUD PUPPIES
14-lap Feature--1. Chris Blake, Milwaukee; 2. Kevin Kuhnke, South
Milwaukee; 3. Eddie Lemay III, Milwaukee; 4. Pat Krimmer, Milwaukee; 5. Todd
8-lap Heat--1. Tony Prietzel, West Allis; 2. Lemay III.
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