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CHAMPIONS, CHALLENGERS, YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE DOT SPRING CLASSIC ROSTER

By: Eric Huenefeld

The opening event of any season brings optimism, excitement and intrigue. 

This Sunday's 40th Anniversary Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway most certainly fits the above description. 

Going into the first race of the 2017 Big 8 Late Model Series season, there are certainly many different directions to look when searching for story lines. 

Everything starts with Michael Bilderback. The two-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion and reigning Rockford Speedway champion comes into Sunday afternoon as the favorite to begin the season in victory lane. A win Sunday would be the second straight Spring Classic triumph for Bilderback and a third overall. Only Steve Carlson (6), Joe Shear (4) and Dick Trickle (4) have won more Spring Classics all-time. Bilderback, along with Mike Beyer, are the only Big 8 Series drivers to win multiple Spring Classics (2 each). 

       
            Michael Bilderback on his way to winning last year's Spring Classic at the Rockford Speedway.
                                                                        (Stan Kalwasinski Photo)


Right next to Bilderback on the list of favorites this weekend has to be Casey Johnson. The two-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion is looking to join Bilderback and Beyer as multi-time winners of the Big 8 Spring Classic. Rockford Speedway was kind to Johnson last fall, as the Edgerton Wisconsin resident became just the second driver in history to win both the Super Late Model and Big 8/Rockford Rules features in the same weekend at National Short Track Championships, a feat only matched by the aforementioned Joe Shear in 1987. A victory this weekend would be Johnson's fourth Big 8 Series conquest at Rockford all-time. 

Four-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion Jeremy Miller has done just about everything in a Big 8 car, except win Spring Classic. Miller, who has 11 Series wins in his career (tied for most all-time) has been notably close before at Spring Classic, finishing a close second to Mike Edhe in 2007 and dominating the 2012 Spring Classic until his car broke just past halfway, handing the lead and win to Jon Reynolds Jr. Reynolds is always a contender at Rockford and specializes in the distance races, making Sunday's 88 lapper a race that's right in the former Big 8 and Rockford champion's wheelhouse. Five of Reynolds' eleven career Big 8 Series wins have come at Rockford Speedway. 

Other drivers to watch at Rockford include two-time Spring Classic champion Steve Rubeck, making his return to the Big 8-style cars in 2017. Rubeck is also a former Big 8 champion two-time National Short Track Champion who excels inside the tight confines of Rockford Speedway. Former Rockford Speedway champion Tim Sargent brings a new look to Spring Classic and is eyeing his first-ever Big 8 Series win, while fan-favorite Kyle Shear returns to Big 8 Series action this weekend, looking to improve upon his best Big 8 finish at Rockford, a third place run in 2012. Wayne Freimund, a two-time feature winner at Rockford last season, has gotten closer to Big 8 victory lane each year, will Sunday be the day he takes the step to the top of the podium?

A fleet of young racers will be vying for glory at this weekend's Spring Classic, including Iowa's Brody Willett, Wisconsin's Braison Bennett and the Minnesota tandem of Jared Duda and Tyler Kingery. Teenager Tyler Hromadka brings a year's worth of Rockford experience to the table this weekend, looking to break through with the "Best Weekly Warriors in the Country," while another teenager, Max Kahler, makes his Big 8 debut at a track just 6 miles from his hometown of Caledonia Illinois. 


40th Anniversary Spring Classic 
Expected Entries (28)
As of April 19

OO      Brody Willett           Alburnett, IA    
1       Steve Rubeck            Rockford, IL     
2       Michael Bilderback      South Beloit, IL        
O3      Cody Kippenhan  Ypsilanti, MI   
3       Tyler Hromadka  Brookfield, WI  
5       Casey Johnson           Edgerton, WI     
5       Todd Kamish             Lakeville, MN    
5       Jeremy Miller           Rockford, IL     
O8      Dennis Smith Jr         South Beloit, IL 
9       Braison Bennett         Neenah, WI       
X       Jon Reynolds Jr         Loves Park, IL   
17      Max Kahler              Caledonia, IL    
18      Alex Papini             Machesney Park, IL       
20      Tyler Brown             Carol Stream, IL 
21      Mike Lloyd               Davis, IL        
22      Kyle Chwala             Johnson Creek, WI        
26      Tim Sargent             South Beloit, IL 
37      Kyle Shear                      Roscoe, IL       
39      Matt Berger             Loves Park, IL   
49      Jerry Mueller           Richfield, WI    
53      Jared Duda              St Michael, MN   
58      Tyler Kingery           Prior Lake, MN   
74      Louie Goss              Green Bay, WI    
84      Jake Vanoskey           Hartford, WI     
91      Jeff Wakeman            Streator, IL     
93      John Beinlich           Cary, IL 
95      Wayne Freimund  Elkhorn, WI     
99      Jake Zellmer            New Berlin, WI   


EVENT DETAILS:

What: 40th Anniversary Spring Classic
Where: Rockford Speedway (located at 9572 Forest Hills Rd Loves Park, IL) 
When: Sunday April 23
Schedule and Information: 
7 AM- Pits Open, Breakfast in Pit Concession
8 AM- Chapel Service in South VIP Tower
8:45 AM- Big 8 Series Driver's Meeting in Pit Stands
9:30 AM- Rotating Practice (until 11:25 AM)
11 AM- Front Gate Opens
11:30 AM- Qualifying (All divisions)
12:45 PM- Opening Ceremonies
1 PM- WE'RE RACING

Divisions Competing: 
Big 8 Late Model Series (complete show highlighted by an 88 lap feature)
Quest Industrial Mid-American Stock Car Series (complete show highlighted by a 50 lap feature)
INEX Legends (complete show including a 20 lap feature)

Admission Prices: 
Adults (ages 12 & up): $20
Children (ages 6-11): $6
Kids 5 & under: FREE

40th ANNIVERSARY SPRING CLASSIC ENTRY FORM NOW ONLINE!

By: Eric Huenefeld

With a long off-season in the rear view, it's time to "Think Spring!"

The 40th Anniversary Spring Classic is five and a half weeks away, with this year's installment scheduled for Sunday afternoon April 23 at Rockford Speedway. The Entry Form and Schedule of events are now available for viewing at big8series.com and rockfordspeedway.com. 

For the tenth consecutive season, the Big 8 Late Model Series headlines Spring Classic. The "Best Weekly Warriors in the Country" run a full show Sunday April 23, complete with Time Trials, Preliminary Events and the 88 lap feature race. Also scheduled to appear on the Spring Classic card is the Mid-American Stock Car Series and the INEX Legends. The Mid-American Series is slated to run a 50 lap main event, while the Legends square off in a 20 lap affair. 

Gates open on Sunday April 23 at 11 AM, with Qualifying for all three divisions beginning at 11:30 AM. The first green flag flies at 1 PM. 

There are multiple chances for teams to get "on track" at Rockford Speedway for Practice in advance of Spring Classic. Saturday April 15 features an Open Practice session from 11 AM until 2:30 PM, while Spring Classic participants (Big 8 LM, Mid-Am & Legends) also have a chance to practice Saturday April 22 from Noon to 4 PM. 

For additional information regarding the 40th Anniversary Spring Classic and Rockford Speedway, please visit rockfordspeedway.com or call 815-633-1500.

For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit big8series.com. 

BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES UNVEILS 2017 SCHEDULE

By: Eric Huenefeld

Big 8 Late Model Series officials have released their 2017 Schedule of Events, which includes eight individual racing events at seven facilities in four different states. 

Again this season, the Big 8 Late Model Series takes part in some of the most well-known racing events held annually at some of the most storied short tracks in America.

The Big 8 Late Model Series begins its thirteenth season Sunday afternoon April 23 at Rockford (IL) Speedway as part of the 40th Anniversary Spring Classic. The day will be highlighted by an 88 lap feature race for the "Best Weekly Warriors in the Country," with the Mid American Stock Car Series and Legends joining the Spring Classic card. 

Following Spring Classic, the Big 8 Series returns to Iowa, for ''Clash at the Downs III' at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids on Friday June 2. Four weeks later (Friday June 30), the Series makes its traditional summertime stop at Madison (WI) International Speedway for the ''Salute to America,'' which includes a full racing program and a fabulous Fireworks display!

One month after the Madison event, the Big 8 Late Model Series contests two races in five days while taking part in two major mid-summer events. Friday July 28, the Series makes its return to State Park Speedway in Wausau WI, headlining the first night of the Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend. Then, Tuesday night August 1, the Big 8 Late Model Series shares the spotlight with the ARCA Midwest Tour as part of the ''Dixieland 250,'' with a 38 lap ''Dixieland Delight'' scheduled for the Big 8 Late Models. 

The 2017 Big 8 Series champion once again will be determined by ''three races in three weeks,'' starting Saturday September 23 at Elko (MN) Speedway as part of the 9th Annual ''Thunderstruck.'' Then, Saturday night September 30, it's the most grueling race of the season, the 108 lap National Short Track Championship as part of the 52nd National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway. Finally, on Saturday October 7, the season comes to a close at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem WI as part of the 48th Oktoberfest Race Weekend. 

For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit big8series.com. 

For up-to-the-minute updates, please ''Like'' Big 8 Series on Facebook and ''Follow'' us on Twitter @big8series. 


2017 BIG 8 LATE MODEL SERIES EVENT SCHEDULE

Sunday April 23 - ''40th Anniversary Spring Classic''             88 Laps
                Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)

Friday June 2 - ''Clash at the Downs III''                                48 Laps
                Hawkeye Downs (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Friday June 30 - ''Salute to America''                                    48 Laps
                Madison Int'l Speedway (Oregon, WI)

Friday July 28 - ''Larry Detjens Memorial''                               58 Laps
                State Park Speedway (Wausau, WI)

Tuesday August 1 - ''Dixieland Delight''                          38 Laps
                Wisconsin Int'l Raceway (Kaukauna, WI)

Saturday September 23 - ''Thunderstruck''                         58 Laps
                Elko Speedway (Elko New Market, MN)

Saturday September 30 - ''52nd Nat'l Short Track Championships''  108 Laps
                Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)

Saturday October 7 - ''Oktoberfest Race Weekend''                 68 Laps
                La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway (West Salem, WI)