49th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend; Story/Photos by Stan Kalwasinski

49th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend
LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway
West Salem, Wisconsin 

Three DQ’d – Morrissey winner at LaCrosse Oktoberfest

by Stan Kalwasinski


West Salem, Wis., October 7—Ty Majeski, Johnny Sauter and Jacob Goede came across the finish line one-two-three in Sunday afternoon’s Oktoberfest 200 ARCA Midwest Tour late model stock car race at the LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway but it was Andrew Morrissey that came away with the trophy and first place prize money as the apparent top three were disqualified for a variety of technical issues after post-race inspections.  The 200-lap chase highlighted the track’s four-day, 49th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend.


Morrissey of DeForest, Wis., and his Club LaMark/B&B Racing Engines/Morrissey Trucking-sponsored Ford No. 39 were declared the winners of the 200 lapper at the .545-mile paved oval on a cold, overcast afternoon.  Paul Shafer Jr. and Johnathan Eilen were awarded second and third places with Dalton Zehr and Travis Sauter rounding out the official top five.


Most of the race featured Majeski and Sauter, both the class of the field, battling for the lead with the likes of Goede, Zehr, Shafer, Bubba Pollard, Austin Nason and eventual winner Morrissey chasing the leaders.  Pollard, the late model standout from Georgia, was not running at the finish.


“I’m happy but I also feel bad for everybody that got tossed too,” said Morrissey after he was declared the winner.  “This is my Daytona 500. This is pretty crazy, not the way I wanted to win but we will take it.  I wouldn’t wish bad on anybody. I am just shocked more than anything I guess.  I worked my whole life to try to win this race.  It means a lot. It sucks to win it like this.  I am just more than happy for my dad and mom as they help me more than anybody.”


Zehr’s fourth place finish was enough to earn the 2018 ARCA Midwest Tour championship, becoming the seventh different champion in the history of the series.


The route to championship did have a little bump with 25 laps to go, as Zehr and Nason, who had a three-point lead over Zehr coming into Sunday’s event, were battling for position on a restart when the two touched in turn one causing Nason to go high and lose many positions. Nason would recover to finish officially tenth.


Goede, who hails from Carver, Minn., was the overall winner of the JMcK 63, a special invitational event for Big 8 Series-type late models, which honors longtime Midwest promoter and racing businessman, the late John McKarns.  Three 21-lap segments make up the racing action with Goede posting one segment win and two second-place finishes.  Brody Willett and veteran driver and multi-time LaCrosse track champion Steve Carlson won the other two segments.


Woody Pool of Tinley Park, Ill., was awarded the victory of the 15-lap Upper Midwest Vintage Racing Series feature race after apparent first and second place finishers were disqualified.  Pool wheeled his Ford Torino to his fourth consecutive Oktoberfest vintage feature win.  Making a comeback run, longtime Wisconsin racing favorite Tom Reffner was credited with second place with Billy Martin getting third.


Wisconsin veteran racer Bill Prietzel was the winner of the 15-lap modified main event.  Prietzel, known for his success in Mid American Stock Car Series competition, took the checkered flag in front of Dave Edwards.


On Saturday:  Ty Majeski looked like he was the winner of the Big 8 Late Model Series 38-lap feature race but Majeski was disqualified because of a transmission rule infraction which gave the win to Michael Bilderback of South Beloit, Ill.  Bilderback led the race most of the way before getting passed by Majeski with four laps to go.  Jacob Goede, Steve Carlson and Chad Walen completed the official top four.  Retiring Jeremy Miller finished 15th and claimed a record fifth Big 8 championship.


LaCrosse sportsmen division regular Tom Luethe won the Mid American Stock Car Series 30-lap main event.  Dan Glister finished second and James Swan was third.  Turning in a sixth-place performance, Ron Vandermeir Jr., wrapped up the 2018 Mid American Stock Car championship – the first such title for the third-generation racer from Sheridan, Ill. 


The Midwest Dash Series 20-lap season finale had plenty of drama. It started before the racing with Brandon DeLacy’s mechanical issues during practice that put his car on the shelf. In the feature, George Seliger quickly built a huge lead. Veteran competitor Phil Malouf would track down Seliger and make the race close. The leaders encountered lap traffic with six to go, and they would be joined by George Sparkman. The Loves Park veteran got by Malouf for second with four to go. The final laps would be a battle between Seliger and Sparkman with Seliger holding off Sparkman for the win. With Seliger winning and DeLacy finishing 10th in a backup car, Seliger captured the 2018 Midwest Dash championship.


Earlier in the day, Majeski grabbed fast time honors for ARCA Midwest Tour competition as he turned in a lap of 18.623 seconds, edging former Oktoberfest race winner Dan Fredrickson by .064 of a second.


On Friday:  Beating the rain by just a few moments, track officials were able to complete the night’s racing program with Johnny Sauter being the overall winner of the Dick Trickle 99 late model special.  Sauter, a Wisconsin native and the NASCAR Truck Series champion, along with Ty Majeski and Jason Weinkauf, were 31-lap segment winners.  Several cars were damaged during the action with Midwest Tour series contender Dalton Zehr being one of them. 


Eric Campbell won the Great Northern Sportsmen Series feature with Jason Thoma coming home in fourth to win the series title.  Mike Corvo defeated James Swan and Dave Edwards to win the Midwest Truck Series feature.


On Thursday:  Part of the Roush-Fenway Racing NASCAR team, Ty Majeski of Seymour, Wis., scored the victory in the 40-lap feature race for LaCrosse late models as he finished ahead of  longtime racer Steve Carlson and Nick Panitzke.  Carlson, a West Salem resident, nailed down his fifth LaCrosse late model title over the past six years, winning nine feature race during the season and besting Panitzke, the 2017 track champion.


Rick Schermerhorn was the winner of the 20-lap LaCrosse sportsmen division feature with Steve Bachman wrapping up the overall division track title.


Oktoberfest 200 Finish: 

Andrew Morrissey, Paul Shafer Jr., Jonathan Eilen, Dalton Zehr, Travis Sauter, Nick Murgic, Nick Panitzke, Dennis Prunty, Michael Sauter, Austin Nason, Rich Bickle Jr., Casey Johnson, Justin Mondeik, Dan Frederickson, Jason Weinkauf, Billy Mohn, Erik Darnell, Dillon Hammond, Derek Kraus, John Beale, Jeff Holmgren Jr., Bubba Pollard, Luke Fenhaus, Chris Weinkauf, Skylar Holzhausen, Brent Kirchner, John DeAngelis Jr., Ty Majeski (DQ), Johnny Sauter (DQ), Jacob Goede (DQ).