“Chicago Whispers” April 11th; Column & photo by Stan Kalwasinski

Stan Kalwasinski photo

Chicago Whispers
April 11, 2018
By Stan Kalwasinski

Chicago—The calendar says it’s spring but “Mother Nature” has been trying to tell us differently as area racing is ready to get underway.

Rockford Speedway hopes to kick off its season by hosting the 41st annual Spring Classic this Sunday afternoon.  Once again, the Big 8 Late Model Series headlines the event with an 88-lap feature race. The Mid-American Stock Car Series and the American Super Cup Series are also on the card as part of The Mid-American “cars and drivers” are slated for a 50-lap feature race, while the American Super Cups are set for a 20-lap feature. All three divisions will participate in a full day of racing with the first race getting the green flag at 1:00 pm Sunday.

Michael Bilderback of South Beloit has won the last two Spring Classic 88 lappers at the high-banked, quarter-mile paved oval.  Bilderback pretty much dominated Big 8 late model action a year ago, winning four feature races on his way to his third straight Big 8 crown.  He was also the late model champ at Rockford for the second consecutive year.

Rockford lost its Enduro 200 to cold weather last weekend with it now rescheduled for April 29.  Rockford kicks off its Saturday night NASCAR racing schedule next Saturday, April 21, with its 71st annual season opener.

Some other big events on the 2018 Rockford schedule include the ARCA Midwest Tour All Star 100 (June 30) and the 53rd annual National Short Track Championships (September 28 – September 30).

Bowing to the recent cold weather, Grundy County Speedway officials have postponed the track’s stock car racing season opener from April 27 to May 4.  The third-of-a-mile paved oval, located on the Grundy County Fairgrounds in Morris, will again host weekly Friday night stock car action.

The new Performance Open Wheel Racing, Inc. (POWRi) Pavement Series for open-wheel midgets is slated to kick off its season at Grundy on Saturday evening, May 26, the first of 10 race programs on the current schedule.

Some stock car specials at Grundy this season include the Frank Welch Memorial 94 (June 8), the ARCA Midwest Tour Wayne Carter Classic (July 14), the annual Night of Features (September 2) and the 57th annual Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100 (September 15).

Sycamore Speedway is set to start its 55th season of stock car racing on Saturday night, April 28.  IMCA modifieds are also part of the opening night program.  The UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals “Hell Tour” visits the Sycamore dirt oval again this season with a $10,000-to-win late model headliner set for June 15.  Both POWRi and Badger Midget Auto Racing Association midgets are on this year’s Sycamore slate.

The dirt flies again this year at the Kankakee County Speedway with the fairgrounds oval opening for its 68th season of racing on Friday night, May 11.  Weekly Friday night UMP stock car racing will again will be the rule of thumb although Thursday evening, June 14, the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals “Hell Tour” will be in action.

The Dirt Oval at Route 66 in Joliet will again be the scene of special events as promoter Sherri Heckenast begins her second year of presenting race events on the three-eighths dirt oval.  A $10,000-to-win Summer Nationals show is set for June 15 with the track’s Summer Slash scheduled for June 30.  The Summer Slash event will be for “410” winged sprint cars featuring the open wheelers of Tony Stewart’s Artic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions and the Interstate Racing Association Bumper-To-Bumper Outlaw Sprints.  POWRi non-winged sprint cars are also on the schedule.  The Chi Town Show Down stock car event is set for October 12 and 13.

LaSalle Speedway is another “specials-only” track with the high-banked quarter-mile dirt oval having already put on a successful Thaw Brawl stock car program on March 30 and 31.  Iowa speedster Chris Simpson won the $15,000 75-lap Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Assn. seventh annual Hoker Trucking LLC-sponsored dirt late model special on the 31st.   The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series “Salute the Troops” event is up next on June 1 and 2 with $25,000 up for grabs for the winner of the 75 lapper on Saturday.  The Summer Nationals tour will be there on June 28 and the annual Bill Waite Jr. Memorial program set for September 23.

Indiana’s Shadyhill Speedway swings open its gates for the season opener on Saturday night, May 5.  The $2,500-to-win White Lightning Showdown for UMP modifieds will highlight opening night at the Medaryville dirt track.  Specials again this year are the Firecracker 50 for UMP modifieds on the Fourth of July and a UMP “Hell Tour” visit on July 10.

Another Indiana dirt oval, the Plymouth Speedway will host it annual “Cabin Fever” opener on Satuday, April 28.  United States Auto Club (USAC) sprint cars visit the three eighths-mile track on Saturday, May 5, and the Summer Nationals “Hell Tour” on June 17.

Some more notes…

Daugherty Speedway near Boswell, Ind., will be racing on Friday nights this year, beginning this Friday, April 13, and its “sister track” Kickapoo Speedway on Saturday, starting April 21.

Worth the trip – Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway is ready to host USAC midget racing this Friday and Saturday.  The Kokomo Grand Prix will also feature non-wing sprint car competition.  A new Musco Lighting system will brighten the fast, quarter-mile dirt track.

The Illini Racing Series midget group have about nine races on its schedule for 2018 including early season dates at Rockford (May 5) and at Indiana’s South Bend Motor Speedway (May 12).

A change in the traditional schedule, the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet hosts it annual NASCAR racing weekend June 28 through July 1.  The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 400 is scheduled for Sunday, July 1.

The address for news and comments is 9618 Cypress Ave., Munster, Ind. 46321-3418 or e-mail to skalwasinski@yahoo.com.