“Chicago Whispers” Aug 16th; Column & photos by Stan Kalwasinski

Stan Kalwasinski photo                                    Chicago Whispers

By Stan Kalwasinski
August 16, 2018


Chicago, Ill.—The local racing scene is beginning to wind down with a month or two of racing still on tap.


Defending late model track champion Billy Knippenberg and Eddie Hoffman are in a tight battle for this year’s late model crown at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill.  The “Friday Night Racin’ Place” only has a handful of point races still on the schedule.  Hoffman, the four-time Grundy champ from Wheaton who has won two feature races so far in 2018, leads the current points standing by five points over Joliet’s Knippenberg, a three-time winner in ‘18.  Knippenberg is the defending late model champion at Grundy and also won the title there in 2005.


Don’t forget that the ARCA Midwest Tour Wayne Carter Classic 100 lapper has been rescheduled for Saturday evening, August 25, at the Grundy third-of-a-mile paved oval.  With two wins to his credit so far this season, Austin Nason of Roscoe, Ill., currently leads the series standings.  Paul Shafer Jr. of Portage, Ind., is currently fourth in the points.  Shafer won his first career Midwest Tour race in late May at Wisconsin’s Jefferson Speedway.  Two-time Grundy champion Ricky Baker won last year’s Carter Classic.   


The 15th annual Mazon Speed Bowl/Grundy County Speedway Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are set for Saturday, September 1, at the Grundy County Fairgrounds.  The induction of new hall of fame members begins at 3:00 pm.  The visit is well worth it especially to look at over the thousands of mounted photographs that the hall of fame group has accumulated over the years.  “The Mazon Man” Ron Kessler has worked hard at putting this display up over the years.  A definite trip down memory lane!  For more information, call (815) 942-5958. 


Reno Markham and Jeremy Spoonmore are battling for this year’s super late model championship at Sycamore Speedway in Maple Park.  Markham, from Kingston whose family has been in racing for 50 years or so, won the division headliner at Sycamore last Saturday.  Spoonmore, who hails from Leland, has three feature wins to his credit so far this year.  Yep, it’s the same Jeremy Spoonmore that won the Mid American Stock Car Series traveling paved track circuit championship in 2012.  Spoonmore recently noted that he’s not done with paved track racing just yet. 


Jamie Lomax leads the current UMP modified standings at Indiana’s Shadyhill Speedway.  Lomax, who hails from Lake Village, Ind., has won eight feature races on the dirt at the Billy Alger-owned and promoted speedway in Medaryville.   Having won a total of 14 feature races in UMP competition so far this year, the 39-year-old Lomax is shooting for his first Shadyhill track title.


Racing out of Loves Park, Jon Reynolds Jr. leads the current Stanley Steemer NASCAR late model point standings at the Rockford Speedway.  Matt Berger, Max Kahler, Dennis Smith Jr. and Jeff Wakeman are chasing Reynolds, who won the Rockford late model crown in 2014.


Congratulations to Ryan Probst for scoring his first career midget feature win in Badger Midget Auto Racing Association competition. Currently second in the association’s standings, the 24-year-old New Lenox, Ill., speedster won the 25 lapper last Saturday night on the dirt at Wisconsin’s Wilmot Raceway.  Probst, who was the Illini Racing Series midget champion in 2017 with five feature wins to his credit, was pressed by four-time Badger titlist Scott Hatton most of the way.  Hatton, the Roscoe, Ill., midget veteran, leads the current Badger points.


Another local racer doing well in Badger midget action is Joliet’s Tyler Baran.  Baran finds himself third in the Badger points with two feature wins to his credit, the latest coming last Sunday at Wisconsin’s Angell Park Speedway.    Longtime midget racer, Kurt Mayhew of DeMotte, Ind., is seventh in the Badger standings.  The Badger midgets are part of this Saturday night’s racing program at the Sycamore Speedway.


The American Ethanol Late Model Tour will invade LaSalle Speedway on Saturday, August 18.  $4,000-to-win should attract some regional and local stars to the event.  Crate late models and street stock are also in action.  Racing gets underway at 7:30 pm.  Due to a schedule change, Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville is among the drivers that should be in action.  The American Ethanol series will also compete at Wilmot, Wis., on Friday.


Indiana’s Plymouth Speedway hosts its final points night of racing this Saturday.  Derek Losh has a strong lead in the track’s UMP modified standings with Matt Mitchell, Dylan Woodling, Frank Marshall and Cameron Head making up the rest of the top five.  Losh, who races out of Rensselaer, Ind., was the track’s 2016 modified champion.


Indiana’s South Bend Motor Speedway will be the site this Saturday evening of a reunion for former competitors, officials and fans of the now-closed Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind., which operated from 1945 through 2015.  Former Illiana stock car driver Brian Kucaba is now the official starter at the South Bend oval and hopes to see many friends from his Illiana days.  A full program of stock car racing is set for Saturday at the high-banked, quarter-mile paved track.


The highs and lows of short track stock car racing were experienced recently by Tom Kmak’s TK Racing team with Michigan’s Johnny VanDoorn wheeling Kmak’s No. 71.  The high – VanDoorn, a three-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion, won the late model portion of the recent Kalamazoo Klash at Michigan’s Kalamazoo Speedway on August 8, winning his first ARCA/CRA series event of the year. The low – Van Doorn was involved in a car-destroying wreck at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway on August 11 during the first lap of the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour late model event.  Van Doorn was not injured with the team bringing back a badly wrecked race car to their shop in Tinley Park, Ill. 


Sadly, Jason Parratt, 42, of Steger, Ill., passed away from an apparent heart attack after practicing in his four-cylinder racer at the Grundy County Speedway on August 10.  Racing for the first time in a few years, Parratt was making an appearance at Grundy after being a regular competitor at Illiana.  Parratt was among numerous competitors when Illiana introduced four-cylinder racing around 2004.  Parratt’s car experienced engine problems during his practice run with Parratt needing medical attention soon after.  RIP, Jason.


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