(The late Jerry Schneider memorialized and inducted into Circle of Fame to start the 2022 season)
by Eamon Bauman
An advantageous restart and some maneuvering in the final laps propelled Dalton Zehr (Verona, WI) to victory lane in Thursday evening’s Fox River Racing Club action at Wisconsin International Raceway.
The evening’s events began with a tribute to the late Jerry Schneider, a celebrated local racer and friend who passed during the 2021/22 offseason. The tribute included Schneider’s induction into the Circle of Fame, the Wisconsin International Raceway honorary monument which Schneider himself helped create. In his later years, Schneider worked hard to induct the most impactful and venerated members of the Fox River racing community to the monument. It was only fitting that after his storied career and work on this celebration that he himself would end up memorialized in it.
Schneider was also remembered at the beginning of each 1/4 Mile Late Model feature event, a class in which he competed in recent years. At the beginning of the first feature, each competitor carried a black flag adorned with the #28, Schneider’s driver number. At the beginning of the second feature, local Super Late Model racer Chad Butz piloted Schneider’s #28 around the 1/4 mile as an honorary pace car.
The 1/4 Mile Late Model division began the evening’s feature events with a 15-lap race dominated by #04 Brandon Reichenberger (Appleton, WI). Taking the lead early on the 2nd lap, Reichenberger would not relinquish it and lead 14 of 15 laps. The second 1/4 Mile Late Model feature was not as dominated, however. The #73 of Pete McVey (Appleton, WI) sped to an early lead in the feature but was soon challenged by #24 Rick Spoo (Neenah, WI). Spoo and McVey battled over the next several laps as cars rose and fell in the order behind them. Several went “off-roading”, dipping their tires off the back stretch of the 1/4 mile track and into the dust and dirt. Oil dumped by a competitor brought out the red flag, pausing the competition until after the cleanup (and completion of the Super Late Model feature). Back under green, McVey resumed his lead but was yet again challenged by the likes of Tim Baumann (#6, Neenah, WI) and Rick Spoo. McVey persevered, and brought the #73 in for a win.
Started during the cleanup of another race on the ¼ mile, the Super Late Model feature soon came to require cleanup of its own. Braison Bennett (Neenah, WI) in the blue #47 machine lead early while the field behind him jockeyed for position. In early laps the 119 (Zehr), 24 (Nick Van), 2 (Sawyer Effertz) and 47J (Casey Johnson) boxed out and in vying for top 5 positioning. On lap 7 things settled out after the 24 of Van dropped back in the field, leaving Bennett, Zehr, Johnson and Effertz running in the top four.
An early caution came out for a competitor scraping a wall, giving the field a chance to stack back up. The restart post-caution had #2 Effertz leading the way with Bennett and Zehr in close quarters. Bennett jumped out front yet again with Effertz, Johnson, #66 Alex Stumpf (Brillion, WI) and #17 Grant Griesbach (Pewaukee, WI) close behind. Bennett’s lead would not stretch far, as after six more laps under green, Zehr would charge up to P2 and challenge Bennett for the lead.
A mid-race caution from a solo spun competitor would stack the field up yet again, with Bennett still in a close lead over Zehr. On the restart, Bennett chose the outside line with Zehr pulling inside – a move that gave Zehr the competitive advantage. The two would race side by side during and after the restart, with Zehr overtaking Bennett completely on lap 26.
Montello, Wisconsin’s Robert Kendall (#11) would charge up to P2 after a mid-field start of 12th. Zehr and Kendall stretched their lead out to a few car lengths leaving Bennett, Griesbach and Johnson to vie for position. In the final laps Griesbach made an aggressive move to open the door on Braison Bennett, snatching away P3. Bennett dropped back behind Griesbach, Johnson and resurgent Sawyer Effertz to come home in 6th place.
In Late Model competition, #74 Brady Baldry (Omro, WI) brought home a win in exciting fashion. After an early lead by #18 Chase Randerson (Oshkosh, WI), Baldry would capture the top spot on a restart. Randerson chased Baldry hard along with #7 Evan Beattie (Little Chute, WI). Neither would pass Baldry, however, who remained in the lead by a hair. The final lap saw #74 and #18 side-by-side for the lead with Baldry ultimately prevailing over Randerson by less than a car length.
The Super Stock feature win went to #117 Andy Casavant (Appleton, WI). Casavant claimed the top spot on lap 15 with an inside pass of #51 Larry Raygo (Omro, WI). Raygo was dominant early but Casavant had the car to beat and marched through the field to the feature win.
In Wisconsin Sport Truck action, #4 Cody Vanderloop (Appleton, WI) put on a master class in lapped traffic navigation. Facing lapped cars staring around laps 5 through 7, Vanderloop was not only dodging competitors but also was being run down by 2nd place challenger #04 Landon Braatz (Shawano, WI). Braatz chased Vanderloop through the traffic but couldn’t catch him. A late race mechanical issue forced Braatz off the track, and Vanderloop won handily.
Moved to the end of the evening, the Sizzlin’ 4’s proved no lack of action in their feature proceedings. Constant passing and side-by-side racing is a hallmark of the support division and Thursday was no exception. #21 Jacoby Pollei (Appleton, WI) lead early in the race with positions 2-6 being strongly contested by a host of drivers. Emerging from the pack was #79 Arianna Beattie who made her way on lap 6 up to Pollei and challenged him for the lead. Along with Arianna came #47 Justin Fickel (Neenah, WI) and #17 Isaac Therrien (Seymour, WI). Fickel took the lead from Pollei at the halfway mark, and wouldn’t give it up until a white-flag lap incident with #17. Therrien and Fickel were side-by-side racing hard for the lead on the final lap of the contest when the two came together down the back stretch of the 1/4 mile. Both competitors wiped out into the infield as a result of the contact, and #76 Kurt Schweitzer previously running P3 brought home the win.
In Figure Eight action, dominant force Terry Van Roy (#14, Appleton, WI) opened his 2022 campaign with a strong win over #9 Russ Lorbiecki (Sussex, WI). Over the wild and crazy figure eight track, Van Roy held off many attempts from Lorbiecki to overtake. With only a single caution to restack the field, Lorbiecki was not able to get a strong run on Van Roy, and would come home 2nd.
Full results from Thursday’s event are available at https://frrc.us. The Fox River Racing Club will be back in action on Thursday June 9th with the Red Race – the first in the Red, White & Blue State Championship Series from Wisconsin International Raceway. More information about Wisconsin International Raceway can be found online at https://wirmotorsports.com/
Edit 6/5/2022 – A previous version erroneously listed Dalton Zehr as residing in Menomonie, WI. This has been corrected.