Riedner tackles new challenge
By Nicholas Dettmann
For about two years, Scott Riedner had kicked around the idea of moving up from Street Stocks at Beaver Dam Raceway.
The only way it would happen is if it was the perfect situation.
In the offseason, the perfect situation presented itself and the veteran racer went after it.
Riedner is in his 32nd season of racing on the short-tracks in Wisconsin. This season, he moved up to Sport Modifieds at Beaver Dam.
“I figured it was a new challenge, something new, something to try,” Riedner said.
He’s arguably one of the most versatile drivers in state history.
Riedner has won 11 track championships at five tracks, including the 2013 and 2014 Street Stock titles at Beaver Dam. He’s also won championships at Dells Raceway Park, Madison, Jefferson and Columbus. He’s raced Sportsman, Street Stocks, asphalt Super Late Models and 4-cylinders.
Even with all that experience, it was a shock for Riedner to sit in victory lane at Beaver Dam in his first heat race in a Sport Modified April 16.
“I should’ve quit right there,” Riedner said with a big smile.
He got this opportunity in a rather unique way.
Riedner’s son, Brandon, wanted to buy a new Sport Modified after winning the Sport Modified and Street Stock championships last season at Beaver Dam. That way Brandon could buy a new Sport Modified. Also at that time, a competitor was interested in Scott Riedner building him a Street Stock.
Suddenly, the conversation took on a different tone, a different direction.
“When Brandon asked me about the Sport Mod thing, I went to that guy and said, ‘Hey, how about I just sell you (the Street Stock)? You can buy it for hell of a lot less than I would have to build you one and you’ve got a race-proven car.’
“That’s how it all came about.”
Scott’s Sport Modified this season is Brandon’s from last season, which won two features and the track championship.
What held Scott back was finances. He didn’t want to spend too much money. Throughout his career, he’s never raced outside of his budget, which is why the perfect opportunity had to present itself in order to move up from Street Stocks.
Once the plans were set, Scott took the car to Darlington to test about two weeks before the Beaver Dam opener. It was the first time the 52-year-old had ever sat in a Sport Modified.
“I knew it was going to be different,” he said.
It was a matter of how different.
“It’s like apples and oranges,” Scott said. “It totally, totally different. I kind of expected it, but didn’t fully expect it.”
Outside of the obvious jump in horsepower from Street Stock to Sport Modified, the suspension was different where it was almost like he was rocking inside the car. Everything else he had ever driven was settled on the track. The Sport Modified isn’t settled on the track, forcing a driver to be more cognizant of the balance.
“I knew it was going to happen, but that feeling was just unbelievable,” Scott said. “It’s … fun. It’s totally different than anything I’ve ever driven.”
He added nothing prepared him for the move and the adjustment he’d have to make.
“Even the Super Late Model stuff, the asphalt stuff; we’re talking 600 and some horsepower, 10-inch tires,” Scott said. “You’re hauling (expletive).”
Two weeks later, he looked like a pro, winning his first race in the car.
“Once I get a few more laps, I’ll be all right,” Scott said.
He finished sixth in his first ‘A’ main.
“I was pretty satisfied with how it went,” Scott said.
But, because of how different it is, that’s what makes it fun.
“I love the challenge,” Scott said. “That total different thing, makes it really fun.”
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(This article appeared in the May 2016 issue of Full Throttle Magazine.)