Wisconsin Modified drivers defend their home turf
By Bert Lehman
Editor, Full Throttle Magazine
Wisconsin is often known for its cheese and beer. If you ask some of the top Modified drivers in the country, they’ll tell you it’s also known for its dirt racing.
In the August 2013 issue of Full Throttle, we included an article about Wisconsin race car drivers traveling to other states to race in special races. Most of those races take place in Iowa, but they also take place in other states throughout the Midwest. The Wisconsin drivers aren’t just field fillers, they are there to bring the money to Wisconsin, which a number of drivers have done.
With the running of the Clash at The Creek at 141 Speedway in June, Wisconsin Modified drivers experienced something new — defending their home turf.
“I’ve never really had to race against travelers on our home turf so it will be interesting. It’s kind of neat to see them come here and watch them race on our turf,” said Benji LaCrosse of Green Bay, who has won a handful of out-of-state races.
Sean Jerovetz of Suamico, added, “We travel to their houses and it’s kind of nice to have all these elite guys come to our house one time. We go there and do well. They come here and do the same.”
Algoma’s Todd Dart said defending your home turf adds more pressure.
“When you go traveling and race with those guys, you don’t have real high expectations,” Dart said. “But when you’re home, your expectations are a little bit different. They’re the ones who are on the attack rather than you.”
Seymour’s Brian Mullen, who does quite a bit of traveling to race, said he has raced against a lot of the out-of-state drivers.
“They are all very good, which is good because you are as fast as the people you race against. It helps everybody in the long run whether you win or not,” Mullen said.
He added that familiarity with the race track is helpful.
“It’s always nice to kind of know the track, but these guys race around enough, which we’ve done in the past, where they’ll come into a place like this and they’ll ask us [questions], like when I go out of town I ask them what gear [to run and things like] that. It’s pretty helpful back and forth,” Mullen said.
Shawn Kilgore of New Franken added, “Everybody races against each other enough. It’s the same guys that travel it seem like. It’s nice to see that you have more laps than them.”
More than a handful of out-of-state drivers made the trip to Wisconsin, coming from Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska. They also experienced something new — learning a new track, one that the Wisconsin drivers had turned many laps on.
“I guess we’ll see how we stack up against them on their home turf. We obviously know how they do when they come down there. We’re excited just to see what we got,” said Todd Schute of Des Moines, Iowa.
Prior to making the trip to Wisconsin Schute said he had been watching the results at the speedway.
“This track has drawn a lot of good competitors,” he said. “A lot of these [drivers], when they come to Iowa, they can take our money home, so we’d like to take some of their [money] home.”
Dustin Smith of Oseola, Nebraska, said he had previously raced against many of the Wisconsin drivers.
“When they travel to my neck of the woods I have the advantage and here it’s me trying to learn how they get around their track,” Smith said.
Smith said he talked to Mullen about the track.
“I kind of picked his brain a little bit. He gave me some pointers on how to drive the track and then stuff to try on the car,” Smith added.
Scott Drake of Joplin, Missouri said he has also raced against many of the Wisconsin drivers over the years.
“I think certain shows turn it into a deal where anybody can win, where maybe there’s not a local advantage,” Drake said. “A lot of times there is [an advantage], the guys know more about the place than you do. I think the locals could have an advantage here.”
Drake said he also checked in with the Wisconsin drivers prior to the event in an effort to get some information from them.
“Everybody is pretty open about letting you know what they’re doing and helping you out. They’re glad to see you come,” Drake said.
Josh Rogotzke of Sanborn, Minnesota said the locals had the advantage because they race weekly at the speedway.
“They’re all fast. I think they’re some of the fastest guys in the county,” Rogotzke said.
Jeff Taylor of Cave City, Arkansas joked that he was pressured into making the trip.
“I kind of caught a lot of flack here over the years for not coming up here to race against these guys,” Taylor said. “They’re pretty good here, especially in their own area, they’re really good.”
Eleven non-Wisconsin drivers qualified for the 24-car field. Taylor finished second. The only other out-of-state driver to finish in the top 10 was Darin Duffy of Urbana, Iowa, who finished fourth. Smith finished just outside the top 10 at 11th.
When all was said and done, the race was won by a local driver — Mike Mullen.
When Mullen was asked prior to the racing action what it would be like to face the tough competition on his home turf, he responded, “I pretty much worry about myself.”
(This article first appeared in the August 2014 issue of Full Throttle Magazine.)