Opener brings large turnout to Bemidji Speedway
The haulers were loaded with clean, polished shiny new race cars as they traveled through Bemidji on their way to the Bemidji Speedways season opener Sunday.
Track promoter Mel Hayes expects an outstanding season at the speedway with many specials on the summer agenda including a Sunday and Monday Memorial weekend special with Vintage racers both days as well as a Wissota Mod Four special on Monday in the "Kenny Beck Memorial Race". Race start time all summer will be 5 p.m.
Next Sunday all 4H members will get in at half price with the Bemidji Streets making its first of six appearances at the track.
The first feature race of the season had the Pure Stocks taking to the quarter-mile oval led by Bill Chaboyea and Wade Schmidt.
Both ended up at the rear of the field due to flag man concerns moving Dalton Carlson to the lead followed by Corey Peterson, Joe Fairbanks, Brandon Hilliard and Chaboyea.
Chaboyea charged to the high side to pass the entire field except for Carlson to finish second, followed by Fairbanks, Peterson and Schmidt.
Carlson picked up where he ended last fall when he won the Paul Bunyan stampede winning the feature, his first of the season.
Mini Stock Feature
Billy Smith and Chris Dudley brought the Mini Stocks to the green flag with Dudley taking the lead over Smith.
The two battled it out most of the race with Dudley taking the initial mini feature. Smith, Tim Barrett, Neil Fleming and Scott Nelson rounded out the top five finishers.
Wissota Mod Fours
A small but enthusiastic field of Mod Fours followed the Mini's with Brandon Bahr on the pole and Darrin Lawler outside.
Bahr quickly took the lead for the first lap but in the 1-2 corner on lap two it was Mike Bader charging hard low into the corner to take the lead.
Brandon Bahr was followed by his dad Kevin, Fran Hauber and John Schulke. Ev Barrett and Lawler trailed the leaders.
Bader, once in front, pulled away from the field as the race went flag to flag with Bader picking up the feature win. Brandon Bahr, Kevin Bahr, Hauber, and Barrett rounded out the top five finishers.
In what would be the largest class of the night 19 Wissota Midwest Modifieds roared on track led by Doug Voss on the pole and Jerry Esler to his right.
It was Esler on the outside who powered his B-mod into the lead chased by Voss, Tim Carlson, Bryan LePier and Brett Schmidt early in the feature.
Voss challenged Esler and took the lead and a short time later an engine fire in the modified of new driver Jason Davis slowed the race for a restart. Voss, Esler, Carlson, Schmidt and LePier led the hard charging field into the first turn with Schmidt racing to the high side by Carlson.
As the racing became hot and furious LePier and Davey Mills, who had been running back in 8th, split high and low around Schmidt for fourth and fifth but on the next lap it was Schmidt cutting to the inside down the back straight to retake his position in third.
The race was once again red flagged as Carlson's engine went up in flames. Voss drove to the pits for repairs and returned tailback for the final green-white-checkered finish.
Schmidt again charged inside on the back straight and took the lead from Esler. A slide in turn four by Esler brought the caution flag out for another restart sending Esler tailback.
With Schmidt in the lead the green flag once again waved, Mills, LePier, Tim Jackson and Skyler Smith chased the leader down the front straight. Gary Nelson Jr raced inside in turn two and made the pass of Smith.
A crash with Al Sadek and Matt Fullerton led to one more yellow flag before the end of the race.
The race once again got the green flag with Mills diving inside into the lead on the last lap. Schmidt dropped back with LePier taking second, Nelson third and Smith fourth.
Making a strong first appearance at Bemidji Speedway in more than 7 years was Tim Jackson finishing in fifth.
The final feature found Davey Mills leading the Wissota Super on the pole and Andy Davey to his right with Matt Sparby following from his second row. Gary Nelson Jr. led into 2nd. Dale Lindell and Tyler Kintner made up the top five early.
Kintner raced inside and made the pass of Nelson for third while Lindell was passed by Mike Vajdl.
A three car battle for third developed with Kintner, Nelson and Vajdl.
Nelson raced high and low looking for an opening to pass Kintner. The pressure on Kintner pushed him up to challenge Sparby running comfortably in second behind Davey.
The last lap brought Davey the feature win with a three wide battle across the finish line for second with Kintner awarded second, Nelson third and Sparby fourth followed by Vajdl in fifth.
It was a wild finish to a great night of racing to start the season at Bemidji Speedway.
Pure Stock Feature - Dalton Carlson, Bill Chaboyea, Joe Fairbanks, Corey Peterson, Wade Schmidt, Nichole Davis, Sadie Niemala, Brandon Hilliard, Chris Isensee, Don Kolkin
Heat 1 - Chaboyea, Isensee, Niemela, D. Kolkin
Heat 2 - Schmidt, Peterson, Carlson, Hilliard, Davis
Mini Stock Feature - Chris Dudley, Billy Smith, Tim Barrett, Neil Fleming, Scott Nelson, Billy Foster, Leahna Barrett, Cory Ofstreich
Heat 1 - Smith, Dudley, T. Barrett, Fleming, L. Barrett
Wissota Mod Four Feature - Mike Bader, Brandon Bahr, Kevin Bahr, Fran Hauber, Ev Barrett, John Schulke, Darrin Lawler
Heat 1 - Bader, B. Bahr, K. Bahr, Hauber, Lawler
Wissota Midwest Modified Feature - Davey Mills, Bryan LePier, Gary Nelson Jr, Skyler Smith, Tim Jackson, Al Sadek, Doug Voss, Jerry Esler, Brandon Smith
Heat 1 - D. Strand, Voss, Jackson, Esler, Mills
Heat 2 - Nelson, LePier, Sadek, Smith, T. Thompson
Heat 3 - B. Schmidt, T. Carlson, M. Fullerton, J. Sharpnack, B. Bourquin
Super Stock Feature - Andy Davey, Tyler Kintner, Gary Nelson Jr, Matt Sparby, Mike Vajdl, Dale Lindell, Chris Molash, Jerry Davis
Heat 1 -Nelson, Sparby, Davey, Vajdl, Kintner