Bemidji Speedway hosts Kids Night, honors longtime driver Gordie Lancaster
Each summer, Bemidji Speedway races on Sunday evenings. But once in June and again in August, “Kids Night” takes over the track.
BEMIDJI -- Each summer, Bemidji Speedway races on Sunday evenings. But once in June and again in August, “Kids Night” takes over the track.
The track hosted the annual Kids Night again on Sunday with 86 cars on track to meet and greet the local youth. During intermission, everyone is invited on track to meet the drivers, pick up autographed photos and indulge in treats. Along with those festivities, drivers and local businesses donated 18 bikes and various other prizes to lucky winners.
Also recognized during the intermission was Gordie Lancaster, the legendary driver of the #29 Windrider Super Stock. Lancaster announced this would be his final race of his 60-year racing career, with 50 of those coming at Bemidji Speedway. He was awarded a plaque and received a rousing applause from the fans in attendance.
Although racing was canceled on June 19 due to extreme heat, the track was full again on June 26. Racing resumes at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, with all regular classes running.
Bemidji Mini Stock Feature
The opening feature race saw Cory Nelson on the pole and Hayden Engen to his right. The 12-car field tried to get a start several times, but crashes and spins slowed the progress before Nelson took the lead with Brandon Hunter, Ashton Schwinn, Engen and Gordon Hunter in tight contention. Another caution sent Ashton Schwinn to the pits. As the green flag once again waved, it was Conrad Schwinn taking the lead with Kalin Honer charging from last place and up to second. Honer then raced inside in turn four and into the lead. Following another caution for a spin, Conrad Schwinn regained the lead by racing inside down the back straight. Honer blew a rear tire and dropped back to fifth on the last lap as Schwinn took the checkered flag. Nelson finished second with Gordon Hunter third, Justin Honer fourth and Kalin Honer fifth.
Wissota Midwest Modifieds Feature
Eighteen Midwest Modified drivers powered on the track with Conner Drewry and Brennan Schmidt leading the field into turn one. The two battled side-by-side before Schmidt moved to the lead with Drewry, Doyle Erickson, Brandon Bahr and Jeff Reed trailing. Down the back straight, Erickson powered up between Drewry and Schmidt and seized control of the lead. Austin McClellan started in the fourth row and raced up into the top five late in the race before a caution brought the packed field back for a restart. Erickson picked up his first win of the 2022 season with Brandon Bahr second, Drewry third, McClellan fourth and Reed fifth.
Wissota Hornet Feature
The Wissota Hornet feature rolled on track with 17 cars, led by Haley Jones and Megan Vernlund. But this was the Travis Olafson show. The defending national champion started in the fourth row, and on the first lap, he raced high and low and into the lead. Following Olafson was Carter Matthews, who also started in the fourth row. The two excellent racers pulled away from the field, but the national champ was too much for the younger Matthews. Olafson picked up another feature win and clean sweep. Matthews, Caylyn Binkley, Jones and Vernlund finished in the top five.
Wissota Mod Four Feature
Nick McCann led the field of Wissota Mod Fours on the track with Dean Larson outside. A three-wide battle started the race with McCann, Larson and Conrad Schwinn vying for the lead. Joining the trio up front, Blake Erickson raced forward and grabbed the lead. He quickly raced to a comfortable lead as the field of Mod Fours spread out around the track. Erickson won his first feature of the season with Larson, Schwinn, McCann and Skyler Smith in the top five.
Wissota Pure Stock Feature
Sixteen Wissota Pure Stocks roared into the front straight and to the green flag, led by Josh Bitker and Hunter Weeks. Veteran racer Al Sadek started in row two and found room to race past both Bitker and Weeks for the lead. Kade Leeper followed into second with Josh Berg third. Charging up from deep in the pack was Austin Carlson, who passed Weeks for fifth and then looked ahead for the leaders far ahead. Leeper moved up and took the lead but then spun, causing a caution and was sent tailback for the restart. Carlson continued his move toward the front on the restart, passing Berg and driving inside side-by-side with Sadek and into the lead. Once in front, Carlson held his line and picked up the feature win. Sadek was second, with Berg, Deryk Weleski and Bitker rounding out the top five.
Wissota Modified Feature
The mighty Wissota Modifieds roared on the track with John Farrington on the pole and Lance Schilling outside. In a fast and furious start, Josh Beaulieu and Nic Jacobson blasted up to make a three-wide race for the lead. Farrington moved up high and Beaulieu dropped down low, and for several laps, it was a seesaw battle with the two making both the high side and inside lines work. Beaulieu raced to the inside in turn two and took the lead coming out into the back straight. Farrington charged back, and the two veteran racers were once again side-by-side until a spin brought out the caution flag for a restart. With the green flag again waving, Beaulieu dropped down low and into the lead. Jacobson, meanwhile, charged back into third and then into second as he caught and passed Farrington. Beaulieu picked up the win with Jacobson, Farrington, Jeff Reed, and Schilling in the top five.
Wissota Super Stock Feature
The final race of the evening brought out the Wissota Super Stocks with Jake Froemke and Bonnie Farrington leading the way to the green flag. Froemke raced to the lead with Fritz Myers, Dalton Carlson, Dexton Koch and Matt Sparby in the top five. Koch started the feature in the back of the field but was on the move, charging up into second behind Froemke. He continued forward, powering up side-by-side with the leader and into the top spot a lap later. The field spread out around the track as Carlson caught and passed Froemke for second. Koch was flying and held a 1/3-lap lead over the field. Koch took the checkered flag and drove to Victory Lane. Carlson, Froemke, Myers and Nic Lewis held the top five spots. Ending the great night of racing, Gordie Lancaster did one last pass down the front straight and saluted the fans as they cheered him on.