By Jeanne & Larry Starr
August 1, 1998; Jefferson, WI. – The evening started on a somber note as all cars, from every division took to the track during opening ceremonies, to pay tribute to a fallen comrade, Dave Pankow. The 33 year old Pankow, a nine year veteran of the speedway, died accidentally last Monday. There was hardly a dry eye in the crowd when all drivers stopped with Sportsman division, that Pankow raced, on the outside as Pankow’s daughter Nicole and his niece Alexis sang the National Anthem.
Former track champion, Al Papini of Machesney Park IL notched a feature victory, in his second outing of the 1998 season. Starting from the outside of the front row, Papini flew flag to flag, dominating the 35 lap event.
The race began with a caution, on the first lap, as two cars tangled, between the first and second turns. On the restart, Papini started to open up a lead over John Ovadal of Johnson Creek only to see the second, and final, caution of the race on lap 3 when a car spun off the front stretch into the infield sand piles. As Papini pulled ahead of Ovadal on the start, opening up a healthy lead, many of the track’s top racers worked their way through traffic, toward the front.
Gary Krueger of Edgerton moved up to the second spot by lap 4, with Kenny Olson of Ft. Atkinson close behind. Former track champion Andy Wendt of Watertown moved up to 4th, behind the side by side battle for second, on lap 8, as Papini stretched out his lead. Krueger, Olson and Wendt waged a 3-way battle for the second spot for over 8 laps, while Papini pulled out to a straight away lead. Wendt pulled ahead of the battle, into second on lap 18 and began closing the gap on Papini. Wendt was able to narrow the gap but never managed to launch a serious bid for the lead, as Papini guided the field toward the checkered. At the checkered flag it was Papini for the win, followed by Wendt, Olson, Denny Stair of Sullivan and Krueger.
Roy Aitchison of Deerfield set the fast pace in qualifying with a 14.829 second tour of the quarter mile.
Claiming victory, in 10 lap heat races, were Jerry Parker of Palmyra, Scott Null of Lake Mills and Russ Goodwin of Beloit.
Transferring to the feature lineup, via the 20 lap Last Chance race, were Nick Wendt of Watertown, Randy Cusick of Ft. Atkinson, Duane Deppe of Waterloo and Mark English of Edgerton.
In International Class action Justin Nottestad notched another feature victory in his quest for the 1998 track championship. Starting from the outside of row 6 Nottestad began his journey to the front as Chris Quam of Stoughton moved out to the early lead. Quam soon found himself battling with Matt Frey of Cambridge for the lead, as Nottestad was locked in a 3 way battle for 5th with D. R. Moore of Madison and Mike Dixon of Omro.
Nottestad claimed the 5th spot by lap 5 with Mike Cusick of Edgerton and Jim Pankow of Oregon raced side by side for third. Cusick claimed the third spot on lap 9, with Nottestad following him into the 4th spot. Nottestad pulled to the inside of Cusick on lap 12 making his bid for 3rd. Cusick fought hard for 4 laps, before Nottestad managed to pull into the third spot, setting his sights on Frey, who was still running second.
Nottestad motored to the inside of Frey on lap 16, taking another lap to claim the second spot. With Nottestad coming on strong to the inside, Quam fought hard to hold onto the spot. As they flew past the white flag, it was still Quam, by a fender, but Nottestad’s charge carried him ahead as the pair came off the fourth turn toward the checkered flag. At the stripe it was Justin Nottestad by a half car over Quam, followed by Frey, Cusick and Brent Nottestad of Cambridge.
Justin Nottestad set the fast pace in qualifying with a 15.943 second orbit of the quarter mile.
Claiming victory in 10 lap heat races were former track champion Pete Seitz of Edgerton and D. R. Moore of Madison.
In Sportsman division action former track champion Dave Oswald of Cottage Grove notched his 10th of the season in the 25 lap main event. Starting from the outside of row 6 Oswald began the long drive to the front as rookie driver Rich Titus of Jefferson claimed the early lead. By lap 5, as Titus held off the challenge of Josh Courtney of Janesville, Oswald was running seventh.
Oswald was up to the third spot by lap 14, when a pair of cars tangled in turn 1, bringing out the only caution of the race. On the restart Oswald moved to the inside of Courtney looking for the second spot. Oswald claimed the second spot on lap 16, moving to the inside of Titus to make his bid for the top spot. Titus held on for one more lap before Oswald claimed the point. As Oswald pulled ahead, Ryan Ley of Sullivan moved around Courtney into third and closed with Titus. On lap 21, Titus slipped just enough to provide an opening for Ley, who motored through for second. As the checkered flag flew it was Oswald for the win, followed by Ley, Titus, Courtney and Curt Thompson of Palmyra.
Oswald set the fast qualifying pace with a 15.855 circuit of the quarter mile speed plant.
Claiming victory, in 10 lap heat races, were Chris Matz of Sullivan and Bob Selsing of Ft. Atkinson.
In Hobby Stock action, former track champion Dennis Gaserude of Oregon claimed top honors in the 20 lap feature. Starting from the outside of row 5, Gaserude charged quickly toward the front, as Nick Golich of Hebron grabbed the early lead. Gaserude moved up to challenge Randy Strasburg of Ft. Atkinson for the second spot, by lap 3, claiming the spot on the fourth lap. As Gaserude claimed second, Pete Elgas of Janesville moved into the third spot and defending track champion, Jim Pfeifer of Ft. Atkinson, challenged Strasburg for 4th.
Everything came to a stop on lap 7, as a car in the back stretch wall brought the only caution of the race. On the restart it was still Golich at the point, with Gaserude on his back bumper. Gaserude took the low line, moving under Golich for the lead, on lap 8. As Gaserude claimed the lead, Pfeifer moved under Elgas for the third spot driving up to challenge Golich. Pfeifer claimed 2nd by lap 10, as Golich battled with Elgas for the third spot.
As Gaserude guided the way to the checkered flag, Elgas claimed third and Jeff Kohlhoff of Watertown moved up to challenge for 4th, with Chuck Egli of Waterloo close behind. As the checkered flag flew it was Gaserude heading toward victory lane, followed at the line by Pfeifer, Elgas, Kohlhoff and Chuck Egli of Waterloo.
Kohlhoff set the fast qualifying pace, turning in a 17.076 second lap on Wisconsin’s Action Track.
Claiming victory, in 8 lap heat races, were Jason Ayers of Stoughton, Trent Erdman of Ft. Atkinson and Pfeifer.
Rounding out the evening’s entertainment was the Gauntlet Race, actually the first running of the “Bubble Gauntlet”. The track was doused with liberal coating of soap and water, courtesy of Dodge Concrete, in preparation for the “Gauntlet Car”, a full sized, 4 door Cadillac piloted by track promoter Terry Tucker, with chief scorekeeper, John Kamenick as Copilot/Gunner. Following this duo onto the track were 16, 4 cylinder cars piloted by many of the track’s top drivers.
The goal of the Gauntlet car is to complete an 8 lap race, while the goal of the compacts is to insure that it does not. As the green flag flew the Gauntlet car charged out to an early lead, only to be swarmed by the compact drivers as they headed down the back. As the compacts closed with the Gauntlet car, the gunner’s job was to hurl water, flour sacks, fruits and vegetables to impair the charging driver’s visibility. It was close for awhile but, despite several spins, the Gauntlet car managed to limp past the checkered flag before coming to rest in turn 1. Tucker claims a record of 4 victories, in 6 Gauntlet races.
Next Jefferson Speedway presents the every popular “Demolition Derby”, rounding out a full night of racing action in the Late Model, International, Sportsman and Hobby Stock Divisions.
Gates open at 4:00, qualifying at 5:30 and racing to begin at 7:30 sharp. Jefferson Speedway is located on highway 18 half way between Jefferson and Cambridge.