Eagle River Speedway’s racing season is officially in the books with Friday night’s action packed event, featuring a Micro Sprint Showcase for both the Juniors and 600s. In addition to the night’s racing, a fireworks show lit up the darkened sky during intermission.
On top of the Micro Sprint Showcase, several sponsors pitched in to increase the payout in the B Modified feature, ensuring that Eagle River Speedway’s 2019 season would end with a bang.
Junior Micro Sprints
The first feature to run was for the Junior Micro Sprint division. As has become the norm at the track, the feature was run before intermission. The race itself proved to be a wild one, with wild racing and an even wilder conclusion.
From the drop of the green flag, drivers were fighting tooth and nail for every position. A wild battle between Aedeyn Schmidt and Mason Zdroik for the third spot in the opening laps fell in favor of Zdroik. As those two drivers fought for the final step on the podium, the first and second place drivers, Blake Hartman and Josh Nevoraski, dueled for the race lead.
Lapped traffic became a factor for the leaders around the race’s midway point, and it would play a major role in the outcome of the race. As Nevoraski and Hartman made their way into turn three, the two drivers split a lapped car. When the two convened on the other side there was contact. Both cars spun out, but it was Hartman getting the worst of things as his car hooked and rolled onto its side. Moments later, Hartman’s car was back on its wheels, refired, and back in the battle. Nevoraski was sent to the back of the field.
Blake Hartman would go from flipping over to winning the Junior Micro Sprint feature, clinching the 2019 championship at the same time. Mason Zdroik and Aedeyn Schmidt came across the line second and third. Josh Nevoraski’s night went from bad to worse as he would spin trying to claw his way through the field, a tough end to a year that started out with several strong runs.
The Junior divisions, at any track, are by far some of the best. They might not have as exciting of races as, say, the Modifieds but that isn’t the point. The kids are out there getting experience the right way and, many times, they remind us all why we fell in love with racing in the first place simply by way of their excitement. It will be interesting to see how the drivers progress through the ranks over the coming years.
600 Micro Sprints
The second half of the Micro Sprint Showcase ran following the intermission fireworks show with the 600 Micro Sprint field taking the track. Several additional drivers came out to compete at Eagle River Speedway including Upper Peninsula International Speedway regulars Logan Getzloff, Scott Richer, and 2019 UPIR Track Champion Matt Peterson.
Jered Cech, who has raced at both UPIR and Eagle River on a fairly regular basis this year, jumped to the lead on the start from the pole position. From there it was smooth sailing for Cech, who would lead every lap in the race to take his second win at the track this year. Behind Cech in second was Ty Springer, one of several double duty drivers at Eagle River Speedway in 2019. Coming home third was Matt Peterson in a strong showing in his only outing at Eagle River in 2019.
Ending the night in fourth place was Tommie Springer who claimed the 2019 championship. Springer has had a year full of success that saw her in victory lane four times. Even more impressive, Springer never finished outside of the top four in 10 total appearances at the track. Her 10 races are also the most of any driver in the division.
The competition in the Street Stock feature was quite stout, with several drivers duking it out for positions at the top end of the field.
Ryan Valeria took the lead early from the outside of the front row. Behind him, a three car battle developed for the second position between Kevin Bogdanovic, Austin Wilz, and Jordan Kurtti. Bogdanovic, who then set his sights on race leader Ryan Valeria, would win that battle.
A spinning Ryan Gelmbin brought out the race’s only yellow flag. The caution would put Bogdanovic, and the rest of the Street Stock field, right on Valeria’s rear bumper. Bogdanovic would lay the pressure hard on Valeria and eventually find his way to the inside of the race leader and take the spot away.
The checkered flag would go to Kevin Bogdanovic. In two appearances in 2019, Bogdanovic has a solid average finish of 1.5, with his two finishes being first and second. Ryan Valeria would hold of Ryan Glembin for second.
Absent Friday night was points leader, and eventual champion, Rod Snellenberger. Hot Rod was unstoppable in 2019, winning six races and grabbing two second place finishes as well in a total of nine appearances at the track. Where was Snellenberger? He was at another race track, Luxemburg, where he is in a heated battle for the track championship as that track winds down its 2019 in the coming weeks. Snellenberger is one of the most successful drivers in the area, and in the coming weeks he may have another track championship to his name.
Great racing would continue into the Pure Stock division with a great battle for the race win.
Lap after lap, Keith Troutman and Roger Walker were coupled together, with Troutman leading the way. In the races final laps, Walker had several great runs out of turn two and down the curved backstretch into turn three. Walker poked his nose to the inside of Troutman three laps in a row, but couldn’t make the move stick. One of the attempts saw contact between the two drivers send Troutman sideways, though he would save the car and keep the lead.
Despite hard racing throughout the field, the race ran caution free. In the end, it was Keith Troutman grabbing the win with Roger Walker coming home in second. Third place belonged to Ryan Brown.
In addition to winning the feature, Keith Troutman also brought home the 2019 Pure Stock championship. Troutman’s season was highlighted by five race wins in 10 starts, with four other podium finishes as well. The best part about Troutman’s 2019, however, wasn’t his performance on track but his actions off of it. On more than one occasion, Troutman jogged across the track to the grandstands and gave his trophy away to a young race fan. Not only is that an incredible souvenir for that fan, but it also is a great way to make racing fan for life, something I think Troutman has done several times.
The final B Modified feature of the year encapsulated all of the excitement of 2019 in to one race. There were comers and goers, incredible battles throughout the field, and just all around good, clean, racing.
In control of the field early on was George Truscott, leading Jason Zdroik and Ty Springer. A caution flag would fly just a few laps into the race for a spinning Ron Lillie. While the field slowly paraded the track under caution, Steve Altman made a quick trip to the pits to replace a cut tire. He would rejoin the field in quick order.
On the restart, Bruce Belland made his way around Ty Springer for third. Belland soon joined the battle for the lead, making it a three way dance between himself, Truscott, and Jason Zdroik. Soon, Zdroik would make his way around Truscott on the inside. Belland followed in his tire tracks, coming Truscott to third. Things only got worse for Truscott as his car lost power on the backstretch and came to a halt in turn three, bringing out the caution and ending his night.
A late race restart bunched the field up for one last sprint to the finish. Zdroik jumped back to the lead at the sight of the green flag. Behind him, it was Jesse Aho providing the entertainment. Aho in the course of one lap passed Bruce Belland and Cole Magnin to move his way to second. The fact Aho was in second at all was impressive, as he had gone to the rear of the field just a few laps prior.
Fortunately for Jason Zdroik, the checkered flag flew before Jesse Aho could attempt any move on him for the win. Aho crossed the line in second while Bruce Belland grabbed a third place finish to end his year.
For Jesse Aho, the second place was more than enough to leave Eagle River Speedway as the 2019 B Mod Champion, even with Jason Zdroik getting the win. In 2019, Aho copped one feature win, four second place finishes, three thirds, and a fourth place in 10 race appearances. His worst finish of the year was a sixth place, which says everything about Aho’s consistency in 2019.
The final race of the night belonged to a seven car Four Cylinder field. The feature race itself was quite tame, featuring the usual Schoone suspects up front with Mark and Ashley leading the way. While the racing was good, the big story was the car count. After some weeks of only two cars showing up, it is an absolute blast to see a field almost quadruple of that for the season finale. Hopefully, the Four Cylinder field continues to grow in 2020 for Eagle River Speedway, as it is a great division to get a start in racing, and an exciting one at that.
As mentioned, Mark and Ashley Schoone showed the way up front for most of the race,with Mark leading his daughter around the D-shaped oval. In the end it was Mark grabbing the win despit Ashley charging hard in the final laps. Third place went to Logan Verhagen, in his sole appearance at Eagle River Speedway in 2019.
Unsurprisingly, Mark Schoone took home the 2019 Eagle River Speedway Four Cylinder Championship with daughter Ashley just a few points back in second. The Schoones were the only two drivers to appear at all 10 races in 2019, with Mark winning four times while Ashley did one better than her dad with five wins. However, when the season was over, Mark’s better overall finishes meant he had six more points than Ashley.
When looking back at the 2019 Eagle River Speedway season, all I can say is how much of an honor it was to cover racing at such a great track. When I say great, that includes everything the track has to offer, drivers, officials, announcers, track crew, but most of all, the fans. It was a highlight of my week to mingle with the fans of Eagle River Speedway, and I am going to miss it as we head into winter.
As far as the racing in 2019, Eagle River Speedway consistently put on great racing week in and week out. The changes made to the track after last year paid off in a big way, and things can only get better for the track as car counts and attendance continue to grow heading into next year.
By Todd Rose