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Silver Bay's VanHouse plans to go full throttle in Silver 1000

Driver Deven VanHouse of Silver Bay will be a strong contender in the Silver 1000 today at Proctor Speedway. (Photo courtesy of Wesley Vork / Proctor Speedway)

Deven VanHouse was one of the Northland’s most prolific hockey scorers in high school, earning 65 points as a senior at Silver Bay in 2004.

VanHouse’s strength was speed, something he also has applied in more recent years to stock car racing.

VanHouse is hoping for a strong showing in the Modified division at the 42nd annual Black Bear Casino Silver 1000 tonight at Proctor Speedway. Late Models also are part of the race lineup.

“It’s always fun this time of the year. It works out to be a great racing weekend,” VanHouse said. “The Silver 1000 is going to draw a lot of cars, and attract some of the better drivers, so it’d be pretty special to win a big race like that. There are no points or anything to worry about. It’s the end of the year, so you kind of let it all hang out. You’re not there to be conservative. You’re there to win.”

After tonight, most drivers will descend on Grand Rapids for the Wissota Classic and then onto

Hibbing Raceway for the two-day Labor Day Shootout.

VanHouse, 28, hopes his experience at the Silver tonight goes better than last year. VanHouse had a bad draw for his heat and finished in the middle of the pack. In the feature he had to pull off with a flat tire.

“Hopefully this year I at least finish,” VanHouse said, laughing.

VanHouse is in his 11th year racing and had a banner season. He won track championships in both Modifieds and Midwest Modifieds at Proctor, took fourth and third, respectively, at Superior, and second and first at Hibbing.

It’s his second year racing both classes. He decided to add a class after dominating in Midwest Modifieds in 2012, with two firsts and a second in the track standings.

Both classes use 350 cubic inch engines, but the Modifieds use four barrel carburetors instead of two, can run a larger compression ratio and are allowed to run on alcohol.

“The Modified has a lot more power, which I prefer,” VanHouse said. “There is more room for error in a Modified. If you make a mistake, that extra power can pull you out of it.”

Steve VanHouse, Deven’s dad, serves as his crew chief. They’re a two-man crew.

“It’s just me and him, at the shop and at the track,” Deven VanHouse said. “A lot of these guys live in the Duluth-Superior area, and they can sleep in. We can’t. We don’t mess around.

“It’s a lot more work running two classes, but it’s worth it, definitely. I knew it’d require a lot more time, but my dad has provided me with a good shop, and he helps me out a lot. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

The connections between hockey and racing are more common than one might think. Darrell Nelson, the defending Silver 1000 Modified champion, for instance, played hockey at Wisconsin-Superior.

VanHouse went on to play college hockey at St. Mary’s in Winona, Minn. He returned home to work with his father in the family construction business. He also dabbles in real estate and builds race chassis. He plans on coaching the North Shore cooperative hockey team this winter with longtime Silver Bay coach Mike Guzzo.

VanHouse is engaged to be married to Amy Iverson on Sept. 27. Like any good racer, he is waiting until after his racing season to tie the knot.

“That’s right,” VanHouse said, laughing.

MUSCLE CAR SHOOTOUT THIS WEEKEND A strong contingent of Northeastern Minnesota drag racers are in contention going into the grand finale of the three-race Muscle Car Series this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway.

Leading the way is Tim Anderson of Carlton in the Truck Eliminator division, Gordy Hanson of Iron in Strip Eliminator 3 and Darrell Godbout of Carlton in Real Street Natural. All three are third in the season points standings going into the 26th annual Muscle Car Shootout Friday through Sunday.

The weekend will also include a stop by the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans Am Series, as well as the debut of the Pirelli World Challenge on BIR’s 2.5-mile competition road course.