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Auto racing: Gondik Law Speedway ready to rumble this week

Last week’s rainout doesn’t damper the spirits of Superior promoter Joe Stariha.

Modified class stock cars racing.
Two modified class racers round a corner at the 72nd Season Opener at Proctor’s Halvor Lines Speedway on Sunday, May 22, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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SUPERIOR — There’s an old saying that Joe Stariha knows all too well.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s the motto you have to live by when you’re a track promoter, and Stariha, the head man at Gondik Law Speedway in Superior, is no different.

Stariha hasn’t let last week’s rainout dampen his spirit. Instead, Superior will just roll the dice again this week, with the two-night Wisconsin Modified Nationals, at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday May 26 and 27, now serving as the track’s 61st season opener.

Stariha said his phone was silent last week.

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“I didn’t take any calls,” he said. “People really understood. So many tracks across the Midwest are just finally opening up and a lot of them planned their first race in early April. It’s just an odd year.”

Yes, the spring from hell continues.

We’re almost to June here, and a season opener in June is a crazy thought but it could happen.

For now, the Mod Nationals appear safe. Maybe.

“We’re hoping to go,” Stariha said. “A lot of wind this weekend and (Monday’s) wind and sun helped dry out the track out nicely. We’re set to go for Wednesday’s practice and two big days of racing on Thursday and Friday.”

In 2020, Gondik Law Speedway held the 15th annual Minnesota Modified Nationals in Wisconsin due to Minnesota being shut down due to COVID-19. In 2021, it was the inaugural Wisconsin Modified Nationals, an added event as Ogilvie, Minnesota, the original host, got in the 16th annual event.

“They got their shows in; we got rained out,” Stariha said.

So here we go again.

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Modifieds will be racing for a top prize of $1,500 each night.

Super Stocks, Midwest Modifieds and Hornets are also part of the racing lineup, with Northern Renegade Winged Sprint Cars racing Friday night as well. This year, Ogilvie is running on Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29, so that’s a whole lotta Modified racing over four days.

Adult ticket prices are $20 each day, children 10-15 are $5 and kids under 10 are admitted free.

Wednesday’s forecast calls for rain, high winds and a high of 45 and that could be trouble. Thursday calls for a high of 58 and a chance of rain of only 23%, and Friday, even better, a high of 68 and only a 7% chance of rain.

That’s fabulous, but let’s cross our fingers and see what happens Wednesday.

Proctor gets opener in

While Superior was a wash, Halvor Lines Speedway got its 72nd season opener in Sunday, May 22, in Proctor.

Proctor’s Kevin Burdick was the big winner, capturing his first Wissota Late Model win, on his home track no less. Not bad for his third time out as Burdick is a rookie in the Late Model division.

Brandon Copp of Brule won in Modifieds, holding off rookie Jack Rivord of Superior. Former track champion Nick Oreskovich of Mason, Wisconsin, took the checkered flag in Super Stocks and Cody Carlson of Superior won a battle of attrition in Midwest Modifieds as the feature had six DNFs.

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Duluth’s Cory Jorgensen (Pure Stocks) and Cloquet’s A.J. House (Hornets) were the other feature winners.

Sunday’s Feature Results

Late Models

1. Kevin Burdick, Proctor; 2. Danny Vang, Deerwood, Minnesota; 3. Tim McMann, Duluth; 4. Aaron Lillo, Proctor; 5. Kevin Carlson, Hermantown; 6. Robbie Cooper, South Range; 7. Terry Lillo, Duluth; 8. Ronnie Malecki, Superior; 9. Jordan Grimm, Mahtowa; 10. Max Nelson, Milaca, Minnesota. DNF: Derek Vesel, Hibbing, Deven VanHouse, Silver Bay.

Modifieds

1. Brandon Copp, Brule; 2. Jack Rivord, Superior; 3. Jody Bellefeuille, Carlton; 4. Billy Kendall, Walker, Minnesota; 5. Donnie Lofdahl, Duluth; 6. Andy Jones, Princeton, Minnesota. DNS: Mike Klippenstein, Proctor; Jeffrey Lien Jr. , Mora, Minnesota.

Super Stocks

1. Nick Oreskovich, Mason, Wisconsin; 2. Kyle Copp, Brule; 3. Mike Sirois , Duluth; 4. D.J. Keeler Duane, Superior; 5. Andy LaBarge, Hibbing, 6. Brian Carl, Duluth; 7. Larry Both, Thunder Bay; 8. Taylor Madrinich, Duluth; 9. Scott Lawrence, Superior. DNF: Dan Peterson, Foxboro; Terran Spacek, Phillips, Wisconsin.

Midwest Modifieds

1. Cody Carlson, Superior; 2. Paul Ripley, Duluth; 3. Tyler Kintner, Hibbing; 4. Evan Checkalski, Duluth; 5. Austin Blom, Saginaw; 6. David Simpson; 7. Matt Sorenson, Duluth; 8. Todd Carlson, Andover, Minnesota; 9. Taylor Madrinich, Duluth. DNF: Brady Uotinen, Superior; Cole Boston, Lindstrom, Minnesota; McLean Andrews, Duluth; Jared Akervik, Superior; Anthony Gallian, Superior; Travis Tupa, Hibbing.

Pure Stocks

1. Cory Jorgensen, Duluth; 2. Dylan Shelton, Wrenshall; 3. Aaron Bernick, Duluth; 4. Nate Rose Nate Rose, Duluth; 5. Tyler Kachinske, Duluth. DNS: Tom Treviranus, Hawthorne.

Hornets

1. A.J. House, Cloquet; 2. Kyle House, Wrenshall; 3. Derek Ament, Barnum; 4. Carter Matthews Carter Matthews, Clearbrook, Minnesota; 5. Caleb Decker, Barnum; 6. Casey Fitzpatrick, Two Harbors; 7. Rachel Boston, Wyoming, Minnesota; 8. Lucas Lillo, Duluth; 9. Justin Barsness, Grand Rapids; 10. Jesse Turnvall, North Branch; 11. Wally Ament, Carlton; 12. Rick Andrews, Sr., Proctor; 13. Riley Ament, Mahtowa. DNF: Kristy Marken, Duluth.

Modified class stock cars racing.
A modified class racer competes at Proctor’s Halvor Lines Speedway on Sunday, May 22, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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