Inaugural Great Lakes Border Battle this weekend at Amsoil Speedway in Superior

If you like Modified racing, with their open front wheels and cat-like quickness, then there isn't a better place to be in the Upper Midwest this weekend than the inaugural Great Lakes Border Battle today and Saturday at Amsoil Speedway in Superi...

If you like Modified racing, with their open front wheels and cat-like quickness, then there isn’t a better place to be in the Upper Midwest this weekend than the inaugural Great Lakes Border Battle today and Saturday at Amsoil Speedway in Superior.
The event features a $10,000-to-win payout for Saturday’s Modified finale, an unheard of money amount for Modified racing in the Northland. It’s a product of FYE Motorsports Promotions and owner Chris Stepan.
“That’s the biggest purse ever for Modifieds here,” Amsoil Speedway promoter Joe Stariha said. “That would be a huge Late Model purse.”
Midwest Modifieds and Pure Stocks also are part of the race program.
Stepan, of St. Cloud, Minn., is no stranger to Amsoil Speedway, having previously served as a promoter at the track. Stepan has announced at Amsoil Speedway this season.
“Chris does shows all over Minnesota and Wisconsin,” Stariha said. “He basically rents tracks out for the weekend and does these big shows. We supply all of our employees and other things, but it’s kind of his weekend. I’m expecting a ton of cars. I can’t wait.”
Many tracks shy away from hosting events on the Fourth of July weekend, thinking people are at the lake and it’s a risk. Stariha said Amsoil Speedway has nothing to lose this weekend.
“It’s a win-win,” Stariha said. “This weekend we get to see if some of these
holidays work, and yeah, we get some concession and camping money without any risk in it.”
Stepan gets the gate, and with highs near 80 and no rain forecast, his risk could pay off nicely. Furthermore, this weekend’s show is the only thing going as far as Northland dirt-track racing goes, so there is no conflict with drivers racing for points at other tracks. It’s the only show going, thanks to cooperation from the area tracks.
“I think it’s going to be huge,” Stariha said. “And the weather looks awesome, so even better.”
Stariha said there are more than 60 preregistered Modifieds for the event, and with $10,000 at stake, the draw goes beyond the Northland. Stariha said there are drivers registered from five states and two Canadian provinces.
Stariha is expecting upward of 75 Modifieds, 50 Midwest Modifieds and 25 Pure Stocks. The Midwest Modifieds and Pure Stocks will race a full show both nights, with the Midwest Modifieds paying $1,500 to win each night, good money for that class.
The top 25 in passing points from today’s Modified heats will race a 25-lap qualifying feature tonight. From that, the top 15 finishers will be locked into Saturday’s feature automatically, with the winner getting the pole position. The rest of the 25-car field will be determined through last-chance qualifying heats on Saturday.
Saturday’s feature will be a crazy 60 laps, with a brief “pit stop” after 30 laps, with the drivers lining up along the front straightaway.
“Their pit guys will come and fuel them up,” Stariha said. “They can’t touch their cars, they can’t make any adjustments. It’s a fuel break. They can have a Gatorade or water and then race the last 30 laps. Like NASCAR, they get a little pit stop, which you’re not used to seeing in dirt-track racing.”
Sometimes overshadowed by Late Models, Modifieds will have their day - actually two of them - this weekend.
“It’s a competitive class and there are a lot of them.” Stariha said. “They’re popular, representing the masses. And it’s great racing.”

Inaugural Great Lakes Border Battle
What: $10,000 to win Modified special
When: Today and Saturday
Where: Amsoil Speedway, Superior
Tickets: Adults $20 for Friday; $25 for Saturday; $6 each day for children 10 to 15, with those under 10 admitted free

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 or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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