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  .: 2016 Awards Banquet :.

Rice Lake Speedway Racers Gather

By Ed Reichert

Rice Lake WI, January 28 – The 2016 racing season was officially concluded Saturday night, January 28th when racers, crews, fans, sponsors and track employees all gathered for the annual Rice Lake Speedway banquet, hosted by track owners Adams-Hansen Inc. A full house gathered at the Rice Lake Elks Club for the banquet meal that was followed by the awards presentation, door prizes and dancing.

A moment of silence was held before the meal began in memory of four very important people to the racing community that have been lost following the 2016 racing season. Kyle Runkle, Duane Mahder, Jerry Amundson and Tammy Clark were all a big part of the local racing family, and their presence will be sadly missed.

Co-owner Dave Adams was the first to come to the podium following the meal and he gave a brief rundown on what the likely schedule will be for the track in 2017. The annual car show will be held at Rice Lake's Cedar Mall on March 30-April 2. The sixty fifth consecutive season of auto racing in Rice Lake will commence on Saturday night, April 15th. UMSS Sprint Cars will invade the speedway on May 27th. The annual Firecracker special will be held on Monday night, July 3rd. The WISSOTA Challenge Series for Late Models will be at the track on Saturday night, July 29th. The Street Stock Little Dream race is tentatively slated for Tuesday night, August 8th with a rain date of August 9th. The season will conclude with the annual Labor Day weekend doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday, September 2ndand 3rd. Also on the schedule are Kid's night, bicycle races, the Hall of Fame night, Aquafest Trophy night and several more special events yet to be booked. The schedule is expected to be finalized toward the end of February.

Adams announced that all five divisions that race at the track will return in 2017 and the only significant change will see the Pure Stock class also sanctioned by WISSOTA for the coming racing season.

Adams then presented one of the evening's most significant awards on behalf of Mitch Hansen and himself. The “Thanks a Lot “ award goes to an individual who's help and support of the Rice Lake Speedway has been significant. This year, in a change of pace, Adams presented the award to a loyal race race. Terming her a track “Super Fan”, Adams stated that this lady has never missed a race since he and Hansen took over the track seven years ago and that she is always the first one in the grandstand on race night and also is the first person to return their reservation for the track banquet. The plaque was presented to Irene Galetka.

Ed Reichert then took the stage to give a brief synopsis of the 2016 racing season as well as update the crowd on some of the track's more significant ongoing events including the Little Dream and the all time feature wins totals for the track.
It was then time for Master of Ceremonies Ben Brost to introduce the top ten in track points in each division, pass out the plaques and trophies and interview some of the drivers.

The Pure Stocks came to the stage first. Moving up from third in track points in 2015, the 2016 Pure Stock point champion was Jason Havel from Rice Lake. Also taking trophies in the top five were James Clausen from Rice Lake, Joel Hinrichs from Chetek, Tucker Quinn from Ladysmith and Rob Holmstrom Jr. from Cameron. Receiving plaques for their sixth through tenth place finishes were Austin Workman from Barron, George Richards from Mondovi, Mike Grover from Chetek, Michael Miller from Rice Lake and Andy Ladd from Cumberland. The Rookie of the Year in the Pure Stocks was Holmstrom.

For the second straight year, the point champion in the Street Stocks was Cody Kummer from Medford. He was followed by Kevin Bogdanovic from Wausau, Kolby Kiehl from Barron, Hunter VanGilder from Rice Lake and Sam Fankhauser from Rice Lake. Sixth through tenth in points were C.J. Wagner from Rice Lake, Jay Kesan from Weyerhaeuser, Cooper Berlin from Rice Lake, Ashley Wahlstrom from Rice Lake and Shawn Amundson from Rice Lake. The Street Stock Rookie of the Year was Wagner.

Advancing from a third place finish in 2015, the 2016 point champion in the Midwest Modified division was Ryan Viltz from Chetek. Runner up honors went to Shane Halopka from Greenwood with the rest of the top five comprised of Austin Ellis from Rice Lake, Travis Anderson from Colfax and Denny Cutsforth from Rice Lake. Completing the top ten were Tim Ekdahl from Cameron, Bryce Johnson from Barron, Joe Chaplin Jr from Cameron, the late Kyle Runkle from Chetek and Josh Wahlstrom from Rice Lake. Cutsforth was also named Midwest Modified Rookie of the Year.

Advancing from runner up honors in 2015, Eric Olson from Ladysmith was the 2016 Super Stock point champion. He was trailed very closely by Curt Myers from Cameron, Simon Wahlstrom from Rice Lake who was also named Rookie of the Year in the class, Adam Soltis from Ladysmith and Nick Traynor from Barron with both Soltis and Traynor also being rookies in the class. Completing the top ten were John Erickson from Rice Lake, Jim Cimfl from Turtle Lake, Aaron Wilson from Eau Claire, Kyle Helling from Rice Lake and Lucas Schultz from Cameron.

For the third straight year, Kevin Adams and Mike Anderson finished first and second in the Modified point standings. In the closest battle of the five divisions, Adams, from Cameron, edged out Anderson, from Colfax, by a mere four points to break the track record for point titles won by a driver. “Pistol” Pat Hoffman from Rice Lake finished a strong third followed by Wayne Poteet from Spooner and Steve Hallquist from Eau Claire. The second five consisted of Tim McMann from Duluth MN, Ashley Anderson from Elk Mound, Neil Balduc from Bessemer MI, Mark Hessler from Menomonie and Dave Baxter from Eau Claire.

The evening concluded with the drawing for a multitude of door prizes donated by area merchants, following by dancing and fellowship.