Fan Notes from Fremont Speedway's All Star Finale

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Fremont SpeedwayFremont Speedway (Tom Myers) Fremont, Ohio – This year’s Jim and Joanne Ford Classic race, the 13th annual edition, was the final event on the 2020 calendar for both Fremont Speedway and the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series. The race was co-sanctioned by the All Stars and the FAST series and it was also Kears Speed Shop night. The Friday race paid $5,000 to the winner and the Saturday final paid $10,000 to the winner. This year’s Friday and Saturday shows featured more money being paid back through the field, with Saturday’s 2nd place paying $3,000, 3rd $2,200, 4th $1,650, 5th $1,500, 6th $1,450,7th $1,400,8th $1,350,9th $1,300,and 10th $1,250. If you start the feature you get $700.

The temperatures were in the mid 70’s and it was overcast and breezy with the sun peeking through on occasion. There were 41 cars on hand Saturday to battle for the All Star loot. In addition to the All Star followers and local regulars, there were some other notable racers in the pits. It was really neat to see Bill Balog again. He was here a few years ago for this race and he is always fast. With a nickname like Bill’s got, “The North Pole Nightmare,” he’s got to be a threat to win right? Tim Shaffer was on hand along with Shane Stewart, Jac Haudenschild, Hunter Schurenburg, Ian Madsen, Cale Conley, Cole Duncan, and Max Stambaugh. A few ladies were also on hand to race, Paige Polyak and McKenna Haase.

We arrived at 3:45 and the spectator gates were not open yet. As we stood in line waiting to enter the facility, an older fellow from Michigan gave me an earful, as he talked about his opinion of Fremont Speedway, track surface, the racing format and sprint car racing in general. Then another fellow, who said he drove 3 hours to get there was angry because the gates were not open yet. He let the track official at the gate know that he was not pleased and then he stormed off. This same fellow was spotted at the concession stand later in the evening, with a big smile on his face. So, I guess something has to be said about patience and understanding and being thankful for racing, especially this year. Come on folks, let’s all get along! We all can have a good time if we let ourselves have a good time! Ha Ha
Bill BalogBill Balog After entering and getting a seat, I noticed that the city of Fremont had painted their water tower, the big one you always see off of turn 2. I then wandered back to the pits and got to talking with Kyle Peters, a 305 sprint racer who, on this evening, had an All Star crew. Really, he did because Greg Wilson was working on Kyle’s car. The other All Star was Kyle’s wife Katy. Katy was there helping with the car and she was in charge of the 4 wheeler duties too. Kyle said it was nice having Katy there because she has been taking care of their 9 month old baby girl and hasn’t been able to be at the track much this year. This was the first night that baby was with Grandma and Kyle and Katy were a team at the track again. It won’t be long I am sure, before their daughter will join in, helping change tires and putting tear-offs on her daddy’s helmet.

I ran into my friend Jack Schlib. He lives close to Toledo and so he haunts Fremont and Attica a bit more than I do. Jack does get around and I have seen him at Wayne County and at Mansfield, before they tore that track down. Jack has always been a racing fan but he told me he saw a sprint car race about 10 years ago and has been hooked ever since. I hear that a lot.

Back in the pits, there were some crumpled wings sitting around. I guess there were some wrecks during the Friday action. By the looks of things, Tim Shaffer, and Chad Kemenah got upside down. I heard that Christopher Bell and Bill Balog had some bad luck too. I was surprised to see Balog in the 07 Coldren car. I wonder what happened with Gerard McIntyre? Sometimes it’s just a scheduling thing, sometimes a driver change? The Linder car was not in the pits tonight. Not sure if it was needing repairs or if they just didn’t have a driver, since Bell was racing NASCAR.
Cory Eliason talks with Blake AndersonCory Eliason talks with Blake Anderson The track seemed a little dusty and slick in hot laps. In addition to the track not getting worked on as much as in a normal season, the wind didn’t help it any. However, the track did stay racy all evening and I was told that it had more grip than the previous evening when it was dry and slick. When time trials were done, the two fastest timers were in the first group out. Paul McMahon had fast time and was the only racer in the 12 second range with a 12.981. Ryan Broughton grabbed the 2nd quick time at 13.015. There would be 5 heats, each was 8 laps with the top 4 going to the A main. The first heat finish was Mintz, Polyak, McMahon and Broughton. Shaffer missed the transfer by 1 spot. In heat 2 the finish was Philo, Conley, Duncan and Reutzel. Aaron, by the way, wins the All Star title just by taking his time trials tonight. The third heat finish was Henry, Thomas, Eliason and Trey Jacobs. The fourth heat winner was Balog, who looked really fast, followed by Schurenburg, Haud and Madsen. The fifth and final heat finish was Stewart, Foos, Wilson and Gee.

The first dash finish was Reutzel, Henry, Eliason, Wilson, Philo and Broughton. Broughton hooked the cushion in turn 3 on lap 2 and rolled over. He returned but didn’t advance from the back. The 2nd dash finish was Madsen, Stewart, Balog McMahon, Schurenburg and Mintz…giving us an all Baughman Motorsports front row for the feature.

The B main got us Shaffer at the front, followed by Kemenah, Lee Jacobs and Zeb Wise, all transferring to the main event. By this time, I thought they would water the track but they just scrapped the ruts and ran it in. Most of the racers were trying to navigate around the rut in turn 1 and 3…. but not Eliason. Cory would race right to the rut or dip entering turn one and he would lean his right rear in it…he would then bounce and shoot across the top of turn 2 and around the other cars. I saw him do that quite a few times.

After the B main, the breeze had died down and thank goodness for that because it was blowing whatever came off the track into the stands. However, about the time the feature was to start, the wind temperature dropped suddenly and got very cold….and I thought we were going to get a downpour right at feature time. That never happened at the track but on the drive home we did see where it had rained east of Fremont.
Aaron Reutzel celebrates his win with Shirley Kear ValentineAaron Reutzel celebrates his win with Shirley Kear Valentine When the green flag dropped on the 40 lap feature, Reutzel raced away from the field followed by Madsen, Balog, Stewart and Henry. On lap 2, Madsen caught the cushion in turn 2 and spun around collecting Eliason, Haud and Foos. At the restart, Reutzel raced away again, followed by Balog and Stewart and Henry. Henry got by Stewart and a fading Balog by the 5th lap and set sail after Reutzel. Only Henry could seem to keep pace with Aaron.

Lapped traffic held Reutzel up and Henry caught him and was about to challenge for the lead….but then a lap 13 caution came to Aaron’s rescue. On the restart, Reutzel again raced away for the win. Henry faded as a surging Cole Duncan, who was up from the 17th starting spot, got by him for the runner up position, leaving Henry to finish 3rd. It looked for awhile like Tim Shaffer was going to come up to the front. He was passing cars around the bottom, and he got up to 9th place from his 20th starting spot about halfway through….but he advanced no further.

Congratulations go to Aaron Reutzel on a great season. This is Aaron’s third All Star title and with it comes a check for $65,000. With the winner’s earnings from this race, Aaron had a $75,000 evening.

Thank you All Stars and also a thank you goes out to Fremont Speedway. It was a very challenging year for Fremont. Because of the shutdowns, they were only able to get in a much smaller number of races. Much hard work went into the preparation for this weekend. The track was racy all evening and even though it looked dry and slick from the grandstands, it was really tacky when I walked on it after the feature.

Afterwards, Blake Anderson said that the All Stars got in 48 races this year, in spite of the virus shutdowns and no Eldora races. That’s about the same number of races they get in every year. Blake also indicated that some big things were coming for next year for the All Stars. I can’t wait to find out. See you next year at the track!