Papini, Beldowski, Cartwright, Roush & Schmidt Pop Tops on 71st Rockford Speedway Season!

By JD – As many outdoor events and sporting contests of all extremes in the Midwest and other parts of the country suffered chilled out conditions of recent; Rockford Speedway held its 71st Season Opener, presented by Mountain Dew, on Saturday April 21st, 2018. Hearty fans, thirsty for excitement, sampled what is to put everyone on the edge of their seat all year. The Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models, Miller Lite American Short Trackers, Bargain Hunter Sportsmen, T.E.D. Transit Bandits and the Kickstart Roadrunners divisions offered their first showing of the year; with Alex Papini, Franc Beldowski, Adam Cartwright, Nick Schmidt and Arlyn Roush; respectively, all tasting Victory Lane.

The Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models’ feature got off to a frigid start. Polesitter Tom Gille, whose take-off had been called back on the initial green, asserted his command of the lead headed down the back-straight on the next attempt. In a game of inches, Tom used all of his from the lower lane, and outside starter Jacob Vanoskey had none to give from the preferred higher lane. Headed into turn three, Vonoskey suffered the loss of this battle of imperfection, veering into the notorious pit-entrance “point”. Guarded by an absorbing implement tire; Jacob’s car bounced off it and into the air before a hard landing, but thankfully he exited the car on his own power. Having moved up to the outside front-row, DJ Smith crossed the line first as the event finally took a lasting green flag and the first laps were consumed. As Tom Gille’s run fizzed out, Papini moved up from sixth starting spot and made the initial challenge to Smith on the seventh lap. By the next go-around, Papini showed himself as the best case on the night, pulling away from the field. Quick qualifier Jon Reynolds, Jr., from eighth on the grid, sipped at Smith’s second spot until five laps to go. Reynolds and 2017 Rookie of the Year winner Max Kahler dropped Smith back to fourth; as melee ensued. Continued contact was made, with Smith and third starting Jake Gille ending up against the turn three wall. Gille took the hardest hit and Smith went to the back of the running field. With no challenges over the last four lap “shoot-out”; Papini staked his claim as king of the hill at the end of 30 laps. Kahler recorded a solid second, with Reynolds ending his run as the final spot on the podium. Matt Lundberg quietly cashed the fourth place check and 2017 series runner-up Matt Berger recovered from a less than auspicious evening start to compete the top five.

2018 main event action had kicked off with the highly modified 4-cylinder American Short Trackers division, populated with an ingredient mixture of mostly Mustang bodied rear-wheel drives, but with a healthy dose of front-wheel drive cars competing as well. A turn three collision on lap one resulted in number one from time trials, Franc Beldowski having to restart from the back, while “fast” heat winner Aaron Rude’s Pinto got hauled into the pits. Todd Snow, having a career night, then poured it on from the first spot and held off a charging David Russell. Meanwhile, Beldowski surged through the field, at the half-way point completing an extreme lower groove overtake of both Russell and then Snow. Beldowski went on to bottle up a solid victory over Russell. 2017 Winged Woman on Wheels Champion Destiny Genore passed Snow late for third, the highest finish for a front-wheel drive, of the cool evening. Shannon Stoltz counted in the fifth spot.

Cartwright led all 25 laps in the Bargain Hunter Sportsmen main; but his green to checkered gulp on the top spot was packed with intensity. A lap two spin by fast qualifier Howie Ware, reset the field early. Cartwright, a former Roadrunner Champion and declared rookie to this next level V-8 class, was chased by second starting Cody Houseweart through-out. From the race’s mid-point, Houseweart got as close as one car length away. John Featherstone, who also moved up from the Roadrunner class, then spun with three laps to go and the field was re-set. Ware managed his way by Houseweart after the restart and took the bridesmaid spot, as Houseweart faded to second runner-up. Johnny Robinson, II claimed fourth, ahead of younger brother Terrance Robinson in the fifth position.

The T.E.D. Transit Bandits, race prepped front wheel drive entry level 4-cylinders, never disappoint with a full flavored feature. Mark Bielefeldt shot out as the early front-runner, before his night went stale and Nick Schmidt then held command over the majority of the remaining battle. Defending Champion (the only driver from all divisions, competing in the same class, on this season’s opening night) Kelsey Dobbs and Bart Brockmann moved up through the roster to put up challenges, but suffered fates that didn’t allow for a finish. Dan Schmeissing, Kyle Roster, Scott Gagen, and Chris Mihalski (all some of the most far traveled of the evening’s racers) took the top five spots in the end.

Outside front-row starting Roush was in control from the Kickstart Roadrunners flag drop, the final act of the night. Fifth starting Chad Lounsbury kept Roush honest over the half-way point of the “entry-level” V-8 contest. With seven laps to go, fluid debris on the back-straight resulted in the event’s only yellow. It was much of the same over the final circuits, however with Lounsbury packing some citrus punches underneath, while Roush maintained the high lane and top spot at the peak of the pack. Contact was made late, coming out of turn four, but it was Roush holding the trophy in Victory Lane. Officially, Kevin Memoli was awarded second, after a late race pass. Robby Robinson and Austin Fowler, climbed up from the back of the pack to take the third and fourth spots. Brent Garnhart survived an edgy campaign to record fifth.

Saturday April 28 is “The Mane Event,” with four divisions of racing and the first-ever Best Beard & Best Mullet Contests lined up. Fans of all different sorts of grooming techniques are invited to sign up for the contests in the Miller Lite Pavilion once they arrive next Saturday night, with the contest being held on the track at Intermission. The racing menu includes the Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models, Bargain Hunter Sportsman, Miller Lite American Short Trackers and Kickstart Roadrunners along with the Roadrunner Challenge ‘Forward/Backward Race!’ Gates open at 5 PM next Saturday night, with Qualifying at 5:55 PM and racing slated for 7:07 PM. Perhaps more drivers, teams, and hopefully spectators, from areas with tracks yet to open in 2018, will continue their racing fix at the Rockford Speedway! All the fields remain wide-open with a host of drivers hopeful to come up as the season favorites.

Then, on Sunday afternoon April 29, the rescheduled WXRX 200 takes center stage. The race, which usually sees anywhere from 70-110 cars competing, will test the mettle of drivers from at least five states in a door-to-door war with all eyes on the prize. Rockford Enduro racers are also gunning for the ‘Ironman Challenge Bonus,’ awarded to the driver who finishes the most laps in all three scheduled races this year (next Sunday’s WXRX 200, June’s Town Fair 200 and October’s Goblin 250). Pit Gates open at 9 AM Sunday, with Grandstands opening at 11 AM and the WXRX 200 beginning at 1 PM.

Adult admission for both events is $12, Children (ages 6-11) are $6 and Kids ages 5 and under are admitted FREE.


Saturday April 28 (7:07 PM) “The Mane Event” featuring the Best Beard & Best Mullet Contest- LM, Sp, AST, RR
Sunday April 29 (1 PM) WXRX 200 Enduro
Saturday May 5 (7:07 PM) National Beverage Day Celebration ($1 Beer and Soda Specials)- LM, AST, RR, Illini Midgets
Saturday May 12 (7:07 PM) Ladies Night ($5 admission for Ladies)- LM, Sp, Bandits, Sixers, WWoW
Saturday May 19 (7:07 PM) Northwest Bank Kids Night featuring the Kids Coin Scramble & School Bus Jump- LM, AST, Bandits, RR


Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models

A-Main 01 — 1. Alex Papini, Rockford; 2. Max Kahler, Caledonia; 3. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Loves Park; 4. Matt Lundberg, Rockton; 5. Matt Berger, Loves Park; 6. Tom Gille, Winnebago; 7. Dennis Smith, Jr, South Beloit; 8. Justin Sellers, Carol Stream; 9. Jeff Wakeman, Streator; 10. Jerry Stafford II, South Beloit; 11. Jacob Gille, Winnebago; 12. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis

Heat 01 — 1. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis; 2. Jerry Stafford II, South Beloit; 3. Justin Sellers, Carol Stream; 4. Tom Gille, Winnebago; 5. Jeff Wakeman, Streator; 6. Matt Berger, Loves Park.

Heat 02 — 1. Dennis Smith, Jr, South Beloit; 2. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Loves Park; 3. Jacob Gille, Winnebago; 4. Alex Papini, Rockford; 5. Max Kahler, Caledonia; 6. Matt Lundberg, Rockton.

Time Trial — 1. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Loves Park; 2. Matt Lundberg, Rockton; 3. Alex Papini, Rockford; 4. Max Kahler, Caledonia; 5. Dennis Smith, Jr, South Beloit; 6. Jacob Gille, Winnebago; 7. Matt Berger, Loves Park; 8. Jacob Vanoskey, Hartford, Wis; 9. Tom Gille, Winnebago; 10. Jerry Stafford II, South Beloit; 11. Justin Sellers, Carol Stream; 12. Jeff Wakeman, Streator.

Miller Lite American Short Trackers

A-Main 01 — 1. Franc Beldowski, Rockford; 2. David Russell, Jr, Rockford; 3. Destiny Genore (r), Beloit, Wis; 4. Todd Snow, Rockford; 5. Shannon Stoltz, Machesney Park; 6. Melody Boyle (r), Kirkland; 7. Dave LaPier, Rockford; 8. Stephen Dickson, Rockton; 9. Chris Jackson, Fort Atkinson, Wis; 10. Aaron Rude, Cambridge, Wis.

Heat 01 — 1. David Russell, Jr, Rockford; 2. Shannon Stoltz, Machesney Park; 3. Dave LaPier, Rockford; 4. Stephen Dickson, Rockton; 5. Melody Boyle (r), Kirkland; 6. Chris Jackson, Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Heat 02 — 1. Aaron Rude, Cambridge, Wis; 2. Franc Beldowski, Rockford; 3. Todd Snow, Rockford; 4. Destiny Genore (r), Beloit, Wis; 5. Brandon DeLacy, Stoughton, Wis.

Time Trial — 1. Franc Beldowski, Rockford; 2. Brandon DeLacy, Stoughton, Wis; 3. Aaron Rude, Cambridge, Wis; 4. Todd Snow, Rockford; 5. Destiny Genore (r), Beloit, Wis; 6. David Russell, Jr, Rockford; 7. Stephen Dickson, Rockton; 8. Shannon Stoltz, Machesney Park; 9. Dave LaPier, Rockford; 10. Chris Jackson, Fort Atkinson, Wis; 11. Melody Boyle (r), Kirkland.

Bargain Hunter Sportsmen

A-Main 01 — 1. Adam Cartwright (r), Roscoe; 2. Howie Ware, South Beloit; 3. Cody Houseweart, Machesney Park; 4. Johnny Robinson, II, Beloit, Wis; 5. Terrance Robinson (r), Beloit, Wis; 6. Rich Schinderling, Jr (r), Winnebago; 7. John Featherston (r), Loves Park; 8. Garrick Fry, Durand.

Heat 01 — 1. Adam Cartwright (r), Roscoe; 2. Rich Schinderling, Jr (r), Winnebago; 3. Howie Ware, South Beloit; 4. Johnny Robinson, II, Beloit, Wis; 5. John Featherston (r), Loves Park; 6. Terrance Robinson (r), Beloit, Wis; 7. Cody Houseweart, Machesney Park; 8. Garrick Fry, Durand.

Time Trial — 1. Howie Ware, South Beloit; 2. Johnny Robinson, II, Beloit, Wis; 3. Garrick Fry, Durand; 4. Terrance Robinson (r), Beloit, Wis; 5. John Featherston (r), Loves Park; 6. Cody Houseweart, Machesney Park; 7. Adam Cartwright (r), Roscoe; 8. Rich Schinderling, Jr (r), Winnebago.

T.E.D. Transit Bandits

A-Main 01 — 1. Nick Schmidt, Watertown, Wis; 2. Dan Schmeissing, Manhattan; 3. Kyle Royster, Cedar Lake, Ind.; 4. Scott Gagen, Dekalb; 5. Chris Mihalski, Lockport; 6. Todd Snow, Rockford; 7. Nicole Mueller, Muskego, Wis; 8. Jeff Parisot, Machesney Park; 9. Haley Roberts, Machesney Park; 10. Sean Worman, Roscoe; 11. Kelsey Dobbs, Beloit, Wis; 12. Ben Rucker, Beloit, Wis; 13. Mark Bielefeldt, Loves Park; 14. Bart Brockmann, Rockford.

Heat 01 — 1. Bart Brockmann, Rockford; 2. Chris Mihalski, Lockport; 3. Scott Gagen, Dekalb; 4. Ben Rucker, Beloit, Wis; 5. Haley Roberts, Machesney Park; 6. Sean Worman, Roscoe; 7. Jacob Putman, Lancaster, Wis; 8. Mark Bielefeldt, Loves Park.

Heat 02 — 1. Nick Schmidt, Watertown, Wis; 2. Kelsey Dobbs, Beloit, Wis; 3. Kyle Royster, Cedar Lake, Ind.; 4. Todd Snow, Rockford; 5. Dan Schmeissing, Manhattan; 6. Nicole Mueller, Muskego, Wis; 7. Jeff Parisot,

Time Trial — 1. Todd Snow, Rockford; 2. Kelsey Dobbs, Beloit, Wis; 3. Dan Schmeissing, Manhattan; 4. Nick Schmidt, Watertown, Wis; 5. Kyle Royster, Cedar Lake, Ind.; 6. Jeff Parisot, Machesney Park; 7. Nicole Mueller, Muskego, Wis; 8. Ben Rucker, Beloit, Wis; 9. Jacob Putman, Lancaster, Wis; 10. Mark Bielefeldt, Loves Park; 11. Scott Gagen, Dekalb; 12. Haley Roberts, Machesney Park; 13. Bart Brockmann, Rockford; 14. Sean Worman, Roscoe; 15. Chris Mihalski, Lockport.

Kickstart Roadrunners

A-Main 01 — 1. Arlyn Roush, Woodstock; 2. Kevin Memoli, Belvidere; 3. Robby Robinson, Orfordville, Wis; 4. Austin Fowler, Loves Park; 5. Brent Garnhart, Machesney Park; 6. Nick Schneider, Rockton; 7. Justin Wagner, Beloit, Wis; 8. Devin Opsahl, Rockford; 9. Terry Gerber, Loves Park; 10. Chad Lounsbury, Beloit, Wis.

Heat 01 — 1. Robby Robinson, Orfordville, Wis; 2. Austin Fowler, Loves Park; 3. Kevin Memoli, Belvidere; 4. Devin Opsahl, Rockford; 5. Terry Gerber, Loves Park.

Heat 02 — 1. Arlyn Roush, Woodstock; 2. Nick Schneider, Rockton; 3. Justin Wagner, Beloit, Wis; 4. Brent Garnhart, Machesney Park; 5. Chad Lounsbury, Beloit, Wis.