WEST SALEM, WI – It sure didn't look like it last weekend, or Thursday morning for that matter. However, don't count out Chuck Deery and his staff, who have been working nonstop to make sure the sixth annual "Frostbuster" is run on Sunday. There have been two separate snow storms in the past four days, including one quick-moving storm late Wednesday. Each storm dumped about 8 inches of the white, fluffy stuff. Officials from the speedway have been focused on the task at hand, making sure that area race fans can come out and enjoy the warm 63-degree sunny Sunday. “Winter has finally snapped, and like turning on a light switch, here comes spring, fortunately just in time for this weekend,” said Deery, the longtime track manager. “With the recent snowfalls, we can bet that no one will be doing any yardwork outside their homes this weekend, so why not come out and catch all the great racing action of the local stars and cars of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series on Sunday. "Last year we struggled to get ideal weather conditions on almost any race day. This is a great way to start out 2018,” Deery added. The “Frostbuster” features five different divisions, including the Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery NASCAR Late Models, Dean’s Satellite & Security Sportsmen – both on the 5/8th mile track. The quarter-mile track features the Auto Value Parts Stores Thunderstox & Street Stocks, plus the popular 4-cylinder division, the ANTS Complete Pest Control Hornets. The pit gate opens at 10 a.m., with practice laps at 11:15 a.m. Grandstand gates open at 12:30 p.m., and qualifying starts at 12:45. The first race of the 2018 season takes the green flag at 2 p.m. Saturday is practice/media day. The pit gate opens at 10 a.m., with practice runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information call the speedway office at 608-786-1525, or visit LaCrosseSpeedway.com. See you there! Oh, and don’t forget to bring along your sunglasses and suntan lotion!
La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway set for 'Frostbuster'
WEST SALEM, WI - What's the weather going to be like later this month? More specifically, what is the forecast for West Salem, Wisconsin, on April 22? Well, according to the National Weather Service, there is a LOW (33 percent) chance of rain or snow. The high temperature is forecast from 55 to 65 degrees with the low temperature forecast from 34 to 44 degrees. Let's go racing! "Last year was the worst weather year that I can recall," said Chuck Deery in his 31st year as track manager. There were five rainouts according to Deery, adding that, "It rained before, during or right after 15 other nights." Fans and drivers watch the weather almost as closely as Deery and his staff. Yet, while Deery and his veteran crew of officials prepare for the race card early in the day at the track, fans often decide earlier whether to attend the races or not. "The law of averages comes into effect... going to have some crappy years... and we are going to have awesome years with the weather," Deery said. "We're hoping for an awesome year!" The sixth annual Frostbuster kicks off the 2018 La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway season on Sunday, April 22. Gates open at 12:30 p.m., qualifying at 12:45 p.m. Racing begins at 2 p.m. The event features NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action of the Tobacco Outlet Plus Late Models, Dean's Satellite Sportsmen, Auto Value Thunderstox, the ANTS Complete Pest Control Hornets and the Auto Value Parts Stores Street Stocks. Almost 30 drivers have already registered for the Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery NASCAR Late Model division this season. Returning will be Minnesota's Nick Panitzke, as he looks to be the first-time repeat Late Model Champion since 2006 without the last name Carlson. That feat was accomplished by Bangor's Kevin Nuttleman in 2005 and 2006. Although Panitzke was strong all last year, six-time track champion Steve Carlson, who won four straight titles from 2013-2016, will be in the thick of the chase again. Competition was extremely tough last season as there were eight different feature winners in 16 races, including four that won their first feature race. But this year, look for to Carlson and Panitzke to be challenged each week by Cole Howland, Ty Reedy, Brad Powell and Mike Carlson. Other drivers who could win on any given week are Mike Ehde, Jerimy Wagner, Jesse Pokszyk and Nick Clements. First-time winners this season could also be Justin Mullikin, Carter Christenson or newcomer Michael Beamish from Minnesota. And don't forget that Matt Henderson ended an eight-year drought in 2017, returning to Victory Lane last July. While there were a couple of years where the track had 20 or less late model drivers, Deery said he made a couple of rule changes two years ago which paid off. A consistent method of operating the races also brought drivers from other tracks. While the late model division is the main drawing card, Deery said the other divisions make a huge impact, too. "The support divisions... Hornets, Street Stock and Vans... are easy to get into and loads of fun. We expect some great action and excitement from them this year... again," Deery said.
MYLAPS LIVE TIMING WIFI Fans also can follow along during qualifying and racing events on their phones by downloading the "MYLAPS LIVE TIMING WIFI" app before coming to the track. When arriving at the track, open the app and connect to server 126.96.36.199, port 60000 and click connect in the app. The free app presents live timing data and running positions.
OPEN PRACTICE/MEDIA DAY The annual "Media Day" practice is scheduled Saturday, April 14. This is the first official practice date for race teams to test on the track in 2018. The pit gate opens at 10 a.m., practice runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. It's called Media Day, as local media are invited out to take videos, photos, get interviews and an insight on the new season. Grandstands are open for anyone to watch for free.
It's a dream I wish Packers, Rodgers would consider
There is no way this would come about in today's world, but it's still fun to think about. At least for me... maybe other Green Bay Packers' fans, too. For sure, there's been plenty of news about NFL free agency in recent days. Player releases and acquisitions are hot topics. The most notable move so far has been the Minnesota Vikings signing quarterback Kirk Cousins to, believe it or not, a "guaranteed" three-year, $84 million contract. According to reports, there's actually $6 million more awaiting Cousins if he attains his incentives. How much money does a person need nowadays? So, where does this leave Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers' franchise quarterback and perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL? As I said, this won't happen, but it's what I would like to see. Rodgers has two years left on his present contract, but talks have already begun about reaching an extension. The Packers wanted to get it done sooner rather than later, but Rodgers wasn't in any hurry. He and his agent were extremely smart playing the waiting game, especially now with the NFC North rival Cousins becoming the highest paid player in the league. Rodgers is a California kid, and I'm sure, like most of us, he doesn't enjoy Wisconsin winters, but I would personally like to see him on the Packer sideline after his long, storied, playing career. You only had to watch him on the sideline while his surgically repaired collarbone healed last year to get a glimpse of what his future could hold. He coached Brett Hundley like a only a high-quality quarterback can. Rodgers showed excitement and enthusiasm, and without question, relayed advice to head coach Mike McCarthy, the supposed QB guru. I say why not sign Rodgers to a lifetime player contract, one which he is guaranteed to always be the highest paid player in the league. The simplest way is to include a clause adding $1 more to his contract whenever another player surpasses the amount. And, while the NFLPA may come into play, it would be nice to guarantee Rodgers as Green Bay's quarterback coach when he decides to retire. Who knows? After a few years, elevate him to offensive coordinator. Shucks, maybe even to head coach some day, if he's willing. I know. It's just a far-fetched dream. Rodgers may never want to consider it anyway. But watching him unable to play, while still bringing energy and enthusiasm to the team during his weeks on injured reserve, give me reason for hope.
How are the fish biting?
"How they bitin," is a question often asked in fishing circles. Pick any one of the four seasons - spring, summer, fall or winter - and you will find anglers out pursuing their favorite fish species. Our neighbors from across the road sent us this photo that a brother-in-law sent to them after he, his son-in-law and two other fellows went fishing last weekend. The apparent fishing "hotspot" is about a 7-hour drive north of where his son-in-law and wife live in southern Saskatchewan. The exact location is on Montreal Lake in northern Saskatchewan. My question is, "How many anglers are there in the photo?"
Brewers need fast start to keep fans excited
The Milwaukee Brewers have taken big strides to improve their 2018 roster, but must have a quick start to the season to keep up the excitement among their fans and reach the postseason. Outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain are super additions. They're Gold Glove winners, and will add more pop to the Milwaukee offense. The pitching staff has also picked up a few additions, although some critics believe they need a No. 1 free agent starter. I disagree. They have a stable of young talent and the offseason acquisitions should bolster the bullpen. Hopefully, would-be No. 1 starter Jimmy Nelson will return from shoulder surgery sometime in June or July, but I think the starting rotation is in pretty good hands with right-hander Chase Anderson at No. 1, No. 2 righty Zach Davies, plus a No. 3 and No. 4 starter. My guess is the third spot will go to lefty Brent Suter and right-handers Wade Miley or Jhoulys Chacin as No. 4. Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra, Brandon Woodruff and Josh Hader could also be in the mix for a starting spot, although lefty Hader is more suited as a middle/late reliever, or even a closer. Hopefully, Corey Knebel will have another solid year as a closer and Jeremy Jeffress as his setup man. However, I believe the big difference for Milwaukee will be the opening month. While the Brewers open with a three-game road trip at the San Diego Padres, they kick off their home opener with three games against NL Central rivals St. Louis Cardinals followed by four more against the defending division champion Chicago Cubs. Then it's off to St. Louis for three games with three more at the New York Mets. Milwaukee returns homes on April 16 for a seven-game series - three against the Cincinnati Reds and four against the Miami Marlins. They finish the month on a nine-game road trip to Kansas City for three games, three games against the Cubs in Wrigley Field and three more at Cincinnati. Baseball gurus maintain pennants aren't won in April, but a poor start could produce a deep hole. Hopefully, the Brewers will be up to the task and get off to a fast start, not only for themselves, but their fans, too.