La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway gearing up for another season

I once thought I was pretty good at marketing. That was before I met Chuck Deery (pictured), longtime manager of the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, WI, 32 years ago.
Chuck is a mastermind when it comes to marketing and promotion. While stock car racing interest nationwide has dipped for several years, Chuck and his crew continue to find ways to buck the trend and put on a good show every Saturday night.
Weather hasn't cooperated very well the past couple of years, but that can only be helped by warm temperatures, clear skies and no rain.
Chuck remains proactive to drive attendance and interest in local racing. Look what he has planned this month.
As March begins, and after a record-setting month of snow in February, race fans and race teams are looking forward to warmer weather and some racing functions in March.  
One of the functions to attend in March is a race teams "Smoker."   The "smoker" is a social event to raise funding for this year's racing season. Smokers are fun events and if you have an opportunity to make it to one, please do. The teams appreciate it.   
Other activities in March include the God's Country Racing Association Custom Auto Show. It is March 8-10, in the La Crosse Center main arena. The show features classic, muscle and custom cars of the past. The speedway will have a booth there, stop by and say hello and pick up a schedule, a poster, some stickers or just chat about racing. On Sunday, March 17, we will also be at the "Celebrate West Salem" event in the West Salem High School gymnasium. This event features businesses that are located in West Salem and are a part of the West Salem Business Association. Anyone is welcome to attend, as there will be entertainment, displays and businesses exhibiting their products and services. West Salem has a lot to offer!  Stop on by for a schedule or poster as well.
Sunday March 24, is the annual Driver Orientation meeting, the first official gathering of staff and drivers for 2019. The event is at  Stoney Creek Inn, approximately 5 miles west of the speedway.  Doors open at 11 a.m., with the meeting at noon. Memberships, registration, pit parking, season pit passes and more can be taken care of at the meeting. We strongly recommend that you attend the meeting if you plan to race this year.  
Any new procedures will be discussed at the meeting. If you need registration forms, please go to the LFS DRIVERS' PAGE and you can download the forms you need, print them out and deliver to the track or bring them to the meeting. The 2019 car number renewals
are due March 26.
If you're thinking about advertising at the track this season - don't wait! Please contact us as soon as possible as opportunities are limited and filling up, but there are some still available for your business! You can be a part of the fun with a billboard, sign on the concrete wall, or event promotion, sponsorship or something else!  We are producing a souvenir program this year. It is cheap, easy to do and effective marketing!
Super Fan admission cards are now available! Each card has 12 admissions.
Use the admissions as you see fit - one each Saturday or on one night with 11 of your friends! Cards will only be available until April 10. You will save at least $36 with one of these cards. Call the speedway or stop by to get yours today.
Super Fan admission cards are just $120. Treat yourself or someone with this great deal, plus, we will throw in a couple beverage coupons for good measure! Get yours today.
This special is only being sold through the speedway's facebook page.
Fan promotional nights, online and direct mail coupons, as well as other fan favorite novelty events will be available all season long.  For more information about the 2019 season or La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, visit the website at, or call the office at 608-786-1525.

Boy, does that old cap bring back memories

What's in a cap?
If it's mine, it's probably a lunkhead.
Seriously, I have gone through hundreds of caps in my 72 years, but none like the one I bought in 1982. It is my most treasured cap from all those that have gone to Goodwill, or by the wayside.
I was sports editor back then and was covering the 1982 World Series. I covered all seven games between the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The final game was the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Arriving at the ballpark that afternoon, I stopped by one of the shops in Busch Stadium and bought a Cardinals' baseball cap.
Why? Because, thanks to my Onalaska buddies, Dave and Gary Skogen, I have been a Cards' fan ever since the old Milwaukee Braves won the 1957 World Series. It was the same year I started hanging around with the Skogen baseball boys, who remain die-hard Cardinals' fans to this day. The Braves eventually left Milwaukee for Atlanta in 1966, which cemented my allegiance to the Cardinals even more.
This cap is special. It is made from beautiful red corduroy. It is just what I wanted to remember from the 1982 World Series.
I placed the cap in my briefcase and proceeded up to the press box, not telling anyone about my purchase. After all, we were ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY OBJECTIVE sports writers during working hours, not sports fans.
To make a long story short, the Cards won the game, 6-3, for the World Series title. The Brewers, despite a spectacular season, have not appeared in another World Series.
Watching Gorman Thomas strike out to end the game, I quickly stuffed my note pad, scorebook and game stats in my briefcase, and raced to an elevator. There was only one other person in the elevator. When he turned around, it was "The Silver Fox," "The Duke of Flatbush," Duke Snider, the Hall of Famer for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. We chatted briefly as we descended to the bowels of Busch Stadium.
Finishing my interviews in both dressing rooms, I hurried back to the hotel to write my story, transmit it back to the sports department before final deadline and settle in for a late room-service meal.
As I waited for my food, I called the airport, and then my better half back in La Crosse, telling her my next day's flight was expected to be on schedule.
Realizing Kathy and our only son at the time, Jon, my parents, her entire side of the family, as well as most of my friends were Brewers fans, I told her I was sorry the Brewers didn't win.
Kathy's reply: "Why don't you just stay down there!"
Boy, that old cap Cardinals' holds memories.

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Budenholzer has Bucks on winning track

There was a time when I didn't watch the Milwaukee Bucks on TV, let alone any other NBA game.
Mike Budenholzer (pictured) changed all that.
Budenholzer's hiring by the Milwaukee Bucks intrigued me a lot. I heard about his coaching style, his past experience and success.
I decided to catch the Bucks' regular season opener on TV in mid-October. I have been hooked ever since and watch the Bucks from start to finish. I think I have only missed a couple of games, but still DVR them.
If someone would have told me the Bucks would have the best record in the NBA in late January, I would have laughed. No one is laughing now.
Milwaukee is 34-12 for a .739 winning percentage. It's not only the best in the Eastern Conference, but tops the entire league. Eastern Conference rival Toronto Raptors are 36-13 with a .735 winning percentage going into Wednesday's games. The Golden State Warriors are first in the Western Conference with a 33-14 (.702) mark, but third best in the NBA.
The Bucks are definitely for real and I credit much of that to Budenholzer's refreshing approach to the game. He spreads out the offense, encourages his team to shoot beyond the arc, while freeing the inside for NBA All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and others to drive to the basket. He also stresses tough defense, which is rare in the NBA nowadays.
Budenholzer has also brought the players together. You can readily see they enjoy playing for him and his enjoy his brand of basketball.
The Bucks are off until Friday night when they entertain the Charlotte Hornets at 7:30. Guess what I will be doing?

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'Brewers Crib Crew' ushers in another baseball season

You have to hand it to the Milwaukee Brewers marketing department.
The Brewers, fresh off a banner year in 2018, are expected to build upon their success on the field. They are also building upon their fan base with a cute promotion for a different age demographic.
The Brewers are beginning something extra special for their tiniest  fans with the introduction of the "Brewers Crib Crew," presented by Aurora Health Care. This exclusive membership is for all newborn members of the Brew Crew.
According to a Brewers media release this week, "For $25, each Crib Crew membership comes chock-full of everything needed to welcome a brand-new Brewers fan into the world. That includes a variety of one-of-a-kind wearables and other freebies - such as a bandana bib, a pair of onesies, a reversible bucket hat, month stickers and a special birth announcement card. Each membership also includes two ticket vouchers for a 2019 home game, perfect for bringing a baby to Miller Park for the very first time."
The media release went on to say, "Whether buying this special membership for your very own little one, or as a baby shower gift, the Brewers Crib Crew is a can't miss way to introduce the Brew Crew to the little slugger in your life."
I tip my cap to the Brewers once again It's a grand slam home run in my book.
To learn more about the Crib Crew and lock in your membership, visit today

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Packers find their man in LaFleur

Well, the Green Bay Packers got their man.
Time will tell whether they made the right choice in Matt LaFleur, pronounced "la-flew-er."
At the tender age of 39, La Fleur begins his 11th year coaching in the NFL and his 18th overall in coaching.
His impressive credentials are almost as glowing as the comments from current and former players and coaches around the league.
Personally, I'm taking a "wait and see" attitude toward LaFleur becoming Green Bay's head coach, although I am already impressed with a few things.

No. 1 - While some critics wonder why the Packers made such a quick decision, it was an excellent move. The front office apparently didn't want to risk losing LaFleur to another NFL team searching for a head coach. The move also gives LaFleur more time to meet with his current coaching staff, decide which assistants to keep or let go, more time to prepare for the draft, and to familiarize himself with the Packers front office and the Green Bay community in general.

No. 2 - La Fleur retained defense coordinator Mike Pettine. That was an excellent move in my book. Admit it, despite all the injuries, Pettine's defense played well. He deserves a ton of credit for the job he did with what he had to work with as far as talent and healthy bodies all season. Consider the 31-0 shellacking by the lowly Detroit Lions in the finale. Only three of the preferred 11 Green Bay defensive players on the roster finished the game. What's the saying? "It's hard to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." Pettine, who is very highly regarded around the league, certainly deserves more than one year. He also deserves much more talent and fewer injuries before deciding whether he is the right man for the job.

No. 3 - I'm extremely happy Green Bay didn't hire current New England Patriots' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. How could anyone trust he wouldn't back out of the Packers job at the last minute and return to the Pats like he did last year with the Indianapolis Colts? And then when McDaniels said earlier this week that he "would only accept the Packers' job, or would return to the Patriots," sealed it for me. He was simply saying "Packers, HIRE ME!"

No. 4 - I believe LaFleur and future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers will develop a good, honest chemistry by finding a true comfort level with each other. They should also be able to feed off each other with the knowledge they have gained on and off the field. After all, LaFleur was a pretty fair quarterback, too. A native of Mount Pleasant, Mich., LaFleur played receiver for two seasons at Western Michigan before transferring to play quarterback at Saginaw Valley State in 2000. LaFleur led the Cardinals to three consecutive NCAA Division II playoff appearances and was twice named the team’s MVP (2001-02).

No. 5 - I believe the running game will be much more apparent under LaFleur. Look for Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams to get more carries. A strong running game always complements an excellent passing attack. It will also take some pressure off Rodgers, thus giving him a chance to "manage" the game more like New England's 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady rather than putting everything on his shoulders and his 35-year-old arm.

Hopefully, LaFleur will put Green Bay back on top of the NFC North Division and onto the road to the Super Bowl very soon. It happens very quickly in the up-and-down NFL. One only has to look as far as Packers' division rivals Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings

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