Stock Car Racing: Engines prepped for start of NCS season

The season will begin Saturday, April 17 , at North Central Speedway.,

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Racing on Saturday, July 4, 2020, at North Central Speedway. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

One of the rare opportunities to experience "normal" last summer in the Brainerd Lakes area was Saturday nights at North Central Speedway.

The abbreviated season didn't get started until June due to COVID-19 restrictions, but once the cars fired up the racing was on for the next 12 weeks.

Despite the snow that passed through this week, the plan for owner Cliff Sasker and promoter Holly Orpen is for the season to open 6:45 p.m. Saturday, April 17.

The night of racing will feature the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sportmods, IMCA Hobby Stocks, IMCA Sport Compacts, Wissota Mod Four and Super Stock and IMCA Stock Cars.

The current schedule calls for 23 nights of racing running through the Mighty Axe Nationals Labor Day Weekend where over 150 drivers competed last year. Two highlights of the season that Orpen pointed to was the Ron Johnson memorial race May 1, and the 10,000 lakes 10K which will feature the Modifieds, Sport Mods, and Stock Cars. That will start in Princeton Thursday, June 24 and move to Brainerd June 25-26.


Children will be able to meet their favorite drivers on the track for candy and autographs during intermission May 22 and drivers will compete for WWE belts July 17.

The last few years NCS has been the destination for the third night of the touring four-night Hobby Stock tour series. Last year, drivers competed in Iowa the first night, Princeton the second night along with Saturday and Sunday night racing in Brainerd in a series that brings out the best Upper Midwest Hobby Stock drivers.

This year's tour will start Thursday, July 22, in Kossuth, Iowa, and it moves to Princeton Friday, July 23. The July 24 program will be held at NCS with Sunday night racing in Granite City.

Last season, four classes saw tight point races that went until the final weekend. The slimmest of margins occurred in the Hobby Stock class where Tim Gonska edged Dave Johnson by one point to claim the championship. In the Sport Compacts class, Greg Kohl defeated Jenna Hagemann by three points and in the IMCA Sportmods Jenna's brother Jake won the title by six points over David Siercks and seven over Mark Martini.

Aaron Johnson claimed the Modified title by 39 points over Shawn Fletcher and Austin Niemeyer was a winner in the Super Stock class. Tommy Bawden won eight of 12 feature events and was the run-away winner by 126 points over Jamie Lenarz for the Wissota Mod Four class.

The IMCA Stock Cars ran an abbreviated four-race schedule last season, but will change to a full season schedule for this season, bringing the count to seven classes competing for a 2021 points championship.

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Drivers take a lap around the track with flags during the national anthem Saturday, July 4, 2020, before racing started at North Central Speedway. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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