Stock Car Racing: Mighty Ax Nationals an exciting time at NCS

Drivers compete in an IMCA Hobby Stock heat Sunday, Sept. 6, during Mighty Axe Nationals at North Central Speedway. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BARROWS — For the last 19 years, Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend at North Central Speedway have been a racing tradition at the Mighty Axe Nationals.

Campers and cars cover the grounds with sleep-deprived fans socializing long into the night after the evening’s racing has come to an end.

Over 175 cars made the call for both Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6, with eight classes of racing Saturday and nine Sunday.

Fans of tow trucks also saw their favorite machines in action with cars being pulled apart from each other and off the track throughout the six and a half hours of racing each night.

Tempers also flared as was the case in the Mod 4 feature race Saturday night as Abby Garin went up into the wall hard. She was in her car for several moments. Garin was able to walk away from her car, but her racing weekend was done with a damaged car.


Members of her team waited for the driver believed responsible but track officials kept them back and cooler heads prevailed.

Dustin Nelson has competed in the Mighty Axe since its start 19 years ago. Nelson has won a record number of feature races and Saturday grabbed the Axe in both the Sportmod and the Super Stock class.

For Nelson, the preparation in the shop in the days leading up to the weekend is the key to a more relaxed racing weekend.

“Most of the time on the car is spent at home in the shop getting ready so once you are here, unless you get into a wreck, you don’t have a lot of maintenance here,” Nelson said.

“It is more of a challenge because the two cars (Super Stock and Sportmod) drive differently. The setups are different, but last night both cars ran really well.”

A lot of damage can happen to the car on the first night of racing, which could mean sleepless nights for the small crews, while other drivers get the chance to socialize and relax.

“Last year at this event things didn’t go my way,” Nelson said. “I got towed off the track in a Sportmod so we spent a lot of hours that night getting the car ready for the next day.”

Drivers switch classes from their normal regular season rides as was the case with Hobby Stock driver Tim Gonska, who tried out a Super Stock car.


It’s also not uncommon for cars to have “for sale” signs on them during the race. Nelson won his feature race in the Sportmod class Saturday night in the No. 46 car, and then sold it to driver Paul Woodie, who drove it with the No. 23 on it Sunday.

Sportmod driver Mark (Bud) Martini and his No. 42 car are familiar with holding the checkered flag on the winner’s podium at North Central Speedway, but an Axe has avoided him in his racing career. He was close again this year with a third-place finish Saturday and a second-place finish Sunday.

“I won an Axe about three years ago and my car was illegal so I had to give it away,” Martini said. “I have never won one. I missed it by one spot one year and just got beat out at the checkered flag. People tell me that I need to win one, but I don’t really care at this point. It would be fun to win it, but for me, it’s about everybody getting together and having fun. I always told everyone that if I won an Axe I would quit racing so I guess I have to keep going.”

Martini is a regular at the speedway throughout the summer, but there are a lot of drivers who compete at the Mighty Axe that are not regulars and can be a challenge in a feature race where 27 total cars make the call for the Sunday night Sportmod feature.

“It is a whole different ball game when it is a lot of people like this that are new here and the track changes so much,” Martini said. “The biggest thing is to survive and watch out for everybody and that you don’t run into each other and you have to have a lot of luck, in my opinion.”

As the clock approached 11:30 p.m. Sunday night, Modified driver Shawn Fletcher came across the finish line to win the final Axe of the 17 given out through the weekend.

Martini’s words summed up what racing means for so many people who come out, either as a fan or a driver.

“For me, racing is fun, but to be honest with you, as long as I have been racing it has been more for the family and friends now,” he said. “I like to race and be competitive but now it is all about meeting people and that is half the fun for me nowadays.”


Results for Sept. 5
IMCA Sport Compacts
Feature: 1-Ramsey Meyer, 2-Daniel Harstad, 3-Nathan Kohl
Heat 1: 1-Ramsey Meyer, 2-Braiden Benjamin, 3-Alyssa Nelson
Heat 2: 1-Kaleb Ruikka, 2-Bayden Ruikka, 3-Terry Matthewman
Heat 3: 1-Greg Kohl, 2-Grayson Pratt, 3-Jenna Hagemann
Heat 4: 1-Nathan Kohl, 2-Alex Aderman, 3-Daniel Harstad

IMCA Hobby Stocks
Feature: 1-Dave Johnson, 2-Patrick Oestreich, 3-Marcus Wayne
Heat 1: 1-Curt Derichs, 2-Nate Hanson, 3-Devin Larson
Heat 2: 1-Tim Gonska, 2-Austin Mehmer, 3-Chris Seidel
Heat 3: 1-Brandon Bombardo, 2-Michael Nelson, 3-Marcus Wayne
Heat 4: 1-Dave Johnson, 2-Robert Young Jr., 3-Chad Visser

Wissota Mod 4
Feature: 1-Tommy Bawden, 2-Dean Larson, 3-Jamie Flickinger
Heat 1: 1-Tommy Bawden, 2-Chad Funt, 3-Jamie Flickinger
Heat 2: 1-Dustin Holtquist, 2-Dean Larson, 3-Jamie Lenarz
Heat 3: 1-Dean Shaver, 2-Patrick Specht, 3-Gerrald Nohner

Micro Sprints
Feature: 1-Jeremy Snow, 2-Dylan Larson, 3-Joe Snow
Heat 1: 1-Zack Nelson, 2-Tyler Rabenberg, 3-Joe Snow
Heat 2: 1-Noah Berglund, 2-Mark Martin, 3-Carter Jensrud

Outlaw Mini Mods
Feature: 1-Nathan Kilwine, 2-Ryan Hensel, 3-Kelly Steele
Heat 1: 1-Kelly Steele, 2-Tyler Johnson, 3-Jerry Larsen
Heat 2: 1-Ryan Hensel, 2-Nathan Kilwine, 3-Justin Besch

IMCA Sportmods
Feature: 1- Dustin Nelson, 2-David Siercks, 3-Mark Martini
B Feature: 1-John Young, 2-Michael Swenson, 3-Ronnie Brisbin
Heat 1: 1-Tom Anderson, 2-David Siercks, 3-Dru Nelson
Heat 2: 1-Mark Martini, 2-Dustin Nelson, 3-Jake Hagemann
Heat 3: 1-Tim Bergerson, 2-Chris Siercks, 3-Brendon Hines
Heat 4: 1-Danny Myrvold, 2-Torey Fischer, 3-Paul Colvin
Heat 5: 1-Jason Vejtruba, 2-Dean Cornelius, 3-Brendon Yamry

Wissota Super Stocks
Feature: 1-Dustin Nelson, 2-Mike Loomis, 3-Joel Collins
Heat 1: 1-Mike Loomis, 2-Jamie Reberg, 3-Butch Butcher
Heat 2: 1-Joel Collins, 2-David Dosh, 3-Colton Budreau

IMCA Modifieds
Feature: 1-Billy Kendall III, 2-Aaron Johnson, 3-Shawn Fletcher
Heat 1: 1-Josh Anderson, 2-Dalton Magers, 3-Jeff Patchen
Heat 2: 1-Jesse Rogotzke, 2-Billy Kendall III, 3-Craig Paul
Heat 3: 1-Shawn Fletcher, 2-Aaron Johnson, 3-Clint Hatlestad
Heat 4: 1-Luke Hines, 2-Ryan Putnam, 3-Mark Prueser

Results for Sept. 6
IMCA Sport Compacts
Feature: 1-Nate Coopman, 2-Grayson Pratt, 3-Jerry Coopman
Heat 1: 1-Grayson Pratt, 2-Nate Coopman, 3-RJ Esquada
Heat 2: 1-Jerry Coopman, 2-Greg Kohl, 3-Justin Dose
Heat 3: 1-Daniel Harstad, 2-Zachery Schreder, 3-Nate Servaty
Heat 4: 1-Trista Pankratz, 2-Jenna Hagemann, 3-Alex Aderman

IMCA Hobby Stocks
Feature: 1--Cory Probst, 2-Curt Derichs, 3-Tim Gonska
Heat 1: 1-Chase Peterson, 2-Michael Nelson, 3-Clay Lommen
Heat 2: 1-Dave Johnson, 2-Marcus Wayne, 3-Austin Mehmen
Heat 3: 1-Cory Probst, 2-Scott Koep, 3-Brandon Bombardo
Heat 4: 1-Chad Visser, 2-Curt Derichs, 3-Tim Gonska


IMCA Stock Cars
Feature: 1-Dan Mackenthun, 2-Thomas Ahrndt, 3-Josh Larsen
Heat 1: 1-Dan Mackenthun, 2-Josh Larsen, 3-Tim Siercks

Micro Sprints
Feature: 1-Zack Nelson, 2-Jack Berger, 3-Jeremy Snow
Heat 1: 1-Jeremy Snow, 2-Jack Berger, 3-Noah Berglund
Heat 2: 1-Zack Nelson, 2-Cole Elton, 3-Andy Jones

Wissota Mod Four
Feature: 1-Tommy Bawden, 2-Dustin Holtquist, 3-Tommy Pogones
Heat 1: 1-Tommy Bawden, 2-Robert Holtquist, 3-Tommy Pogones
Heat 2: 1-Rick Haggar, 2-Gerrald Nohner, 3-Trevor Voss
Heat 3: 1-Dean Larson, 2-Elizabeth Roush, 3-Chad Funt

Outlaw Mini Mods
Feature: 1-Tyler Johnson, 2-Kelly Steele, 3-Logan Brown
Heat 1: 1-Tyler Johnson, 2-Nathan Kilwine, 3-Ryan Hensel
Heat 2: 1-Justin Besch, 2-Jerry Larson, 3-Nick Hauge


IMCA Sportmods
Feature: 1-Jason Vejtruba, 2-Mark Martini, 3-Dean Cornelius
Heat 1: 1-David Siercks, 2-Zachery Schreder, 3-Danny Myrvold
Heat 2: 1-Jacob Jordan, 2-Tim Bergerson, 3-Kevin Kirk
Heat 3: 1-Torey Fischer, 2-Jake Hagemann, 3-Paul Colvin
Heat 4: 1-Mark Martini, 2-Jason Vejtruba, 3-Dean Cornelius

Wissota Super Stock
Feature: 1-Austin Niemeyer, 2-Don Eischens, 3-Dustin Nelson
Heat 1: 1-Don Eischens, 2-Ryan Studanski, 3-Colton Budreau
Heat 2: 1-Dustin Nelson, 2-Jason Goedker, 3-Neil Chevalier
Heat 3: 1-Austin Nieymeyer, 2-Butch Butcher, 3-Tim Johnson

IMCA Modifieds
Feature: 1-Shawn Fletcher, 2-Billy Kendall III, 3-Josh Anderson
Heat 1: 1-Aaron Johnson, 2-Luke Hines, 3-Josh Anderson
Heat 2: 1-Billy Kendall III, 2-Ryan Putnam, 3-Tim Johnson
Heat 3: 1-Clint Hatlestad, 2-Dalton Magers, 3-Shawn Fletcher

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