April 23, 2004; Plover, WI - On a cool spring evening, Golden Sands Speedway welcomed back fans and competitors as the 2004 season got underway at "Central Wisconsin's Power Playground". In the Super Late Model division it was Jermey Lepak of Wausau who was able to fend off a late race rush by defending track champion Mark Eswein to capture the 40 lap Late Model main event. In the Super Stock division, a door to door duel over the final 10 laps of the contest between Scott Hamel and division champion Shawn Stelzer kept fans on their feet until the checkered flag flew with Hamel securing the win in a hard fought contest. In the Pure Stock division it was Eric Nelson showing the class how to reach victory lane claming a sweep of the events in the division. A wild 4 cylinder main event concluded the evening with Torey Nitzsche earning her first career feature race at Golden Sands Speedway.
Visiting drivers Clint Sillars and Jerry Schneider would pace the Late Model main event to the green glad, with Sillars using the outside groove around the high-banked third-mile oval to secure the initial lead, with Schneider settling into the second position.
Sillars was able to pull away from the field to a slight advantage over Schneider by lap five, while former Super Stock champion Keith Bohmsach and Mark Mackesy contested the third position. Making some quick maneuvers deeper in the field Lepak was already up to the fifth position after starting the contest in the 10th spot.
On lap nine, Schneider and Bohmsach would collide in turn four resulting in a caution flag. Both drivers were able to continue for the tail of the field when racing resumed.
The green flag fell with Sillars in command, while Mackesy, Lepak, Jeff Weinfurter and Chad Devine held the top five spots. When the green flag flew Mackesy went to work looking for a way past Sillars. Sillars however was up to the challenge and maintained the lead. Lepak meanwhile opted for the outside line and soon pulled alongside Mackesy to challenge for the runner-up spot, successfully completing the pass on lap 12. He then immediately went to work on Sillars and before the completion of the next circuit found himself in the lead.
Lepak then slowly left his rivals behind while the action heated up behind him. Having seen the outside lane work, Weinfurter would follow Lepak into the second position, and Brian Back would come along for the third spot, dropping Sillars, the former leader to fourth. After slipping to the outside line Sillars would slowly fall back into the field.
While the lead trio of Lepak, Weinfurter and Back would settle into formation, Eswein, the evenings fast qualifier, began to work his was forward. After starting the event in the 14th spot, he had reached the top five by the halfway point of the contest. Eswein would work his way into fourth moments later.
With a dozen laps remaining in the contest, Eric Wisz looped his machine in turn three brining out the second and final caution of the contest. The slowdown bunched the field up on Lepak's rear bumper for the restart. When action resumed Lepak again set the pace with Weinfurter following. Back however had his hands full as Eswein would motor past him for the third spot.
While Lepak did his best to extend his lead, Eswein was on the move grabbing second from Weinfurter with an outside pass with eight laps remaining and then setting sail for the leader. Eswein was able to close quickly on the leader and the pair were nose and tail with five laps remaining. In the sprint to the checkered Lepak was able to fend off Eswein's challenges for the lead taking the win in a close contest. Eswein's fine drive netted a second place finish with Weinfurter staying close by for third. Back, Allen Check and Chris Weinkauf secured the top six positions in the event.
The 30 lap Super Stock main event saw Rodger Stanczyk outgun Wally Kalman for the initial lead of the event. Kalman fell back quickly in the outside line giving Matt Pyburn the second position. Hamel would find himself in third by the end of lap two.
Stanczyk, Pyburn and Hamel would engage in a torrid three car battle for the top spot with the drivers exchanging grooves looking for the fast way around the track. Hamel found the low line to his liking taking second on lap six as Pyburn began to fade allowing Galen Manternatch to scurry into third.
Hamel then switched his preferred line to the outside and worked his way past Stanczyk for the top spot, with Manternatch and Stelzer in tow. A spin by rookie Colin Wilcott on lap 13 forced the first caution of the contest. Dave Neitzke who scored his first career fast qualifying effort had rumbled into the fifth spot by the halfway point of the contest.
Out front the duel between Hamel and Stelzer was setting up as Stelzer rumbled past Stanczyk who soon began to slow with mechanical problems turning the third slot over to Manternatch.
Stelzer would manage to draw alongside Hamel on a couple occasions as the race wound down to a handful of laps, actually nosing ahead briefly before being trapped by a lapped car with seven laps remaining. Hamel squirted past the lapped machine and back to the lead position. Undaunted Stelzer again applied the pressure staying in the high line.
With only three laps to go the race took a dramatic turn. Stanczyk slowed on the track bringing out the caution, while at the same time Brian Schmutzer and Wilcott made hard contact on the front stretch. This would setup a three lap dash to the finish.
When the race resumed Hamel was able to keep Stelzer at bay to the finish. Manternatch drove a smooth race to claim third ahead of Tim Plowman, Mike Brooks and Matt Pyburn.
In the Pure Stocks it was Eric Nelson showing the way in qualifying, the heat race and in the feature contest, where he had taken the lead from Troy Engman before the halfway point of the event. In the closing laps Brad Guralski would maneuver past Engman and begin to close on Nelson, pulling within three car lengths by the checkered. Officially the top five were recorded as Nelson, Guralski, Engman, Scott Strigel and Michael Gwidt.
The four cylinder contest proved exciting as the lead pair of Mike Oehmichen and John Flick would tangle late in the contest, turning the top spot over to Torey Nitzsche who was following closely in third prior to the leaders tangle. Nitzsche would then fend off Scott Stelzer who wheels a Volkswagen Beetle to secure her first feature win at Golden Sands. Stelzer would lay claim to second. Rookie Aaron Phillips would finish a solid third driving a smooth race. Oehmichen would charge back through the field for fourth and Jenny Nitzsche would complete the top five runners.
Racing continues next Friday evening with four classes of racing action as once again a full program of Super Late Models, Super Stock, Pure Stocks and 4 Cylinder will take to the high banked third-mile paved oval. Time Trials take place for weekly events at 6:30 p.m. and racing gets underway at 7:45 p.m.
Golden Sands Speedway "Central Wisconsin's Power Playground" is located between Wisconsin Rapids and Plover, Wisconsin on Highway 54. For additional information please call (715) 423-4660 or consult the track website at www.goldensandsspeedway.com