4 drivers make memorable returns to Shawano Speedway

By: 

Scott Owen, Leader Columnist

For a moment, it felt like a vintage 1998 IMCA Modifieds battle, Craig Bartz and Mike Wedelstadt racing hard for position.

The two drivers had some fantastic battles through the years. In fact, I remember quite well how Bartz outdueled Wedelstadt for his first career Shawano Speedway feature win. Yes, I did say Craig Bartz.

Bartz, Cody Hudson, Scott Blanke and Mitch Stankowski formed a quadrumvirate of drivers making a return to the historic half-mile Saturday.

Bartz, who has spent the majority of his time in recent years helping his daughter become one of the top IMCA Sport Mod drivers in the area, made a return to the track in the IMCA Modifieds division.

Cody Hudson, the 2013 Sport Mod track champion, also made his return to racing last week in the IMCA Modifieds division. The popular driver known by the moniker “The Hudson Hornet” is racing a former Adam Clark chassis.

Scott “Point” Blanke returned to the track in the Mighty Fours division. Blanke, who previously raced a Mighty Four, most recently raced in the IMCA Stock Cars class before stepping away from racing early last season. A discussion earlier this year with fellow Mighty Fours pilot Lucas Hacker started Blanke’s return in motion.

Mitch Stankowski, the former IMCA Stock Cars and IMCA Modifieds driver, was at the wheel of a Mike Schmidt car in the IMCA Stock Cars division. Stankowski has spent this season racing on pavement in central Wisconsin with much success.

Out of the four racers, Stankowski had the best outcome with a fifth-place feature finish.

Bartz, Hudson and Blanke each were forced to pull off the track before the conclusion of their respective features.

In Stankowski’s case, Saturday may well have been a one-time event.

The competition doesn’t get any easier while away from the track, though I’m confident that the other three racers will quickly work the bugs out and become more competitive quickly.

This week at the track is a first-time event that I hope turns into an annual tradition. Halloween at the Half-Mile this Saturday will feature numerous drivers handing out candy after the night’s events as kids trick or treat throughout the pit area. I’m looking forward to seeing kids, parents and drivers alike in costume.

Will there be a weasel, a gambler or a rocket? Or will it be clowns and Trumps? Time will tell.

See you at the speedway.

Scott Owen is the track announcer for the Shawano Speedway.