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LOCAL FAVORITES SET TO DEFEND THEIR HOME TURF THIS WEEKEND AT SPRING CLASSIC!

By: Eric Huenefeld

When the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet rolls into Rockford Speedway this Sunday afternoon April 13 for the 37th Annual Spring Classic, the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” will be greeted by a strong local contingent looking to keep the winner’s trophy close to home.

Over the last several years, the local talent at Rockford Speedway has made things tough on the Big 8’s best. Thirteen of the twenty-one Big 8 Series events held at Rockford Speedway since September of 2004 have been won by Rockford regulars. Most recently, Rockford regulars have won the last four Big 8 races held at the high banked quarter mile.

“Driver X” Jon Reynolds Jr has been the man to beat when the Big 8 Series competes at Rockford Speedway. The 2005 Series champion has visited Big 8 Series victory lane five times at his hometrack. Reynolds himself has captured four of the last six National Short Track Championships as well as the 2012 Spring Classic.

2013 Rockford Speedway Track Champion Alex Papini plans to challenge for victory Sunday afternoon. Papini, who collected eight feature wins last summer en route to the Rockford track championship, is also the defending Spring Classic winner. Last April, Papini held off numerous challenges on the way to his first ever Big 8 series triumph.

Three former Rockford Speedway Track Champions also plan to run Spring Classic this weekend, including seven-time track champions Ricky Bilderback and Bobby Wilberg and 2010 track champion Tim Sargent. Bilderback, the 2006 Big 8 Series champion, won last year’s ‘Star Spangled 76’ at Rockford, charging from his 15th starting spot to claim the win. Wilberg, one of the most consistent drivers in Big 8 history and always a threat at Rockford, will go into Sunday still looking for his first ever series win. Sargent comes into Rockford riding the momentum of 2013, which included five Big 8 Series top-five’s and a pair of podium finishes.

Michael Bilderback, the 2008 Spring Classic champion, returns to Rockford this weekend. Bilderback aims to become only the second Big 8 driver to win multiple Spring Classics, joining Mike Beyer, who accomplished the feat in 2005 and 2006.

Teenager Austin Nason, the 2012 Rockford Speedway Rookie of the Year, is set to compete at Spring Classic. Nason was among the Big 8’s elite in 2013, finishing fourth in series points, with two runner-up finishes. Jake Gille, a multi-time feature winner at Rockford, is also entered for the weekend’s events, along with former Slinger Speedway champion “Insane” Wayne Freimund and Former Spring Classic NASCAR Touring Series competitor Mark Hartline

The 37th Annual Spring Classic is set for this Sunday afternoon, April 13 at 1 PM, with the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet headlining the day with a 108 lap main event. The season-opening card also includes the Mid American Stock Car Series and the Illinois Vintage Racing Series.

For more information on Rockford Speedway and the 37th Annual Spring Classic, please call 815-633-1500 or visit www.rockfordspeedway.com. For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit www.big8series.com.

EARLY ENTRY LIST FOR SPRING CLASSIC FILLED WITH CONTENDERS! 

By: Eric Huenefeld

With one of the most relentless winters in recent memory slowly fading away, the thoughts of race fans across the Midwest are shifting towards Rockford Speedway and the season opening Spring Classic featuring the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet.

The ‘Best Weekly Warriors in the Country’ kick off their 10th Anniversary Season Sunday afternoon April 13, testing Rockford’s ‘high banks’ for 108 laps. Over the past two weeks, entries have begun flooding in as drivers throw their hats into the ring for the season opening affair.

Leading the way is 2013 Big 8 Series champion Casey Johnson. The two-time Jefferson Speedway Track Champion is looking to duplicate his success of a season ago, which included a Super Late Model Track Championship at Madison International Speedway and five race wins. Johnson, who is also a past winner of Spring Classic, plans to run a majority of the Big 8 Series events this season, while also vying for ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year.

No driver ended the 2013 season hotter than Lakeville Minnesota’s Chris Marek. The 2013 Elko Speedway Track Champion won two of the last three Big 8 Series races last season while also pocketing the JMcK 63 during Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. “The Cruiser” has entered his machine for action at Rockford while also eyeing the Big 8 Series championship.

2012 Dells Raceway Park Track Champion “Rocketman” Dan Lensing is focused on being number one this season. Lensing, who finished third in Series points in 2013, is looking to capture his first Big 8 Series win this year and figures to be a contender for the Series Championship. Two-time LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway Track Champion J Herbst also looks to be among the Series’ elite this year. Herbst, an eighth place finisher in 2013 points, will adapt a barnstorming schedule in 2014 while also chasing the Big 8 crown.

Milwaukee area veteran Jeff Holtz is among those planning to open his season at Rockford, along with young hard chargers John DeAngelis Jr and Austin Nason. Holtz, a former Modified and Sportsman champion at Slinger Super Speedway, is looking to shake the bad luck that usually greets him at Rockford. DeAngelis is fresh off a sixth place finish in 2013 Big 8 points while Nason began his racing season in February with solid finishes in New Smyrna Florida during Speedweeks.

2013 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year Casey Strese and 2012 Big 8 Series Rookie of the Year Jesse Bernhagen are both ready to kick their seasons off at Rockford’s Spring Classic. Strese is eyeing a top ten finish in Big 8 Series points in 2014, while Bernhagen continues to work towards his first Series win.

The sparks are sure to fly when the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet begins its tenth anniversary season at Rockford Speedway Sunday April 13 for the 37th Annual Spring Classic. The Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet will take center stage, with their 108 lap main event highlighting the day. The season-opening card also includes the Mid American Stock Car Series and the Illinois Vintage Racers. The first green flag flies Sunday April 13 at 1 pm.

For more information on Rockford Speedway and the 37th Annual Spring Classic, please call 815-633-1500 or visit www.rockfordspeedway.com. For more information on the Big 8 Late Model Series, please visit www.big8series.com.

TEN EVENTS FILL TENTH ANNIVERSARY BIG 8 SLATE!

By: Eric Huenefeld

The 2014 racing season promises to be an unforgettable one for the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet.

This season, the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country” will campaign a ten-race schedule, visiting the top short tracks in the region while taking part in many of the most prestigious events on the Midwest racing calendar.

Engines will come to life during the 37th Annual Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway on Sunday afternoon April 13th, when the Big 8 Late Models will headline the traditional season opening affair with a 108 lap feature event. Joining the Big 8 Late Models on the card will be the Mid American Stock Car Series and the Illinois Vintage Racers.

Exciting new dates on the 2014 schedule include the return of the Big 8 Series to Dells Raceway Park on Friday night July 4 as part of the ‘North American Cup’ weekend. The stop at DRP will be the first Big 8 event at the 1/3 mile speed plant since June of 2007.

Also returning to the Big 8 Series schedule is Slinger Super Speedway. The Big 8’s best will take to Slinger’s high banks Sunday night July 13 for the 88 lap “King of the High Banks.” The event at Slinger will be part of the “Prelude to the Nationals”, leading up to the “Slinger Nationals” Super Late Model race, held two nights later, Tuesday July 15 on the World’s Fastest Quarter Mile.

Traditional dates returning to the 2014 schedule include a return to the tight confines of Columbus 151 Speedway on Monday afternoon May 26, for a Memorial Day Special which includes the season opening race for the Great Northern Sportsman Series and the four cylinder “Bandit Blast.” Friday night June 27, Madison International Speedway hosts the Big 8 Series as part of its ‘Salute to America’ Program. And for the third consecutive year, the Big 8 Late Model Series headlines Friday night of the Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend at State Park Speedway in Wausau Wisconsin on Friday night July 25.

For a second straight year, “Four Races in Four Weeks” will determine the Big 8 Late Model Series point champion. The four race swing begins at Jefferson Speedway with the 34th Annual Wisconsin State Championships Friday and Saturday September 12 & 13. The following weekend, Friday and Saturday September 19 & 20, the series heads north for the Thunderstruck ‘93’ at Elko Speedway in Minnesota. Then on Saturday evening September 27, the Big 8 Late Models will again headline ‘Short Track Saturday Night’ at the Rockford Speedway as part of the 49th Annual National Short Track Championships. The curtain closes on the series’ tenth anniversary season Saturday night October 4, with a 68 lap championship feature during the 45th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway.

For additional information regarding the Big 8 Late Model Series visitwww.big8series.com or contact the Series Office at 815-633-0035.

2014 Big 8 Late Model Series Schedule

Sunday April 13- Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)
37th Annual Spring Classic (108 laps)

Monday May 26- Columbus (WI) 151 Speedway
Memorial Day Special (78 laps)

Friday June 27- Madison International Speedway (Oregon, WI)
Salute to America (48 laps)

Friday July 4- Dells Raceway Park (Wisconsin Dells, WI)
North American Cup Weekend (68 laps)

Sunday July 13- Slinger (WI) Super Speedway
“Prelude to the Nationals” (88 laps)

Friday July 25- State Park Speedway (Wausau, WI)
Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend (58 laps)

Fri & Sat Sept 12 & 13- Jefferson (WI) Speedway
34th Annual Wisconsin State Championships (Twin 75’s)

Fri & Sat Sept 19 & 20- Elko (MN) Speedway
6th Annual Thunderstruck ‘93’ (58 laps)

Saturday Sept 27- Rockford Speedway (Loves Park, IL)
49th Annual National Short Track Championships (108 laps)

Saturday October 4- LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway (West Salem, WI)
45th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend (68 laps)

2013 Articles and Headlines