Slinger: Small Track Big Names

608Jpg
SLINGER, Wis. -- About 35 minutes northwest of Milwaukee is a small, rural town that comes to life every Sunday night from the end of April to late September.

Slinger is home to the Slinger "Super" Speedway, the "world's fastest high-banked one-fourth-mile oval" and breeding ground for future racing stars.

For years, some of the biggest names in stock car racing have cut their teeth on the high banks of Slinger, and they keep coming back, all with an unquenchable thirst for Slinger's victory lane. Drivers such as Matt Kenseth, Ken Schrader, Dick Trickle, Ted Musgrave, Rich Bickle and the late Alan Kulwicki are usually associated with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, and rightly so. But when Wisconsin race fans hear those names they don’t think of Charlotte, Bristol, Atlanta or Talladega, they think of Slinger.

Typically, the racer who starts out at Slinger and moves on to a bigger touring series is a success. Graduates of Slinger Speedway have scored championships in almost every recognized touring series this country has to offer.

Late model standout Scott Hansen and former American Speed Association champions Bryan Reffner and Butch Miller have logged thousands of laps around Slinger. Probably the most notable competitors who have tamed the high-banks of Slinger are 1992 Winston Cup champion Kulwicki and Winston Cup rookie phenom Kenseth.

Every year the spring opener at Slinger attracts a big crowd and big names to the Miller Genuine Draft Twin 75s, and this year was no exception. With Hansen and Miller on hand, track promoter Wayne Erickson had a full house.

Veteran track announcer Todd Behling has been behind the microphone at Slinger for 15 years and gets more excited about the spring opener every year.

"It’s fun to come out here after a long winter off," said Behling, who also hosts a racing radio talk show. "If you can’t get pumped up over this, it’s hard to get pumped up for anything."

Winston Cup and Busch Series regular Mark Martin lists Slinger as his favorite track that is not associated with a NASCAR series.

"That is just a cool track. It is banked like Bristol, and we used to turn about 11-second laps there," said Martin, who not only held the track record for a period of time but also lived in Franklin, Wis., for several years. "That track was a lot of fun."

"This is just a fun place to race," added Hansen, former pilot of Ken Schrader's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride. “The fans are really good up here. We just come back and try to put on a good show, kind of like where the grass roots are, where you started from. You don't ever want to forget that."

Miller, current regular on the ASA tour and former winner in Busch Grand National and the Craftsman Truck series, likes the speed and the instincts Slinger produces.

"The track is really competitive," Miller said. "There aren’t many tracks where you are back in the same spot every 11 seconds, so it’s a neat place."

Miller attributes reaction time as one of the main reasons graduates of Slinger move on to bigger series. With 30 or more cars on a high-banked quarter-mile, its no surprise that drivers that do well at Slinger can do well almost anywhere.

"You have to have good reactions," Miller said. "Your reaction time has to be sharp for this place because something happens, and you can drive right into it. Yet, it’s such a high-speed quarter-mile, with all that banking, they really have very few accidents. It shows that the guys are paying attention."

Behling credits the toughness of the track as the main reason drivers who come up through the ranks via Slinger Speedway excel in prominent touring series.

"Among tracks, even in the state of Wisconsin, it means more to win at this track than it does at a lot of the other ones because it’s a tougher race track. It’s a very tough place to pass," he said. "When a guy comes out of here it’s like the difference between getting a degree from Harvard and getting a degree from Iowa. There’s guys that would rather race here and lose than run to a lesser track and win."

As high-paying, late-model races go, there are few titles as highly coveted as the winner of the Slinger Miller Lite Nationals. Every year some of NASCAR’s biggest names make the pilgrimage to Slinger Speedway.

Drivers such as Neil Bonnett, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Harry Gant, Martin and Rusty Wallace have all tried their hands at the tricky quarter-mile, and this year’s Miller Lite Nationals will be just as electrifying as past years.

Wayne Erickson would not release his lineup for the 2000 Miller Lite Nationals, but rest assured, fans will not be disappointed.

Photos

  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • From the Archives: Martinsville
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • Auto Club 400
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • From the Archives: Auto Club Speedway
  • CampingWorld.com 500
  • CampingWorld.com 500

Advertisement

  • © 2015 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites