By Bryan Gapinski
Sun Prairie, Wis., April 3—-Racing in April is more a rarity than the expected, during the history of the Badger Midget Auto Racing Association (BMARA).
Badger is the country’s oldest midget auto racing organization. Only a dozen times has Badger run an event during the month of April.
Six weeks short of the Association’s 45th anniversary the first race in April was run at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway on April 26, 1981. “Racy” Bruce Field captured the feature event over fast qualifier Bob Richards, and Dan Fredenberg, who began his Badger title quest with a third place. Fredenberg would score a dozen top three feature finishes on his way to the series title. For Field he joined an exclusive club for Badger drivers having scored series feature victories at pavement and dirt tracks.
On April 28, 1985 Dan Boorse set the tone for his second straight Badger title winning the 25-lap feature at Capitol Super Speedway (Oregon, Wis.). Earlier in the afternoon Boorse broke Dave Wunrow’s existing one-lap qualifying track record by more than 4/10ths of a second. Danny Pens finished a distance second in the feature event.
Badger opened the 1986 season at Capitol Super Speedway, Mel Kenyon topped 25-lap feature in front of a near capacity crowd. Rich Corson scored his best career finish with runner-up honors. Boorse lowered his one-lap track record in qualifying. Badger held thirteen events at the paved ½-mile track between 1980-86.
A dozen years passed before another Badger April event. Butler (Mich.) Motor Speedway hosted a Badger/NAMARS co-sanctioned event. California’s Ricky Shelton topped the 54-car field in qualifying to start the evening’s events on April 18. Boorse led the entire feature finishing four-car lengths ahead of Kevin Olson, Boyd Calvert, Scott Hatton and Kevin Koch.
Hatton in his first race as driver for Huston Solution Racing took the lead with six laps remaining to win the Hoosier Lottery Hut Hundred at the Terre Haute Action Track on April 9, 2000. Kevin Doty, Aaron Fiscus, Dean Franklin, and J.D. Turner completed the top five. Seventy cars competed in the event, with Matt Sandy turning fast time. The event was co-sanctioned by Badger, NAMARS, and MARA.
Don Lehman driving the Howard Lehman No. 31 won the DQ Classic marking Badger’s first ever appearance at Spoon River Speedway (Canton, Ill.) on April 10, 2005. Steve Knepper and Mike Hess joined Lehman on the podium.
Danny Stratton took the lead from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. late in the race, when Stenhouse hit an infield tire to win the April 22, 2006 event at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway. Trailing Stratton were: Brad Loyet, Brad Kuhn, Stenhouse and Ray Bull.
Mario Clouser passed Kuhn on Lap 8 to win the 2012 Badger season opener, co-sanctioned with POWRi on April 27 at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway. Stratton, Kuhn, Zach Daum and Garrett Aitken round out the top five.
Christopher Bell scored the first of five feature victories in the Badger season opener at Jacksonville on his way to the 2014 series championship. The following day Badger and POWRi co-sanctioned the Macon (Ill.) Raceway event , which was rained out during heat races, and completed in September.
The two most recent April Badger events were the 2018, and 2019 season openers held at Beaver Dam (Wis.) Raceway, both of which were won by Bill Balog. Balog drove the RAB No. 57 to victory in 2018. And last year Balog won the 25-lap feature driving the Mark & Robbie Ray owner No. 3.
APRIL BADGER MIDGET SERIES RACES
Date Track/Location Feature Winner
4/26/81 Rockford (Ill.) Speedway Bruce Field
4/28/85 Capitol Super Speedway (Oregon, WI) Dan Boorse
4/27/86 Capitol Super Speedway Mel Kenyon
4/18/98 Butler (Mich.) Motor Speedway Dan Boorse
4/9/00 Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track Scott Hatton
4/10/05 Spoon River Speedway (Canton, Ill.) Don Lehman
4/22/06 Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway Danny Stratton
4/27/12 Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway Mario Clouser
4/25/14 Jacksonville Speedway Christopher Bell
4/26/14 Macon (Ill.) Speedway R/O after heats
4/29/18 Beaver Dam (Wis.) Raceway Bill Balog
4/20/19 Beaver Dam Raceway Bill Balog
By Bryan Gapinski