RJ Corson Takes First Badger Win in Wire to Wire Battle

RJ Corson Dan Simpson Photos

By Bill Blumer Jr.
On Friday, RJ Corson was beaming as he’d just scored his first podium finish with the Advanced Fastening Supply Badger Midget Series, finishing 3rd at Kankakee County Speedway. Things got that much sweeter on Saturday, as he scored a wire to wire win, when Badger and the Midget Auto Racing Association capped off a successful co-sanctioned, doubleheader weekend, this time at Sycamore Speedway.


One wondered what the car count might be, as several midgets from the Kankakee race were USAC D2 cars, who packed up afterward, for an event in Ohio on Saturday. Badger and MARA delivered with 32 cars in the Sycamore pits, one more than the first night.

Qualifying started the action with 2023 AFS Badger Midget Auto Racing Association champion, Adam Taylor, taking the FIVEone Motorsports Fast Time over Kyle Stark. Corson had a13th place qualifying run. It was the only thing that kept him from a clean sweep.

Jake Neuman made it look easy in Auto Meter Heat 1 as he powered around the outside in Bill Ecker’s #57A. Neuman took the lead before the first lap was complete from his 7th started spot. Todd Kluever was runner up.

For Simpson Race Products Heat 2, Mike Stroik, in his familiar Hinder Brewing Co. Beer Wagon, looked strong early running the bottom. Mitchell Davis in the #6 that ran 2nd in the feature the night prior, with Daniel Robinson behind the wheel, stuck with the topside and just nipped Stroik coming to the checkers.

Cars were using both grooves equally well in Behling Racing Equipment Heat 3, with Corson commanding the bottom while Abby Hohlbein took to the top. Corson won from his 3rd starting spot while Hohlbein had to work her way up from 9th to finish 2nd.

Taylor had troubles in his heat, but easily won the High Performance Lubricants B-Main. A last corner error cost Dominic Bruns a spot in the A-Main, to the benefit of Badger Rookie of the Year contender, Joel Willman.

Like Friday night at Kankakee, there was no VMS Rod Ends Heat 4 or Madison Extinguisher Service Last Chance Qualifier at Sycamore. Information on the Hammers Auto Service Shop Inc and Midwest Engine Service Inc Hard Luck Award recipient was unavailable at press time.


Corson jumped to a quarter of a straightaway lead within the first couple of laps of the Lyco Manufacturing, Inc Feature. Then the first of four restarts came. Corson took off again amassing a good lead. It looked like lapped traffic might come into play as he was insisting on running the bottom, as were those in front of him. Meanwhile, Davis and Neuman were making some ground up running the top. Just before he was going to have to alter his path, the yellow came out. It was both a blessing and a curse. He didn’t have to battle lappers, but now the fast cars, particularly those running the top, were within striking distance.

Among the challengers was Davis who was running high in turns one and two, while filing in behind Kluever who was behind Corson, in three and four. The formula seemed to be working when Davis found himself on the outside of Kluever just as they prepared to crank their wheels to make turn-three.

Cameras, much less the naked eye, could not quite tell if contact was made with Davis’ left front which was next to the cockpit of the Kluever machine. Davis’ wheels appeared to go right briefly, then his rear end caught and he went sailing. While it looked as nasty as any flip, ripping a rear wheel off and sending it rolling to turn-four and eventually into the infield, Davis popped out of the car in short order to the relief of the crowd.

They didn’t get a lap in on the restart before another red flag flew. This time several cars piled up in the turn-one while two others maneuvered to avoid them. It was then that the second car of Willman tagged the right rear of the first car, sending Willman for a flip. He too appeared to be alright.

Racing resumed and with about 10 to go and Kluever took his best shot at Corson, by running high in two. He pulled about even with Corson as they exited the corner and that was as close as Kleuver ever got. From there, Kluever might have tried high a time or two more, but finally settled in for a second place run a quarter of a straight behind Corson. It was a popular win in front of a packed Sycamore grandstand and a great way to open the track’s 2024 season.

Neuman was insisting on running the top and while he was fast, it was a very long way around, as the cushion was nearly to the wall. He gave Mark McMahill a run, but the bottom, where McMahill was, was the place to be. McMahill came home third, Neuman was next and Matt Recheck rounded out the top five.

Corson, a burly guy, admitted that he was tired after the first stoppage. “I don’t think I took a breath. I had to remind myself to breath,” he said, “Plus, I had Todd Kluever breathing down my neck.”

The Lyco Manufacturing Inc Feature win, was the first for Corson in Badger. He was quick to credit his great family friend and engine tuner, Bill McGowan, for the fast MWR Honda engine in his Mongo Crane, Prybar and Y&D Maintenance sponsored #15.


Two nights produced two new AFS Badger Series feature winners, with Cale Coons winning the first night of this doubleheader. It also marked the second night in a row, a second generation driver took to Victory Lane, as Corson’s father, Rich Corson, was a winning midget driver on pavement with club’s including UMARA. The elder Corson also raced with Badger on pavement.

Joel Willman reports as of Monday, he just had a popped blood vessel in his eye, but was otherwise fine. He’ll miss next week’s race due to family commitments. He is looking forward to getting back in the cockpit on June 2. Willman was awarded Spankin Motorsports Rookie of the Race.

Mitchell Davis reports he’s, “Sore and stiff as expected,” after his nasty tumble. He goes on to say he’s just disappointed the night had to end that way with such a good run going.

As for the mechanics of the crash, Davis said, “(There was) just the slightest contact but, the position of my car and how light they are, on that part of the track, that’s all it took. Just a racing deal is all (it was).”

Nick Kilian took home the Bob Tattersall Hard Charger award with his 9th place run from the 19th starting spot. This, after making the A-Main on Friday, only to have mechanical issues keep him from ever taking a lap in that feature.

Unofficially, Kyle Stark took home the Addison Dahlke Last Place Bonus.

Former Badger driver, Bob Schreffler, paced the field with his “No doors,” metallic blue Jeep for the Badger/MARA main event.

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