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Gandrud Auto Group 250 Another Historical Event for the ASA STARS National Tour

The Gandrud Auto Group on Tuesday, August 1st will be the 39th running of this historic event at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.


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The Gandrud Auto Group on Tuesday, August 1st will be the 39th running of this historic event at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

The event was known as the Dixieland 250 and is still promoted today by the son of one of the creators, Gregg McKarns.

Famous racing historian Stan Kalwasinski shares some of the history of this great event.

The facility opened in the early 1960s as a dirt track but became a half-mile paved oval, featuring its frontstretch dog leg, in 1968. Weekly Thursday night racing under the Fox River Racing Club banner and the speedway’s annual Red, White and Blue State Championship Series highlighted the racing at WIR, beginning in the 1970s.

In 1981, ARTGO Racing’s John McKarns and WIR owner Joe Van Daalwyk staged the first Dixieland Challenge. With NASCAR star Neil Bonnett racing and more than 7,000 fans in attendance, Larry Schuler and Jim Sauter scored 50-lap victories on Sunday afternoon, May 31, 1981. Schuler beat Mark Martin and Joe Shear in the first 50 lapper with Sauter taking the second 50 ahead of Dick Trickle and Martin. Martin, who set a new qualifying mark of 19.428 seconds during time trials, was the event’s overall winner with Bonnett only able to muster 13th and 14th place finishes.

In 1982, heavy rains washed out the Dixieland contest on August 3 with Sauter winning the make-up 100-lap contest on August 31. The next year (1983) Trickle started last in the Tuesday night 100-lap Dixieland race and picked up a $1,000 bonus for starting at the tail of the field. Trickle took the checkered flag ahead of Sauter and Alan Kulwicki as a record 8,145 fans looked on.

Martin was the Dixieland winner in 1984 with Butch Miller winning the 100-lap Dixieland races in both 1985 and 1986.

1987 saw the Dixieland race extended to a scheduled 200 laps as NASCAR joined ARTGO in co-sanctioning the Tuesday night event. Trickle and his Camaro No. 99 won the 210-lap contest (extended because of a late caution flag) ahead of Miller in a V6-powered Camaro, who finished 1.5 seconds behind. Ted Musgrave, local favorite J.J. Smith and Bobby Allison, who once called WIR a “miniature Daytona”, rounded out the top five. A record 74 entries, including Allison’s son, Davey, were on hand with a reported crowd of over 11,000 in attendance.

“I did good enough to win, but I didn’t get the car to run as good as I wanted,” said Trickle, who would notch his seventh and final ARTGO title at season’s end.

Another Dixieland 250 lapper was scheduled for Tuesday night, August 2, 1988. With temperatures in the upper 90s, Miller scored his third Dixieland win ahead of Rich Bickle Jr. and John Ziegler. Miller earned $8,425 from a then state-record purse of $78,211. NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt was on hand but dropped out of the race with mechanical problems.

Bickle was the winner of the Dixieland Tuesday night special on August 1, 1989. Taking the lead from Trickle on the 233rd lap, Bickle won his first career ARTGO race and $10,815, taking the checkered flag ahead of Trickle, and Dennis Lampman.

“Coming off (turn) four, he (Trickle) gave me a shot and I gave him one back,” said Bickle. “We were racing for $10,000 not $1,000 so we were both going for it and traded paint.”

The annual 250-lap race continued to be a highlight of the ARTGO tour year after year. Trickle won the race in 1990 and 1991. The 1991 victory was Trickle’s record 68th career ARTGO win and his final series victory. Steve Holzhausen won in 1992 and Scott Hansen in 1993. Joe Shear was the winner in 1994 and 1996 with Bryan Reffner scoring his first series win in 1995.

The final ARTGO Dixieland Challenge took place on August 5, 1997 with Steve Carlson scoring the first of his record seven Dixieland victories at WIR. Carlson defeated Hansen and Mike Garvey in the Tuesday evening’s 250 lapper.

With NASCAR taking over the ARTGO series in 1998, Carlson won the Dixieland chase again that year. Hansen won the race in 1999 with the race extended to 300 laps.

From 2000 to 2004, the NASCAR Elite Midwest Series competed at WIR with Brian Hoppe winning in 2000. Steve Carlson won in 2001 with Hoppe becoming a two-time winner in 2002. Carlson won again in 2003 and 2004.

In 2005, Stephen Leicht won competing in the short-lived American Stock Car League.

The Tuesday night event returned in 2007 as part of the first year of the ASA Midwest Tour. Kyle Busch won the 150-lap event.

Steve Carlson picked up his sixth and seventh victories in 2008 and 2009, with Johnny Sauter winning his first in 2010.

After a three-year hiatus, the famed event in 2014 with Johnny Sauter collecting his second victory.

Nick Murgic had his car pulled to victory lane on a tow truck as he made heavy contact with the wall after taking the checkered flag in 2015.

Dennis Prunty picked up one of his biggest victories in his career in 2016, while Casey Johnson was awarded the win in 2017 after Kyle Busch failed post-race inspection.

Mississippi invader Chase Purdy held off Dan Fredrickson to get the victory in 2018, taking the trophy with him back to the Southeast.

Ty Majeski became the latest back-to-back winner of the 250 when he won in 2019 & 2020.

Paul Shafer Jr. surprised not only himself but many others when he won in 2021.

Majeski picked up his third win in 2022.

Tickets for the Gandrud Auto Group 250 are now for sale on the Ticket Hoss app. Advanced tickets are $25 on Ticket Hoss, and $30 at the gate. Kids 12 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at https://tickethoss.com/event/531.

The Gandrud Auto Group 250 will be co-sanctioned with the ASA Midwest Tour, which will be race number seven on the season. Gabe Sommers currently holds the Midwest Tour points lead over Justin Mondeik.

The ASA STARS National Tour opened the ten race, six-state schedule at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL on March 11. Cole Butcher is the most recent winner, claiming the victory in the Redbud 400 at Anderson Speedway.

For the full ASA STARS National Tour schedule, plus Super Late Model rules and other information, please visit the series website at starsnationaltour.com, or be sure to follow the series on social media (Facebook: STARS National Series | Twitter: @racewithstars | IG: @starsnational).

ASA STARS National Tour
The ASA STARS National Tour debuted in March of 2023 for Super Late Model racing in America. Announced last October, many of the best drivers in America will compete in the ten-race national tour with a minimum $100,000 point fund. The championship team will be guaranteed $25,000.

The ASA STARS National Tour is made up of three races from each of the regional pavement Super Late Model Series under the Track Enterprises banner; the ASA CRA Super Series, the ASA Midwest Tour and the ASA Southern Super Series.

The Team Construction Winner’s Circle program has been announced as a part of the ASA STARS National Tour for licensed drivers/teams with perfect attendance. The program provides additional financial incentives to those teams who support the Series, thanks to Team Construction.

Track Enterprises, a Racing Promotions Company based in Illinois, will operate the ASA STARS National Tour. It announced the acquisition of the CRA sanctioning body in January and followed that up with the purchase of the Midwest Tour in July. In October, Track Enterprises President, Bob Sargent announced a partnership with the Southern Super Series which set the table for the formation of the ASA STARS National Tour.

-ASA STARS National Tour Release
-Photo credit: Stan Kalwasinski

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