AUTO RACING: Balcaen reaches milestone of 200 career feature wins
Mike Balcaen usually runs up front with the late models at River Cities Speedway and at other area race tracks.
So, it was only a matter of time before he reached another milestone in his successful career -- now closing in on three decades.
Balcaen captured his 200th career feature win earlier this week at the Red River Co-Op Speedway south of Winnipeg. It was an appropriate venue for Balcaen -- a Winnipeg resident.
"It was really nice to do that at home before family and sponsors," Balcaen said.
A few minutes after Balcaen captured career win No. 200, he grabbed win No. 201 as the Winnipeg track -- struggling to get races in this season -- ran double features in the late model class.
With the milestone achieved, Balcaen said his focus now changes.
"My only goal now is to enjoy racing," said Balcaen, who is in his 29th season of racing. "I try not to get too worked up."
Balcaen is one of a number of drivers at RCS that has the ability to win each week at the quarter-mile track where the late models long have been considered the most competitive of the four classes that compete each week.
Balcaen is third in season points at RCS, 27 behind leader Brad Seng. Ricky Weiss, another Winnipeg driver, is in second as the late models raced another show Thursday night at the Red River Co-op Speedway.
Balcaen will be at RCS tonight, but not to race his late model.
Because of the Greater Grand Forks Fair, tonight's program has been changed. Of the four regular classes that run each week at RCS, only the streets will race tonight.
The other classes will be super trucks, legends and lightning sprints, which is the reason why Balcaen will be in the pits.
His daughter, Amber, races a lightning sprint at the Winnipeg track.
"She's been competitive," Balcaen said.
But he's not pressuring his daughter to race. It's up to her, he said.
"I'll support her if she wants to race once a week, once a month or once a year," Balcaen said. "Kids have so many options now. But it really takes a big commitment to race these days."
Balcaen has had that commitment for years.
"Racing is all I've done since I was 10 years old," he said.
And he has no timetable on when he'll park his No. 10 red-and-white late model as he's accomplished plenty during his career, which also included a five-year stint racing a sprint car.
"I just want to have some fun," he said. "And we've been competitive wherever we've been."
Where: River Cities Speedway.
When: Hot laps, 6:30.
Tickets: Admission to the races with a $5 all-access fair admission.
Classes: Legends, super trucks, lightning sprints, streets.
Of note: The World of Outlaws Late Model Series will race at RCS on July 13.
Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to email@example.com.