AUTO RACING: Seitz field attracts the best
John Seitz was one of the best late model drivers in the Upper Midwest. During the 2006 season, Seitz amazingly won a 20-lap feature after starting 24th at River Cities Speedway -- a tight quarter-mile track where passing, most nights, isn't cond...
John Seitz was one of the best late model drivers in the Upper Midwest. During the 2006 season, Seitz amazingly won a 20-lap feature after starting 24th at River Cities Speedway -- a tight quarter-mile track where passing, most nights, isn't conducive for the big-body late models.
After the race, Seitz wasn't shocked that he pulled off the win.
"I always think I have a shot at winning," he said. "I went from 24th to first and I didn't' touch a single car. There was no muscling guys out of the way."
Seitz died in 2007 at age 36. And it didn't take his friends long to organize an event in his memory.
The fifth annual John Seitz Memorial Late Model Invitational, scheduled this weekend at RCS, attracts most of the top drivers in the Upper Midwest. Between 50 and 60 drivers are expected. The late-model field could be one of the biggest in RCS history.
"It's getting to be a prestigious event," said Brad Seng, one of the RCS regulars who will be in the mix to win Saturday night's 92-lap feature. "Drivers hear a lot about RCS. They want to experience it and what better way to experience it than $9,200 to win and $920 to start."
Saturday night's 92-lap feature will pay $9,200 to win and $920 to start -- big payouts for area late model racing. The number 92 figures prominently in the Seitz race since that was the number on his race car -- one that captured numerous wins throughout the region.
Racing begins tonight with a late-model only program, which also serves as a prelude to the Seitz race. Tonight, there will be heat races, B-mains and a feature that pays $1,100 to win. The night also will determine the NLRA season champion. Ricky Weiss of Winnipeg holds a 77-point lead on Seng entering the final night.
On Friday, the Seitz event kicks off with heat races and a pole dash. The dash winner will receive $920 and will start on the pole for Saturday night's feature.
Streets, Midwest modifieds and sprints also will race Friday and Saturday nights. There will be complete programs for the streets and modifieds both nights. The sprints will run heat races and a dash Friday night, with the feature scheduled Saturday.
There have been four different Seitz winners -- Mitch Johnson in 2007, Justin Fegers in 2008, Pat Doar in 2009 and Cody Skytland in 2010.
Doar, a regular on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, will be one of this season's favorites.
The New Richmond, Wis., driver recently won a WoO LMS preliminary feature in Virginia, a win worth $10,000.
Brady Smith, another Wisconsin driver, also will be one of the favorites. Smith also has had success at RCS as he captured a WoO LMS feature win 2008.
Drivers from five states and Canada are expected for the three nights of racing.
Last season was the first time the Seitz feature was expanded to 92 laps. There was a fuel stop at Lap 40. This season, the stop is expected to come around Lap 30.
RCS was the home track for Seitz. Some of his best friends were regulars that run weekly in Grand Forks. And nearly all will be racing this week in memory of Seitz.
Mike Balcean, who won last week's RCS feature, was one of his friends.
"John and I were real good buddies," Balcaen said. "Hopefully, he'll be looking after me this year."
What: Fifth annual John Seitz Memorial Late Model Invitational.
When: Tonight, Friday and Saturday, River Cities Speedway.
Tickets: Tonight and Friday, adults $18 ($15 in advance), children (7-12) $5; Saturday, adults $25 ($22 in advance), children (7-12) $5.
Classes: Late models, sprints, streets, Midwest modifieds.
Of note: Cody Skytland of Fargo won last year's 92-lap feature.
Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to email@example.com .