Auto racing: Winnipeg's Balcaen back in business
Mike Balcaen decided to end his racing career after the 2008 season -- his 25th as a race car driver. At the time, he thought he had run enough laps, won enough features and had enough fun. As it turns out, the Winnipeg driver still hasn't had en...
Mike Balcaen decided to end his racing career after the 2008 season -- his 25th as a race car driver.
At the time, he thought he had run enough laps, won enough features and had enough fun.
As it turns out, the Winnipeg driver still hasn't had enough.
"I don't know if you can ever quit once it gets in your blood," Balcaen said.
Balcaen is still racing this season, and hopes to be at River Cities Speedway for tonight's regular show if he's not battling a sore back, which has bothered him for the last three or four months.
After the 2008 season, Balcaen's intention was to quit racing and help his daughter, Amber, launch her race career in a lightning sprint car. His daughter had a successful 2009 season and is back in the sprint this season.
Balcaen is still helping his daughter but also decided to once again expand his late model program -- one that's been successful for a quarter of a century at Upper Midwest tracks.
Balcaen didn't race for the first six weeks of the 2009 season. Then, he got the urge to race. He did not sell all of his equipment during the offseason and decided to put the one remaining car he had back on the track.
One thing led to another, and now Balcaen is back and has his sights set on a signficiant milestone.
The driver of the No. 10 late model has 186 career feature wins and would like to get to 200 before he finally calls it quits.
Balcaen said he and his race crew spent considerable time preparing his car during the offseason.
"We have good enough equipment to win this season," Balcaen said. "I plan on racing more than last year, but we won't travel as much. We won't race for any points. But we want to be in contention to win every night. I just want to be more creative -- and win more races.
"I'm running out of time."
Balcaen launched his 2010 season over the winter in Arizona, where he captured three heat wins and five top-10 finishes during a handful of open late model shows.
His debut at RCS on April 23, however, was cut short because of motor problems.
Balcaen's return will add another strong driver to the most competitive class of the four that run weekly at RCS.
During the 2009 season, seven different drivers captured late model features over the track's 13 nights of racing. In 2008, 10 different drivers took the checkered flag. During the 2007 season, 11 late model drivers won features at the quarter-mile track.
Brad Seng, who won four times last season at RCS, captured the season opener on April 23, leading from start to finish.
Seng's No. 12 late model is the car to beat this season, as far as Balcaen is concerned.
"Someone has to catch that 12 car," Balcaen said.
Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .