For area late models, four nights of racing and a big payday scheduled this weekend

NLRA winner at the Devils Lake Speedway to receive $4,000

Joey Pederson, number 7, pulls ahead of Mike Balcaen
Mike Balcaen (No. 10) and Joey Pederson compete during a late model heat race at the River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks.
Herald file photo

GRAND FORKS – This is a big weekend for the Northern Late Racing Association. The area’s top late model drivers will race four straight nights, beginning with Thursday night’s show at the Norman County Raceway in Ada, Minn.

It’s not the first time the NLRA has raced four straight nights. But this one has a twist as one of the nights will pay $4,000 to the feature winner. That big pay day will occur Saturday at the Devils Lake Speedway.

Following the opener in Ada, the NLRA will compete Friday night at the I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls, Minn. Saturday in Devils Lake and Sunday at the River Cities Speedway.

Normally, Winnipeg’s Mike Balcaen would be a fixture at all four race tracks.

This season, however, Balcaen will be selective when and where he’ll race.


He’ll hit three of the four shows this weekend, but will miss Saturday’s big-paying race in Devils Lake to watch his daughter, Amber, race an ACRA national series event at the Elko Speedway in the Twin Cities.

“We’re in a nice period right now,” said Balcaen, who is in his 39th season of racing. “We’re in a transition from my racing to Amber’s career. We’re one race at a time.”

Amber Balcaen, who has raced lightning sprints and 410 sprints in the past at RCS, is currently fifth in ARCA season points. She has three top-10 finishes in seven races so far this season, racing at tracks such as Daytona International Speedway, Phoenix Raceway and the Talladega Superspeedway.

Balcaen said he doesn’t know how long he’ll keep racing, saying he’ll race “as long as I can be competitive. We’ve run competitively in the nights we’ve raced this season.”

Entering this weekend, Cole Schill leads the NLRA season points race. Brad Seng is second, followed by Brody Troftgruben, Mike Greseth and Ryan Kereluk.

Balcaen, who has 26 career NLRA wins, is ninth in season points.

Balcaen also has six season championships with the NLRA.

Recently, Balcaen was honored for his induction into the River Cities Speedway Hall of Fame. He received the honor last season but couldn’t attend the induction ceremony because COVID-19 had closed the U.S.-Canadian border.


“It was a huge honor,” said Balcean. “I’ve been coming to this place since the early 1980s.”

On Friday night, RCS is scheduled to host three classes – lightning sprints, streets and Midwest modifieds.

The streets will compete in the Steffes Street Stock Tour while the modifieds will compete in the Rebel Midwest Modified Tour.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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