Speedway opener draws good crowd

“Here they come—the boys in the bright white sports car.”
Well, the cars weren’t exactly white at the opening of the stock car racing season at the Emo Speedway on Saturday night, but Trooper’s 1976 hit got one detail right: they were bright.
The 24 cars that competed in the three divisions shone in all colours imaginable.
Steve Boyum’s car from International Falls came pitch black, with his No. 5 and several advertisements in neon yellow and orange painted on it. Meanwhile, 17-year old Jamie Davis of Fort Frances chose a matte blue finish with a white top.
Drivers came from all over the district. Besides the more than a dozen racers from Fort Frances, Devlin, Emo, and International Falls, three more hailed from Dryden while Gary Grimes came all the way from Balmertown.
The greatest distance, however, was travelled by local phenomenon Steve Arpin, who came north from Cedar Lake, Wis. where the race he wanted to compete in for national points got cancelled due to bad weather.
“It was washed out,” Arpin noted, and so the 200-plus fans in the grandstand got treated to what probably will be the 20-year-old’s lone appearance in Emo this season unless, as he pointed out, “another race down there gets cancelled.”
Arpin competes in the WISSOTA Modified (or “A-Mod”) division. He was joined Saturday by 11 other racers who were fighting for position and points in three heats before meeting again in the feature race.
Arpin, to the surprise of many, had some difficulties with his car early in the feature race and finished only sixth after he was sent spinning in the second-to-last lap.
“I missed the set-up [between the heat and the feature],” he said afterwards. “It was horrible.”
But determination to correct the faults got the better of the puzzlement behind his eyes, and not long after heartily congratulating first-time winner Jake Kamm from Dryden, Arpin got to work on his car with a wrench and a screwdriver.
There was no visible anger over his worst finish so far this year. “I had fun out there,” the likable youngster said.
He’s also looking forward to the upcoming Memorial Day weekend south of the border, during which he’ll be busy in several races in Cedar Lake.
Kamm, meanwhile, was elated about the victory—with a temporary motor, no less. “Hopefully I’ll get my real one back in time for next week,” he said.
“It’ll be a while before this grin comes off my face,” Kamm later joked when posing for pictures next to his blue-and-yellow car.
The only damper on his mood was the fact that son, Curtis, blew his motor in the feature race. “Win some, lose some,” they said in unison.
Meanwhile, a new division was introduced Saturday night—a somewhat downgraded version of the “A-Mod” called WISSOTA Midwest Mod or “B-Mod.”
“It has less horsepower, but it’s a cheaper way to run,” explained Al Smith, Emo Speedway photographer and organizer. “Much more affordable.”
Only three drivers showed up, though, with Mark Kangas from Eveleth, Mn. winning both the heat and feature race.
The third competition Saturday night involved the WISSOTA Street Stock division, where nine drivers tested their abilities, with Emo’s John Hettinga emerging as the winner.
The advertised fourth division, the Mini-Sprints, was cancelled because the few drivers available (track promoter Ken Perry, for one) went to Greenbush, Mn. that night to participate in a bigger competition.
In related news, work continues to improve the speedway.
“We already installed three new floodlights,” said Smith, in his sixth year with the track. “And 10 more are to come.”
As well, there’s a new canteen for drivers and their teams. The building itself was donated—just as many other things and services—by generous community members.
“Two hundred-some people tonight is a pretty good turnout, too,” Smith noted before heading into the inside of the 3/8-mile banked clay oval to shoot some more pictures.
Here are the results from Saturday night’s races:
Street Stocks
•Heat 1—Bill Witherspoon (#3), Gary Grimes (#04), Howard Teeple (#15), Jeff Wickstrom (#17), and Jori Hughes (#11j)
•Heat 2—John Hettinga (#19), Richard Visser (#25), Wes Morriseau (#5), and Simon Crans (#09)
•Feature—Hettinga, Grimes, Morriseau, Visser, Crans, Teeple, Wickstrom, Hughes, and Bill Witherspoon (DNF)
Midwest Mods
•Heat—Mark Kangas (#97), Anthony Visser (#11A), and Chuck Lambert (#60x)
•Feature—Kangas, Visser (Emo), and Lambert
•Heat 1—Steve Boyum (#5), Chad Jonson (#18), Jake Kamm (#88), Jamie Davis (#85), Ken Anderson (#9), and Ron Westover (#15)
•Heat 2—Steve Arpin (#00), Vic Larson (#91), Gary Labine (#L4), Joey Galloway (#01), Len Allen (#4a), and Curtis Kamm (#8)
•Feature—Jake Kamm, Jonson, Larson, Davis, Galloway, Arpin, Boyum, Anderson, Labine, Westover, Allen, and Curtis Kamm (DNF)