Here are some thoughts and observations from the four days.
28 Drivers – There are 28 driver names on the list of Oktoberfest main event winners in the four-year history. Ty Majeski became the 28th driver last Sunday. Joe Shear tops the list with five victories (1972, 1989, 1994, 1995, and 1996) with Dan Fredrickson (2007, 2008, 2010, and 2015) and Travis Sauter (2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014) with four each. Eddie Hoffman (1998, 1999, and 2001) and Tom Reffner (1970, 1975, and 1983) each have three victories. Five drivers have two victories (Dick Trickle, Larry Detjens, Tom Carlson, Brian Hoppe, and Tim Schendel).
Ty Majeski – Was this the last time that we have seen Majeski race like he did the last two years at Fest? If the right people are keeping an eye on him and his success, we may see him more on television then at our local short tracks in 2017. His win in the Oktoberfest 200 on Sunday put an exclamation mark on his success at Fest in the last two years. He may be our next star from Wisconsin racing in the higher tiers of racing. Over the four days, he won the La Crosse Late Models feature on Thursday, Big 8 Series on Saturday, and the JMcK 63 also on Sunday.
Dan Fredrickson – While he was trying to tie Joe Shear with the most Oktoberfest main event wins on Sunday, he did make an addendum to his record that he owns in the Dick Trickle 99 presented by JE Pistons as he became the first three-time winner of the Friday night event. In fact, he is still the only driver to win the event more than once in the nine-year history.
Steve Carlson – He is always a popular driver at Oktoberfest and this past Thursday, he picked up his fourth straight Late Model track championship at La Crosse. He finished third on in the La Crosse Late Model feature while trying to chase down two young hot shoes, Ty Majeski and his son Mike Carlson.
Car Counts – If anyone says that short track racing is struggling have them take a look at the car counts at Oktoberfest. 60 Super Late Models attempted to qualify for the Dick Trickle 99 presented by JE Pistons while 45 made a qualifying run on Thursday’s Futures race. 37 cars qualified for Thursday’s Sportsmen division. 46 recorded a qualifying time in Saturday’s Big 8 Series season finale while 35 cars qualified for the ARCA Midwest Tour’s Oktoberfest 200.
Fans – Once again, no matter the temperature or weather, the fans came out in high numbers each day for Oktoberfest. The La Crosse Tribune reported that the attendance over the four days was over 15,000. The campground was also full with people coming in as early as Monday before the first race on Thursday. In fact, the fans consumed so many pork chop sandwiches that there weren’t any available on Sunday. The track officials deserve a high five for getting the show in before showers came over the track on Thursday night.
Rolling Along – One thing that needs to be applauded every year is the work that the staff and the race teams do to keep the show rolling along each night. A lot of times the field for the next two races were already lined up, drivers strapped in ready to go. This really helps to keep the show rolling along, especially with the high car count. Everyone appreciates your efforts and a lot of times this goes unheralded, but it is something fans notice and it makes a big impact on fans decisions to come to future Oktoberfest Race Weekends. Thank you!!!
Stat of the Weekend – With a total of 17 divisions competing over the weekend, only once did a call come up to the tower from the tech officials that a driver failed a post-race tech inspection. That happened to be when Ty Majeski was too light on the scales after the first segment of the Dick Trickle 99. Many say that he would have easily won his second Trickle 99 in a row if that didn’t happen.
View from the Tower – Overall, the 47th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend is one that will be remembered for emotions. The emotion seeing Toby Nuttleman finally winning the big race after trying for over 30 years as a crew chief, as his young driver tries to add something special to his racing resume.
The emotion of Dan Fredrickson who said after the race that he had a perfect car, but an issue with the rear end of the car cut short a history making weekend in two events, but promising that he isn’t giving up and watch out for him in 2017.
The sadness that many felt on Sunday after learning the news of the sudden passing of Joe Rinartz during the early hours of Sunday morning at Oktoberfest after racing in the Thunderstox and Outlawz divisions on Thursday night. There is a GoFundMe page established to assist the family. Please CLICK HERE and feel free to give a donation.
Finally, the overall joy of catching up with friends, shaking hands, and feeling heartfelt hugs throughout the weekend. The racing community is one big family who all enjoy at least one thing together…auto racing. As each year goes by, we learn that there is more in common than just racing and it is for those reasons that people are already planning for 2017 and beyond.
Some of us have new friend requests on Facebook, along with new followers on Twitter and Instagram after this weekend.
These plus many other reasons explains why the hashtag #FestIsBest was trending last weekend.
Upcoming Oktoberfest Race Weekend Dates
2017 October 5-6-7-8
2018 October 4-5-6-7
2019 October 3-4-5-6
2020 October 8-9-10-11