Eighth annual weekend at quarter-mile Illinois oval capped by $15,000-to-win feature
LA SALLE, Ill. (March 6) — La Salle Speedway’s eighth annual Thaw Brawl presented by Hoker Trucking on March 29-30 has a new look in 2019 as the big weekend becomes part of the American Ethanol Late Model Tour for the first time.
The rising American Ethanol-sponsored Super Late Model series will kick off its fifth season of competition by sanctioning the Thaw Brawl, a two-day spectacular that features a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win A-main on Fri., March 29, and a 75-lap, $15,000-to-win finale on Sat., March 30. The doubleheader represents the richest weekend in the short history of the regional circuit that is steadily expanding to tracks outside of its traditional Michigan base.
“I was very, very impressed with them when we did the show last year at La Salle,” La Salle promoter Tony Izzo Jr. said of the AELMT, which made its first visit to the quarter-mile central Illinois oval last August for a $4,000-to-win event won by 2016 Thaw Brawl victor Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill. “They worked real close with us and I said, ‘You know, let’s do some stuff together in the future. You guys fit my program really good and hopefully we can be a positive to help build your series too.’
“They kind of blew me completely off my feet last year when they said what they offer a promoter, the staff they bring and how they would run the show. You hear that a lot, but they did everything they said they were gonna do, the races went off without any glitches and I was able to focus on other things (during the race night). I said, ‘This is something I want to be involved in.’ They’re really a hidden gem when it comes to regional series.”
Izzo sees the American Ethanol Tour as a strong fit for his Thaw Brawl, an event that stands as the first big-money Super Late Model special on the state of Illinois’s 2019 racing calendar.
“I’ll tell ‘ya, I’ve always been very well supported by Michigan fans and racers on my Thaw Brawl,” Izzo said. “I guess it’s just that it’s that time of the year up there where they can’t really attempt to race yet and we can, so since we started the race (in 2012) we’ve always had a good turnout of Michigan fans and good Michigan drivers. Having the race as part of the American Ethanol Tour will just add to that Michigan flavor.”
Wolverine State racers like defending AELMT champion Brandon Thirlby of Traverse City, two-time series titlist Dona Marcoullier of Houghton Lake, Eric Spangler of Lake City and Travis Stemler of Ionia are among those expected to travel south to test themselves on La Salle’s high banks. They will face off with a talented array of standout drivers with plans to enter the action, including homegrown Illinois stars Shirley, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ryan Unzicker of El Paso and Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville.
The Thaw Brawl is one of three trips the American Ethanol Tour is set to make to La Salle in 2019, establishing the track as a key venue on the circuit’s 25-race schedule. The series will also sanction the $6,000-to-win Bill Waite Jr. Memorial Classic on Sun., July 21, and the inaugural Fan Fueled 50K on Sept. 27-28, a blockbuster two-day inaugural event that boasts a $30,000-to-win finale and offers the opportunity for one driver to pocket $50,000. Izzo said he will announce details of the Fan Fueled 50K at a later date.
Tickets, reserved motorhome camping spots and VIP parking are now on sale for the Thaw Brawl presented by Hoker Trucking, which also includes complete programs on both March 29 and 30 for the American Ethanol Modified Tour presented by All-Star Performance, IMCA modifieds and sport mods. The American Ethanol Late Model and Modified action will be contested under UMP DIRTcar rules and regulations while the IMCA modifieds and sport mods will utilize IMCA rules. The rain date for the weekend is Sun., March 31, or April 12-13.
DirtonDirt.com will provide live pay-per-view video coverage of the Thaw Brawl weekend for those who can not attend in person.
Izzo has scheduled a pair of pre-Thaw Brawl open practice sessions at La Salle for March 22 and 28, both from 4-10 p.m.
Ticket and camping information and other details about the Thaw Brawl weekend can be obtained by visiting www.lasallespeedway.com or calling the track office at 815-223-6900.