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Pure stocks racing for big money Saturday evening at ABC

ASHLAND, Wis. -- In its brief history at the ABC Raceway, the annual pure stock special has quickly become one of the most anticipated mid-summer race events of the season. This is a bit ironic, considering pure stock racers are not usually consi...

ASHLAND, Wis. -- In its brief history at the ABC Raceway, the annual pure stock special has quickly become one of the most anticipated mid-summer race events of the season. This is a bit ironic, considering pure stock racers are not usually considered the headline division at many tracks.

This year's event, dubbed the "Pure Excitement 25" and presented by the Ashland-Bayfield County Sportsman's Club, will be held on Saturday. This will be the fourth running of the event, which highlights the most economical entry-level division of dirt-track racing the area has to offer.

Drivers that regularly race at Superior, Proctor, Rice Lake, Menomonie, Hibbing and St. Croix Falls are expected to join the host track's weekly competitors for a chance at winning the $500 first-place check that the 25-lap feature will offer, or at least some share of a purse that is expected to exceed $4,000.

Because of the nature of the division, a driver will often race an entire season and not earn much more than $500 in winnings. By comparison, the ABC Raceway pays the feature winner of its top-rung modified division $500 on a weekly basis. But the pure stock class is grass-roots racing in its most pure form. Competitors build racers to meet very basic performance rules, as economy and safety are priorities one and two.

"Many of the drivers in this class don't have much money invested in their cars," says Bruce Kalmon, a former pure stock racer who has been the organizer of this event since its inception. "Maybe a couple of grand at the most, and hardly ever much more."

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Drivers just getting into the sport usually start in pure stocks, where the expenses are minimal and the cars are the least complex. After a period of time behind the wheel of a pure stock, drivers then usually decide to progress to a more expensive division, if the interest and dedication is there to continue on.

Also, because they aren't as fast as late models or as wild and unpredictable as modifieds, pure stocks are rarely given much attention in terms of cash or prestige. They are considered a support class, just included on the program to round it out and give inexperienced drivers a chance to hone their skills.

Thus, in 2004, Kalmon decided to organize a special big money event for the class, which had been growing in popularity after just two seasons as part of ABC's weekly race program. Since then, each Pure Stock Special has drawn well over 30 cars and paid out healthy purses, thanks to Kalmon's door-to-door effort to talk area race supporters and sponsors into generous contributions. In addition, Kalmon has encouraged fans and businesses to contribute to the event purse by passing the hat, collecting cash for designated finishing position payouts and lap-leader earnings.

Kalmon has also worked each year to collect door prizes, donated as a way of giving back to the fans for their generosity.

The event has grown as quickly as a four-year-old tradition can. Last year, Duluth's Tom Morinville won the event feature and took home over $750. Morinville also won at shows in Superior and Proctor that weekend, completing a rare and memorable sweep that paid him around $1,000.

Morinville, who finished second in points at Ashland in 2006, has moved on to race with WISSOTA's Midwest modifieds, as has Ricky Davis of Bruno, Minn., the Raceway's pure stock champion from last summer. Cory Casari of Hurley, who won each of the first two pure stock specials held at the ABC Raceway, is fully into his WISSOTA street stock career, thus leaving the door open for a first-time winner of the event.

Top home-track contenders include current track points leader and 2005 ABC champ Jim Eliason of Ashland, and 2007's top feature winner, Glenn Dammer of Duluth, as well as Tim Carbon of Highbridge, Nathan Dees of Ironwood, and Chad and Tim Carlson of Superior.

In addition, several non-ABC regulars may be tempted to make the trip for the big payday. From the Twin Ports area, those could include Rick Kesty, Al Rapp, Tony and Pete Ciurleo and Jeff Christman; while Andrew LaBarge, Ande Jarvi and LaRae Ralidak are all having strong seasons at Hibbing.

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Tommy Richards, Jeremy Dahl and Chris Wert currently sit atop the pure stock points standings at Menomonie, while Rice Lake's best include Jarred Amundson, Jamey Fisher and Joel Hinrichs. Nathan Fisk and Josh Bazey are sparring for the division crown at St. Croix Falls.

WISSOTA-sanctioned mods, super stocks and street stocks, as well as the track's own six-cylinder division, will also be in action for a full points paying program. In addition, the Sportsman's Club will be selling tickets for its annual gun raffle during the race program, with the drawings to be held before the conclusion of the show.

Hot laps start at 6:15 p.m., and green flag racing begins at 7 p.m.

The ABC Raceway is located 3.5 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. For race day information, call (715) 682-4990, or log on to the track's Web site ( www.abcraceway.com ).

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