2014-15 Round 14
Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix - Turtle Creek Park Raceway - Menomonee Falls, WI
April 2, 2015
Round 14 of 15
Wiedemann Breaks Through With Larry Rotter Memorial Victory
Last year, the race track known as Turtle Creek Park Raceway moved seven miles north to it's new home in Menomonee Falls. Unfortunately, our friend, champion and IndySlotCar Series hall of fame member Larry Rotter, the master track builder of Turtle Creek, passed away.
In honor and memory of Larry, the race is now named the Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix and the trophy includes two cars that Larry raced in the series.
While the location is new, the track is the same with super fast straights and difficult twisting turns. The speed and technicality of the track that Larry built can not be explained, it must be driven. To add just a little more drama to the event, it is an open class race, meaning the teams can push the normally stock chassis with more horsepower and grippier tires.
A victory in this race has always eluded the new proprietor of Turtle Creek. John Wiedemann has had speed in the past, but handlng, bridges and DNF's have kept him out of victory lane. All of that is in the past now as Wiedemann scored max points in winning the pole, his heat race and the Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix.
Wiedemann scored the top qualifying position with a besting his Lack Wiedemann Motorsports teammate Mike Lack. The pole was the first for Wiedemann this season but his third over all and second in a row at this track.
Heat races were setup randomly, pitting drivers against each other based on picking cars out of a hat. Heat One had Amy Butler driving an LWM chassis and almost knocking her chassis builder, Lack, out of the finals. Lack prevailed in the final laps to secure a spot in the finals for the 11th time in 13 events. Heat Two was an ultimate battle between Ev Kamikawa, Mat Hayek and Mike Fitzlaff with each driver taking a turn at the front. At the end it was Fitzlaff with a surprising second half comeback that left Kamikawa and Hayek battling for a transfer spot in the final. Heat Three featured two first time racers that didn't care that their competition was the pole sitter (Wiedemann) and the all time series leader in starts (Dan Margetta with 292). Bill Black held the lead throughout the first half of the race while Pete Dorn out raced Margetta for third. The second half brought out Black's rookie stripe as he struggled in the outside lane. Wiedemann stormed to the victory while Black just missed grabbing the transfer spot and Dorn finished third.
In the final, Wiedemann wasted no time driving to the front. Just a few laps back, Kamikawa came into form and passed Lack to set his sights on the lead. Fitzlaff paced the opening segment, again waiting for the second half to make his move. Starting the second half, both leaders had problems in the pits. Wiedemann stopped for twenty seconds and then Kamikawa was in for thirty seconds, allowing Lack and Fitzlaff to close the gap. With the pitstops behind them, Wiedemann retained the lead of about five laps over Lack and Kamikawa with Fitzlaff not far behind. The dreaded handling issues struck Lack's ride as he struggled to drive his car over the bridge. Kamikawa took over second place but now had the hard charging Fitzlaff in his mirrors as Lack dropped down to fourth. Wiedemann cruised to the checkers, maintaining his five lap gap and finally scored an IndySlotCar victory at Turtle Creek. Kamikawa held off Fitzlaff for his third runner-up finish in four races.
With his second place finish, Kamikawa was able to knock seven points off of Lack's point lead and is now thirty points back with one race to go. But that race pays double points as well as qualifying points. Wiedemann's win has him a distant 45 points behind Lack and 15 behind Kamikawa. Strom maintains the fourth spot in the standings but now has Fitzlaff and Hayek closing in.
The final race of the season, the HO Indy 500, is set to run next Saturday, April 11th. Drivers looking to move up in the standings or to add to their win total are amped up to finish the season strong. Who will win the 500 and who will win the Husarsbuilt Cup? Those questions will be answered on Saturday.
WHAT: Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix
WHERE: Menomonee Falls, WI
WHEN: Thursday, April 2, 2015 7pm
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: YouTube
2014 CHAMPION: Ev Kamikawa
2013 POLESITTER: John Wiedemann
TRACK LAYOUT: Natural Terrain Road Course
RACE LENGTH: 20 minutes
TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying – 2005 – Larry Rotter – 3.023
Race – 2005 – Larry Rotter; 2006, 2010 - Mark Walczak – 300 laps
Margin of Victory – Closest – 2008 – Mark Walczak – 2 laps;
Largest – 2006 – Walczak – 29 laps
RACE ROUND: 14 of 15 in the 2014-2015 IndySlotCar Series
SPECIAL NOTE: The site of his last IndySlotCar start, March 27, 2014 and his final victory, March 28, 2013, we honor our late friend and champion Larry Rotter by naming the race that is contested on his favorite track, Turtle Creek Park Raceway, in his honor. We thank Larry’s widow Barb for allowing the series to continue to race on the masterpiece he built. The track is in a new location, but reminders of his presence will be with everyone who is there Thursday.
Brookfield – Round fifteen of the IndySlotCar Series lived up to its billing as March Madness. Everet Kamikawa scored his second victory of the season with a come from behind "upset" of the top runners at the ultra fast Turtle Creek Raceway.
Qualifying was tight with the top seven drivers within a tenth of a second and the top two only four thousandths apart. When the smoke cleared, John Wiedemann had captured his second pole award of the season just barely, slightly and minutely edging out Karen Carpenter Racing driver Dean Strom.
Heat racing was a different story for Strom as he struggled with handling and obstacles on the track. Matt Hayek grabbed the heat win and set himself in the Final for the sixth time this season with Strom barely, slightly and minutely holding on to the provisional transfer position. Pole sitter Wiedemann cruised to a win in the second heat race as both hometown hero Larry Rotter and Mike Kristof struggled to find the balance of speed and handling. Kristof's streak of three finals in a row was crushed. Mike Lack made it a JMM Racing sweep in the finals by winning the third heat race. Behind Lack, a furious battle for the transfer spot was in play all race long. Penske HO's Kamikawa and Amy Butler, running a JMM Racing chassis, swapped second spot back and forth with Kamikawa coming out on top with a lead of just 4.6 inches when the race ended.
Lack grabbed the lead from Kamikawa early in the final as Hayek struggled with traction and Wiedemann stalled the car when the green flag flew. With the points championship wrapped up, Lack was just racing for the win and flew around the track lapping second place as handling issues crept in for Kamikawa. D&D Racing's Hayek continued to struggle between losing control and setting the fastest laps of the race. Wiedemann recovered from the bad start and raced past Kamikawa for second place, setting his sights on his teammate for the lead. At halfway, Lack led by a lap over Wiedemann with Kamiakawa a couple more laps behind. The second half was where the madness and downfall of JMM Racing entered the picture.
Leader Lack was the first to enter the pits and that would be where he finished. Lack's "kryptonite" once again reared its ugly head as the "death card" was dealt and Lack's race was done. Wiedemann entered the pits next and left in just eight seconds with a flawless pitstop to take the race lead. Kamikawa and Hayek also had routine stops and continued. With a four lap lead over Kamikawa, Wiedemann settled into a race pace running the same lap times as the second place driver. Then disaster hit. Racing down the front stretch, Wiedemann crossed the start/finish line, flew off the track, hit the bridge and landed on the floor. Distraction, loss of concentration and a driver mistake cost Wiedemann the win. A couple laps later, Kamikawa assumed the lead and cruised to the finish with the victory.
The win was Kamikawa's 36th of his IndySlotCar career and ties him for second all-time with current competitor Dan Margetta and retired series founder Phil Cianciola.
Hayek's second place run was his second in a row and now moves him to within two points of Dan Margetta in a battle for third place in the standings. Kamikawa also is within striking distance of third as he is twelve points back with one race to go.
MARCH MADNESS HISTORY (11 events, 2003 - Present)
Date Race Winner Event Name
3/16/2003 Larry Rotter March Madness
3/25/2004 Larry Rotter March Madness
3/3/2005 Larry Rotter Milwaukee Bucks March Madness
3/30/2006 Mark Walczak Milwaukee Bucks March Madness
3/29/2007 Amy Butler M&J March Madness
3/27/2008 Mike Fitzlaff M&J March Madness
4/1/2009 Mark Walczak March Madness
3/31/2010 Dan Margetta March Madness
3/29/2011 Mark Walczak March Madness
3/28/2013 Larry Rotter March Madness
3/27/2014 Ev Kamikawa March Madness
Most Wins – 4-Larry Rotter; 3-Mark Walczak
Mike Lack expanded his championship points lead to 37 markers after holding off Ev Kamikawa at March Madness. Kamikawa returns to the track he won on last season in this “open class” challenge. The Penske HO driver will have to get the #1 car behind him if he’s to have a chance at a third championship before Lack collects his second.
--Ev Kamikawa is the only driver to make the final in the last three races
--However, Mike Lack has managed to finish ahead of Kamikawa in the last two races
--Mike Lack’s win at March Madness was his fourth of the season, breaking a tie with Matt Hayek for most wins this season and pulling even with Jim Iverson for seventh on the al-time wins list with 17.
--Dean Strom has four pole positions this season, the most of any driver, including two of the past three and moving into twelfth all-time with 10.
--Mike Fitzlaff’s “heat” win at March Madness helped move him past two Hall of Famers in two separate categories; he passes Jim Kaehny for seventh on the all-time Heat Wins list with 54 and by making his 74th final he moves ahead of Jim Iverson for seventh on the Finals list.
--Dean Strom edged fellow current competitor John Wiedemann for 14th on the all-time laps list with 19,347, 74 ahead of JW.
--Mike Fitzlaff equaled Mark Walczak’s career starts with 143 at Badger Raceway, they are tied for ninth.
--Mike Lack made his 100th start at March Madness and moves ahead of John Shea into 19th all-time.
--John Wiedemann moved into a three-way tie for twelfth on the all-time DNF list with John Shea and Tony Perkins, each has 21.