2019-20 Round 13
Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix - Turtle Creek Park Raceway - Menomonee Falls, WI
March 5, 2020
Round 13 of 16
Stalking Another Championship
(Menomonee Falls, WI) -- The Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix is one of the signature events on the IndySlotCar calendar, mainly for it's connection with the late champion, the track, Turtle Creek Park Raceway, was built by Rotter and features one of the series' most unique layouts, but it's also a connection to the current champion that is becoming a fixture on the calendar, the fact that Mike Lack dominates it.
Starting the night third in the championship, Lack made an immediate statement in qualifying, laying down a fast lap within a tenth of the track record that Rotter himself set 15 years ago, one of the oldest track records of a current schedule track. After missing the previous round Matt Hayek answered right back with an impressively fast lap of his own, just a tenth behind Lack and Lack's Angry Squirrel Speedsport teammate and championship rival would qualify third .05 of a second behind Hayek. Right behind them was a resurgest Ev Kamikawa who was just a one-hundredth of a second behind Wiedemann.
Heats were grouped by speed which set up major championship implications right off the bat as all three contenders would line up in the first heat, with the winner guaranteed to move into the final, the possibility that the second place car could qualify with the "transfer spot" and third place would be on the outside looking in. As the green flag flew Wiedemann and Lack sat 36 and 45 points behind Hayek respectively. Lack's speed in qualifying easily translated into racing as he opened a sizable lead and never really looked back, while Wiedemann tried to keep pace, Hayek developed handling problems and was unable to challenge Wiedemann for second place, which left him waiting the rest of the evening to see what his final placing would be and Wiedemann watching to see if his lap total would hold up for the transfer spot.
The middle heat featured both PenskeHO drivers Kamikawa and Joe Heitz along with Black-Atom Racing's Pete Dorn. Dorn's car was fast, but soon it struggled with ride height issues over the bridge while Kamikawa and Heitz traded the lead. The two PenskeHO drivers did not follow the basic team rule, don't hit each other and near the end of the heat that is exactly what they did as both the 12 and 22 piled into each other on the final turn with less than a minute left, Heitz would come out of the carnage first and hang on to the heat win while Kamikawa would finish fifth on the night relegating Hayek back to sixth place.
In the final heat, Michael Shank-It Racing's Mike Kristof, Black-Atom's Bill Black, RJ Foyt driver Steve Rist and PenskeHO rookie Hiro Kamikawa lined up with a chance to join their faster rivals in the final. From the drop of the green flag there was chaos as several drivers tangled into each other, Steve Rist crashed out early relegated to last on the night, but he was soon joined by Kristof who had a disastrous run, that left just Black and the second generation Kamikawa. Black maintained a solid and steady pace to advance to the final, Hiro would finish eighth in his second ever start.
The 20-minute final featured some surprises and some highly expected results. Lack took jumped out front and would never look back, meanwhile his Angry Squirrel Speedsport teammate, John Wiedemann, tried to stay ahead of Heitz and Black who were both improving as the race went on. Wiedemann had to pit early for mechanical work ahead of his regularly scheduled tire and fuel stop. The gremlins weren't fixed entirely and Heitz Menards PenskeHO eventually chased Wiedemann down and passed him for second place. Meanwhile as the clock ticked down Bill Black was running consistent times and closing the gap to third, but as the checkered flag flew Lack would have his fourth win of the season and move into second place in the championship.
Even with Lack moving ahead of Wiedemann, both drivers moved closer to the leader, Lack now 21 points back and Wiedemann 29 with just three races left to run.
Lack's win was the fifth straight open-class win going back to the Rotter Memorial in 2018 and winning the Sweeney Memorial and '19 and '20. Fortunately for his competitors there are no more open class races on the schedule the rest of this season. The victory was also the 43rd of Lack's career pulling him even with Ev Kamikawa and just two behind all-time wins lead Dan Margetta.
Next up is March Madness featuring an all new match race format at the former Stardust Speedway.
Race date: Thursday, Mar 5
Track: Turtle Creek Park Raceway, 2.8-mile, 9-turn natural terrain circuit, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Race distance: 20 minutes
Entry List: Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix
IndySlotCar Website: indyslotcar.com
2019 race winner: Mike Lack (No. 1 Angry Squirrel Speedsport Dallara-Honda)
2019 P1 Award winner: Mike Lack (No. 1 Angry Squirrel Speedsport Dallara-Honda)
Qualifying record: Larry Rotter, 3.023 seconds, 2005
Race record: Mike Lack, 303 laps, 2018
YouTube Broadcast: IndySlotCar Channel
At-track schedule (all times local):
6:00 – Gates open
6:30 – Driver introductions
6:55 – Drivers meeting
7:00 – IndySlotCar Series Practice
7:25 – “Open Class” cars presented for Technical Inspection
7:35 – Qualifying for Firestone P1 Award (group qualifying/ fastest single lap)
8:00 – Heat races
8:45 – Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix (20-minute final)
The Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix moves from the penultimate round each season to round 13.
Mike Lack has won the last two LRMGPs and is coming off of a win at the last round at the Rapids Grand Prix.
Lack’s win at Rapids moves him into a tie for third place all-time with 42 victories, just one behind second place Ev Kamikawa.
After missing the Rapids GP Matt Hayek’s championship points lead has been reduced to 36 from 77 over John Wiedemann, after Wiedemann finished second at Rapids and Mike Lack is now 45 behind, down from 97.
John Wiedemann’s final four appearance at Rapids was the 93rd of his career, moving him to seventh place all-time, just one behind Larry Rotter in sixth and two behind Jim Kaehny in fifth.
LARRY ROTTER MEMORIAL GRAND PRIX HISTORY (17 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
10/23/2008 Mark Walczak Milwaukee Sporting Goods Halloween Havoc
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
4/2/2015 John Wiedemann Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix
3/31/2016 Mike Fitzlaff Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix
3/30/2017 Dean Strom Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix
3/29/2018 Mike Lack Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix
4/4/2019 Mike Lack Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix
Most Wins – 4-Larry Rotter, Mark Walczak ; 2- Mike Lack, Mike Fitzlaff