2020-21 Round 8
Christmas Classic - Bermuda Raceway - Wauwatosa, WI
December 17, 2020
Round 8 of 15
Birthday Boy's Bermuda Bash
Wauwatosa, WI – Bill Black celebrated his birthday and the holidays at Bermuda Raceway with a max points night scoring his second career IndySlotCar victory in the 26th annual Christmas Classic. In the process, Black has positioned himself in Championship contention as the season hit the halfway point.
Black took to the track in the second round of qualifying and knocked off provision pole sitter and current points leader Dean Strom with a lap of 2.356 seconds, almost five hundredths of a second quicker than Strom. The pole win was the first of Black’s career, but the night was just getting started for him.
With heat races set up in a first to last seeding based on qualifying, Black was back on track in the first race taking on Strom and John Wiedemann. Wiedemann jumped out front early with a seven lap lead at the halfway break over both Black and Strom. But the Birthday Boy came back strong in the second half battling Wiedemann down to the wire. Black took over the lead with just a few laps remaining and held off Wiedemann by inches when time ran out. Strom faded in the second half and settled for a sixth place finish overall.
The second heat was all Ev Kamikawa as the sixth place qualifier dominated the race with completing the most laps of all the heat race contenders. Kamikawa had a 12 lap lead at the halfway break over Mike Lack and cruised in the second half adding 3 more laps to the gap. Lack held on to a three lap lead over Mike Kristof to finish second. Dan Margetta tried to get into the Christmas spirit by running an old Christmas themed body from years ago. As he struggled with an ill handling ride, the body just couldn’t take the abuse and basically disintegrated to the point that Margetta had to park it prior to the race end.
The final heat race had two new drivers, well they aren’t new to the series but we haven’t seen them all year. Mike Fitzlaff and defending race champion Joe Heitz made their season debut tonight. Steve Rist wasn’t very accommodating to the newbies as he crushed the field with his second heat win of the season. Fitzlaff showed that he still can wheel a slot car with a second place finish over Heitz and Pete Dorn. Fitz’s appearance was his 203rd start in the series, tying him with Hall of Famer Larry Rotter.
No one could top Wiedemann’s laps from the first heat so he took the transfer position to compete in the final with heat winners Black, Kamikawa and Rist.
Black wasted no time in the final and positioned himself at the front with the others chasing his orange and black McLaren. Kamikawa ran second, just five laps off of Black’s pace at the halfway break and was looking for second half magic to grab another IndySlotCar victory, but it was not to be. Wiedemann finished strong after an early off and scored the quickest lap of the race, but found himself trying to take a shot at second place as Black continued a strong run in the second half on his way to the win. Kamikawa and Wiedemann were able to make up ground, just not enough. Kamikawa finished just three laps back in second place with Wiedemann another four laps back in third. Rist was in contention at the halfway break but a difficult second half run left him in fourth.
With the victory and max points scoring night, Black has moved into Championship contention, 30 points behind current point leader Strom. Wiedemann’s third place finish allowed him to slightly close the gap to Strom and Lack who finished in sixth and fifth place respectively. Strom (296 points) holds a 13 point lead over Lack (283), who is now five points ahead of Wiedemann (278) in third.
After the holiday break, the series returns to action on January 7th for the 21st running of the Rapids Grand Prix. Mike Lack is the two-time defending race champion, winning the event for the fourth time last season.
Christmas Classic Fast Facts
Race date: Thursday, Dec 17
Track: Bermuda Raceway, 1.8 mile Natural Terrain Road Course in Wauwatosa, WI
Race distance: 20 minutes
IndySlotCar Website: indyslotcar.com
2019 race winner: Joe Heitz (No. 22 PenskeHO Racing)
2019 Firestone P1 Award winner: Dan Margetta (No. 88 Hardly Steinbrenner-Margetta Racing)
One-lap qualifying record: Dan Margetta, 2.293 seconds, 2019
Race record: Joe Heitz, 426 laps, 2019
YouTube Broadcast: IndySlotCar Channel
At-track schedule (all times local):
5:00 – Gates open
6:30 – Driver introductions
7:00 – Drivers Meeting/Chassis Distribution
7:05 – IndySlotCar Series Practice
7:30 – Qualifying for the Firestone P1 Award (group qualifying/ fastest single lap)
8:00 – Heat races
8:50 – Christmas Classic (20 minutes)
· Joe Heitz scored his debut win at this race last year; it was also the sight of his first ever appearance in the series two years ago where he came out of the box with the pole position.
· Dean Strom is coming off his second win of the season at the Duane Sweeney Memorial and brings a 15 point Husarsbilt Cup championship lead into the midpoint race of the season.
· Strom’s win at the Sweeney Memorial moved him into a tie for 13th on the all-time wins list with 13, equaling Mike Fitzlaff and his pole position elevates him to a tie for 9th in all-time poles, pulling even with former teammate Matt Hayek with 17.
· Mike Lack is winless in the 2020-21 season, only in two other seasons in his 13 year career has he not scored a win by midseason. In his rookie season of ’08-’09 he won in round 12 and in ’10-’11 it took until round 14.
· There have been 25 Christmas races in IndySlotCar Series history: Phil Cianciola has four wins, with John Wiedemann just behind with three, four other drivers have two wins with a total of 15 different drivers having won the tree trophy. There has not been a repeat winner since Wiedemann in 2016 took his third checkers.
CHRISTMAS CLASSIC HISTORY (25 events, 1993 - Present)
Date Race Winner Event Name Track
12/16/1993 Phil Cianciola Shrine Christmas Classic Shrine Road Course
12/15/1994 Dave Austin Tomy Christmas Classic Shrine Road Course
12/14/1995 Phil Cianciola Tomy Christmas Classic Shrine Road Course
12/12/1996 Jim Kaehny Tomy Christmas Classic Sanibel Speedway
12/18/1997 Jim Kaehny Tomy Christmas Classic Sanibel Speedway
12/17/1998 Dan Margetta Parma Christmas Classic Sanibel Speedway
12/16/1999 Phil Marich Championship Racing Magazine 400 Sanibel Speedway
12/13/2001 Chad Sorce Christmas Classic Sanibel Speedway
12/12/2002 Phil Cianciola Piggly Wiggly 400 Sanibel Speedway
12/19/2003 Dan Margetta Piggly Wiggly 400 Sanibel Speedway
12/16/2004 Phil Cianciola Piggly Wiggly 400 Sanibel Speedway
12/15/2005 Jim Iverson Chipotle Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/14/2006 John Shea Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/13/2007 Ev Kamikawa Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/18/2008 Larry Rotter Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/16/2010 Mark Walczak Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/15/2011 Mark Walczak Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/6/2012 John Wiedemann Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course*
12/19/2013 Mike Lack Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/18/2014 John Wiedemann Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/17/2015 Mike Lack Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/1/2016 John Wiedemann Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/14/2017 Matt Hayek Christmas Classic Bermuda Raceway
12/13/2018 Mike Kristof Shorewest Christmas Classic Bermuda Raceway
12/19/2019 Joe Heitz Christmas Classic Bermuda Raceway
*-Vista Rio Rancho Raceway renamed to original name
Most Wins – 4-Phil Cianciola; 3- John Wiedemann; 2-Mike Lack, Mark Walczak, Dan Margetta, Jim Kaehny