2022-23 Round 12
Rapids Grand Prix - Rapids International Raceway - Milwaukee, WI
February 9, 2023
Round 12 of 17
Flood Gates Wide Open At Rapids
Milwaukee, WI – Joe Heitz has been on a tear in the IndySlotCar Series recently, scoring his second win in a row and third in the last four races with a domination on the streets of Rapids in the Rapids Grand Prix. Backing up his controversial victory in last season’s Rapids event, the Michael Shank-It Racing pilot captured max points on Thursday night with a spectacular drive.
Kicking off the racing action, Heitz immediately showed that he was a force to be reckoned with, scoring his second pole win of the season with a 5.821 second lap. Heitz’s run edged out CBD Racing’s Bill Black by just 45 thousandths of a second. Dan Margetta in the Cheap Ganassi Honda-Daboiler was third, followed by Angry Squirrels Matt Hayek and Mike Lack.
Heats were set up in a random order and the first heat race saw point leader John Wiedemann taking the early lead over young Hiro Kamikawa and Heitz'a MSR teammate, Mike Kristof. While those three battled up front, Brad Core battled a fast ride on the vision impaired circuit and eventually lost out when his car flew over the wall and out of the race just six laps in, for an eleventh-place finish. Things were not going any better for Wiedemann at the front as his motor was failing, allowing the field to catch back up. A solid lead and possible ticket to the final disappeared quickly as Hiro took over the point shortly into the start of the second half. While Hiro cruised to his first heat win in the series, Wiedemann slowly traversed the track with Kristof crashingly catching up, the two would find themselves eighth and ninth respectively for the night.
The second heat speed picked up with four of the top five qualifyers in this race. The pink liveried rides of Heitz and Lack battling for the top spot early in the running. Heitz would move to the front as Lack fell back to battle for second with Margetta. Hard-charging Hayek bypassed them both and set his sights on the leader giving him a challenge. But, the challenge was short-lived when late in the opening half, Hayek lost control in the blind final turns of the course and crashed off track ending his night with a crushing blow and winding up tenth. Heitz cruised to victory in the second half while Margetta held off Lack by a lap to take the transfer spot – for now.
The final heat was the most competitive with all three drivers in the hunt for the victory throughout the race. Hometown hero Ev Kamikawa controlled the pace early with defending Champ Dean Strom and current championship contender Black right behind ready to pounce. While Kamikawa cruised in the first half, Strom made a charge in the second half to get back on the lead lap and battle for victory. Black continued to struggle a bit with the handling of his CBD Racing Chevrolet-Daboiler and remained two laps behind the leaders. Kamikawa took the home cooking victory and Strom’s strong run knocked Margetta out of the transfer spot, moving both drivers to the final.
Heitz quickly showed that his speed earlier in the evening was no fluke as he sped away with the lead in the final. Behind him the father/son Kamikawa PenskeHO Racing duo challenged each other as Strom showed good pace holding them off for second place. The family bragging rights quickly faded as Ev’s chassis lost power, slowed and eventually came to a stop on the course just prior to the halfway break relegating him to fourth place. The second half proved no different at the top of the grid with Heitz on cruise control. A driver not on cruise control was young Hiro Kamikawa who mashed the throttle and bypassed Strom to take over second place. That was as far as Hiro could climb because Heitz, even while complaining of controller issues, was not to be caught as he finished the race with a nine lap lead. It was the second generation driver's best finish in his young career of five starts.
Heitz’s victory combined with Wiedemann’s motor issues has tightened up the points championship battle. Wiedemann still maintains the top spot, but now by only a twelve point margin as Heitz moves into second place. Black falls back to third, twenty markers behind Heitz. Lack sits in fourth place with teammate Hayek in fifth.
Up next in two weeks on February 23rd is the open class race in Menomonee Falls at the Turtle Creek Park Raceway for the Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix. Dean Strom is the defending champion of the event with Mike Lack the defending pole winner.
Rapids Grand Prix Fast Facts
Race date: Thursday, Feb 9
Track: Rapids International, 2.3 mile street course in Rapids
Race distance: 20 minutes
IndySlotCar Website: indyslotcar.com
2022 race winner: Joe Heitz (No. 06 Michael Shank-It Racing Daboiler-Honda)
2022 Firestone P1 Award winner: Dan Margetta (No. 48 MisFitz Motorsport Honda-Daboiler)
One-lap qualifying record: Mike Lack, 5.398 seconds, 2020
Race record: Mike Lack, 188 laps, 2020
YouTube Broadcast: IndySlotCar Channel
At-track schedule (all times local):
6:00 – 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
8:45 – Rapids Grand Prix (20 minutes)
● Joe Heitz is coming off a victory at the last round, heading to the event where he led the Michael Shank-It shocker last season, where both eventual championship winning Dean Strom and (at the time) points leader Mike Lack DNFed handing Heitz and MSR teammate Mike Kristof a first (and so far only) one-two finish for the team.
● Heitz’s victory at Corevette Connection Raceway makes him just the second multi-race winner this season after John Wiedemann’s three so far.
● Bill Black’s second pole of the season at CCR, like Heitz in wins, is just the second driver with multiple poles, Mike Lack has four.
● The Rapids GP was protested last season when it was determined the pit stop order was incorrectly followed, but the stewards determined there was no recourse for the mistake, Strom’s “death card” stood.
● STAT NOTES: Joe Heitz equals Chris Spehert’s career win total with five, they are tied for 17th all-time. Bill Black’s pole position is his seventh, elevating him to 16th all-time. John Wiedemann has now won 80 heats, good for fourth all-time, behind Dan Margetta, Ev Kamikawa and Mike Lack. Heitz also moved up on the Heat wins list to 20th, tied with Amy Butler and Chad Sorce with 15, Heitz also moved to 21st in Final four appearances with 20. Bill Black’s 104th, Joe Heitz’s 46th and Brad Core’s 32nd starts moved them all up the all-time list to 20th, 27th and 30th respectively.
RAPIDS GRAND PRIX HISTORY (23 events: 1995 - 1996, 1998 - 2001, 2007 - Present)
Date Race Winner Event Name Track
4/13/1995 Dave Austin Rapids Grand Prix Rapids Raceway
4/11/1996 Dave Austin Rapids Grand Prix
12/3/1998 Dan Margetta Rapids Grand Prix Rapids Raceway Version 2
12/2/1999 Ev Kamikawa Rapids Grand Prix
12/7/2000 John Shea Rapids Grand Prix Rapids Raceway Version 3
11/29/2001 Phil Cianciola Rapids Grand Prix Rapids Raceway Version 4
2/1/2007 Ev Kamikawa WiJobs.com Grand Prix Rapids Raceway Version 5
1/31/2008 Mark Walczak Rapids Grand Prix Rapids International Version 6
2/5/2009 Mark Walczak Lia Sophia Grand Prix
9/17/2009 Mike Lack Lia Sophia Grand Prix
9/30/2010 Mark Walczak Lia Sophia Grand Prix
3/15/2012 Mark Walczak Too Clean Laundry Grand Prix Rapids International Version 7
9/20/2012 Mark Walczak Lia Sophia Grand Prix
1/17/2013 John Wiedemann Too Clean Laundry Grand Prix
1/16/2014 John Wiedemann Too Clean Laundry Grand Prix
1/22/2015 Mike Lack Too Clean Laundry Grand Prix Rapids International Version 8
1/21/2016 Mike Lack Too Clean Laundry Grand Prix
9/22/2016 Matt Hayek Too Clean Laundry Grand Prix
2/1/2018 Ev Kamikawa Too Clean Laundry Grand Prix
2/21/2019 Mike Lack Maytag Rapids Grand Prix
2/20/2020 Mike Lack Rapids Grand Prix
1/7/2021 Mike Lack Rapids Grand Prix
1/27/2022 Joe Heitz Rapids Grand Prix
Most Wins: Mike Lack-6; Mark Walczak-5; Ev Kamikawa-3; John Wiedemann, Dave Austin-2