2022-23 Round 13

Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix - Turtle Creek Park Raceway - Menomonee Falls, WI

February 23, 2023

Round 13 of 17

2023 Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix

Flood Gates Continue To Flow

Menomonee Falls, WI – Joe Heitz scored his third win in a row at Turtle Creek Park Raceway in the Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix, the longest streak in the IndySlotCar Series since Matt Hayek strung three together in the 2019-20 season, and now is one short of tying the series record of four in a row. 

“Flood Gates” is a phrase that came into vogue when the Michael Shank-It Racing team of Heitz and Mike Kristof had a  1-2 finish at the Rapids Grand Prix last season.  It now has become the rally cry as Heitz, who missed a race early in the season, has climbed the standings and is now just one point from leading the series thanks to his seemingly unstoppable win streak. 

But before Heitz could continue his victory tour, he would need to unseat three drivers that have won seven of the last eight Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix. Those three drivers have taken turns winning the pole in each of the nine races at Turtle Creek since Hall of Famer Larry Rotter won it in 2013.  And those drivers qualified 1-2-3 tonight.  Dean Strom won the pole, the 23rd of his career, with a lap of 3.368 seconds.  Mike Lack was second, 55 thousanths behind the polesitter, and Angry Squirrel Speedsport teammate John Wiedemann was third, a tenth and a half back.  Championship contenders Bill Black and Heitz rounded out the top five just four and nine thousandths behind Wiedemann. 

With the heats lined up based on drivers choice from last to first the competitors did a proper job of ensuring the top drivers would race each other and the first heat set the top three to battle for a possible two spots in the final.  The excitement of seeing the battle quickly faded as Strom crashed out during his second trip around, ending up and the floor and ending his night.  Lack quickly assumed the lead while Wiedemann had mechanical issues with a shoe falling off.  A quick repair and charge to the end had Wiedemann in the provisional transfer spot with less laps than he had hoped for. 

Heat two had Heitz jump out to and early lead over Penske HO Racing’s Ev Kamikawa with Kristof and Brad Core struggling behind them.  While it was a bit of a crash-fest to begin with, drivers sorted it out by the second half.  But Heitz was not to be denied in his efforts to grab a spot in the final and he bested Kamikawa by ten laps at the finish. 

Heat three was more contentious with Angry Squirrel’s Hayek chasing CBD Racing’s Black around the track at high speed.  Black had a lap lead as the field switched lanes in the second half.  As the second half wore down, Black remained on pace but Hayek struggled and SSR’s Steve Rist had picked up the pace.  Both Hayek and Rist were closing in on the transfer total as time wore down with Rist charging to second place and finishing an agonizing one lap behind the transfer position. 

With the lineup set, the top four drivers in the championship hunt found themselves in the Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix final.  And the drama was set to ramp up. 

In the first turn, Lack and Black got together letting Heitz and Wiedemann shoot to the lead.  Back in the slot, Lack made a furious charge to get back to the point but on the final turn of the opening lap, he lost control – flew off the track – and was done.  His second DNF at the track in a row.  But that is not the end of that story. 

Back at the front, Heitz struggled to find his early pace and with a couple spins allowed Wiedemann to pull away with the race lead.  Once he got that out of the way, the two drivers battled on the lead lap heading toward the halfway break.  Wiedemann’s night was about to get weird.  While leading the race, Wiedemann was distracted by the recovery vehicle who idiotically decided to retrieve Lack’s ride which was sitting off the track in front of the driver.  With only a few minutes left in the half, the clown crawled under Wiedemann’s legs which confused the driver and took away concentration.  Trying to get back his composure, Wiedemann struggled with keeping his car in his lane.  When the half ended, both Heitz and Wiedemann were on the front straight with just a few track sections between them and Heitz in the lead.  Black had gotten back on pace but was nine laps back in third place. 

The second half began with pit stops and Heitz was in first.  A quick sub ten second pit had the driver back on track in no time.  Wiedemann his pit road next and luck was not on his side.  The draw was a thirty second stop, an eternity at Turtle Creek, and another kick in the gut with a five second stop-and-go penalty.  Black followed with another routine sub ten second stop.  When all was said and done, Heitz was in the lead by six plus laps over Wiedemann with Black in third. 

Heitz managed the race pace as Wiedemann put it on full send to try and make up for what had befallen him.  But, Heitz was too good to catch and finished the race in front with a three lap gap back to Wiedemann.  Black maintained his third place. 

With the victory, Heitz closed the gap to within one point of Wiedemann at the top of the standings with four races left in the season.  Black holds on to third place, 35 points behind second place.  Fourth place belongs to Lack, 49 points back of Black.  Hayek is in fifth, 47 points behind his teammate in fourth. 

Quickly up next on March 2nd is another high speed road course as the series returns to the Deckertring now in Theresa.  The last time the series raced on this track was in Waukesha in September of 2017.  Wiedemann was the pole-sitter and victor.  

Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix fast facts

Race date: Thursday, Feb 23


Track: Turtle Creek Park Raceway, 2.8-mile, 9-turn natural terrain circuit, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin


Race distance: 20 minutes

IndySlotCar Website: indyslotcar.com

2022 race winner: Dean Strom (No. 1 Squirrel Shagged Enterprises Chevrolet-Daboiler)


2022 Firestone P1 Award winner: Mike Lack (No. 27 Angry Squirrel Speedsport Honda-Daboiler)

Qualifying record: Larry Rotter, 3.023 seconds, 2005


Race record: Mike Lack, 311 laps, 2020

YouTube Broadcast: IndySlotCar Channel


At-track schedule (all times local):

6:30 – Gates open

6:35 – Driver introductions

7:15 – Drivers meeting

7:20 – IndySlotCar Series Practice

7:45 – “Open Class” cars presented for Technical Inspection

7:55 – Qualifying for Firestone P1 Award (group qualifying/ fastest single lap)

8:15 – Heat races

9:00 – Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix (20-minute final)


Race Notes:

·         The flood gates have been wide open for Michael Shank-It Racing’s Joe Heitz with three wins in the last four races, flowing from fourth place, 63 points out of first after the Christmas Classic, to second place just 12 markers behind John Wiedemann for the Husarsbilt Cup championship.

·         Heitz became the third driver this season to win from pole, Dean Strom and Mike Lack also took home the Pole-to-Win fund back at the Sweeney Memorial and Fall Brawl respectively.

·         Hiro Kamikawa’s second place finish at the Rapids Grand Prix was the best finish of his five race career and his appearance in the final makes him the 15th different driver to appear in a final this season, also the second, second-generation driver to make a final and finish ahead of their dad, with Andy Black doing that earlier at the Jackson 500.

·         STATS WATCH: Heitz win at Rapids is the sixth of his career, matching his MSR teammate Mike Kristof for 16th on the all-time list. It was the #06 driver’s seventh career pole, equaling Bill Black for 16th on that list. Heitz also moves to 20th on the all-time Heat Wins tote board with 16, Hiro Kamikawa’s first heat win makes him the 35th driver all-time to win a heat and the 42nd driver all-time to appear in a final. The younger Kamikawa also moves to 39th on the Laps list with 554, moving ahead of Andy Black, Hiro’s fifth start ties him with Corey Galbraith and Brian Gill for 39th on that list. Heitz jumps up to 27th in starts with his 47th and Brad Core now has 33 starts, good for 30th. Matt Hayek’s DNF at Rapids moves him ahead of his A.S.S. teammate Mike Lack to seventh all-time with 33, it was Core’s 3rd, tied for 31st.





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

3/5/2020           Mike Lack                         Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix

3/4/2021           John Wiedemann           Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix

3/3/2022           Dean Strom                      Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix



Most Wins  –  4-Larry Rotter, Mark Walczak; 3-Mike Lack; 2-Dean Strom, John Wiedemann, Mike Fitzlaff