KAUKAUNA, Wis. – Ty Majeski has something in common with Dale Earnhardt and Al Schill.
Normally, that’d be a good thing. But this time, in a rare instance, it’s not the case.
The Dixieland 250 at Wisconsin Int’l Raceway is the one super late model special in Wisconsin that Majeski hasn’t won in his accomplished career. Where he falls into the same category as Earnhardt and Schill is Majeski has won just about everywhere he’s been in a late model.
For Earnhardt, he won just about everything possible at Daytona, but it was the Daytona 500 that eluded him for 20 years before finally winning that race in 1998.
For Schill, he won just about everything possible at Slinger Super Speedway, except the Slinger Nationals.
For Majeski, he’s won nearly all of the top short-track races in Wisconsin, including Slinger Nationals, the Icebreaker 100, Joe Shear Classic, Howie Lettow Classic and Oktoberfest. He’s also won several of the nation’s top late model races, too, including the Rattler 250 in Alabama. He’s also won a sports car race at Road America and multiple events in the ARCA Menards Series.
But he’s never won the Dixieland 250 and it may be the most important one to him.
“That’s one race I haven’t won yet,” Majeski said Thursday night after winning the Blue race of the Red-White-Blue series at Wisconsin Int’l Raceway. “It’s one I want.”
It’s important to him to win the Dixieland because Wisconsin Int’l Raceway is his home track. It’s 15 miles from his hometown of Seymour. Many of his sponsors – including several who have been with him since the start of his racing career – are local to Wisconsin Int’l Raceway.
After winning the Slinger Nationals in 2018, Majeski said a win at the Dixieland will complete what he’s wanted to accomplish in his super late model career.
“It’s probably the top one on my list I haven’t won yet,” Majeski said Thursday, adding Snowball Derby is also on his list.
But Wisconsin Int’l Raceway, the Dixieland 250, it’s home.
“This is my hometown; home crowd,” Majeski said. “It’d mean a lot to win here. A lot of sponsors that have sponsored me from the beginning when I started in late model racing and they’ll obviously be in the stands. It’d be a huge race to win in front of everyone.”
The Dixieland 250 is arguably one of the Midwest’s treasured short-track racing events. It was held annually between 1981-2001. It returned for 2004-2010, and was revived a second time in 2014. The Dixieland 250’s list of all-time winners is full of racing legends. Mark Martin won the inaugural running in 1981 and repeated in 1984.
Wins in the Slinger Nationals, Joe Shear Classic and Dixieland 250 is considered the Triple Crown on Wisconsin’s asphalt ovals.
The all-time wins leader of the Dixieland is Steve Carlson, winning it six times (1997, ’98, ’01, ’04, ’08 and ’09). Dick Trickle won the event four times (1983, ’87, ’90 and ’91), while Butch Miller is a three-time winner (1985, ’86 and ’88). Two-time winners include Martin, Joe Shear and Johnny Sauter. Sauter’s dad won it in 1982.
On Thursday night, Majeski picked up momentum.
On that night, with the Dixieland 250 lurking days away, he set fast time in qualifying, won his dash and won both twin 35-lap features. Afterward, he called his car one of the five best he’s ever driven in his life.
“It’s huge,” Majeski said of the confidence boost he got from Thursday night. “It’s certainly going to maybe slim down our practice time. We had a lot of things we want to go through and we went through a lot of those today. This thing was so good. I don’t think we’re going to deviate far from this. We’ve got a few ideas on things we’re going to try.
“If it’s this like on Tuesday, somebody is going to have to be really good to beat us. Pretty excited about that.”
So who will challenge Majeski at Dixieland? There are plenty of suitors to make Majeski wait at least another year for a Dixieland title.
There is Jeff Van Oudenhoven, a three-time Red-White-Blue champion at Wisconsin Int’l Raceway and a five-time Fox River Racing Club champion.
There is Casey Johnson, another Red-White-Blue champion as well as a champion at several tracks throughout Wisconsin and for several traveling series throughout the region.
There will be six Kulwicki Driver Development Program drivers – past and present – in the field (Majeski, Paul Shafer Jr., Carson Kvapil, Brett Yackey, Justin Mondeik and Luke Fenhaus).
There is Derek Kraus, leader of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings and third in East standings.
There is Austin Nason, winner of the Father’s Day 100 at The Milwaukee Mile in June.
Former winners in the field include Rich Bickle Jr. (1989), Dennis Prunty (2016) and Johnson.
Also entered is NASCAR driver Daniel Hemric, who is racing in Wisconsin in a late model for the second time in as many months. He finished ninth at the Slinger Nationals on July 9. He’s a former winner of the Redbud 300 and the All-American 400.
When asked what may be attributed to him not having triumphed yet in the Dixieland, Majeski offered some possibilities.
“Obviously it’s a long race, 250 laps, a lot more variables, a lot more cars, a lot more competition,” he said.
There is one aspect that could help him.
Thursday night was the fourth straight time he’s won the Blue race of the Red-White-Blue series. However, the previous three times were after the Dixieland 250. This year, it is reversed.
“Typically, we’re OK at the Dixieland and we come to the Blue race and we’re really good,” Majeski said. “Hopefully this year it’s flip-flopped.
“We hit on something during the day today and it was a huge gain. It proved to be just that tonight. I really like our chances moving forward not only for the Dixieland, but for more races in general. I think this will translate well.”