The opening event of any season brings optimism, excitement and intrigue.

This Sunday’s 40th Anniversary Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway most certainly fits the above description.

Going into the first race of the 2017 Big 8 Late Model Series season, there are certainly many different directions to look when searching for story lines.

Everything starts with Michael Bilderback. The two-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion and reigning Rockford Speedway champion comes into Sunday afternoon as the favorite to begin the season in victory lane. A win Sunday would be the second straight Spring Classic triumph for Bilderback and a third overall. Only Steve Carlson (6), Joe Shear (4) and Dick Trickle (4) have won more Spring Classics all-time. Bilderback, along with Mike Beyer, are the only Big 8 Series drivers to win multiple Spring Classics (2 each).

Right next to Bilderback on the list of favorites this weekend has to be Casey Johnson. The two-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion is looking to join Bilderback and Beyer as multi-time winners of the Big 8 Spring Classic. Rockford Speedway was kind to Johnson last fall, as the Edgerton Wisconsin resident became just the second driver in history to win both the Super Late Model and Big 8/Rockford Rules features in the same weekend at National Short Track Championships, a feat only matched by the aforementioned Joe Shear in 1987. A victory this weekend would be Johnson’s fourth Big 8 Series conquest at Rockford all-time.

Four-time Big 8 Late Model Series champion Jeremy Miller has done just about everything in a Big 8 car, except win Spring Classic. Miller, who has 11 Series wins in his career (tied for most all-time) has been notably close before at Spring Classic, finishing a close second to Mike Edhe in 2007 and dominating the 2012 Spring Classic until his car broke just past halfway, handing the lead and win to Jon Reynolds Jr. Reynolds is always a contender at Rockford and specializes in the distance races, making Sunday’s 88 lapper a race that’s right in the former Big 8 and Rockford champion’s wheelhouse. Five of Reynolds’ eleven career Big 8 Series wins have come at Rockford Speedway.

Other drivers to watch at Rockford include two-time Spring Classic champion Steve Rubeck, making his return to the Big 8-style cars in 2017. Rubeck is also a former Big 8 champion two-time National Short Track Champion who excels inside the tight confines of Rockford Speedway. Former Rockford Speedway champion Tim Sargent brings a new look to Spring Classic and is eyeing his first-ever Big 8 Series win, while fan-favorite Kyle Shear returns to Big 8 Series action this weekend, looking to improve upon his best Big 8 finish at Rockford, a third place run in 2012. Wayne Freimund, a two-time feature winner at Rockford last season, has gotten closer to Big 8 victory lane each year, will Sunday be the day he takes the step to the top of the podium?

A fleet of young racers will be vying for glory at this weekend’s Spring Classic, including Iowa’s Brody Willett, Wisconsin’s Braison Bennett and the Minnesota tandem of Jared Duda and Tyler Kingery. Teenager Tyler Hromadka brings a year’s worth of Rockford experience to the table this weekend, looking to break through with the “Best Weekly Warriors in the Country,” while another teenager, Max Kahler, makes his Big 8 debut at a track just 6 miles from his hometown of Caledonia Illinois.

40th Anniversary Spring Classic
Expected Entries (28)
As of April 19

OO Brody Willett Alburnett, IA
1 Steve Rubeck Rockford, IL
2 Michael Bilderback South Beloit, IL
O3 Cody Kippenhan Ypsilanti, MI
3 Tyler Hromadka Brookfield, WI
5 Casey Johnson Edgerton, WI
5 Todd Kamish Lakeville, MN
5 Jeremy Miller Rockford, IL
O8 Dennis Smith Jr South Beloit, IL
9 Braison Bennett Neenah, WI
X Jon Reynolds Jr Loves Park, IL
17 Max Kahler Caledonia, IL
18 Alex Papini Machesney Park, IL
20 Tyler Brown Carol Stream, IL
21 Mike Lloyd Davis, IL
22 Kyle Chwala Johnson Creek, WI
26 Tim Sargent South Beloit, IL
37 Kyle Shear Roscoe, IL
39 Matt Berger Loves Park, IL
49 Jerry Mueller Richfield, WI
53 Jared Duda St Michael, MN
58 Tyler Kingery Prior Lake, MN
74 Louie Goss Green Bay, WI
84 Jake Vanoskey Hartford, WI
91 Jeff Wakeman Streator, IL
93 John Beinlich Cary, IL
95 Wayne Freimund Elkhorn, WI
99 Jake Zellmer New Berlin, WI


What: 40th Anniversary Spring Classic
Where: Rockford Speedway (located at 9572 Forest Hills Rd Loves Park, IL)
When: Sunday April 23
Schedule and Information:
7 AM- Pits Open, Breakfast in Pit Concession
8 AM- Chapel Service in South VIP Tower
8:45 AM- Big 8 Series Driver’s Meeting in Pit Stands
9:30 AM- Rotating Practice (until 11:25 AM)
11 AM- Front Gate Opens
11:30 AM- Qualifying (All divisions)
12:45 PM- Opening Ceremonies

Divisions Competing:
Big 8 Late Model Series (complete show highlighted by an 88 lap feature)
Quest Industrial Mid-American Stock Car Series (complete show highlighted by a 50 lap feature)
INEX Legends (complete show including a 20 lap feature)

Admission Prices:
Adults (ages 12 & up): $20
Children (ages 6-11): $6
Kids 5 & under: FREE

Sun April 23- 40th Anniversary Spring Classic (Rockford Speedway, Loves Park IL)
Fri June 2- ‘Clash at the Downs III” presented by (Hawkeye Downs, Cedar Rapids, IA)
Fri June 30- Salute to America (Madison International Speedway, Oregon WI)
Fri July 28- Larry Detjens Memorial Race (State Park Speedway, Wausau WI)
Tues Aug 1- Dixieland Delight (Wisconsin Int’l Raceway, Kaukauna WI)
Sat Sept 23- 9th Annual ‘Thunderstruck 93’ (Elko Speedway, Elko New Market, MN)
Sat Sept 30- 52nd Annual National Short Track Championships (Rockford Speedway)
Sat Oct 7- 48th Oktoberfest Race Weekend (La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, West Salem, WI)


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Top 8 in Points
As of 4/28/2024

Rank Car # Driver Name Points
1 2B Michael Bilderback 116
2 66K Kendrick Kreyer 109
3 11S Randy Sargent 109
4 X Jon Reynolds, Jr. 96
5 49M Jerry Mueller 88
6 14B Grant Brown 85
7 11L Joshua Lundy 84
8 50G Jacob Gille 81

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