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High Banks Hall of Fame to Induct Five in 2021

By Ray Cunningham
The High Banks Hall of Fame & National Midget Auto Racing Museum is proud to announce our 2021 class that will be inducted on Thursday, August 5th, 2021.

Joining this prestigious group will also be the 2020 High Banks HOF Class whose original ceremony was postponed from last year due to health concerns with Covid 19.

The 2021 Class of 5 will include midget racing greats Keith Rauch, and Wally Zale, as well as sprint car champ Gordon Herring, stock car phenom Lennie Funk, and long-time racing official Charlie Gottschalk.

Arizona native Keith Rauch, the 51 year-old open wheel racer from Broomfield, Colorado, has won 12 RMMRA Midget titles, and 89 feature events, racing with the Colorado series over the last 30 plus seasons. With his first coming in 1993, and his last in 2020. Those accomplishments are club records in for the RMMRA which has been conducting race meets for over 80 years. Keith has also competed during his illustrious career in both the Midget Nationals and the 305 Nationals at Belleville during that time.

The Late Gordon Herring was born in Kansas in 1920, while later relocating to the Denver area. After racing stocks, and roadsters, Herring would become one of the first stars of the BCRA Sprint Car Club out of Colorado in 1958, while also racing with IMCA, and the RMMRA in midgets, as well as the Pikes Peak Hill Climb among other events. In the BCRA Gordon won three Championships as a driver in 1959, 1961, and 1962, racing at venues in Colorado, Kansas, and Wyoming. The 3-time champ later lost his life racing in IMCA sprint competition in 1964 at age 44 after an accident in Owatonna, Minnesota.

Kansan Lennie Funk was one of the greatest drivers in IMCA stock car racing history. The driver from tiny Otis, Kansas, was a farmer by vocation, who in between tending the family soil, went toe to toe with the big boys of the IMCA circuit including Ernie Derr, Dick Hutcherson, and Ramo Stott. The privateer who raced without corporate backing in IMCA from the 1950’s until 1968. Finished as high as 3rd in the point standings running a limited schedule, while winning at venues that included the High Banks, Topeka, and Sedalia. And upon his retirement from competition in 1968 was third place in IMCA lifetime points.

Charlie Gottschalk from Denver has been involved in racing since the 1950’s as a racer, official, and vintage race car enthusiast. Charlie grew up in North Denver and attended the races at Lakeside Speedway during his youth, before becoming a competitor at age 21 in midgets racing in the RMMRA. From 1957-1959 Charlie would race his own car, as well as midgets owned by Marty Weiland, and Co-Owners Bill Hill and Jim Steele. Later Gottschalk would become an official for the RMMRA, as well as the AIMS and SWIMS Midget Series with Mitch Miller. Working with Miller, the likable Gottschalk, who has lived back and forth between Colorado and Arizona over the years, would work as the pit steward for the Belleville Midget Nationals.

Chicago racing phenom Wally Zale was one of the top midget racers during the pioneering days of the sport in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. A member of the “Chicago Gang” of racers that included Tony Bettenhausen, and Duke Nalon, Zale was a top competitor until his untimely death in an automobile accident in 1942. Before then Zale had won championships at venues in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Missouri. While setting standards for midget wins in a season that have never since been surpassed. In 1936 Zale won 65 features racing in midget competition. And then surpassed that before the WW II shutdown of the sport when the Illinois driver won an all-time best 67 feature events in 1940.

Also being honored in 2021 at the High Banks Hall of Fame Ceremony will be the class of 2020 which includes “Tiger” Bob Williams, and Larry Dickson, as well as the late Roger McCluskey, Rodger Ward, Bob Wente, Bob Tattersall, Cecil Green, Duane Carter Sr,, Carl Williams and Buddy Taylor.

Join us August 5th, 2021, for the High Banks HOF Induction Ceremony and luncheon to be held at the Belleville High School, in Belleville, Kansas. Doors open at 11:00am, food is served at 12, followed by the induction ceremony. This event is open and free to the public. While the luncheon is free with a donation to the High Banks HOF.

Belleville 305 Nationals Finale Postponed to Sunday

Lonnie Wheatley, BELLEVILLE, Kan. (August 1, 2020) – Heavy rain forced the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled Third Annual Belleville High Banks 305 Sprint Car Nationals finale to Sunday afternoon.

The $7,000-to-win tilt will not take place on Sunday, August 2, with hot laps at 1:00 p.m. and then racing to follow at 2:00 p.m.

Rain first hit the track on Saturday prior to hot laps.  Track crews worked tirelessly over the next three hours to get the surface back into racing condition only to have one more system hit the speedway as the second of five hot lap groups was taking to the track soon after 9:00 p.m.

Zach Blurton bested a field of 45 in Friday night’s preliminary event with J.D. Johnson and Stu Snyder joining him on the podium.

Sunday’s card will include a full slate of heat races, qualifying races and feature events.

Blurton Wires the Field in Belleville 305 Nationals Preliminary Feature!

Lonnie Wheatley, BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 31, 2020) – Zach Blurton kicked off the Third Annual Belleville 305 Sprint Car Nationals by wiring the field in Friday night’s 20-lap preliminary feature to take the $2,500 winner’s share atop the ½-mile Belleville High Banks clay oval.

Blurton gunned into the lead from the third starting position in the opening pair of corners and then paced the field throughout aboard the J&K Trucking No. 11 Maxim Sprint Car.

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The 3rd Annual 305 Nationals at Belleville Brings Big Cash and Big Stars Again in 2020

RACINBOYS EXCLUSIVE by Ray Cunningham (Belleville, KS) –The Republic County Fairgrounds in Belleville, Kansas, will once again become the epicenter of 305 Winged Sprint Car Racing this Friday July 31st, and this Saturday, August 1st, at the historic High Banks Half-Mile located in North Central Kansas.

The Brinks Truck will arrive with $65,000 dollars in prize money upfront for both nights total. And another possible two grand dished out if Colorado’s Jake Bubak, the 2018-19 Champ can be defeated both nights for the win.
That means, boys and girls, the winner on Friday could take $3,500, with the $1,000 bonus if they beat Jake “Big Stakes” Bubak on Friday, and $8,000 Saturday night by defeating the Arvada racer and winning the title of Belleville 305 Nationals Champ for 2020.

But, that might be easier said than done as Bubak driving the Coyote Candle Maxim #74B has won all four races the first two years of the Nationals.

Included in those totals were two prelim wins that paid $2,500 each and two 305 National wins collecting $7,000 each time for a payout of $19,000 the last two years total at Belleville for the Colorado Gasman.

For the 3rd Annual 305 Nationals, the local Fair Board and Supporters as well as URSS Headman Rick Salem and Dodge City Racing Director Tommie Estes Jr. will all be on board to make this racing weekend one to remember once again while rolling out the Red Carpet for the best drivers in 305 Winged Sprint Cars in 2020.

In 2018, the first annual 305 Nationals took place after the Belleville Midget Nationals were concluded the previous year after a 40 season run. Everyone wondered at that time what was in store for this historic half-mile that had seen the likes of Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson, among others grace and race at this historic speed plant during the midgets reign, while bringing big crowds, big fields, and big money to this sleepy little Kansas town.

Well, all of that has continued and more since the changeover in 2018. Racing with the United Rebel Series, ran by Salem, and with the IMCA RACEsaver 305 Rules, the car counts are bigger, the purse is the richest in 305 Sprint Car Racing, and the crowds have been phenomenal.

In 2020, expect more of the same as around 60 305 Winged Sprint Cars have already entered this prestigious event, with many top drivers on that entry list, and a few others that have also committed to running to make this year’s event on paper the best one yet.

Besides Bubak, there are many contenders to his throne that will be in attendance. Among those are URSS point leader Ty Williams, who will be teaming up at Belleville with 360 Winged Sprint Car Star Matt Covington. 2nd in points Goddard hot shoe J.D. Johnson, a favorite and multiple time winner at Belleville. And, third place in URSS points Kyler Johnson of Quinter, whose father C.J., and grandfather Jon Johnson, all starred at Belleville over the years in open wheel racing hailing from Western Kansas.

Another trio of Stars to battle at Belleville includes Tyler Drueke of Eagle, NE, Zach Blurton of Quinter, KS and Stu Snyder of Lincoln, NE. All have been hot in 305 action in 2020 and have won multiple features while running in the top three in IMCA RACEsaver National points. Last year, Drueke finished second at Belleville to Bubak as well in his #12 Winged Sprint Car.

One of the greatest rivalries over the last few years in 305 racing has been between Bubak and Jason Martin, and that will continue once again at the High Banks. The Kansan, now residing in Nebraska, finished second to Bubak in 2018 and third in 2019 at the Belleville 305 Nationals. A month later, Martin would beat his longtime Nemesis Bubak by winning the 305 Nationals at Eagle, Nebraska, Jason’s biggest win in 2019 and another epic storyline to this rivalry.

But. as the saying goes, “Wait, There’s More”. Top stars entering for the first time at the 305 Nationals include John Carney, racing the Lubbers Wreckers 11x, and Nebraska’s Jack Dover, two of the most decorated drivers in winged sprint car racing over the last several years.

And Luke Cranston, the winningest driver In 305 competition at Belleville over the years, as well as stalwarts that include Adam Gullion, Trevor Grossenbacher, Jeff Stasa, Mike Woodruff, Ray Seemann, Cody Ledger, Jake Martens, Todd Plemons, Brett Becker, Shayle Bade, Jordan and Tyler Knight, Chad Salem, Tyler Velasquez, and fresh off a win last week at the Bull Ring Nationals, Steven Richardson of Hutchinson, among others.

Come to Belleville, Kansas this Friday and Saturday for the 3rd Annual 305 Nationals, a signature event on the Kansas Prairie not to be missed.

Photo Credit: Darrin McKim

Bounty Added for Defeating Jake Bubak!

Courtesy of The Fans of The High Banks, a bounty has been put on our 2 time and defending champion. The drive that beats Jake Bubak in the A main on Friday July 31st OR Saturday August 1st will receive an extra $1,000. That moves the purse up to $3,500 and $8,000 to win if you can Beat the 74B.
*You have to win the A feature either night to collect the bounty.
This is an organized fun competition, to spark the interest in drivers and fans all around!
Let’s race and have a great time!

Bubak Banks Second Consecutive Belleville 305 Sprint Car Nationals Triumph!

Jake Bubak kept his Belleville 305 Sprint Car Nationals perfection alive by storming to a $7,000 payday in Saturday night’s United Rebel Sprint Series-sanctioned Second Annual Belleville 305 Nationals 30-lap finale atop the ½-mile Belleville High Banks clay oval.

It completed an improbably duplication of last year’s Belleville 305 Sprint Car Nationals two-night sweep with the Arvada, CO, shoe now four-for-four in event competition aboard the Coyote Candle Company No. 74x Sprint Car.

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Bubak Wires Field for Fourth URSS Victory of Season!

Courtesy of United Rebel Sprint Series

Belleville, Kansas – July 4, 2019 – Jake Bubak from Aurora, Colorado took the lead at the start and never looked back to claim the Lucas Oil POWRi United Rebel Sprint Series presented by Mel Hambelton Ford Racing special Independence Day, Thursday night edition of racing atop the famed Belleville High Banks Speedway in Belleville, Kansas.
J.D. Johnson from Wichita and Bubak started on the front row for the twenty-lap feature with Bubak quickly taking the lead as the green flag fell. Johnson, Ty Williams, Jake Martens and Zach Blurton were the top five after the first lap was complete.
Williams and Martens would pass Johnson for second and third, respectively, on lap two as Bubak set sail on the rest of the field. Bubak, aboard the Jeff Stefonick owned #11 sprint based out of Colorado, would cruise the distance to claim his series-leading fourth feature victory of the season. His victory was worth $1000.

Williams would finish a strong second while Martens came home third. Eighth-starting Blurton finished fourth while Tyler Drueke rounded out the top five.

Kaleb Johnson earned the features Keizer Wheels Hard Charger award as he started twenty-second and came home with a eleventh-place finish.

The three heat races for the twenty-three-car field were won by J.D. Johnson, Martens and Huish.

The URSS touring regulars will take Friday night off before making their lone 2019 appearance at Thunder Hill Speedway in Mayetta, Kansas for another $1000 to-win event on Saturday night.

United Rebel Sprint Series
Belleville High Banks/Belleville, Kansas
July 4, 2019
23 Cars
A Feature: 1) Jake Bubak (2), 2) Ty Williams (3), 3) Jake Martens (4), 4) Zach Blurton (8), 5) Tyler Drueke (13), 6) Jeremy Huish (6), 7) Toby Chapman (10), Chad Koch (7), 9) Stuart Snyder (14), 10) Trey Gropp (20), 11) Kaleb Johnson (22), 12) Jack Potter (9), 13) Mike Moore (15), 14) Kyler Johnson (r) (5), 15)Tracey Hill (17), 16) Shane Sundquist (12), 17) Monty Ferriera (11), 18) Brett Becker (23), 19) Ken Potter (16), 20) Aaron Ploussard (19), 21) Dalton Webb (r) (21), 22) J D Johnson (1), 23) John Webster (18)
David Smith, Jr./OKTidbits PR

July 4th on the High Banks

July 4th will be an exciting time to be at the High Banks of Belleville, Kansas. There will be 5 classes of cars competing at the historic half-mile. NCRA will have their late models competing on the half-mile and their always exciting mod-lites on the little track. Last year the NCRA brought a strong field of 21 late models. The always fun wild and wacky cruisers will also be on hand running on the small track.

Modifieds will make their return to the High Banks this year. The Sooner Limited Modified Series will host their first event at Belleville this year. Northern and Southern Sportmods are encouraged to run with the series. You can find information on the Sooner Limited Modified Series at http://soonerlimitedmodifiedseries.myracepass.com/rules/.

The fifth and final series will be the United Rebel Sprint Series 305 Sprint Cars. The 305’s have become a mainstay on the High Banks. With the July 4th race preceding the 2nd Annual Belleville 305 Nationals, you can expect to see a great field of cars trying to gain laps and experience on the fast half-mile.  JD Johnson won last year’s July 20 lap feature.

Tickets for the July 4th races will not be sold online, but be sure to grab your 305 National tickets online ahead of time by going here.