North Central Speedway will host the Earl Kouba Memorial Sprint Special for the first time Saturday night at North Central Speedway.
It also will be the first time that only one of the late Kouba's relatives will race in the event, now in its 13th year. One of Earl's sons, Jimmy, took a hiatus from racing this season and his grandson, Joseph, broke his arm in six places in a racing accident earlier this season at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.
Earl's son, Joe of Lino Lakes, will race in the event. Earl drove midget race cars for 40 years. For the last five years, the event was held at Princeton Speedway. Jimmy is the only two-time winner of the race.
"Princeton didn't book one this year so we moved it up there," Joe said by phone Wednesday.
Joe said he also has known NCS's owner, Cliff Sasker, for about 40 years. He said he worked in Sasker's welding shop as a youngster.
"It's a fun track to race and of course Cliff is the greatest guy," he said.
Joe has 22 A Main Feature starts at NCS and seven second-place finishes. He said last year's race winner John Nelson was too strong. Four or five years ago, he said he was passed on the final lap, settling for second place.
He said this event, where the winner wins $1,500 plus other prize money sponsored by the Kouba family, is special because it keeps his father's memory alive. Earl raced in the Chicago and Denver areas.
"It's a way we kind of honor him," he said. "It's a good night for my mother too."
Matt Folstad is the event's defending champion. He also won the event's Dash last year. Pequot Lakes' Roger Rager won the 10th annual event.
Donny Schatz, who finished third in World of Outlaws season points last season, won the fourth-annual event.
Racers to watch Saturday include Dustin Lindquist of Floodwood, Loren Langerud of Harwood, N.D., and Chuck Swenson of Watertown, S.D. Lindquist is a two-time feature winner this season at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, N.D., and Langerud and Swenson each have won one feature at that speedway this season. Swenson leads Langerud by two points in the Red River Valley Speedway's season points as of June 10.
Also expected to race are Rager, Brainerd's Sye Anderson and Baxter's John Franzen. Anderson is fourth in Wissota Championship Sprint Car season points as of June 30 after racing in six shows. Franzen is 21st after racing in only one show. Swenson leads with 325, Langerud has 320, Scott Butz has 260 and Anderson has 256.
Kouba, 20th in national points, said he has only raced under the green flag for 36 laps this season so far. His best finish was seventh at Red River Valley Speedway.
Other racers expected for Saturday's race include Nelson, Butz and Natalie Sather, Kouba said.
Kouba also will bring his father's 1947 Kurtis Offy midget car to the speedway. He said Joseph might putt around the track for several laps in this racer which Earl named "Baby."
Other classes racing Saturday at NCS, located five miles south of Brainerd on Business Highway 371, are Wissota Modified, Wissota Super Stock, Wissota Street Stock and NCS Pure Stock.
clint wood can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5869.
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