Rice Lake Speedway 2024 Opener, Practice Sessions...
Rice Lake Speedway Racers Celebrate
Rice Lake Speedway Banquet Scheduled
Rice Lake Speedway 2024 Opener, Practice Sessions...

Rice Lake Speedway 2024 Opener, Practice Sessions...

4/16/2024 -
Rice Lake WI, April 16 – The Rice Lake Speedway LLC made the decision this morning to both postpone the seventy second annual season opener scheduled
Rice Lake Speedway Racers Celebrate

Rice Lake Speedway Racers Celebrate

3/23/2024 -
Rice Lake WI, March 23 – Racers, crews, fans and employees of the Rice Lake Speedway gathered on Saturday night at the Elks Club in Rice Lake to hand
Rice Lake Speedway Banquet Scheduled

Rice Lake Speedway Banquet Scheduled

3/12/2024 -
Rice Lake WI – The last official act of the Adams-Hansen Inc. regime as owners of the Rice Lake Speedway will take place on Saturday night, March 23rd

Latest News

Rice Lake Speedway 2024 Opener, Practice Sessions Postponed

Rice Lake Speedway 2024 Opener, Practice Sessions Postponed

Rice Lake WI, April 16 – The Rice Lake Speedway LLC made the decision this morning to both postpone the seventy second annual season opener scheduled for Saturday night, April 20th along with practice sessions slated for April 16th and 17th by one week. According to track...more
Rice Lake Speedway Racers Celebrate

Rice Lake Speedway Racers Celebrate

Rice Lake WI, March 23 – Racers, crews, fans and employees of the Rice Lake Speedway gathered on Saturday night at the Elks Club in Rice Lake to hand out the awards and celebrate the official conclusion of the 2023 racing season at the Rice Lake Speedway. For former track...more
Rice Lake Speedway Banquet Scheduled

Rice Lake Speedway Banquet Scheduled

Rice Lake WI – The last official act of the Adams-Hansen Inc. regime as owners of the Rice Lake Speedway will take place on Saturday night, March 23rd as the speedway will hold its annual awards banquet, honoring those racers that ran at the track in 2023. This year,...more

Class of 2023

2023 Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame Induction

2023 Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame Induction

Left to right; Jim Crapser accepting for his late father LaVerne Crapser, Austin and Dusty Soldner accepting for their late father Bruce Soldner, Ardis Coleman accepting for her late husband Ken Coleman, Paul Brust

Bruce Soldner

Bruce Soldner was the Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt of a class long departed from the Rice Lake Speedway program and largely unknown by many of the current fans of the speedway. However, between the years of 1985 through 1990, the speedway raced a Pickup Truck class and Bruce Soldner was the king of that division. And while he raced other cars in other classes over the course of his racing career, the Pickup Truck class was the niche that fit him and where he had great success.

Bruce first started racing in 1976 when he was seventeen years old and raced for a total of twenty one seasons. He first race car was a 1960 Ford Galaxy with a 390 cubic inch engine that they put together for $20 and raced in the Street Stock class.

Bruce raced the 8 Ball car primarily which was the number that one of his friend's father had on his race car. He gave the sport a try after watching the races, thinking that it looked like fun and then he decided to give it a try, something that he then did for twenty one years, retiring from the sport in 1997.

Racing was certainly a family thing for the Soldner's as at the same time that Bruce was dominating in the Pickup Truck class, his brothers Mike and Ron were also racing in that same class and winning feature races themselves. In fact, between the two of them, they won eleven times in the Pickup Trucks at the track.

Along with his family, Bob's Auto Salvage, Charm Hair Care and the Bungelow Bar were also long time supporters of the Soldner Racing Team.

The Pickup Truck class was popular for its time, certainly appearing much different than all the other classes that raced at the track and with the development of Trucks in NASCAR racing, the Rice Lake Speedway was way ahead of its time with the origination of this class.

The Pickup Truck years were super successful for Bruce. He had double digit feature wins in four straight seasons, including thirteen feature wins in 1987, eleven in 1988, a dozen more in 1989 and he wrapped up his four year feature win binge with another eleven in 1990, the final year for the class at Rice Lake. He won a total of forty seven feature wins in that class, driving the 8 Ball truck along with occasional wins in the #69 and #66 Trucks including the points title in 1990, Season Championships in 1987 and 1990 and the Aquafest Trophy race for three years in 1987, 1989 and 1990. He is also the all time leading feature winner in the Pickup Truck class. According to his family, his most memorable win was the Season Championship race in 1990.

Bruce was a long time resident of Rice Lake and worked as a Laborer in the local area.

Bruce passed away in October of 2019.

Accepting the award for Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer Bruce Soldner are his sons Austin and Dusty Soldner.

Paul Brust

Paul Brust is one of the newer generation racers to be inducted into the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame. Many of the fans watching the racing on this night will recall Paul racing his familiar #19 car, and winning in multiple classes over the years.

Paul started racing in 1988 when he was twenty two years old in the Street Stock class and graduated all the way up to Late Models before he finally hung up his helmet. In between, he won a multitude of feature races along with season championships and point titles.

His very first race car was a 1975 Chevy Malibu with a 350 engine under the hood that raced in the Street Stock class at that time. Before he retired, he would race in the Super Stocks, Modifieds and Late Models also.

Paul credits his father Vern and older brother Tom for getting him interested in racing. Vern was an early competitor at the track and supporter of the speedway and Tom was a tough competitor for many years during the same time frame that Paul raced. The Brust operation was a family one with his parentsVern and Kathy being among his biggest supporters during the many years that he raced.

During his twenty six year racing career. Paul had some great success. He won four point titles including two in the Late Models in 2002 and 2007 and two in the Modifieds in 1997 and 1998.

He also won two Season Championships with a Street Stock title in 1990 and a Modified title in 1997. He was also an Aquafest trophy winner in 1991 driving a Super Stock.

Paul was also one of the most versatile drivers that the speedway has ever seen. He had success in multiple classes of racing with feature wins in four different classes of cars during the course of his career. His total of twenty nine feature wins at Rice Lake includes five in the Street Stocks, four in the Super Stocks, eleven in the Modifieds and nine in the Late Models, making him one of the very few drivers in track history to record wins in that many different classes.

During his racing career, he also had success racing at other tracks throughout the area with some of his best runs coming at the Hibbing Raceway in Hibbing Minnesota.

A naturally quiet person away from the track, Paul was always a tough and determined driver once he got behind the wheel. He retired from racing in 2014 at the age of forty seven.

Paul graduated from Rice Lake High School in 1985 and is currently self employed as an auto mechanic. He lives in Rice Lake with his wife Cherri.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Paul Brust.

Ken Coleman

We have drivers, media representatives, club officials and track employees all represented in the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame. But we have no one represented that was strictly a mechanic on race cars in the Hall. Until tonight that is,

Tonight we add Ken Coleman to the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame, representing all those under appreciated members of the racing community who spend long hours bent over and underneath race cars in the heat, dust, dirt and humidity of Summer and the cold blasts of Fall and Spring, oblivious to what is going on around them as they focus on the task at hand and that is to make their race cars faster and in some cases to repair the damage inflicted on them by careless operation.

Ken Coleman was born in Ladysmith and spent the majority of his life living in the Rusk and Barron County areas of Wisconsin, primarily around Cameron. He was an innovator, a fabricator, a welder and a designer.

He farmed with his father. He worked at a car dealership as a service technician. He was a motorcycle and snowmobile mechanic, worked in a junk yard, drove a bulk truck for Texaco and taught auto mechanics and welding at a vocational school. He retired as Plant Superintendent at Chibardun Telephone. He designed and built one of the first bean pickers. Anything that had to do with mechanics and fabrication, he was an expert at.

In 1963 he and Russ Laursen built their first tubular frame Super Modified. And this car was crafted by hand, using parts that were salvaged from the area junk yards. This was a time in racing where every car presented at the track was unique, built with loving care by a mechanic with a vision for what would work best on the dirt tracks and make his driver the fastest and the one to beat. No cars were “cookie cutter” cars back then with everyone having a unique design and just about all the parts were salvaged from the junk yards and then modified by the mechanics to fit their need. Many of the great innovators of that time were mechanics of race cars and Ken Coleman was among the best.

Ken was the mechanic for Russ Laursen for many years and their record together was one of the best ever produced by a racer from our area. They raced both locally and traveled nationally and their successes and awards together were never ending it seemed.

They raced from Florida to Canada, on both dirt and black top racing surfaces and had success on both. The County and State Fair circuit was one they visited with big wins from Wausau and St. Paul to Tampa and beyond. They were nationally known as well as being the team to beat when they raced at area tracks.

Ken also loved to be outdoors as he was a hunter and fisherman. He also liked to snowmobile and motorcycle and he did woodworking and clock making in his spare time. He also loved to watch his grand kid's sporting events and when they raced karts.

He raised deer and elk with his son Brian and loved to handcraft items for his family.

How good was the combination of Laursen and Coleman? At the Rice Lake Speedway alone, Russ Laursen won nearly one hundred feature races in the Modified and Super Modified classes in cars built by Ken Coleman. When they went out of town to race, other drivers would ask how those “dirt farmers” (Laursen and Coleman) could show up with their homemade s### and make the locals look like hell? This was the reputation this team earned and deserved. When they pulled through the gate at tracks across the upper Midwest and beyond, the other drivers started to ponder just who would be racing for second. Russ Laursen was one of the inaugural members of the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame. Now his mechanic will be joining him in that same Hall as the team is reunited once again.

Ken Coleman was eighty four years old when he passed away on Thursday, August 13th, 2020.

Ladies and gentleman, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer Ken Coleman will have his award plaque accepted by his wife Ardis.

LaVerne Crapser

The Rice Lake Speedway will add its first member to its Hall of Fame tonight who had no direct connection to the sport. He was not a driver, a car owner, a mechanic, media member or sponsor, he was simply a fan. But when we say fan, we mean to say perhaps the greatest and most supportive of any fan who has attended this long running facility.

LaVerne Crapser was from Mondovi and in 1959 he attended his first race ever at the Rice Lake Speedway. Whether it was the action that the tiny little fifth mile track provided or a connection he made with the people that ran the track or the spectators he met there, LaVerne fell in love with Saturday night racing at Rice Lake and his Saturday nights there became a huge part of his life.

Family doings, outings and even business gatherings were cut short so that LaVerne could make the drive to the races every Saturday night.

LaVerne was an interesting man. He was a farmer, an auto mechanic, a blacksmith, worked at Uniroyal Tire in Eau Claire until it closed and was on the Albany town board for sixty six years.

In the beginning he brought his sons with him to the races and later his grandchilden and great grandchildren. But everyone eventually got to share with him the tradition of Saturday night racing at the Rice Lake Speedway.

At the old track, LaVerne always sat in the front row of the grandstand right behind the judge's stand. He would always be the first one to the track, often beating the ticket takers. He would carry his huge stack of blankets down the hill and he would then precisely lay down the blankets, saving spots for his family and “racing family” friends as he was always talking up the track and inviting co-workers and friends to come to the races with him.

When the track was remodeled, he chose a top row spot where he could sit and chat with other fans. He was offered a seat in one of the sky boxes, but he preferred to sit with the other fans so they could talk racing.

As the years passed, his children and grandchildren came with him less often to the races as their own lives evolved, but he would continue his Saturday night trips until the very last couple years of his life when his health failed and he was unable to drive himself on such a long trip. LaVerne was a great fan of racing at other tracks too and was a regular for many years at the Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie. He and his wife Muriel also had a special fondness for going to Thunder Bay Ontario and loved going to the races there and visiting that city.

Every trip to Rice Lake on Saturday night was precisely planned. The car was washed, the cooler filled with ice and soda(Pepsi only!) and the trip began early so that they would get the best seats in the house. Most trips were made in the 1962 Buick Electra nicknamed “The Little Red Fire Engine” that was finally retired after it recorded 426,000 miles on it.

After the races were completed, the blankets were packed up and everyone would head to the pits to meet the drivers and get autographs. Then would be the long ride home, often very late at night. As one of the grandson's would relate, they often had to make a pit stop on the side of the road on that long trip so LaVerne could “change a light bulb on the top of the radio tower.” Only years later would they understand what he was actually doing. After all, a man can drink only so much Pepsi!

As you might guess, making so many trips would result in some unusual moments on the highways of Wisconsin. As related by one of the grandson's , there is the famous tornado and MG story.

After an uneventful trip to the speedway one Saturday night, they were met by a track worker who instructed them that the races had been cancelled by severe weather. So they turned around and were headed back to Mondovi. Near Bloomer, LaVerne suddenly stopped on the freeway and said.” You see the way those clouds look, that's what it looks like just before you have a tornado.” Not two seconds later, a tornado funnel cloud formed and came directly at them. They drove under the Bloomer overpass where they hid and watched as a large piece of tin roofing slammed into a Cadillac going North.

Then it ended and they continued on their way home. However, the evening's drama was not yet over. South of Eau Claire, an MG driven by an drunken driver pulled out from a bar right in front of them. LaVerne's big Buick drove right over the front of the MG when he couldn't get stopped in time. The Buick ended up in the ditch with a bent bumper and fender but they drove it home. The MG was destroyed with its engine pushed right down into the blacktop of the road.

LaVerne made hundreds of those trips from rural Mondovi to Rice Lake, many in the days before the freeway was completed. And over the course of over fifty years, LaVerne missed only two nights of racing at the Rice Lake Speedway. LaVerne passed away on November 2nd, 2010 at the age of ninety two.

But he had two sons, seven grandsons and three great grandsons who have been involved in dirt track racing, either racing or working on cars. And they will state unconditionally that their love for the sport can be traced back to “Gran Pa Verne.”

We can thank Verne and all the others in this crowd, some not evem known to us, who have showed this same level of dedication and unconditional support for the speedway over the last seventy one years. Without them, racing could not have lasted for this many years at this track and we owe them a great deal of gratitude.

Accepting the award for Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer LaVerne Crapser is his son Jim from Brookfield Wisconsin.

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