By John Vrancic
ESCANABA - A trip to the Upper Peninsula International Raceway Saturday night was a bit of a homecoming for 1980 Manistique High School graduate Ben Godlewski.
Godlewski, who now lives in Sussex, Wis., celebrated by earning his first feature victory.
Interestingly enough, Godlewski donated a girls' bike for the raffle and trophies which were awarded to the winners of each feature race.
"An annual trip for us is coming back to the (U.P. State) Fair," said Godlewski, who lived in Escanaba until age 7 when he moved with his family to Manistique. "I just wanted to give something back to the community."
Godlewski, who took the checkered flag in the IMCA modified event, was followed by Lonnie Dalgord of Escanaba and Matt Valiquette of DePere, Wis.
"When we came up here in June, we had no rear brakes in the heat and our fuel line collapsed in the feature," he said. "Besides getting to keep one of trophies, another motivator was to at least finish the race. This is definitely a monkey off my back."
Godlewski, who also races in the Badger Modified Tour in Wisconsin, recently gained his first heat victory on his home track in Beaver Dam.
The races were delay at least a half-hour by a downpour shortly before the scheduled starting time (7 p.m.).
"We made a lot of changes between races (heat and feature)," said Godlewski. "We figured the track would still be slippery. It was a very smooth track. It was also prepared very well, which helped everybody out. We didn't have to worry about holes in the track at all."
Jon Barron of Escanaba earned his second straight 4/6 cylinder feature in a race ended on a caution flag moments after a fourth spinout.
"This is not the way I like to win, but I'll take it," said Barron. "The track was slippery, but I like it a little better this way because we didn't have to deal with the dust. Only, everybody's windows were fogging up due to the cooler temperatures.
"My dad (Pat) was coaching me. He's my mentor. He critiqued my racing a little and he gave me some pointers."
Jason Berube of Escanaba was runner-up, with Craig Knauf of Riverland third in the feature.
Ron Borchert of Gladstone held off Randy DeGrave of Escanaba in the first semi-feature, winning by half a car length.
Ryan Trombley took the second semi-feature, with Bryn Beauchamp of Escanaba runner-up.
Nick Pinar, Jr. of Escanaba celebrated his 51st birthday by winning the 600 microsprint heat and taking second in the A feature.
John Mathias of Bark River won the A feature and Jason Irving of Riverland placed third.
Gregg Brayak of Wilson captured the B feature, followed by Steve Ives of Gladstone and John Swartzlander of Sault Ste. Marie.
The U.P. State Fair races drew 87 drivers.
Racing at UPIR resumes Saturday at 7 p.m.
Feature and semi-feature winners include:
Junior sprint - 1, Jesse 'James' Liss, Bark River; 2, Holly Mathias, Bark River; 3, Logan Getzloff, Bark River.
IMCA modified - 1, Ben Godlewski, Sussex, Wis.; 2, Lonnie Dalgord, Escanaba; 3, Matt Valiquette, DePere, Wis.
600 microsprint A - 1, John Mathias, Bark River; 2, Nick Pinar, Sr., Escanaba; 3, Jason Irving, Riverland.
600 microsprint B - 1, Gregg Brayak, Riverland; 2, Steve Ives, Gladstone; 3, John Swartzlander, Sault Ste. Marie.
Street stock - 1, Paul Wagner, Watson; 2, Max Constantino, Rapid River; 3, Jamie Spriks, Escanaba.
4/6 cylinder feature - 1, Jon Barron, Escanaba; 2, Jason Berube, Escanaba; 3, Craig Knauf, Riverland.
4/6 cylinder semi-feature I - 1, Ron Borchert, Gladstone; 2, Randy DeGrave, Escanaba.
4/6 cylinder semi-feature II - 1, Ryan Trombley, Escanaba; 2, Bryn Beauchamp, Escanaba.