ESCANABA - Jesse Liss not only wins races, but he builds his own engines.
That has been part of a recipe for success for the 11-year-old driver from Bark River as he moved a step closer to retaining his junior microspint title Saturday night at the Upper Peninsula International Raceway.
Liss, who led the field by 73 points (312-239) coming into this weekend, extended his advantage by sweeping to victory in the heat and feature races during the Battle of the Bay event at the U.P. State Fair.
"My dad has helped me a lot with the engines," said Liss, who recently built a second engine for his vehicle. "He has done a lot with this car."
Logan Getzloff of Bark River and Tyler Getschell of Marinette, who are second and third in the point standings, also placed 2-3 in both races on Saturday.
"The heat race was more difficult because the track was rough," said Liss. "But they (track crew) worked on the track and it was in better shape for the feature."
Battle of the Bay races
Heat - 1, Jesse Liss, Bark River; 2, Logan Getzloff, Bark River; 3, Tyler Getschell, Marinette.
Feature - 1, Jesse Liss, Bark River; 2, Logan Getzloff, Bark River; 3, Tyler Getschell, Marinette.
Heat 1 - 1, Chris Pepin, Escanaba; 2, John Ostermann, Niagara, Wis.; 3, Mike Richer, Escanaba.
Heat 2 - 1, Pat Richer, Bark River; 2, Lonnie Dalgord, Escanaba; 3, Ben Buckland, Rock.
Feature - 1, Lonnie Dalgord, Escanaba; 2, Mike Richer, Escanaba; 3, Matt Valiquette, DePere, Wis.
Heat 1 - 1, Steve Miller, Gladstone; 2, Brent Smith, Bark River; 3, Jordan Ives, Gladstone.
Heat 2 - 1, Scott Degnan, Escanaba; 2, John Mathias, Wilson; 3, Jake Valiquette, Escanaba.
Heat 3 - 1, Brock Smith, Bark River; 2, Jason Irving, Escanaba; 3, Gregg Brayak, Wilson.
Semi-feature - 1, Matt Peterson, Rapid River; 2, Jared Cech, Rhinelander, Wis.; 3, Todd Belanger, Escanaba.
Feature - 1, Scott Degnan, Escanaba; 2, Gregg Brayak, Wilson; 3, Brent Smith, Bark River.
Heat 1 - 1, Eric Mathieson, Escanaba; 2, Ron Borchert, Gladstone; 3, Tiny Baldwin, Escanaba.
Heat 2 - 1, Joe Johnson, Escanaba; 2, Ron Jenshak, Escanaba; 3, Nathan Winling, Escanaba.
Feature - 1, Ron Borchert, Gladstone; 2, Ron Jenshak, Escanaba; 3, Paul Wagner, Escanaba.
Sportsman (650) microsprint
Heat 1 - 1, Dave Hosking, Bark River; 2, Christian Groleau, Gladstone; 3, Paul Hosking, Bark River.
Heat 2 - Gary Dubord, Jr., Escanaba; 2, Kyle Getschell, Wilson; 3, Justina Liss, Bark River.
Feature - 1, Gary Dubord, Jr., Escanaba; 2, Christian Groleau, Gladstone; 3, Kyle Getschell, Wilson.
Heat 1 - 1, Anthony "Red" Pollard, Norway; 2, Dylan Lanaville, Escanaba; 3, Tyler Corwin, Gladstone.
Heat 2 - 1, Jared Demeuse, Gladstone; 2, Aldo Gomez, Bark River; 3, Matt Johnson, Escanaba.
Heat 3 - 1, Dan Mathieson, Escanaba; 2, Adrianne Ault, Bark River; 3, Steve Demeuse, Bark River.
Heat 4 - 1, Tom Dubord, Jr., Escanaba; 2, Randy DeGrave, Escanaba; 3, Rob Broeders, Escanaba.
Semi-feature 1 - 1, Justin Lauscher, Escanaba; 2, Corey DeGrave, Escanaba; 3, Eric LaFreniere, Vulcan.
Semi-feature 2 - 1, Jeff Sullivan, Escanaba; 2, Erick Marenger, Flat Rock; 3, David Rumfelt, Escanaba.
Feature - 1, Tom Dubord, Jr., Escanaba; 2, Justin Lauscher, Escanaba; 3, Randy DeGrave, Escanaba.
Liss will try to continue his winning ways in Saturday's "Richmond Gear Weekend Warrior" races, which will be the final night of racing for points this season.
Champions will be determined in all divisions during these races, which start at 6, and crowned at the UPIR banquet on Sept. 14.
Gary Dubord, Jr. of Escanaba also lengthened his lead in the sportsman (650) microsprint standings by taking the checkered flag in the second heat and feature.
Dubord, who has won 6-of-7 features and 12-of-14 races overall this season, held a commanding 320-275 advantage over Dave Hosking of Bark River prior to Saturday.
"I didn't push my car too hard the last time," said Dubord, who was runner-up in the Aug. 3 feature. "We did a little bit of gearing changes for the track tonight and the car was fast. It just took a little while to find the lines, which were low on turns 1-2 and high on 3-4. Once I figured that out, everything fell in place."
Hosking won the first heat, but failed to place in the feature.
In the feature, Christian Groleau of Gladstone took second and Kyle Getschell of Wilson was third.
Tom Dubord, Jr. of Escanaba improved his chances for a 4/6-cylinder title, winning the fourth heat and feature.
He came into this weekend with 240 points, a total he shared with Rob Germain.
Matt Johnson of Escanaba, second in points at 233, took third in the second heat on Saturday.
Tom Dubord was followed in the feature by Justin Lauscher of Escanaba, who squeezed past Randy DeGrave of Escanaba for the runner-up spot.
"The key for us is we made it to every feature and placed in quite a few races," Tom said moments after his first feature win this year. "We broke an axel two weeks ago and had to replace the undercarriage. The car ran well tonight."
Scott Degnan of Escanaba also became a double-winner, taking the second heat and feature.
"The track was a little wet and bumpy at first, and I have nobody to blame but myself for that," said Degnan. "I was on the truck all day and put a little too much water on the track. I wanted to eliminate the dust. I would rather have the races start a little late than to have everyone have to contend with the dust. Hopefully, with more clay next year we won't have as many delays.
"We had a great crowd here tonight. I'm glad the fair people came out. This was a good time."
Lonnie Dalgord of Escanaba copped the IMCA modified feature, followed by Mike Richer of Escanaba and Matt Valiquette of DePere, Wis.
In street stock, it was Ron Borchert of Gladstone taking the feature. Ron Jenshak and Paul Wagner, both of Escanaba, were second and third, respectivley.
Points leader Joe Johnson of Escanaba captured the second heat, but struggled in the feature.
A field of 106 drivers experienced its share of spin-outs and mechanical problems.
Jay Baumler, Jr. hit the wall on the back stretch during the second lap of Heat 1 in 600 microsprint and Roger Bridges flipped over his vehicle in the opening heat in 650. No injuries were reported.