A Brief History of TUNDRA
After the 2009 season Dells Raceway Park made a difficult choice to remove Super Late Model racing from its weekly program. Low to moderate car counts, rising costs and a growing Late Model class contributed to move.
After a 2010 season without a weekly Super Late Model program Dells Raceway Park owner Joe Graziano was approached by Super Late Model racer Tom Litchfeld. Litchfeld and other SLM racers had cars sitting, waiting to race – and only racing at DRP could satisfy their thirst.
On December 18, 2010 Super Late Model racers from the area crowded Leo’s Upper Dells Bar to discuss the feasibility of brining the class back to DRP in a way that made sense for both the racer and the track. An original suggestion was made to allow the racers free access to race with no burden to the track whatsoever. The ground work had been set.
Before meeting a second time in the offseason prior to 2011 Dells Raceway Park officials consulted with Tom Litchfeld and other racers to gauge the reaction to the first meeting. From these conversations, and with the help of the racers consulted, DRP officials began to fine tune the program.
With plenty to discuss in a second meeting at Leo’s the drivers and officials from the track agreed on a new joint-venture way of doing business – one that made sense to the drivers and the track.
The plan was set. Drivers would pool their funds for a “buy-in” that covered the expenses of their tires for the five race series. The track offered four free pit passes, two sponsor VIP tickets per race and a gate contingency based on fan count. DRP also contributed to the purse which was funded by the sponsorship obtained for 2011.
To further empower the drivers, Tom Litchfeld took the reigns as representative for the Super Late Models. Litchfeld and his family controlled funds, fielded questions and donated a massive amount of time to keep the program running in the right direction.
To test the new system drivers agreed on a limited five race schedule. The experimental series was named the Alive For Five Super Late Model Series. Later, Advanced Engine Concepts came to the table with sponsorship to secure naming rights to the series.
On May 28, 2011 the Alive For Five Super Late Model Series presented by Advanced Engine Concepts made its debut. A total of 17 drivers took the risk of joining the new program. Hometown driver Frank Kreyer set fast time and won in an exciting feature after chasing down former Norway Speedway Champion Troy Nelson.
Car counts steadily began to rise as Litchfeld and Kreyer continued to reach out to drivers and explain how beneficial the program was to the racer. Round Two saw an increase to 21 drivers, Round Three saw 26, Round Four 29 and Round Five saw 27 in front of a crowd over 2,300 – the largest Saturday night crowd in recent DRP history.
Not only did the car counts gain momentum, but the competition kept fans on the edge of their seats. Alive for Five races were action-packed and sometimes caution-marred. However, after the success of 2011, it was clear that this venture needed to continue.
Dells Raceway Park came under new ownership in 2012 when Wayne Lensing completed the purchase from Graziano. Some wondered if Lensing would continue the model. After several discussions with Litchfeld, the five race series was geared up for its second run.
With much new driver interest generated in the offseason, and Kreyer helping secure some new sponsorship to fund the purses, it was clear this series was more than “alive” for five. A new name was developed – The Unified Northern Drivers Racing Association, or TUNDRA.
The 2012 season saw yet another successful venture with TUNDRA averaging 31 cars through the five events. Once again the series turned heads. This time it was not only drivers, but tracks as well.
After forming new relationships with Golden Sands and Marshfield in the offseason before 2013, TUNDRA had a late change in schedule, which forced officials to make adjustments and turn the series into a full traveling program in March. Officials were able to agree to terms with LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, Jefferson Speedway and Slinger Speedway – completing a six-race schedule for TUNDRA’s third season.
The frantic offseason did not slow the momentum of TUNDRA, however. The series made its debut as a traveling tour with 40 entrants at Golden Sands on Memorial Day. The unseasonably cold and drizzly day turned out to be a historic one for TUNDRA, and one that set the tone for a wildly successful 2013. TUNDRA went on to have an average car count of 35, with 21 teams represented at each of the six races and a record car count of 41 in the season finale at Slinger.
With a renewed vision in the offseason of 2013 TUNDRA officials comprised an eight-race schedule at eight different venues for the 2014 season. New venues include Wisconsin International Raceway, Norway (Michigan) Speedway and a return to the birthplace of TUNDRA – Dells Raceway Park.
For the next chapter in TUNDRA history…stop out at one of our 2014 events!