A Look Back At The 1987 Slinger Nationals

Dale Earnhardt was there. So was Bobby Allison. Alan Kulwicki and Mark Martin were ready and strapped in. This scene could’ve been played out at Daytona, Talladega or even North Wilkesboro . But it wasn?t. They were all at the Slinger Super Speedway on two Tuesday evenings in 1987. The eighth edition of the Miller Nationals at the Slinger Super Speedway is fondly remembered for its legendary cast and its exciting door to door racing action.

But there?s more. Add short track legends Dick Trickle, Butch Miller, Bobby Dotter and Joe Shear. How about rising Slinger standout Robbie Reiser? Crafty Slinger stars, Tony Strupp, Al Schill and Conrad Morgan? Yep, they were all there. Don?t forget Wisconsin short trackers, John Zeigler, Scott Hansen, Ted Musgrave and Rich Bickle, Jr., they were all ready and ready to go. That?s quite a race lineup.

On June 9, the first leg of the Miller Nationals was held with Chicago’s Bobby Dotter setting fast time at 11.686 seconds in front of a record crowd of over 11,000. The first night of the two night event would be twin 75-lap features. The head of the ?Alabama Gang, ? Bobby Allison and Stevens Point?s Rich Somers were on the front row leading the star-studded field of 22 as the crowd settled in. At the drop of the green it was Somers who charged into the lead as pre-race favorites, Dick Trickle and Joe Shear stormed towards the front. Meanwhile, Michigan-native Butch Miller was making his presence known by making his way to the front. Miller who started towards the rear of the field was up to fifth by lap 50 as he passed Trickle for fourth as smooth Joe Shear was now in the lead. The race took a big turn on lap 65 when Dennis Lampman had a differential on his Camaro explode sending greasy gear lube all over turn four. Miller who had taken the lead moments before slammed into the wall, the impact lifting the car into the catch fencing. The car was heavily damage, with Miller escaping unhurt. The action was stopped as repairs were made to the fence. When racing resumed it was Shear and Schill who battled for the final ten laps with Shear taking the first half win. Ziegler came across the line third with Morgan and Trickle rounding out the top-5.

Due to Miller?s wrecked car and Lampman?s mechanical ills, both were unable to start the second feature. With the top-16 inverted, it was Earnhardt and Jerry Wood on the front row with Shear and Schill mired towards the rear of the 20-car field. Earnhardt took the lead and led the first 14 laps. Nevertheless Dotter passed Earnhardt on lap 15 and drove away from the field to win the second 75-lap feature. Morgan finished a distant second with Joel Laufer of nearby Hartford third. Shear and Trickle rounding out the top-5. Martin faired the best of the NASCAR stars finishing sixth in the first feature and seventh in the second feature. Kulwicki was 12th and 11th, Earnhardt ended up 16th and 13th and Allison struggled to 20th and 19th place finishes.

When the Nationals returned to the world?s fastest quarter-mile on July 14 it was Shear who was fastest in qualifying with a lap of 11.703 seconds. This time it was a 200-lap feature with a six-minute halfway break. It was Greenfield, Wisconsin’s own Alan Kulwicki and Green Bay ?s Scott Hansen on the front row. Hansen and Kulwicki collided at the drop of the green flag fortunately both recovered with Hansen taking the lead. Kulwicki took over on lap seven as Morgan moved up to second place and Shear charged up to third place. Morgan took the lead on lap 44 from the reigning NASCAR Rookie of the Year, as Kulwicki dropped to third on lap 50 as Shear continued his attack. The defending Winston Cup Champion, Earnhardt hit the wall just past lap 50 bringing out the yellow silk. Miller appeared to be pacing himself, moving up to third near the halfway point. At the break it was Shear, Trickle, Miller, Morgan and Bickle in the top-5.

Strategy was in play as Shear and Morgan elected to change tires sending themselves to the rear of the field. Aided by yellow flags, Shear was masterfully able to work his way towards the front. Meanwhile at the front it was Trickle and Miller who battled in front of the capacity crowd. Miller finally took the lead and pulled away as Shear worked his way up to second place from the rear at the end of 200 laps. Bobby Dotter came home third as Trickled faded to fourth as Martin continued his dominance over his NASCAR cohorts with a fifth place finish. Kulwicki ended up 13th, Davey Allison who missed the first round was 15th as his father ended up 18th and Earnhardt was 21st.

Using an intricate points system, Joe Shear ended up being the overall champion with 3905 points ahead of Miller who amassed 3610. Dotter was third with 3235, Morgan fourth at 2305 and Wisconsin Rapids ? Dick Trickle fifth at 2150.

Even though it doesn?t seem that long ago to some, it’s been 21 years and the racing world certainly has changed. The following year Bobby Allison?s driving career ended at Pocono Raceway. We would lose Kulwicki and Davey Allison in aviation crashes in 1993. Shear passed away in March 1998, following a three-year battle with cancer and of course we lost Earnhardt in turn four at Daytona in 2001. However, Mark Martin is still racing on the Cup circuit. The good news is Dick Trickle would go on and win the NASCAR Rookie of the Year award at age 48 in 1989. That?s one record that probably won?t be broken. However this year, he has stepped away from his reduced racing schedule this year due to a corrected medical issue. Musgrave, Bickle and Dotter would see varied success in the NASCAR ranks. Hansen and Miller would drive in the Craftsman Truck Series with Miller winning a race. Robbie Reiser would move to North Carolina , drive in the Busch Series with some success in the 1990’s. However, when he moved up on the pit cart and put future Cup champion Matt Kenseth in the car Reiser never looked back. We look back and smile and shake our heads in awe reminiscing on what we saw?.NASCAR?s best along with the best short tack drivers in the world that summer at Slinger.

Slinger Speedway has announced the addition of five star drivers to join Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch at the 29th Annual Miller Lite Slinger Nationals with Kelly Bires, Erik Darnell, Johnny Sauter, David Stremme, and Scott Wimmer all committing to race in the July 15th event.

All seven visiting drivers will pilot potent rides in their search of the Miller Lite Nationals title on the ultra-fast quarter-mile oval. Kenseth, a three-time Nationals champion, and Bires will be behind the wheel of Pathfinder Chassis house cars prepared by Jason Schuler and Joe Wood, who will also be busy preparing a limited late model for Matt’s son Ross Kenseth. Busch, the current NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader and the hottest driver on the circuit during the first half, will drive his own late model prepared by crew chief Richie Wauters while Darnell will be driving a family owned car prepared by his father Danny. Sauter will make his first trip to Slinger’s high banks with his own Hamke Chassis car powered by a Wegner “Spec” engine and Stremme will also make his maiden voyage to Slinger behind the wheel of his own potent car he competes with in the CRA Super Series. Seeking his first title in the prestigious event, Wimmer will bring his familiar family-owned number 25 car in which he was had many strong runs in the past.

For a chance to meet Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and the other Nationals Stars a limited number of VIP Meet and Greet Hospitality tickets are available. VIP Hospitality tickets will allow lucky fans the opportunity to get an autograph and attend a Q&A session. Pit Pass , Food, Drink and a general admission ticket to the race will be included with the VIP Ticket. To purchase VIP tickets call the track office (262-644-5921) or go to

Advance general admission tickets for the July 15th Miller Lite Nationals are on sale now at the Slinger Speedway track office (262-644-5921), Pioneer Plaza in Richfield or on line at: Fans can save $2.00 when they purchase Adult General Admission tickets in advance. The rain date is Wednesday July 16th.

Slinger Speedway is located off of Hwy 41 and Highway 144 at 280 Cedar Creek Road in Slinger, WI. For more information on upcoming events call the track office at 262-644-5921 or visit our web site at

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