Slinger Nationals

The Slinger Nationals is not just another short track race, it’s an annual tradition rich with history.  A staple of the Midwestern short-track racing scene, the Nationals have a long history of being a proving ground for the best super late model competitors. Past Nationals’ winners include notable drivers; Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Lowell Bennett, Conrad Morgan, Mark Martin, Rich Bickle, Butch Miller, Joe Shear, Alan Kulwicki and Dick Trickle.  The trophy carries the name of the first winner, Larry Detjens.  

Held on a Tuesday in early July, the Slinger Nationals is an event that racers and fans travel from all around the country to attend! Four-time winner Rich Bickle:  “What can I say, it’s one of the top short-track races in the USA! To win four Nationals is amazing, and hard to believe in the day!  To think I’ve been able to race with the greatest in the world at Slinger Speedway - it just doesn’t get any better than that!” 

Larry Detjens

by Fr Dale Grubba

Charisma. Larry Detjens, the winner of the first Slinger Nationals in 1980, had it in abundance. His curly, prematurely grey hair, his smile had fans gathering around his hauler every race date. The meticulously prepared purple and blue race cars that emanated from his Detjens’ Auto Body shop and the fact that the early ones were Dodge Challengers drew everyone’s attention. When he switched to Chevrolet the “I wish I Were a Mopar” on the rear spoiler stated his first love. His was the first short track team to wear uniforms, purple shirts and white pants. He was respected by all he raced against, Dick Trickle, Tom Reffner, Marv Marzofka, and Mike Miller.

Detjens was born in Port Washington, Wisconsin but by his high school year found himself living in the Wausau area where he competed as a rodeo bull rider. In the winter he could be found skiing on Rib Mountain where he qualified for the Junior Ski Nationals three times and the Senior level once. After graduation he served as a ski instructor. Detjens began his racing career in 1967 in a Dodge hobbystock car. “It started off as a hobby and ended up as a business,” he was fond of telling people. It didn’t take long for him to ascend to the top levels of short track racing.

In 1980 he won the first Slinger Nationals. Before his untimely death in a racing accident in 1981, Detjens was having an outstanding year. Wisconsin short track racing lost one of its brightest stars whose future was unlimited. In his memory, the winner of the Slinger Nationals earns the Larry Detjens Trophy.

“Whether it is skiing or racing, I enjoy the competition. I love that close contact. It is the thrill of racing. It is the greatest feeling on earth to be out on that track side-by-side with someone, testing every nerve and skill in your body.”  Larry Detjens, Summer of 1981

Chris McIntee

by April Anderson

Friend, fan, crew member, crew chief and son were just some of the hats that Chris McIntee wore. There has been no other person that could light up a speedway or the pits the way Chris did. His personality and smile was unlike anyone else.  I have never met a fan more dedicated to his favorite drivers:  his father, Pat, and Matt Kenseth.  His passion for racing and family is what made Chris who he was.  Chris was a friend to everyone.  When Chris unexpectedly passed away in 2015 at the age of 42, I knew his memory needed to continue.  So after a lot of thinking, I approached Todd Thelen and Rodney Erikson, asking if they could name a trophy after him. Other than the Opener, Chris' favorite race was the Nationals.  I knew the main trophy was already taken, so the next best trophy was the transfer trophy into the big race.  I knew Rob Braun had a special relationship with Chris and would be the person to help me get this done.  Rob designed the trophy and also purchased the first one.  Our dream became a reality and it was ready for the Nationals.  

In 2016 the first Chris McIntee Trophy was given to the winner of the Nationals Qualifying Race. The first winner was not only a Slinger regular, but a good friend to Chris:  Alex Prunty (#11 Super Late Model). At the end of the races each week Chris and Alex used to walk together to get the payout; this was their special time. 

One other special thing about this trophy that most people do not know is that every year Chris' parents, Patrick and Patricia, give the trophy to the winner.   To this day, I can see Chris cheering his heart out and I hope his memory will last forever in our hearts with this trophy. 

Slinger Nationals Winners

Year

Feature - Larry Detjens Trophy

Qualifying Race - Chris McIntee Trophy

1980

Larry Detjens

--

1981

Alan Kulwicki

--

1982

Dick Trickle

--

1983

Dick Trickle

--

1984

Mark Martin

--

1985

Dick Trickle

--

1986

John Ziegler

--

1987

Joe Shear

--

1988

Butch Miller

--

1989

Dick Trickle (4)

--

1990

Joe Shear

--

1991

Joe Shear

--

1992

Rich Bickle, Jr

--

1993

Joe Shear (4)

--

1994

Matt Kenseth

--

1995

Butch Miller (2)

--

1996

Rich Bickle, Jr

--

1997

Lowell Bennett

--

1998

Tony Strupp

--

1999

Conrad Morgan

--

2000

Lowell Bennett

--

2001

David Prunty

--

2002

Matt Kenseth

--

2003

Rich Bickle, Jr

--

2004

Lowell Bennett

--

2005

Nathan Haseleu

--

2006

Matt Kenseth

--

2007

Lowell Bennett

--

2008

Matt Kenseth

--

2009

Matt Kenseth

--

2010

Lowell Bennett (5)

--

2011

Kyle Busch

--

2012

Matt Kenseth

--

2013

Rich Bickle, Jr (4)

--

2014

Chris Wimmer

--

2015

Dennis Prunty

--

2016

Matt Kenseth

Alex Prunty

2017

Bubba Pollard

Brad Mueller

2018

Ty Majeski

Dan Fredrickson

2019

Matt Kenseth (8)

Chris Weinkauf

2020

                                                                    

Image

First Slinger Nationals, 1980 (Left to Right): Don Walter (Sportsman), Dick Trickle, Larry Detjens, Jean Gilligan (Miss Slinger), Joe Shear, Wayne Erickson