(Stafford Springs, CT)—After a career that has spanned over 50 years, Ed Flemke, Jr. will take one final ride behind the wheel of John Hummel’s #11 Hummel Brothers Hot Dogs modified for the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®, April 29th & 30th. Flemke had an opportunity to drive the #11 car in last year’s Sizzler® but turned the offer down. Watching last year’s Sizzler® from the stands gave Flemke the itch to get behind the wheel again and with the 2023 Sizzler® being the 50th anniversary of his father’s Sizzler® victory as well as the 50th Anniversary of Flemke’s very first race, the opportunity was too much for Flemke to pass up a second time.
“It should be a lot of fun,” said Flemke. “Last year John [Hummel] had asked me if I wanted to drive the car in the Sizzler® since it was the 50th anniversary race and I told him thanks, but no thanks. Then as I was sitting there watching the race, I thought it would have been nice to at least try and make the field. The week after the race last year I said to John that this year would be the 50th anniversary of my father’s Sizzler® win and it’s also the 50th anniversary of my very first race, which was the day before my father won the Sizzler and that I’d like to drive one last time. I’m not saying I’ll never get behind the wheel of a racecar again, but it definitely won’t be a race, it’ll be just to practice or something like that.”
Between his father’s and his own accomplishments at Stafford, it’s fitting that Flemke will run his very last race at a place that is very near and dear to Flemke’s heart.
“I’ve been coming to Stafford since before the Arute family owned the track,” said Flemke. “Stafford has been here forever and it’s a premier facility with the best of the best drivers racing there. Stafford is the place to be seen and it’s a track that not every driver has won a race at. A lot of people don’t realize that my father won the first two races when the track first changed over from dirt to asphalt. The following year he won the opening race and then he won the first race when the Arute family took the track over, so that’s kind of neat and it’s a bit uncanny that things worked out that way. I remember sitting with Dale Holdridge’s wife Pat in the stands before I was old enough to go into the paddock area and that’s actually where I got my first car number from because Dale raced the #37 at Stafford. Stafford has a lot of connections directly and indirectly to my family and the track means a lot to my family. We grew up around a lot of racetracks but Stafford was always the weekly staple and it’s been neat to be a part of and witness the growth of the track.”
Flemke harkens back to his father’s victory in the 1973 Sizzler® as well as his own misfortune in the 2003 Sizzler® as his most memorable Stafford moments.
“The race that stands out to me was the year I was a couple of laps away from winning the Sizzler® and I was wrecked by Ted Christopher,” said Flemke. “That race was a high and a low all at the same time and my father winning the Sizzler® was also a high point for me. To see him win that race, I would say that was the highlight for me.”
Although the Sizzler® will mark Flemke’s final time behind the wheel in a race, he has no regrets and is very proud of everything that he has been able to accomplish in racing.
“Not really any sadness, I’ve had a good career and a good life,” said Flemke. “When I sit and think about things, the Flemke name has been in racing for over 100 years since my grandfather raced motorcycles in Germany so it’s kind of sad that there won’t be a Flemke active in motorsports, but all good things come to an end sometime. I never won any championships but I won a lot of races and I had chances at a few championships, so I’m satisfied and content with my career. I might be done racing but I’ll still be involved with building cars and things like that.”
As for his performance in the #11 car, Flemke is just hoping to be one of the 33 starting cars for “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring.”
“It should be fun and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Flemke. “I know we have a good car and Bruneau makes good power so we should be in pretty good shape but I also know what I’m up against so we’ll see what happens. My father always said if you can load the car in the trailer at the end of the night it’s a win, so if we can make the race and put the car on the trailer at the end of the day, that will be a win for us and I’ll be very proud. No matter what happens, it will be a great weekend.”
The 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 29, and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models will also make their return to Stafford Speedway on April 29th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race. Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Star divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program.
Sunday, April 30th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the Spring Sizzler®.
For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.