Northern Thunder returns

Joel Cryderman celebrates his feature auto race win at Cedar Lake during the 2008 season. Cryderman will return to the sport at the Thunder Bay Truck Centre Dirt Track Nationals next month.

Joel Cryderman is back in the driver’s seat. At least for one night on home turf.

The decorated Thunder Bay racer will end his nine-year retirement at the Thunder Bay Truck Centre Dirt Track Nationals when he’ll compete in the B-modifieds class at Mosquito Speedway, Sept. 13-15.

Cryderman, 59, made the move official on Wednesday when organizers announced the 42-driver pre-entry list in the top class which is doling out $12,000 to the winner. He plans to race in a new car — a 2012 shaw — owned by friend and fellow racer Shawn Polonoski.

“Just going to try it one weekend,” Cryderman said in a phone interview. “I’m not going to go back full hog into racing. Just to give it a whirl.”

Before hanging up the helmet at the age of 50, Cryderman lived and breathed the sport of auto racing for 30 years. He was a fixture on victory lane for big-money feature races across the WISSOTA circuit, regularly collecting five-digit cash prizes. Cryderman has travelled through five states

The bulk of Cryderman’s late-career success continued after Riverview and Mosquito speedways closed shop, so he was pleased to see the rebirth of local racing in 2014 with the introduction of the annual Dirt Track Nationals.

“It’s getting better and better every year. Good deal out there,” he said. “I know the Simpsons and they run it. I’ve watched it and supported it the best I could. It’s nice to see it get rolling.”

Cryderman admitted having a race back in his backyard helped push him back for more laps.

“You always miss something like that, but I’m getting a little older,” he said.

However, the practice time before mid-September won’t be as regular for Cryderman as the new car is still being worked on.

“You kind of always want to do good. I suppose if I practice, maybe I’ll do better. We’ll see what happens,” Cryderman said.

Cryderman won’t be the only veteran in the B-mods lineup. Kevin Monteith, Tom Smart, Adam Denhardt, Polonoski and Don Craig are other notable local racers in the division.

Defending champion Jason Vandekamp of Scandia, Minn., is also back. Vandekamp won the B-mods feature race to win $10,000 last year. The grand prize has increased by $2,000 from last year and $7,000 from 2017.

Thunder Bay’s Cole Chernosky is also in the B-mods feature. He won both features in the super stocks last season. Drivers in the super and street stocks, along with the ice racers/hornets, will also be competing.

“The guys in town are doing pretty good now. Lots of good guys coming from the States,” said Cryderman.

The B-mods will hold four to five heats depending on the final field before paring the drivers down to eight or 10 cars for the finale.

Tickets at the Mosquito Speedway gate cost $10 on Sept. 13 (6 p.m.), $20 on Sept. 14 (2 p.m.) and $25 on Sept. 15 (2 p.m.).

Kids aged five and under are free while ticket costs for students and seniors is $15 on Sept. 14 and $20 on Sept. 15.

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