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Ziells zooms to victory

Wade Ziells celebrates winning the Carlton County Fair's compacts race on Friday evening in Barnum. Ziells also won the points standings in compacts and mid-size car classes. Dave Harwig/ 1 / 2
Kortney Johnson of Mahtowa drives the No. 25 car to victory in Friday night's Carlton County Fair 'Powderpuff' Race. Dave Harwig/ 2 / 2

If there was an Acura car racing Hall of Fame, perhaps Saginaw’s Wade Ziells would be the first name on the list.

Ziells was the first name on many lists this past weekend at the Carlton County Fair in Barnum, as the 36-year-old won races, prize money and titles over two days.

Ziells not only won the compact 4-cylinder event during Friday’s oval races, but did the same and claimed the 6-cylinder mid-sized class in Sunday’s rainy Figure 8 competition. If that weren’t enough, he also earned the points championship in both divisions for his summer-long success throughout a four-race series.

“I did pretty good,” chuckled the humble Ziells, who said he has been racing competitively for about 18 years — or half his life. “I raced in three classes each Friday and Sunday. It makes for a long weekend, but it was worth it.”

Getting all the worth out of his Acuras over the weekend, Ziells raced in the compact division with his black Integra model and the mid-size with his grey Legend.

Car racing runs in the Ziells’ family blood. Originally of Proctor, Ziells’ father, Joe, just retired from the sport this year, and his older brother, Shawn, is as decorated as he. Wade’s son, 14-year-old Joel, also began racing this season.

“They’re very good at it,” said Carlton County Fair Board President and Grandstand Administrator Steve Loucks of the Ziells family. “They must have been doing this for 20 years or so now. If Wade doesn’t win, Shawn usually does.”

According to Loucks, about 75 vehicles raced last Friday, including the Northern Vintage stock cars, as well as 35 more on a damp Sunday. Last Thursday also included the tractor pull, and Saturday featured the Demolition Derby.

Loucks explained the powderpuff, pure stock and outlaw V8 divisions were also held each evening for a popular fair attraction that had more drivers than listed on the program.

For a classic, homegrown dirt track, including lights, Loucks said the attendance was substantial all weekend long.

“The grandstand was down a hair Sunday,” Loucks explained, due to heavy rain, “but it was great for the other two nights.”

Fellow board member Heather Overn agreed, noting the close-knit, do-it-yourself atmosphere makes the weekend go.

“You see a lot of very basic, put-together cars, not the big-money ones,” she said. “It’s a family environment. You see the same people, and then you see their kids. They come to have a good time. Some bring seven, eight, nine cars.”

Or if you’re Ziells, anything named Acura.