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Northern lightning Sprint Association- NLSA





Amber Balcaen Bests Field at Red River Co-op Speedway

By Greg Cybulski / photo

WINNIPEG, MB (August 1, 2009) A strong performance by Amber Balcaen earned the pilot of the Imrie Demolition #10 Lightning Sprint her first Northern Lightning Sprint Association victory of the 2009 racing season at Red River Co-op Speedway on Thursday night.

In the first of two 8 lap heat races, starting from the third row, Amber quickly worked her way up to third place. Visiting racer Allan Dayman of Estevan, Saskatchewan had bad luck on lap 3 as his #2AWD Sprint slowed to a stop on the backstretch and did not return to action for the rest of the night. At the half way point of the heat, Balcaen would pass the #64 of Tyson Hiebert to finish in second place. Darren Pallen, who started on the outside of the front row, went on to win the race.

In the second heat race, Jennifer Carlson took the early lead with Roland Bernard and Dave Sobczak giving chase. This, however, was short-lived as the #6 of Carlson pulled off the track with difficulties. The #2 Lightning Sprint of Roland Bernard battled with Sobczak for the remainder of the heat. Bernard went on to win the race.

The start of the 15 lap feature was a wild affair as both heat winners would find themselves out of the race in the first lap. Led by Chris Bouwman and Chris Unrau on the front row, the field quickly stacked up at the drop of the green flag. Starting on the fourth row, Darren Pallen moved to the inside only to have contact with another car which caused his #11 Lightning Sprint to flip over the inside guard rail. The Red River Co-op Speedway Fire and Rescue Crew arrived immediately to the crash scene and assisted Pallen as he safely climbed out of his car. The speedway's crew was kept busy as they responded to Roland Bernard's crash on the backstretch following the restart of the race. Bernard also walked away from his damaged Sprint.

When the racing finally resumed, it was third place starter Tyson Hiebert taking the early lead from Chris Unrau. Dave Sobczak quickly moved up from fifth to third with Bob Charney in fourth spot. On lap 2, Sobczak passed Unrau for second place, while Charney and Jennifer Carlson battled hard for fourth position. Starting in sixth, Amber Balcaen steadily worked her way up the field and set herself up to make a move on the leader, Tyson Hiebert. On lap 12, Amber had her opportunity as she drove to the bottom of turn one to pass Tyson. On the backstretch, contact between the #10 of Balcaen and the #64 resulted in Hiebert's Sprint Car suffering damage thus dashing his hopes for victory. Following the final restart, Amber Balcaen pulled ahead of second place Dave Sobczak and never looked back as she went on to capture her first checkered flag. Rounding up the top 5 was Amber Balcaen, Dave Sobczak, Jennifer Carslon, Chris Unrau and Bob Charney.

Northern Lightning Sprint Association
Red River Co-op Speedway, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heat 1
1. 11 Darren Pallen
2. 10 Amber Balcaen
3. 64 Tyson Hiebert
4. 4C Chris Bouwman
5. 5 Eric Guyot
6. 2AWD Allan Dayman

Heat 2
1. 2 Roland Bernard
2. 17 Dave Sobczak
3. 3X Bob Charney
4. 27 Chris Unrau
5. 6 Jennifer Carlson

1. 10 Amber Balcaen
2. 17 Dave Sobczak
3. 6 Jennifer Carlson
4. 27 Chris Unrau
5. 3X Bob Charney
6. 64 Tyson Hiebert
7. 5 Eric Guyot
8. 4C Chris Bouwman
9. 2 Roland Bernard
10. 11 Darren Pallen
11. 2AWD Allan Dayman (DNS)

The next Northern Lightning Sprint Association race is scheduled for Saturday, August 15 at Red River Co-op Speedway.

About the Northern Lightning Sprint Association:
Created in September of 2008, the Northern Lightning Sprint Association is a rapidly growing organization committed to the creation and maintenance of safe, fast, fun, and affordable open wheel racing. Many of the organization?s members are dedicated to helping charities such as the Children?s Hospital Foundation and Cancer Care of Manitoba. More information can be found at



Roland Bernard Wins Chad Olson Memorial

Roland Bernard being presented the Chad Olson Memorial traveling cup by Chad's brother Cory.
(photo by Gerald Bernard)

By Gerald Bernard

July 4/09 NLSA competitor Roland Bernard of Winnipeg, Manitoba made history and will have his name engraved on the Traveling Cup as the first winner of the Chad Olson Memorial hosted by Greenbush Race Park on Independence Day weekend. In addition, Bernard took home the winner's prize money of $1,000. He started the feature in 3rd spot and quickly took the lead. Even with several cautions and restarts, Bernard lead all 25 laps.

Rounding up the top 5 was Roland Bernard, Darren Pallen, Brandon Johnson, Ryder Olson and Amber Balcaen.

Nolan Olmstead and the staff of Greenbush Race Park provided a well-groomed track for the competitors as they entertained the near-capacity crowd of dirt track racing fans. The weather was excellent for racing. A healthy field of Sprint Cars from both the NLSA and NOMSA were on hand as 18 teams took to the track each night. The weekend was action-packed with thrills, spills and excitement. The evening was concluded with fireworks.

July 3/09 Cory Wimpfheimer powered his #21 Mini Sprint from the 18th starting spot and finishing the 25 lap open wheel feature in first place ahead of second place Roland Bernard. Cory went home with the $500. prize money.

Rounding up the top 5 was Cory Wimpfheimer, Roland Bernard, Ryder Olson, Danny Steinmetz and Michael Schmiedeberg.

Chad Olson Memorial
Greenbush Race Park, Greenbush, MN
Northern Lightning Sprint Association vs. Northern Outlaw Mini Sprint Association

July 4/09
Mini Sprints - Feature
1 2R Roland Bernard
2 11 Darren Pallen
3 22 Brandon Johnson
4 21X Ryder Olson
5 10 Amber Balcaen
6 17 Dave Sobczak
7 56S Danny Steinmetz
8 15 Brady Schmiedeberg
9 4C Chris Bouwman
10 75 Kurt Smith
11 6 Jennifer Carlson
12 67 Jeremy Swenson
13 8 Brian Burkel
14 9 Dennis Rantanen
15 13 Ben Reese
16 2 Corey Olson
17 21 Cory Wimpfheimer
18 40 Michael Schmiedeberg

July 3/09
Mini Sprints - Feature
1 21 Cory Wimpfheimer
2 2R Roland Bernard
3 21X Ryder Olson
4 56S Danny Steinmetz
5 40 Michael Schmiedeberg
6 2 Corey Olson
7 22 Brandon Johnson
8 11 Darren Pallen
9 9 Dennis Rantanen
10 13 Ben Reese
11 4 Robert Saindon
12 75 Kurt Smith
13 6 Jennifer Carlson
14 67 Jeremy Swenson
15 10 Amber Balcaen
16 4C Chris Bouwman
17 15 Brady Schmiedeberg
18 8 Brian Burkel




Understanding  The  Difference  

By  Darren  Pallen,  NLSA  President

From  its  inception  in  the  fourth  quarter  of  2008,  the  primary  goal  of  the  Northern  Lightning  Sprint  Association  was  to  be  different.   A  different  attitude.   A  different  rule  book.   A  different  way  to  deal  with  cheaters. Different,  because  dirt  track  racing  needs  different  more  than  ever.  

Unbeknownst  to  his  fellow  attendees  at  the  inaugural  Northern  Lightning  Sprint  Member  meeting,  Tyson  Hiebert  was  preparing  to  be  different.   So  different,  in  fact,  that  he  would  prove  to  exceed  the  expectations  of NLSA  members  and  the  racing  community  alike.  

When  the  number  64  Lightning  Sprint  takes  to  the  track  this  summer,  be  sure  to  take  notice  of  its  front  wing.   While  the  average  racer  spends  a  great  deal  of  effort  negotiating  sponsorship  deals,  Hiebert  has chosen  to  provide  this  valuable  advertising  space  to  Cancer  Care  of  Manitoba  absolutely  free  of  charge.    

But  the  benefits  donít  stop  there  for  Cancer  Care  of  Manitoba.   In  an  environment  where  many  racers  spend  an  unhealthy  portion  of  their  time  complaining  about  payouts,  Hiebert  has  decided  to  forgo  his completely.   In  fact,  every  shiny  dime  that  Hiebert  earns  on  the  race  track  this  summer  will  be  donated  directly  to  Cancer  Care  of  Manitoba.   Hiebert  humbly  notes  "that  none  of  this  could  take  place  without  the fantastic  support  of  my  brother  Patrick  Hiebert,  wife  Kim  and  daughters  Carmen  and  Kylie."  

As  Tyson  Hiebert  picks  up  the  throttle  in  his  new  Lightning  Sprint  for  the  first  time,  his  thoughts  will  be  on  his  father  Harold,  who  lost  his  courageous  battle  with  cancer  in  the  summer  of  2008  at  the  age  of  64.    

Harold  Hiebert  was  a  great  race  fan  and  can  certainly  be  credited  for  Tysonís  keen  interest  in  the  sport  of  auto  racing.   There  is  no  doubt  that  Harold  will  be  looking  down  on  Red  River  Co‐op  Speedway  as  a very  different  group  of  open  wheel  racers  take  to  the  track  in  2009.  

That  group  will  be  led  by  his  son,  a  driver  that  has  already  proven  he  understands  the  difference.  



An  Open  Letter  to  Upright  "Mini Sprint"  Promoters  and  Drivers  

Written  by:  Darren  Pallen  (President:  Northern  Lightning  Sprint  Association,  Winnipeg,  Canada)  

Please  allow  me  to  introduce  myself.   My  name  is  Darren  Pallen.   I  have  been  involved  in  the  sport  of  auto  racing  for  over  20  years.   In  the  early  1990s,  I  raced  Mini‐Sprints  (a  750  c.c.  Bishop  Racing  Components  car)  before  moving  on  to  full‐size  Sprint  Cars  for  three  seasons.   Since  retiring  from  racing  in  1997,  I  have  spent  the  last  eleven  years  performing  motorsports  announcing  duties  including  events  like  Monster  Jam,  the  IHRA,  and  several  local  stock  car  and  motocross  tracks.  

When  I  made  the  decision  to  return  to  driving  a  race  car  early  in  2008,  I  quickly  realized  that  building  a  full‐size  Sprint  Car  program  would  not  be  an  option  due  to  soaring  costs.   I  then  looked  at  several  different  stock  car  divisions,  and  the  results  were  exactly  the  same.   Most  surprising,  however,  was  what  I  found  with  the  Mini‐Sprint  class.   It  is  this  discovery  that  prompted  me  to  write  this  commentary.  

Following  several  months  of  research,  I  concluded  that  very  little  has  changed  in  the  Mini‐Sprint  world  in  terms  of  the  way  these  cars  are  being  marketed  throughout  North  America.   Further,  I  discovered  that  Mini‐Sprint  rules  (especially  engine  rules)  have  not  yet  fallen  in  line  with  what  these  cars  were  originally  intended  to  be  (affordable).   In  summary,  I  found  that  many  of  the  same  things  that  were  hurting  the  growth  of  Mini‐Sprint  racing  back  in  the  1990s  are  still  prevalent  today.    

Letís  begin  with  marketing.   In  short,  the  term  "Mini‐Sprint"  is  a  very  poor  representation  of  a  modern  day  upright,  midget‐based,  motorcycle  engine  powered  Sprint  Car.   Without  a  doubt,  these  are  full‐blown,  legitimate  race  cars.   In  the  exact  words  of  Pat  Mooney,  a  broadcasting  friend  of  mine  here  in  Canada,  there  is  nothing  "mini"  about  these  cars.   They  are  built  to  the  same  specifications  as  a  full‐size  Sprint  Car,  and  in  my  opinion  carry  engines  that  are  far  more  technically  advanced  than  anything  else  found  at  a  dirt  track.   In  fact,  they  may  be  the  most  technically  advanced  production  engines  on  the  planet.   Yet,  we  continue  to  call  these  cars  "Mini‐Sprints".   If  you  were  a  sports  fan,  would  you  be  eager  to  go  watch  a  "Mini‐Football"  game?   A  "Mini‐Baseball"  game?   Or  how  about  a  "Mini‐Hockey"  game?   Likely  not.  

I  ask  that  all  upright  750  c.c./1000  c.c.  "Mini‐Sprint"  organizations  consider  removing  all  evidence  of  the  word  "Mini‐Sprint"  in  your  advertising  and  other  correspondence  and  replace  it  with  the  more  professional  term  "Lightning  Sprint".   I  believe  this  will  help  our  organizations  gain  better  credibility  with  fans  and  promoters  and  help  to  achieve  better  payouts through  a  more  professional  image.   Today,  success  is  achieved  through  a  sound  marketing  program,  no  matter  what  your  business  may  be.   The  term  "Lightning  Sprint"  is  much  more  marketable  than  "Mini‐Sprint".   The  use  of  "Lightning  Sprint"  will  also  help  distinguish  our  upright  cars  from  that  of  the  smaller  cars  in  the  Micro‐Sprint  division.   In  my  estimation,  it  is  quite  easy  for  the  casual  fan  to  mix  up  "Mini"  and  "Micro".   Changing  to  the  term  "Lightning  Sprints"  will  help  eliminate  this  confusion.  

In  all  forms  of  racing,  creating  a  "universal"  rule  book  has  always  been  a  huge  challenge.   There  is  no  doubt  that  a  "universal"  North  American  Lightning  Sprint  rule  book  would  be  great  for  everyone,  but  it  

would  certainly  not  be  easy  to  execute.   However,  imagine  for  a  moment  the  opportunity  to  be  able  to  travel  amongst  all  upright  Lightning  Sprint  organizations,  knowing  that  you  have  the  same  equipment  as  everyone  else.   The  benefits  are  simply  endless.    

My  idea  of  a  sustainable  rules  package  for  Lightning  Sprint  racing  is  based  around  the  use  of  completely  stock  motorcycle  engines  burning  pump  gasoline  only  (the  same  way  they  left  the  factory).   Back  in  the  1990s,  I  was  disappointed  to  find  many  Mini‐Sprint  organizations  that  promoted  unreasonably  expensive  engine  rules.   This  problem  has  not  changed  with  many  organizations  to  this  day.   Why  do  we  need  highly‐modified,  expensive  motorcycle  engines  in  these  cars?   If  Joe  Racer  wants  to  spend  that  kind  of  money  building  an  engine  that  is  far  less  reliable  than  when  it  left  the  factory,  then  my  thought  is  that  Joe  Racer  might  want  to  consider  racing  full‐size  Sprint  Cars.    

The  opportunity  to  "re‐brand"  and  "re‐market"  Lightning  Sprint  racing  has  never  been  better  than  it  is  right  now.   Rising  costs  in  stock  car  racing  (Street  Stocks,  Super  Stocks,  Modifieds,  etc.)  are  making  it  tough,  if  not  impossible  for  these  drivers  to  continue.  If  we  collectively  market  and  create  truly  affordable  rules  packages  for  Lightning  Sprints  in  the  correct  fashion,  we  can  attract  many  drivers  from  these  other  classes,  as  well  as  provide  an  affordable  racing  opportunity  for  younger  drivers  who  wish  to  graduate  from  their  starter  classes.   Collectively,  letís  see  what  we  can  do  to  make  this  sport  more  attainable  for  everyone.   Our  ultimate  success  or  failure,  in  my  opinion,  will  be  directly  linked  to  our  rule  books.  

When  we  created  the  Northern  Lightning  Sprint  Association,  our  goal  was  to  make  certain  this  class  ended  up  in  the  position  that  it  was  originally  intended  to  be:  fun,  fast  and  affordable.   Using  a  democratic  voting  process  and  the  long‐term  vision  of  many  excited  new  drivers,  we  created  a  rule  book  that  will  serve  to  keep  this  sport  growing  in  Canada  for  many  years  to  come.   It  is  important  to  note  that  the  NLSA  has  only  been  in  existence  since  October  of  2008.   And  although  we  have  yet  to  turn  a  wheel  as  an  organization,  I  am  proud  to  announce  that  the  NLSA  already  has  14  cars  ready  to  race  in  2009.   My  guess  is  that  we  will  have  several  more  very  soon.    

Your  comments  and  observations  are  welcome  at  


Darren  Pallen



Red River Co-op Speedway Announces New Racing Division For '09

February 19, 2009 (Winnipeg, MB) Red River Coop Speedway is proud to announce the creation of a radical new racing division for the 2009 season.

The all-new open wheel "Lightning Sprints" will compete at a minimum of nine (9) race events in 2009, beginning with the Enduro Challenge Series Season Opener on April 25, 2009.

Featuring distinctive aerodynamic "wings" to provide downforce, weighing just 730 pounds, and powered by extremely reliable 130 horsepower 750 c.c. motorcycle engines, Lightning Sprints provide fast and exciting wheel-to-wheel racing action at speeds rivaling the fastest full-bodied stock cars. Lightning Sprints compete on both paved and dirt ovals around the world with the heaviest concentration in the United States.

For more information about this exciting new racing division, please contact Darren Pallen at (204) 228-4251. You may also log on to

About Red River Coop Speedway

Red River Coop Speedway is Canadaís fastest 4/10 mile dirt oval race track. The track has operated for over thirty years at its present location five miles south of St. Norbert on Highway 75. Red River Coop Speedway features full concessions, is licensed, and has seating accommodations for up to 4,000 people. Red River Coop Speedway is regarded as one of the top dirt track racing facilities in Canada. More information on Red River Coop Speedway can be found by visiting


The Northern Lightning Sprint Association Inaugural Meeting

October  31,  2008       

(Winnipeg,  Manitoba)   The  Northern  Lightning  Sprint  Association  held  its  inaugural  meeting  on  Thursday,  October  30,  2008  at  Formula  Suzuki  in  the  Waverley  Automall.   The  event  began  at  7:00  P.M.  sharp  and  concluded  at  9:00  P.M.  Central  Standard  Time.   Prospective  members  and  racers  alike  made  great  progress  in  shaping  the  vision  for  the  future  of  the  NLSA.  

"Although  we  originally  expected  about  15  to  20  people  at  this  first  meeting,  the  actual  attendance  was  an  unbelievable  53  people",  said  Darren  Pallen,  who  chaired  the  event.   "This  solidifies  our  belief  that  there  exists  a  huge  need  for  truly  affordable  open wheel  racing  in  this  area.   You  just  canít  find  a  race  car  that  burns  a  couple  of  gallons  of  pump  gas  per  night  and  requires  only  a  couple  hours  of  maintenance  to  keep  race‐ready.   The  Lightning  Sprints  are  the  start  of  a  new  and  exciting  direction  for  auto  racing  in  this  area.   They  are  lightning  fast,  fun,  and  affordable"  

Notable  meeting  attendees  included  Fred  Taylor  (new  proprietor  of  Red  River  Co‐op  Speedway),  and  Al  Hildebrand,  owner  of  the  new  yet  unnamed  race  track  in  Morden,  Manitoba.   Both  race  track  owners  clearly  voiced  their  support  of  the  Northern  Lightning  Sprint  Association  and  looked  forward  to  having this  new  organization  competing  at  their  race  tracks  in  2009.  

Although  the  rule  book  will  not  be  officially  released  until  mid-November,  NLSA  meeting  participants  discussed  several  ideas  for  the  consideration  of  the  yet‐to‐be‐formed  Rules  Committee.   These  ideas  included,  among  others,  the  use  of  Red  River  Co‐op  91  octane  pump  gas  only.   All  fueling  would  be  controlled  by  track  officials  who  would  be  responsible  for  the  filling  of  each  competitorís  empty  tank  before  every  race.   Other  rule  highlights  included  a  spec  tire  on  either  the  Right  Rear  only  or  on  all  four  corners  (SP2  Hoosier),  completely  stock  four‐stroke  750  c.c.  or  1000  c.c.  motorcycle  engines  (Power  Commander  or  Bazzaz type  devices  permitted),  and  an  unconventional  yet  creative  method  for  dealing  with  competitors  who  choose  to  ignore  NLSA  rules.  

The  Northern  Lightning  Sprint  Association  thanks  Debra  Borton  of  Formula  Suzuki  for  providing  their  spacious  and  comfortable  facility  for  the  meeting.  

For  more  information  on  the  Northern  Lightning  Sprint  Association,  log  on  to


Photos by Tim Johnson -


Thereís a brand new podcast covering the inaugural Northern Lightning Sprint Association meeting at

We also interview new track owner Al Hildebrand from Morden, Manitoba.




Red River Co-op Speedway plans to introduce a new class in the 2009 racing season. The Lightning Sprints will be on the schedule next year and they are already creating a buzz in the pits. RRCS Track Announcer, Darren Pallen had his new Lightning Sprint out at the track on Saturday, and he impressed a lot of people with his cars speed on the track. I am already looking forward to next season!!! (Photo by Tim Johnson)



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