Walls At Fremont Speedway
Brian Liskai: FREMONT,
Ohio (May 5) - Fremont Speedway may be the only dirt track
in the nation to be using "soft walls" for driver safety
The blocks of styrofoam-type material, were placed in front
of the concrete walls in the turns and were purchased through
money raised by the Sandusky County Fair Board's 50/50 raffle
conducted during the racing season (the winning fan takes
home half the pot and the fair board uses the other half
for improvements at the race track and fairgrounds).
Jody Keegan, driver of the K-60 410-sprinter, was the first
to test the new soft walls during the third heat action.
Keegan backed his car hard into the first turn, with the
only damage occuring to the softwall block with a portion
stuck in Keegan's rear bumper. Prior to the softwalls, Keegan
would have came into contact with the concrete, probably
damaging his bumper, fuel tank and possibly a wheel and
tire and the rearend. With the softwall, Keegan was able
to push back off and rejoin the heat race, where he raced
to a fifth place finish. The softwalls probably saved Keegan
several hundred dollars in damages.
The softwalls were again put to the test in the 305 sprint
third heat when driver Eric Lynd flipped his #99 sprinter
hard into the third turn wall. The softwall absorbed much
of the cars energy, thus lessening the impact and the damage
to the car and injury for the driver.
"I'm very, very pleased with how the softwalls performed.
They did what they are supposed to do...just ask Jody Keegan
and Eric Lynd," said Fremont Speedway promoter Jim Ford.
"The drivers and owners really have to thank the Sandusky
County Fair Board for doing the 50/50 raffle and for donating
proceeds to help make the softwalls possible. Those walls
probably saved thousands of dollars in equipment and prevented
Speaking of the 50/50 raffle.... It was a good night to
be from Kentucky Saturday at The Track That Action Built.
A fan from the Bluegrass State won $772 from the fair board's
raffle. A boy from Kentucky also won the free bicycle donated
by the Tackle Box II.
Everett Lilley of Fremont had the big crowd fired up after
a great job of singing the National Anthem.
Aaron McClure, a real estate agent for Realty One of Fremont,
but a $100 bonus up if 410 sprint driver Bobby Clark could
win the feature. Clark ran away with his heat race, but
a poor qualifying time put him at the back of the field
to start the feature, where he finished 17th.
Jim Linder, a seven-time Fremont Speedway track champion
who sits second on the all-time career feature win list,
debuted his new 410 sprint creation. Linder, who retired
from the sport over a decade ago, has teamed up with former
car owner Larry Keegan (brother of eight-time speedway champion
Mark Keegan) to field a car with an experimental drive-line
assembly. The fans gave Linder a loud ovation when announced
for hot laps. Unfortunately, something broke in the driveline
assembly during Linder's heat, ending his night. Linder
was also lucky he wasn't injured; when the driveline broke,
it came up and punctured a hole in his seat.
Another driver to come out of retirement Saturday was Joey
Keegan. Keegan, whose career began in the 1970s in a late
model, also drove open sprints for several years. However,
he is probably best known as "the father" of the 305 sprints,
as he was one of the first to field what was known as an
"econo sprint." Keegan is back behind the wheel of a 305
sprint. The car, owned by Charlie Dagg, is dubbed the Chuck
Wagon III. Keegan raced his way into the the A-main by virtue
of a fourth place showing in his heat. Overheating problems
religated him to a 15th place finish.
Opening night for Fremont Speedway's 51st season drew 31
of the 410 sprints; 39 of the 305 sprints; and 26 dirt trucks.
Doug Ford, chief mechanic for Alvin Roepke's #99 410 sprint,
and son of Fremont Speedway promoters Jim and Joanne Ford,
celebrated his 42nd birthday on Friday, May 3.
Jack Hewitt, who holds the most career All Star Circuit
of Champions victories at Fremont Speedway, was in competition
in the familiar #31. Hewitt will be offering fans rides
at Fremont in his two-seat sprint car on June 23 from noon
to ? Come to the race track that day for ticket information.
Long-time Fremont sprint car competitor John Wisbon has
confirmed he has a new ride for the 2002 season. Wisbon
is tentatively scheduled to campaign cars for owner Pete
Grove who lives near Buckeye Speedway near Orville. No information
yet on where the team will race as yet.
The Fremont News-Messenger carried a special 8-page section
on area racing in their April 25 issue. The section featured
a full page color photo of 305 sprint drivers Matt Karbler
and Terry King racing through turns 1 and 2 at Fremont.
Stories in the section profiled engine builder Paul Kistler;
the turn-around at Fremont Speedway; the new promoters at
Attica Raceway Park, Janet Holbrook and her son Doug; Fremont
Speedway's 2001 track champions John Ivy (410 sprints) and
Bryan Scott (305 sprints); and the season outlook for Sandusky
Speedway and Norwalk Raceway Park.
A few of the up-and-coming 305 sprint drivers were absent
from Saturday's racing action. The high school students
went to their proms instead Doug Berryman, A.J. Sleek and
Speaking of Doug Berryman, our condolences goes out to the
Berryman family at the passing of Brian Berryman on May
3. Brian is the uncle of Doug and the brother of Doug's
dad, Bruce Berryman who is a former late model driver at
Fremont Speedway. Brian and Bruce are nephews of Lamar Berryman
who raced sprint cars at Fremont Speedway back int he 1960s
for Earl Lowe, who's grandson Ryan is an up-and-coming 305
sprint driver. Fans who wish to make memorial contributions
may do to to Brian's children in care of Jake and Mary Berryman
You can keep up with the area race scene, along with the
World of Outlaws and All Star Circuit of Champions by picking
up a free copy of "The Racers Edge" news bulletin at The
Tackle Box II, Track Action Collectables or Rainbow Lanes,
all in Fremont, on Saturdays and Sundays.
Dirt truck driver Jeff "Donut" Dougherty probably collected
more runner-up finishes in 2001 than anyone else. He began
the 2002 season the same way Saturday, scoring a second
2000 dirt truck track champion Danny Roepke suffered through
a miserable night, as his #53 experienced engine woes throughout
the night. Engine builder Scott Gressman was seen looking
under the hood to offer a helping hand.
Speaking of mechanical woes.... Defending Fremont Speedway
305 track champion Bryan Scott, who won 19 features in 2001,
looked to be on his way to scoring his second feature win
of the season Saturday. However, something broke in the
rearend/driveline assembly while he was leading with 10
laps to go in the feature, dropping him to a 16th place