to be inducted into Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame on June 6
Monday, May 11, 2009
Contact Brian Liskai
By Brian Liskai
FREMONT, Ohio - Fremont Speedway
has seen some of the best drivers in the
history of motorsports compete
on its clay surface. "The Track That Action
Built" has a historic part
of the sport of automobile racing in the United
States and is excitement
continues in 2009 as racing is in its 58th season.
To recognize those whose
shoulders today's racers and fans stand, 17 members
will be inducted into the
newly created Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame during
ceremonies prior to racing
on June 6.
Special plaques will highlight
the racing careers of the 17 inductees and
will be housed in a beautiful
case for fans to view under the historic
The 17 to be inducted in
the first hall of fame class are: Gug Keegan, Darl
Harrison, Jim McCune, Rollie
Beale, John Auxter, George Fosco, Jim Linder,
Paul Strasser, Art Ball,
Herbie Robinson, Alvin Franks, Wendell Smith, Gene
Notestine, Dorothy Shilling,
Harold McGilton, Harold Billow and Jim Ford.
"When Rich Farmer and Andy
James took over the promoting of Fremont
Speedway, both were aware
of the historic significance of the track. We
began talking about ways
to honor that great past and those who made the
speedway what it is today.
We decided it was time to form the hall of fame,"
said Brian Liskai, track
announcer and public relations director.
"It took just one phone call
to Randy Mapus... he knows the history of the
speedway and those who helped
create it and he has worked very hard to make
this a reality. The hall
of fame could not have happened if it weren't for
Randy," added Liskai. "Our
plan is to induct a handful of individuals during
special ceremonies each
"When I started making phone
calls to the inductees and their families...the
response has been overwhelming.
Everyone is excited and honored. There will
be lots of my boyhood heroes
at Fremont Speedway on June 6. That will be one
heck of a good time...talking
about all the old days of racing. The stories
these people have to tell...
it is literally the history of racing," said
Following is a look at the
racing careers of the 17 inductees into the
Fremont Speedway Hall of
- "Gentleman" Johnny Auxter.
Auxter was one of the first drivers to compete
at Fremont in 1951. Besides
his nine career feature wins at Fremont
Speedway, he was the 1972
track champion. He has competed at over 200
different race tracks during
his career, including the sands of Daytona
Beach. Auxter started racing
in a 1937 Ford. But most race fans remember
Auxter in the maroon and
white #12 roaster in the mid-1960s. When Auxter
bought a sprint car in the
early 1970s, it carried the familiar colors and
numbers. Auxter has literally
raced all over the country on dirt and
asphalt. He has also had
hall of fame drivers behind the wheel of his cars
including Darl Harrison.
Auxter was recently inducted into the Little 500
Hall of Fame in Anderson,
- Art Ball.
Ball has the most feature wins in the history of Fremont
Speedway. His 48-year driving
career - he is still racing dirt trucks at
Fremont, and recorded his
70th career victory earlier this season - has seen
him record nearly 300 victories.
Ball has raced sprint cars, late models and
dirt trucks at Fremont Speedway.
He was the track's 1973 and 1975 late model
- Rollie Beale.
Beal is 11th on Fremont Speedway's all-time win list with 31
victories. He was the 1963
super modified track champion. Beal went on to
win a United States Auto
Club sprint car championship in 1973. He has raced
all over the country and
has taken wins in the Little 500 and many USAC
events. After retiring from
driving in 1977, Beale became an official with
USAC. He was inducted into
the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1996.
- Harold Billow.
Billow had one of the first race cars in the Fremont area
and one of the first to
compete at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds. Billow's
fist foray into automobile
racing was in 1945, when he owned a 1933 Ford
carrying the #B17. His first
driver was Don Rathbun. Billow was one of the
founders of Sandusky Speedway
which was a sand surface the first year.
Billow was also very instrumental
in getting tracks started at Fremont and
Attica. Billow continued
to own cars through 1965. Other drivers were Vern
Myers, Don Keckler, Harold
McGilton, Lou Ringle, Dick Christy, John Auxter
and Dick Christy.
- George Fosco.
Fosco recorded 14 career wins at Fremont Speedway and was the
super modified track champion
in 1957. He raced all over the area on both
dirt and asphalt and is
a former Sandusky Speedway champion. Today, Fosco
competes in long-distance
- Alvin Franks.
Franks began racing in 1959 with a 1937 Ford. His first
feature win was in his second
year of racing at a track near Tiffin.He won a
championship at the old
Attica track. Franks is 9th on the all-time feature
win list at Fremont Speedway
with 34 victories. He was Fremont's super
modified champion in 1966,
1968 and 1971. He won the Millstream (Findlay)
track title in 1972. After
retiring from driving, Franks opened a machine
and welding shop and build
many race cars in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
- Jimmie Ford.
Ford began racing at Fremont in 1954 and raced through 1971.
His biggest win came during
the Fremont Speedway fair race in 1968. He had
two career feature wins
at Fremont. After retiring from driving, Ford owned
sprint cars through 1986,
and his drivers won over 60 features. His son,
Randy drove the family's
#10 to the Fremont Speedway track championship in
1986. Perhaps his greatest
racing legacy began in 2000 when he convinced the
Sandusky County Fair Board
to allow him to promote Fremont Speedway which
was in danger of closing
for good. Ford brought "The Track That Action
Built" back to life, and
he retired from the promotion of the speedway in
- Darl Harrison.
Harrison has 19 career feature wins at Fremont Speedway and
was the track's super modified
champion in 1960, 1961 and 1962. He won the
Little 500 three times and
was the United States Auto Club rookie of the
year in 1971. He was IMCA
champion in 1969. He is also a member of the
Little 500 Hall of Fame.
- Gug Keegan.
Keegan began his racing career in 1954 with a 1934 Ford. Keegan
dominated the racing scene
at Fremont and other area tracks in the late
1960s and early 1970s. He
racked up 62 career wins at Fremont and is second
on the all-time win list.
He was the 1954 strickly stock champion at Fremont
and the 1955 sportsman division
champion. Keegan won the 1967, 1974 and 1975
track titles in the super
modifieds/sprints. Perhaps what makes his
accomplishments even more
special is that Keegan built all of his own race
- Jim Linder.
Linder is fourth on the all-time win list at Fremont Speedway
with 58 victories. He was
the super modified/sprint car track champion in
1965, 1969, 1976, 1977,
1979, 1983 and 1984. At one time in the mid-1970s,
Linder had won so many features
at Fremont Speedway, a "bounty" was put on
his head for any driver
that could beat him. Linder was as comfortable on
asphalt as he was on dirt.
Always an innovator, Linder was not afraid to
build and try different
things on his race cars.
- "Irish" Jim McCune.
McCune was the 1958 and 1959 super modified track
champion at Fremont and
sits sixth on the track's all-time win list with 45
victories. Known for his
colorful demeanor and aggressive driving, McCune is
probably best remembered
for his record-shattering victory in an Australian
Pursuit race where he passed
every car on the track in less than half a lap.
Like many drives of his
day, McCune could race and win on both dirt and
- Harold "Mac" McGilton.
McGilton started racing in 1956 in a Ford
six-cylinder. During his
outstanding career, McGilton recorded 40 feature
wins at Fremont and is eighth
on the track's all-time win list. He won
Fremont's super modified
championship in 1964 and the sprint title in 1970.
McGilton won races all over
Ohio against some of the best competition in the
- Gene Notestine.
Notestine started racing in 1953 in a 1937 Ford coupe.
Later, he teamed up with
his brother-in-law Johnny Cook and they ran one of
the most famous team car
combinations in the area with the 6-ball and 8-ball
cars. Notestine won three
feature events at Fremont Speedway and was the
track's strickly stock champion
in 1953. But perhaps what he is best known
for was being the track's
flagman, starting in 1964 and continuing through
the 1970s. He built a reputation
as being a tough but fair flagman and was
known as one of the best
in the country.
- Herbie Robinson.
Robinson was Fremont Speedway's six-cylinder sportsman
champion in 1958, 1959,
1960, 1961, 1962 and 1963. He has 54 career feature
wins at the track and is
fifth on the all-time victory list.
- Dorothy "Dot" Shilling.
Known as "the first lady of racing," Shilling and
her husband Joe Stelter,
along with Harry Manor, founded Fremont Speedway in
1951. Maynor sold his interest
in the track to Frank Jensen in 1952 and
Wayne Wall purchased an
interest in 1953. Wall sold out in 1954, and Joe and
Dot, along with Jensen,
operated the track until 1957 when Don Emick
purchased Jensen's stock.
The Stelters and Emick continued to operate the
track until 1960 when Emick
sold out, leaving Joe and Dot as the sole
owners. After Joe's sudden
death in 1962, Dot decided to continue and became
one of the few women race
promoters in the country. Dot later married Paul
Szakovits and he helped
operate the track. Dot promoted the speedway until
- Wendell Smith.
Smith recorded 16 career feature wins at Fremont Speedway
and was the track's first
six-cylinder champion in 1957.
- Paul Strasser.
Strasser collected 20 feature wins at Fremont in the
six-cylinder sportsman division.
An induction ceremony will
held prior to the night's racing on June 6, and
fans are encouraged to come
to the track early for the event and to meet
those who helped create
and make Fremont Speedway what it is today. Racing
on McDonald's Night will
be the 410 sprints, 305 sprints and dirt trucks and
the vintage race cars will
also be on display and will put on exhibition
For more information log