Speedway to induct 10 into Hall of Fame
Saturday, May 7, 2011
By Brian Liskai
FREMONT, Ohio – Fremont Speedway
will once again pay tribute to those who helped create the history of “The
Track That Action Built” with the third annual Fremont Speedway Hall of
Fame Induction on Saturday, June 4. The list of inductees in the 2011 class
ranges from the man who won the first track championship 60 years ago,
to late model, sprint and super modified drivers to championship team owners
to the founder of a speed shop over 40 years ago.
And, to make the 2011 hall
of fame inductions even more special, they will take place in the newly
constructed hall of fame building at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds prior
to the night’s racing activities.
Being inducted into the Fremont
Speedway Hall of Fame are: Leo “The Gobbler” Caldwell, Jim Fleming, Bud
Gill, Dale Hasselbach, Shirley Kear, Harry Kresser, Tom Leaser, Wayne Maffett
Sr., George Miller and Leroy Youster.
Caldwell, who hailed from
Perrysburg, Ohio, won the very first feature event at Fremont Speedway
in 1951. He would go on to record five feature wins and the track championships
in 1951 and 52. Known as “The Gobbler” because he “gobbled up the competition,”
Caldwell won the Motor City Speedway championships in 1949 and 1950; the
Fort Miami Championship in 1951 and 1953; the Michigan State Championship
(sportsman division of NASCAR) in 1952; the Raceway Park Championship in
1954 and 1955; the Sandusky Speedway title in 1957; and was winner of the
Atlanta Peach State 200 in 1964.
Caldwell also campaigned
the first cage and roll bar on a modified to run as a sprint car in 1957.
He ran championship cars from 1960-68. Throughout his career, Caldwell
scored 400 feature wins
Jim Fleming, of Bellevue,
Ohio, was always a force to be reckoned with in the hobby stocks/late models
at Fremont Speedway. He recorded 23 career feature wins to sit 19th on
the track’s all-time win list. Fleming claimed the track’s 1968 championship,
ending a two-year title run for hall-of-famer Roy Sheets. Fleming won many
races at Mansfield, Millstream and other tracks throughout Ohio during
Bud Gill hailed from Clyde
Ohio and fielded some of the most successful and beautiful super modifieds/sprint
cars to ever hit the track. The black and orange CR Gill Construction machines
carried hall-of-famer Darl Harrison to Fremont Speedway championships in
1960, 1961 and 1962. Hall-of-Famer Gug Keegan wheeled the Gill machine
to the 1967 track championship, and teammate Jim Linder would claim a Fremont
Speedway title in 1969 aboard a Gill sprinter. Rollie Beale would pilot
a Gill sprint car to many feature wins as well.
The late Dale Hasselbach
of Fremont was known as a fun-loving gentleman off the track, but once
strapped in behind the wheel of a hobby stocker/late model, he was a fierce
competitor. Hasselbach recorded 16 career wins at Fremont Speedway to sit
32nd on the track’s all-time win list. Hasselbach drove to the track’s
1970 late model championship, beating out his brother-in-law, hall-of-famer
A Kear’s Speed Shop parts
truck has been coming to Fremont Speedway for over 40 years. It was 1969
when Shirley and her late husband Chuck would pack up a truck and head
to “The Track That Action Built” to sell parts to the racers who would
all become like family to the Tiffin couple. In fact, many, many racers
would have quit or not been able to race if it wasn’t for the Kears. Often
times, after a crash, a team didn’t have the resources to put their car
back together. Shirley would simply tell them to get what they needed and
arrangements would be made for payment later. Shirley was one of the first
– if not THE first female – to grace the pits at Fremont Speedway and other
tracks across the country. Shirley continues to operate Kear’s Speed Shop
with the help of her family.
Harry Kresser of Sandusky,
Ohio, raced during one of the most competitive times in the history of
Fremont Speedway. Kresser always was a contender for a win, and he claimed
six checkered flags during his career. In the 1970s, hall-of-famer Jim
Linder was winning most of the features at Fremont Speedway, promoting
promoter Gary Kern, a hall-of-fame inductee, to put a cash bounty up for
someone to beat Linder. It was Kresser, in that powder-blue #31, who would
claim the bounty!
Tom Leaser of Fremont, has
been a fixture at Fremont Speedway for many, many years and continues to
trade racing stories in the track’s pit tower each week. When Leaser hired
hall-of-famer Harold McGilton to drive his Chevy powered #55 sprinter,
it was magic. McGilton would drive to the 1965 Fremont Speedway super-modified
championship and would follow with another title in 1970. Many of McGilton’s
40 career Fremont victories came aboard the Tom Leaser owned machines.
The late Wayne Maffett Sr.,
of Mansfield, Ohio, was the “king of the street stocks” at Fremont Speedway.
Maffett would record 44 victories at “The Track That Action Built” and
sits seventh on the track’s all-time win list. He recorded street stock
track championships in 1986, 1990 and 1993. He also sits second on the
all-time win list for street stocks/limited late models at Attica Raceway
Park with 30 wins and recorded two track titles.
George Miller of Gibsonburg,
Ohio, began his racing career in 1960 and earned the Fremont Speedway Rookie
of the Year title. Miller drove his own machines until 1965 when he began
driving for Bob Wireman in the 1 Jr. car. In 1967 Miller teamed up with
hall-of-fame car owner Earl Lowe to drive the familiar purple and white
#66. Miller produced several top 10 finishes and heat and pursuit race
wins before scoring his big feature victory on Memorial Day in 1970 at
Fremont. The following night at Millstream Speedway, Miller had a nasty
crash, literally breaking the #66 into two pieces. He would retire the
following year. Last year, the old #66 was found and restored and Miller
again returned to the track during the vintage races.
Leroy Youster of Oak Harbor,
Ohio, was one of the pioneers of racing at Fremont Speedway. He would take
the track’s strictly stock championship in 1956 and add a hobby stock/late
model title in 1965. Youster claimed 9 career feature wins at Fremont Speedway.