to be inducted into Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame
Thursday, May 24, 2012
By Brian Liskai
FREMONT, Ohio – The fourth
class to be inducted into the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame has a distinct
“All Star” feel. Of the 16 to be enshrined at “The Track That Action Built,”
several have ties to the All Star Circuit of Champions.
Fremont Speedway has hosted
over 100 events sanctioned by the All Stars over its 61 year history, though
if you go back to the original All Stars back in the early 1970s, the total
would be more. Fans can remember those early All Star Wednesday night specials
that drew the stars of the Pennsylvania area like Bobby Allen, Lynn Paxton,
Kramer Williamson, Steve Smith and Jan Opperman.
When Fremont Speedway hosts
its Hall of Fame induction ceremony prior to the racing on Vision Quest
Night, Saturday, June 9, among those being inducted include two-time All
Star champion Fred Linder; former All Star champion Jack Hewitt and Bert
and Brigitte Emick, who resurrected the All Stars in 1980 and ran the organization
until 2002 until they turned the reins over to the current series’ management.
“Only Eldora Speedway has
hosted more All Star shows than Fremont…and we’re catching them. This class
of inductees once again speaks to the history of racing not only at Fremont,
but throughout the country. We are proud and honored to pay them recognition,”
said Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame Trustee Brian Liskai. “On behalf of
Rich Farmer (promoter at Fremont Speedway) and myself, we would like to
thank fellow hall of fame trustee Randy Mapus and his wife, Jane. They
work tirelessly on this hall of fame and throughout the year, but particularly
when it comes to the induction ceremony.”
Fremont Speedway’s 2012 Hall
of Fame class includes: car owners Grover Ritter and Ron Boos; driver and
car owner Ken Clark; car owner and builder Tom Schemmer; driver and car
owner John Cook; car owner Don Linton; Hewitt; Linder; driver Tim Sabo;
the Emicks; driver Rick Ferkel; driver Jim Keegan; team and track sponsor
John Forsythe; former track promoter Joe Stelter, engine builder Earl Griffith;
and engine builder Ed Smith.
Ritter, of Sandusky, Ohio,
and Boos, of Milan, Ohio, were the car owners for hall of famer Herbie
Robinson. Robinson drove the Ritter and Boos six cylinder sportsman to
track championships in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1963 and racked
up 54 career victories to sit fifth on the track’s all-time win list. It’s
safe to say Ritter and Boos were the most dominating car owners in history
of Fremont Speedway.
Griffith, of Sandusky, Ohio,
was on the Robinson pit crew and also worked on Harold McGilton’s team
that won 24 features in one season. He eventually opened his own engine
building shop which is operated in Sandusky to this day by Gary Griffith.
The list of drivers who have utilized Griff’s Engines and have won races
include Robinson, McGilton, George Fosco, Dean Mast, Gug Keegan, Bob Knoll,
Harry Kresser, Dave Hoover, Doc Dawson, Armond Holly, Bob Davis, Gill Sams
Jr., Danny Boyd, Dick Raifsnider, Rick Unger, Rollie Beale, Al Beale, Darl
Harrison, Jim Fleming, Jim Keegan, Dale Hasselbach, Rollie Alvers, Jim
Sexton, Jim Ward, Ken Clark and many more.
Ed Smith of Fremont, built
many championship engines throughout his career including those of Fred
Linder’s All Star titles and John Ivy’s 5i machines. Smith built some of
the first 305 sprint engines and was a long-time Fremont Speedway sponsor.
Forsythe of Fremont, has
been a part of the Fremont Auto Parts/NAPA that has supported Fremont Speedway
and racers for decades. He painted many sprint cars over the years and
supported Fremont Speedway on trophy night for many years.
Schemmer, of Fremont, built
his first race car in 1952, a 1938 Ford sedan that raced at Fort Miami
with Paul Bertok as the driver. He continued to build cars and campaign
them throughout the area with Bertok until 1954 when he built a car for
hall of famer Rollie Beale. In 1955, Schemmer installed a Cadillac engine
in hall of famer John Auxter’s 37 Chevy couple and they placed 8th in the
Daytona 500 on the beach course. In 1960 Schemmer joined back up with Auxter
as his engine man with Darl Harrison as the driver at Fremont Speedway
and they continued through 1965. In 1966 Schemmer was the chief mechanic
and partial owner of the WHS Special #91 driven by Harrison at Fremont.
A year later the team won the Little 500 with Harrison and Cy Fairchild
sharing the driving duties. From 1968-70, Schemmer was the chief mechanic
on the Century Die #44 sprint car driven by Harrison on the IMCA circuit
to a national championship and another Little 500 win (1970). Schemmer
was named the Mechanic of the Year in 1969 for the IMCA. >From 1972-73
Schemmer worked on the Century Die car with Harrison on the USAC circuit.
Schemmer, a part of the Fremont Auto Parts/NAPA business, built engines
for Donny Eckhart’s #4 car from 1976-78 with driver All Franks winning
many races and championships. From 1984-86, Schemmer’s business sponsored
Fred Linder; and from 1989-96 backed John Wisbon. Schemmer retired in 1997
from active participation at Fremont Speedway…after 44 years. Schemmer
still rebuilds Offenhauser Engines and classic antique engines.
Jim Keegan of Vickery, Ohio,
scored Fremont Speedway championships in the six-cylinder sportsman division
in 1986 and 1988. His career started as a car owner with Rollie Alvers
driving, but Jim soon wanted to drive. He has eight career wins at Fremont
Speedway. Jim continued to race off and on throughout the 1990s and 2000s
and competed in the dirt truck division at Fremont Speedway as late as
John Cook of Fremont was
an auto racing pioneer at Fremont Speedway. Cook, who is known as Flower
by many associated with racing, has two career feature wins at Fremont;
He was the car owner of the famous X15 super modified driven by Jim Linder
to the track championship in 1965. He was the owner of the #6 mini sprint
driven by Jerry Inbody to the track’s 1992 championship. Cook also owned
late models that competed at the track throughout the years.
Don Linton was co-owner of
the X15 super modified driven by Linder to the track’s 1965 championship.
He also co-owned the mini-sprint with Cook that took the 1992 track title.
Cook and Linton spent over
35 years together owning and maintaining cars, with Cook driving for Linton
in the beginning. Linton had his first race car when he turned 15. Over
the years Linton worked on Al Frank’s crew while Cook worked on Willie
Keegan’s team. Cook and Linton owned many cars together over the years.
Joe Stelter and his wife
Dorothy (already inducted in the hall of fame) and Harry Maynor of Toledo
founded Fremont Speedway in 1951. Joe and Dot were part of the Fremont
Speedway ownership until Joe’s sudden death in 1962. Dot continued running
the track through 1976 and after selling her share, continued to work at
the track for many years. Joe Stelter built and set up timing systems and
announced at tracks like Flat Rock, Monroe, Adrian, Fort Miami, Raceway
Park and Motor City Speedway in Detroit in the late 1940s prior to creating
Ken Clark of Fremont was
Fremont’s 1983 late model champion and has 2 career wins. He was on Harold
McGilton’s pit crew for many years and through his business, the Fremont
Fence Company, has been a long time supporter and sponsor at Fremont Speedway
for over 44 years. Ken has fielded cars recently for his sons Kenny and
Bobby and grandson Zack Kramer and currently fields a 305 sprint for John
Fred Linder, formerly of
Burgoon and now of Atlanta, Georgia, began his racing career at Fremont
and joins his brother, Jim, in the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame. Fred,
who was recently inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, has
11 career wins at Fremont. The 1984 and 1986 All Star champion and has
3 All Star wins at Fremont, all coming in 1981. Fred continues to visit
Fremont, mainly when he’s turning the wrenches on his son Matt’s 410 sprint
Rick Ferkel of Tiffin became
popular throughout the United States and was known as “The Ohio Traveler.”
Ferkel, who has over 300 career sprint car wins, got his very first at
Fremont Speedway and ended his career with 22 victories at The Track That
Action Built, to sit in the track’s top 25 all-time. Ferkel won 4 All Star
events at Fremont Speedway and remains active, fielding a 410 sprint team
with driver Lee Jacobs.
Jack Hewitt, formerly of
Troy, Ohio, seemed to be untouchable at Fremont Speedway in the 1980s with
the All Stars. Hewitt, who won an All Star title in 1985, leads all drivers
with series wins at the speedway with 10. Hewitt has 17 career victories
at Fremont Speedway.
Bert and Brigitte Emick remain
to this day some of the most beloved racing promoters in the history of
short track racing. In 1979, Bert and his wife, racing enthusiasts from
Columbus, Ohio, put together a new group called Midwest Outlaw Super Series
(MOSS) for outlaw sprints and late models, running five races. The series
expanded in 1980 to 22 sprint and 14 late models races and at the end of
their second year, the Emicks resurrected the name All Star Circuit of
Champions which they continued to operate until 2002. >From 1980 until
they retired, the Emicks made Fremont Speedway “the home of the All Stars”
as the track hosted more sanctioned races than any other track other than
Tim Sabo of Fremont owns
25 career feature wins at Fremont Speedway along with the track’s 1978
six-cylinder sportsman championship. He joins his father, Joe Sabo as a
hall of fame inductee. Sabo sits in the track’s top 20 of all-time wins.
At one point in the 1978 season, he had won 14 features in a row and is
only one of two drivers – the other Jim Linder – to ever have a bounty
put up by the track promoter. Sabo’s dominance would only falter due to
mechanical failure on the final night of the season. Sabo also won a combined
late model championship between Eldora, Mansfield and Millstream in 1988.
Fans, family and friends
are invited to attend the Fourth Annual Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame induction
ceremonies in the historic covered grandstands at the track around 2 p.m.
Fans can also tour the Hall of Fame building, which was opened last year.
The class of 2012 joins 37 other individuals to be honored in the Hall
For more information go to