First Lady of Fremont Speedway passes away
By Brian Liskai
Dorothy J. "Dot" Shilling, also known as "The First Lady of Fremont Speedway," 73, of Meadow Lane, Gibsonburg, Oh., died Feb. 18, 2001 at the Bethesda Care Center.
She was born in Haskins, Oh. to Nelson and Edith (Cummings) VanBuskirk. She married William H. "Bill" Shilling on June 29, 1976 in Carleton, Mich. and he survives.
During the late 1940s, Dot and her first husband, Joe Stelter, started in racing by working as track officials at speedways in Flat Rock, Mich., Monroe, Mich., Adrian, Mich., Fort Miami Raceway Park and Motor City Speedway in Detroit. They founded the Fremont Speedway in 1951 with its first race taking place on Sept. 30 of that year. When Mr. Stelter died in 1962, Dot made the decision to become one of two women promoters in the country.
Dot and her second husband, Paul Szakovits, continued to run the speedway. They purchased Findlay Speedway in 1967 and ran it until 1970.
Dot operated Fremont Speedway until 1977 when she sold it to longtime announcer Gary Kern, but continued to work there as a secretary and office manager until Kern sold the track in 1995.
She also founded the Fremont Flea Market in 1982 and started the Sunny Acres Trailer Lot and Sales. She was the president of Andrews Concession Stands from 1965 until 1985 which served various fairs and festivals throughout Northwest Ohio.
Mrs. Shilling was a member of the Fremont Christian Women's Club.
Also surviving are daughter, Lori Laurer of Fremont; son, Scott Szakovitz of Clyde; stepsons, Timothy Shilling of Tiffin and Todd Shilling of Fremont; brothers, Don and Vernon VanBuskirk, both of Michigan; sister, Leila Jennings of Florida; and eight grandchildren and a stepgreat-granddaughter. Brothers Wayne and Gerald VanBuskirk are deceased.