On September 7th, 1975, 49 late models arrived to compete and several thousand fans filled the grandstands to see the top Chicagoland drivers go up against the top out-of-state drivers at Grundy County Speedway.
Tom Reffner, in his 1974 American Motors Javelin, set a new track record and took the checkered flag for first ever ARTGO racing event. The race was 59 laps in honor of Wayne Carter who brought racing to the Grundy County Fair 59 years earlier.
Founder of ARTGO, Art Frigo called up Reffner a few weeks prior and asked if he was coming down for the race. "I told him I was and believed Dick Trickle and others were also planning to come down for it too," said Reffner.
Reffner remembered being in victory lane, but admittedly does not remember many of the race details. "I remember the day and how much Art and John McKarns had hyped the event up to be a big show with a great pay off compared to most events in the area," recalled Reffner.
It was the Wayne Carter Classic that started Reffner's successful ARTGO career and put a Midwest touring series on the map. The event has since been a historic one. Reffner won that first event and continued on to win the 1975 ARTGO championship. He also won the championship in 1978 and was leading the points in 1979 until he got hurt in an event at Elko Speedway.
He came back, but did not race full-time in the series after that. "I ran almost every single event until 1980 when they switched to a claim motor. I just wasn't able to get all the parts and pieces I needed, even though I was a proponent of the switch. I just wasn't very competitive after that," added Reffner.
What's different between the 1975 Wayne Carter Classic and the 2011 Wayne Carter Classic? Well, according to Reffner, it's hard to pinpoint any distinct differences. The cars are much more equal now and most can go out a be competitive right off the bat.
"Back then it was more build-your-own. When I started out, I always built my own stuff. In '78 I ran bought chassis and raced them until I quit. Today, everybody's so equal because they all have access to the same equipment. The difference is in the driver," continued Reffner.
Just like the first event, several thousand fans will fill the grandstands to see the top Chicagoland drivers go up against the top out-of-state drivers for the "Wayne Carter Classic 125 presented by ECHO Bear Cat." While the series may have changed since that first race, the competition and love for racing remains the same. In Tom Reffner's words, "ASA has made a lot of super stars out of drivers!"
So come on out to Grundy County Speedway this Friday night, June 3rd, to see one of the most historic events in Midwest racing history. Qualifying starts at 5:00PM, autograph session at 6:30PM and racing to follow at 7:30PM!
The American Speed Association® Kwik Trip Midwest Tour presented by ECHO Outdoor Power Equipment and GrandStay Hospitality will be joined by the ASA Midwest Scag Truck Tour and the ASA Midwest Sunoco Sportsman Tour.
To learn more about the American Speed Association® Kwik Trip Midwest Tour presented by ECHO Outdoor Power Equipment and GrandStay Hospitality, log on to asamidwesttour.com. For questions call the ASA Midwest Tour office at (630) 212-6022 or Tim Olson at (612) 327-5831 or e-mail Tim Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org Steve Einhaus at email@example.com.
To learn more about the Daytona Beach, Florida-based Racing Speed Associates or the American Speed Association® Racing Member Track program, call (386) 258-2221 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For news and information from racetracks and regional tours involved in the American Speed Association®, visit www.asaracing.com.