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    Runnin' the High Groove

    by Paul Kuyawa

      

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    Runnin’ the High Groove


    By Paul Kuyawa Jr.


    Ron Shuman the Flyin’ Shoe



      He was the first to win the big three races of sprint car racing. At the time the Pacific Coast Open held at Ascot, Manzanita’s Western World Open and the Knoxville Nationals all belonged to sprint car racing superstar Ron Shuman. Little did he know that at the time he would be cementing a Hall of  Fame career. Up until this point in history, 1979, no other sprint car driver had captured the big three events of sprint car racing. “I felt that winning those three major events in one year was quite an accomplishment. I ran for Don Siebert and the R&H Farms sprinter during that time. I think a guy named Kinser has done it also,”Shuman said with a laugh.
     

     
      Ron Shuman had to do some waiting before getting behind the wheel as his brother Billy was enjoying first a two wheel career and than a successful modified career. Billy had a wrench by the name of Lealand McSpadden and together they were winning races all over Arizona. Billy moved up to sprint cars allowing McSpadden to take over the reigns of the modified that they had so much success with. It wasn’t long before McSpadden moved on to sprint cars leaving the modified to the young Ron Shuman. Ron didn’t  disappoint after running a half a dozen shows in 1971 Ron came back to win the state super modified championship in 1972 in a super built by his Dad and himself and garnered the Arizona Sprint Association rookie of the year in 1972.
     
     

      While getting his feet wet running sprint cars Shuman also discovered that he could make a pretty good buck running a midget on a part time basis. Shuman traveled to Knoxville not making the show in his first few attempts but did manage to score his first his first Western World in Bill Boats old CAE sprint car complete with the a bolt on cage.


     
      Shuman would soon team with Gary Stanton and began running with a new group called the World of Outlaws. While the Stanton and Shuman bunch were hitting on all cylinders they soon learned that their point championship award would earn 20 large less than promised. The lack of promised cash highly agitated the Outlaw point leaders no end. Well they began an outlaw schedule of there own racing where and when they wanted. They took Stanton’s Auto Shack Special to victory at Dallas, Lawton, Wichita and Belleville; they whopped the CRA at Manzanita and Chula Vista. “This took us out of the Outlaw title run but after being told we’d be getting 20 grand less Gary and I decided to run our own schedule,” Shuman said.


     
      Shuman would run the bigger paying midget shows especially the Turkey Night Grand Prix.” I was fortunate enough to adapt to those little cars rather  quickly and bagged a total of eight of  the Turkey Night extravaganzas, 1979, 1980,1981,1982,1984,1987,1992 and finally in 1993. I thought I had 1983 race won until getting a flat coming off the last corner giving the win to KO Kevin Olson. 

     

      I won most for Larry Howard before scoring the last Turkey night race of my career for Jack Runyon.”It was funny that after my first Turkey night win I went to the pay-off window and when I got our cash there was only 1500 or 1600 hundred dollars there. I asked promoter BenFoote where rest was and he said there was no more. There was no lap money and I felt I had just busted my tail for nothing. I told Foote I would not be back. He came to his senses and realized that he needed me more I needed him,” Shuman said.

     

     “Speedy Bill Smith hired me to drive a two car sprint deal with Cheryl Glass as my team mate. Smith figured that with Glass being a female and African American that it would help pick up sponsors. That never materialized so I ended up changing rides in what would become one of my most recognizable rides”.



      Lloyd K. Stephens hired Shuman to drive his orange number 21X OFIXCO Furniture Special. They ran a Stanton Chassis and Steve Carbone Engines. Shuman won over 25 full point World of Outlaw shows as well as the Hulman Classic televised on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. “I wanted that one bad and finally pulled off. We also pulled off the Pacific Open for Mr. Stephens.



      This was a super time in Shuman’s career. “I had a mechanic that everyone knew as “Maynard” his name was Steve Brannon and was a tremendous helping hand in making Mr. Stephens race cars magic”, Shuman said.



      Following the break up of the OFIXCO team Shuman brought his helmet bag to journeyman mechanic Kenny Woodruff who was turning wrenches on the Casey Luna Ford powered sprinter. Most thought the Ford engine was 60 pounds to heavy on the bottom end but it was found by Woodruff and Shuman that the Ford cylinder heads proved too heavy. This was way before CNC manufactured cylinder heads of today. Shuman and Woodruff struggled to make the combination work. It raised the center of gravity and made the car a little tough to handle. “Kenny and I always got along great, and it was a pleasure to drive for him and the Luna’s, Shuman said.”
     


      Shuman has long been considered to be one of the nations best non- wing racers be it in a Sprint Car, Midget or Silver Crown Car.
     


      Shuman went back west to drive the 3DB Sprinter The number 3DB came from the car owner Ed Ulyate and his window furnishing stores. It was a good wing and non-wing Challenger and they won their share of races. Shuman also drove the famed Morales Tamale Wagon for several seasons winning their share of main events. Shuman  also drove a black Texaco backed sprint car it was with this sprint car that actor Paul Newman took some laps “Newman drove the car during less than ideal conditions and he still would have put the car solidly in the show”, Shuman added. It was Hollywood stuntman Eddie Wirth who arraigned Newman’s sprint car debut.
     


      These days Shuman plays lots of golf and sells auto parts to keep up with the greens fees. He is also helping his son Casey to try to keep the Shuman name in traditional sprint car racing. When asked if he missed all the work involved in racing it was a resounding NO! Although he may take an official job in racing if the opportunity came along.
     


      My best memory of Ron Shuman is he was always a gentleman racer. Drivers I spoke with that raced with the “Shoe” never had a bad word to say about him. You could race with Shuman and not worry about him crashing you.
     
     

      Shuman developed a ritual when getting ready to do battle be it on the race track or golf course. “ It was from an old Charlie Daniels song and went something like this I told you once you son of bitch I’m the best that’s ever been”. This was not meant as to be cocky just to fire up a man that could bend a floor pan of a sprint car with his heavy right foot. 
     
     
      I would personally like to thank Ron Shuman for taking the time to do this interview. Never after seeing him put his right rear within the thickness of a dollar bill at Eldora did I ever think I would have the honor to interview the Flyin' Shoe, Ron Shuman. Thank you sir.


     

     

     

     

    Runnin’ the High Groove

    By Paul Kuyawa Jr.

    Well the 2013 season has been over for us since the annual Frank Filskov race at Dana and my favorite dirt track the Sheboygan County Fair Park in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Sadly Frank has been gone since October 1996. Does the IRA ever miss this guy! He perished in a hideous crash at the Hartford, Michigan Speedway after spinning his car to try to avoid an overturned car which was black in color. To those of us that knew Frank knew you had a friend. Filskov had an infectious sense of humor but was also fiercely opinionated if he thought he was right. This writer remembers well an IRA winter meeting when the IRA was considering adopting aluminum blocks.

    Since the All-Stars, carried steel engine blocks and most if not all IRA guys had iron blocks Filskov’s argument seemed to be going no where. Well if you knew Frank you would remember him as a dude that could sell a screen door to a company building submarines. Not that he would sell you something you didn’t need it was just if he believed in something he would give his all to get his point across. Frank would also go out of his way to help a broken down racer with his business Service Truck and Trailer. While Frank and I were not best friends we were friends who could share a laugh. I remember one season and the year escapes me, but Filskov was on a tear winning nearly at will at the Wilmot, Wisconsin Raceway. It was in the 1990’s when Wilmot would draw 60 winged 410 cars each Saturday. Frank we all miss you hope you liked the 2013 version of your race.

    If a driver could post double digit A-main wins in a couple years he would probably be happy. Bill Balog, who I still like to call Super Billy has racked up 35 IRA main event wins in the last two years alone. Six straight IRA titles and he skipped a race this year to race a midget at Sun Prairie. Balog hinted that he would like to make the trip to the hallowed Knoxville Raceway numerous times in 2014. This would leave the 2014 IRA championship wide open. Balog will be competing in the 2014 Chili Bowl Congratulations on six straight IRA titles and another double digit A-main tally..

    Some of Bill’s strongest competition had very unlucky years leaving him to put an explanation mark on his 2013 season. Top IRA competitors Mike Kertscher, Tommy Sexton and Mike Reinke all had abbreviated seasons due to heavy duty crashes. Reinke and Kertscher were done after the last race at the 141 Speedway and Sexton was lucky to survive his car destroying crash at Wilmot. Scotty Neitzel stepped up his program with a win at Superior and Sexton was a podium finisher on numerous occasions. Reinke got a late start and did get a runner up finish before the 141 debacle. Kertscher parked Captain Jim’s Yacht Sales racer in victory lane early in the year falling victim to the same crash that took out Reinke.

    Jeremy Schultz proved to the IRA’s top rookie scoring victories at the Wilmot Raceway, and 141 Raceway in Francis Creek, Wisconsin. Schultz was also named the Wilmot Raceway track champion as the Raceway located in beautiful downtown Wilmot carried IRA points and the special shows to come up with their 2013 champion. I would say this was an excellent season for the former MSA 360 champion.

    I had a chat with another MSA champion, Ben Schmidt and he outlined plans to give the IRA circuit his full attention. Maxim chassis, with Parker power owned by Mike Urner this will be another very good addition to the IRA roster.

    Second generation pilot Phillip Mock put together his best season scoring five top five finishes including a runner up at Dodge County and 141 Speedway. It won’t be long before this youngster parks Uncle Bob Hoyt’s racer in victory lane. The 1M tuned by Dad Kim knows the way to victory lane and will show the young Mock the way once he earns his first A-main win. I chatted with two time IRA champ Mock a few days ago and he said they were busy hunting up the needed cash to freshen engines and rebuild everything a team needs to run the entire IRA circuit. Kim works his butt off all winter to pay bills and so he can take time off to go racing during the summer. He also puts on many miles driving Miller Beer Wagons up and down the road. Uncle Bob Hoyt is still piloting the Cleaners death mobile from Lake Mills to Madison only on a part time basis. I have known these two characters since 1985 and I can tell you there are no two people more dedicated to making sure the Mock/Hoyt sprint car is at every race. I look for the 1M and young Phillip Mock to win his IRA A-main in 2014.

    Nick Alden called informing us that he will be piloting a new 8A Maxim creation. He will rely on Houge power with tuning from Tim Engler. Alden hopes for a rocketship. Helping Nick keeping the race car going are Neeve Construction, John Carpenter, Jim’s Concrete, and Hummells Gasoline Alley.

    One of Dana’s best friends, Crawfordsville, IN hotshoe Jacob Wilson dominated the Little 500 weekend as he scored his first Must See Racing Extreme Series winged event the Wednesday prior to the Payless Little 500 at Rick Dawson’s beautiful Anderson Indiana Speedway. Wilson backed up his winged victory by winning pavement racings biggest event the Little 500. Wilson also scored victory at the Berlin, Michigan Raceway. A true breakout year for Crawfordsville native. Thanks for the shirts, Dana loved them. Oh yeh Jacob, Dana says loose the moustache.

    Had a nice chat with Jeff Wessel recently. Jeff is a National Karting Champion with the World Karting Association. No small deal here, Wessel blasts his 125cc kart around the nations finest road courses. This writer did a stint in the karts of Badger Kart Club and those were plenty fast. Wessel has his buttocks an inch of the track at over 130 miles per hour. No roll cage to dampen a crash. “The wall at Daytona defiantly get your attention,” Wessel. Wessel gets his season going right after the trade shows. More on Jeff and his world of karting soon.

    I did not get to a race with future Hall of Famer John Musser. John I miss our trips. Lets get one in 2014. Musser, I’m told, was giving seminars on the proper way to summon pigs this year. His largest seminars were held in Poland were he played to standing room only crowds.

    Kudo’s go to the 50M Dick Myers owned pavement sprinter driven by jouryman driver Brian Gerster. The Myers/Gerster duo won consistently and picked up the Must See Racing Xtreme Championship. This has to be one of the most consistently fast pavement teams we’ve seen in the last couple years.

    Cold weather is here, and that sucks. Drivers let me know what your plans are I’ll be happy to put the in Runnin’ the High Groove. That’s all for now. Remember the reason for the season. Dana and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

     

     

     

    Runnin’ the High Groove

    By Paul Kuyawa Jr.

    Plenty to write about, the Kenosha County Fair produced two great nights of racing. Night one produced a first time IRA winner, rookie of the year contender Jeremy Schultz while night two it was five time himself Bill Balog capturing the Roger Iles Memorial 36 lap A-main which paid a cool 36 hundred for Balog’s growing bank account.

    It’s always cool to see a driver win their first main event. While Schultz, who is a past MSA Sprint Car Champion with many wins, surprised even himself following his victory at Wilmot. “ If you would have told me that I would be in victory lane this early in my 410 career I’d have told ya you were nuts. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d get one so soon. It is especially cool that it happened during the Kenosha County Fair. This place has so much IRA history here that winning at Wilmot is something I will not forget”, Schultz said. Schultz started on the pole and checked out on the rest of his competition until several late race caution flags negated his lead. “I figured they, Balog, Kertscher and Johnson, were coming but I never really did hear anyone this is absolutely awesome to win here, “Schultz added. Schultz was quick to thank his crew for giving him such a great racecar. “ I had the fun part that being able to drive such a good race car”.


    Balog finished a close second but it was hardly easy. Sensing an engine problem Balog and crew swapped engines following qualifying but missed his heat race and was forced into the hooligan race. Balog ran second to Mike Kertscher and stated twelfth in the A-main along side of Kertscher in row six. My last column dealt with guys passing cars and Mr. Balog certainly did that. It is exciting to see a guy work traffic to run down the leaders. “I was pretty happy to finish second it was fun to start back there and make a run to the front”, Balog said.


    Oklahoma invader Wayne Johnson was disappointed with his third place finish. “We just could not get a hold of anything tonight. We did not have our good Fisher Engine in this weekend and our performance showed it. This engine does not have the power band I like it’s either wide open or stopped nothing good in between but we’ll keep plugging along. We came up here for the Fatt-Fro people who have helped me so much throughout my career,” Johnson said. I like to see some of the nations top runners come to play with the IRA. It’s kind of like the old days with the Outlaws you never knew who was going to show up.

    Springfield, IL. visitor Jordan Goldesberry started outside row 10 and raced his way into the eighth position at the finish. Another good show to watch guys pass cars.


    Night two of the Kenosha County Fair/ Roger Iles Memorial belonged to Balog. It was IRA win number twelve for Balog and his Buesser Concrete racer. Once again Balog did a super job starting eighth and ending up in victory lane once again. Kertscher came for inside row seven to finish in the runner up position in Captain Jim’s Yacht Sales sprinter. Second generation racer Phillip Mock turned in a fine performance winning his heat race and finishing third aboard the Bob Hoyt Special tuned by Phillip’s Dad and two time champion Kim Mock. Collectively the top three finishers in the 36 lap Iles Memorial race passed a total of 25 cars. Passing the most cars during the Iles event ironically was Todd Daun who is sponsored by Carriage Auto Body. Carriage Auto Body is owned by Kenny Iles son of the events namesake and former IRA top competitor Roger Iles. Daun blasted by a total of twelve competitors notching a seventh place finish after starting nineteenth.

    Gentlemen I thank you for getting up on the wheel and doing some fine racing while entertaining this writer by passing cars. Watching racing like this each night could spoil me. Congrats to Jeremy Schultz and his entire crew on IRA and 410 win number one.


    There was one very serious crash in time trials involving Scott Uttech. Uttech was exiting turn two when his number seven sprinter took a hard turn right smashing head on into the back straightaway wall. It moved the front of Uttech’s mount over by two feet as this car was turned into junk in a blink of an eye. Scott was uninjured in this hideous crash. “Something in the steering broke and it shot right into the wall,” Uttech said. A right front torsion stop was picked off the track following Uttech’s sudden stop. It will not be proven if the stop came off causing the crash but Uttech’s accident and the one that Donny Schatz suffered were to close to be a coincidence. Schatz reportedly had the right front stop fall off his racer sending him into the concrete head on like Uttech did at Wilmot. It would seem sprint car racing is suffering from something happening on the right front torsion stop. Could it be this area designed to pinch the stop on the torsion bar has collapsed, could it be some guys refuse to have a nut and bolt securing the stop instead of relying on the threads in the aluminum or titanium stop? Someone suggested maybe its broaching issue during manufacturing, I kind of doubt that. Years ago before I was writing I put many a torsion stop and torsion arm on sprint cars. It was automatic to get the torque wrench and properly secure the stop and arm. Not once did the team experience a failure. Attention was also paid to make sure the gap where the stop actually crimps to the torsion bar was correct and there was a bolt and nut holding the stop on, not just the threads put in the end of the stop. Several manufacturers have come up with new devices to attempt to safely keep the right front and all torsion stops and arms securely fastened to today’s sprint cars. I happen to be looking at a set-up offered by Kreitz Oval Track Parts out of PA. It’s a torsion bar safety rod. It sells for a whopping $26.95 per corner, a fuzz over a hundred dollars to save your ass. Everyone running a car with torsion bars should invest in someone’s retaining devices before it’s too late this includes all you guys running a vintage car. Kears Speed Shop also offers a neat torsion stop/arm retainer. It weighs 2.5 ounces for those insist on lightweight stuff. I did not see a price but I would think it’s in line with the set-up Kreitz offers. Rumor has these retainers mandatory at Knoxville in 2014. I am sure all the sprint car associations will or should mandate this simple safety device. I sure hope ALL racers will utilize a retaining device on the torsion arm and stop NOW. Do not wait until someone makes you put these on your racecars. If you can afford a sprint car, midget, or a silver crown car with torsion bars you can most certainly afford these retainers.

    That’s all for now. As always God Bless.

     

     

     

    Runnin’ The High Groove

    By: Paul Kuyawa

    Coming from the back, years ago it was common place to place the nights fast qualifiers at the back of all racing events. This made all the races important. Drivers were forced to race for every position or be put on the trailer.

    At this year’s Knoxville Nationals Donny Schatz proved that a good driver, teamed with a good car and team could come from the rear of the field and end up in victory lane against the nation’s best sprint car teams. Since most sprint car groups follow the Outlaws lead the fast guys will start up front. Look in the grandstands and you will see empty seats at virtually any race. Why? Because the fast guys start up front.

    We have our local track, the Wilmot, Wisconsin Raceway they feature IRA Sprints, there was an All Star Circuit of Champions race there and there is also open 410 shows run throughout the year. Racing for the most part is good.

    Fast guys are in lapped traffic after eight or ten laps in the A-Main. Really good cars and drivers pass the backers sometimes twice.

    What I am getting at? Some guys won’t like this. What I am proposing is to start the fast guys in the back of everything. Like they do at the Knoxville Nationals with the exception of inverting both the A and B mains. Time trials are important, heat races like wise and what is a driver’s reward to start scratch in the A-Main.

    That’s right fast guys in the back all night. In the sixties and seventies the IRA raced Modifieds and Supermodifieds. Fast cars smarted last in the heat as well as last in the A-Main. In the sixties and seventies names like Johnny Reimer and Whitey Harris started last and thrilled fans with their drives from deep in the field to take the feature and win. In the seventies guys like Carmen Manzardo and Dick Colburn did likewise and again fans were absolutely giddy to watch these guys start from the back row and “race”, that’s the key word, race to victory. No starting in the first three rows and winning the race.

    Right now the real fast guys are passing lapped cars usually by lap ten. If this is the case the cars with the fast time should be closing on the leaders within ten to twelve laps. Maybe, maybe not. What the drivers, car owners, team members, and media need to remember is that we are in the entertainment business so let’s entertain.

    Formula’s need to be hashed out on just how to reward those who race from the back to the front. I’m sure by looking into how Knoxville does their preliminary events that a way of collecting points throughout the night could be instituted.

    How many times has a driver that has gotten up to fourth place in a heat race and stopped running hard? Knowing they were locked up into the A-Main. Those that don’t remember the action starting the fast cars out back brought are really missing something.

    I had looked at a picture taken from 1977 at Wilmot and the place was almost packed right after time trials were done. Why? Because the fans knew they were going to see racing all night long.

    I recently spoke with 1977 IRA and Wilmot Champion Carmen Manzardo about this. His take on this was, “Paul they absolutely need to start having the fast guys start out back and bring the racing back to the race track. When I was racing the fast qualifier used to pull a pill determining the invert for the A-Main. This was the Mid-Eighties at the Impact Raceway. Since I set fast time quite regularly I asked Larry Hillerud what the highest number they had in the bag. When I found out the tallest number was a 12 every time I set fast time I picked the number out of the bag and told them it was a 12. I never looked at the number I just told them it was a 12. Why, because I wanted to race and pass cars. I was there to entertain the race fans. That’s what I was there to do,” Manzardo said.

    I would like to work with our area sanctioning bodies to see if this is feasible. Yes there needs to be financial compensations for racing from the back. The reality of this is good racing resulting in a packed grandstand. Cash paying race fans will line up to see good racing all night long. Promoters and track owners you need the race teams and drivers likewise, drivers and race teams you need the promoters and the track owners.

    Let me know what you think about starting the fast guys out back. Schatz did it at Knoxville, why can’t Balog, Kertscher, Sexton, Mock, Neitzel, Reinke, and others do it at Wilmot or anywhere of the IRA races. This could help bring the race fans back to the track.

    Dale Blaney won Wilmot’s All Star race from the first three rows. Bill Balog was the highest finishing local driver finishing fifth. All Star racers took the top four spots.

    Rick Kelsey raced his way into the main event despite not having a complete race car earlier on race day. Rick credits Kelly Speace for getting the car together and ready to race. A rock caught a spark plug guard smashing the spark plug leaving Kelsey with seven cylinders firing spooling him out of the top ten. This has to be considered great accomplishment for this small team.

    Impressive in his heat race Nick Alden raced his way into the All Star main event with a heat race win. Mechanical woes dropped him from a good finish.

    One person we need to see back driving is Brian Kristan. Kristan would be a perfect candidate for starting the fast guys out back. Kristan is a gasser who would fit this program perfectly. Ok Brian is this fast enough for my next column?

    That’s all for now you can reach us at rthg@wi.rr.com, as soon as our computer is back working again. The old girl is on life support right now.

    God Bless, Paul

     

     


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