by Paul Kuyawa
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”,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, as soon as
our computer is back working again. The old girl is on life support
God Bless, Paul