New historical marker commemorates Winchester Speedway's 100th birthday
13abc.com Joe Nugent, Sports Anchor/Reporter - email
Winchester Speedway's grand heritage was commemorated Friday afternoon with a historical marker that calls the track "daunting."
"And, we hope this daunting facility can thrill race fans for another 100 years," said Gary Lee, who announced races at the track in the 1980s and 1990s.
Lee is part of the Indiana Racing Memorial Association, formed earlier this year by a group of longtime race enthusiasts. The group's first historical marker was unveiled at Winchester Speedway, a national racing treasure that is celebrating its 100th anniversary this weekend, climaxing with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race at 2 p.m. Sunday.
"This track is an important part of the racing industry and the racing legacy," Winchester Mayor Steve D. Croyle said.
Winchester has long attracted some of the greatest names in racing, drivers such as Indy 500 winners Troy Ruttman, AJ Foyt, Parnelli (Jones), Al and Bobby Unser. In recent times, drivers likes Sarah Fisher, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne have taken to the track."
Before unveiling the plaque, Lee, former ESPN "Thursday Night Thunder" announcer, talked about Winchester's history. The track was once a pre-requisite to racing in the Indianapolis 500, he said.
"It's very, very unusual for a race track to get to 50 years, let alone 100," Lee added.
National Sprint Car Hall of Fame member Jack Hewitt lives about an hour from the track and was among the speakers before the unveiling. He said he's been to 300 tracks across the United States and even Australia and none are like Winchester.
"It's a home track," Hewitt said. "You don't have to win one here to have it in your memory bank. ... I am so proud that I got to race here."
The weekend's Grand Marshal, Merle Bettenhausen, said the track has been an important part of his family for six decades.
"It's a track that you love and hate at the same time," he said. "I hope it lives another 100 years."
Besides its unique USAC background, Winchester has been on the ARCA Racing Series schedule since 1957. This weekend's Herr's Chase The Taste 200 marks the 25th silver anniversary appearance of ARCA over the decades.
"Winchester needs to stay a race track and we're committed to it," ARCA President Ron Drager said.
Winchester Speedway July 4-5-6 Holiday Freedom Festival
Winchester celebrates 100 years; Fourth of July holiday weekend Winchester Freedom Fest July 4-5-6; Festival blends Vintage Cars Old Timers Reunion with 62-year-old ARCA Tour
It's time to celebrate 100 years of Winchester Speedway this holiday weekend...starring the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards and so much, much more.
In addition to a King of the Wing winged sprinter opener Friday night that kicks off three days of on-track excitement, the Winchester Speedway Old Timers Reunion will be on hand all three days with as many 60 vintage racecars dating back to the early 1900's. The unique display of a century of history will blend nicely with the ARCA Racing Series, which made its first Winchester appearance in 1957.