When I got the news that Gregg and Angie McKarns purchased Madison International Speedway, a flood of feelings and emotions rushed through me. I was so incredibly happy for them. Knowing that Gregg is able to fulfill his lifelong dream and follow in his dad’s footsteps is so incredibly awesome, and I can only imagine how it must feel for him and Angie.
I was honestly a little overcome with emotion thinking about the fact that the track will continue on. It was a victory for short track racing in the Midwest. As we all know there’s been a dark cloud over short track racing as of late, and the news put a little break in that cloud for those of us affected by it all. So many of us have more memories than we can count at MIS, and with all of us on the edge of our seats over the past few months, wondering and waiting, it was such a relief to know we can all return and make more memories.
Madison International Speedway has been the home of the Joe Shear Classic for the past six years, and I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous that last year was the final event. I was not opposed to moving it to another track. My dad’s career included wins and championships at almost every track in the state of WI, and IL, so it would not have been the end of the world. But there was a hint of disappointment inside me to think that we wouldn’t be having it there this year.
After I went off to college in Madison, my dad and I would meet at the gate or up at the pit fence every Friday night. It was our weekly date and I never missed one. Obviously that changed when he got sick, but I still never missed a date, going home to be by his side every Friday until he died. On the first Friday night of Madison’s season the year he died, I drove to the track, sat in the parking lot, and let the tears roll down my face. I wasn’t going to miss our date. I didn’t go in and stand at the fence or sit in our normal spot, but I was there.
So to say that it wouldn’t have really mattered to me where the Joe Shear Classic was held was kind of a lie. To me Madison International Speedway isn’t about all of his wins or his championships, it was about walking in every Friday night knowing that I’d always see my dad standing there waiting for me. Racing isn’t just about racing.
Over the next several days I’m going to be sharing a series of stories I wrote leading up to the Joe Shear Classic a few years ago. The stories share a little bit of history about my dad as a normal racer just trying to do what he loved. He struggled in the shop and at the track. He got angry, very angry, but he never gave up.
I made an announcement this past Sunday evening that I am working on my first book. I can’t jump into a race car to continue passing down my dad’s legacy, but I’m doing what I can by being one of the biggest advocates for short track racing you will ever find. Gregg McKarns and I grew up at the track together. We were staples at every ARTGO race there ever was as we grew up. We were raised with a vision of what racing was and could be. I’m so proud of him for following in his dad’s footsteps. We are both working hard to do our part in this sport because of the experiences we had growing up. Interesting how history repeats itself.
What Gregg and Angie McKarns have been able to do to fulfill their own dreams shouldn’t stop there. They are giving back to racing what we all feared could’ve been lost. Now it’s our turn. Yes a track has been saved, but it doesn’t stop there. We all have to work hard and work together to continue to not just save a track, but to save the sport, and not just for ourselves. What are we going to do to pay it forward?
With all of that said, there is currently a clever “36” Hour Joe Shear Classic Ticket Sale going on right now. The race is Sunday, May 3rd, 2015 at, of course, Madison International Speedway. What a great way to support the track, the McKarn’s family, the ARCA Midwest Tour, and of course the legacy of Joe Shear. See you there!
Buy Now: http://shtrk.us/mistix
Event will include the ARCA Midwest Tour Super Late Model Event, Mid-American Stock Car Series and Midwest Truck Tour.
Students (12-19) $7
Kids tickets $4
Ages 5 and under FREE