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By LuAnn Schindler
Publisher 

Isms: Views on life in rural America

 

October 19, 2023



I made two confessions this weekend to friends from long ago. We reconnected Saturday at the Northeast Nebraska Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Norfolk. I serve as secretary on the board of directors, thanks to longtime family friend Troy Weyhrich, whose dad, Don, drove the unforgettable $1.98 modified. Don hailed from the Wausa area, as did my dad.

Summer months were spent at the racetrack when I was young: Friday nights in Hastings, Saturdays at Mid-Continent Raceway and Sunday, Riviera in Norfolk. I’m guessing it was cheap entertainment for our family of four.

Our association with the $1.98 car allowed our family to meet an extended group of racers and their families. They were, and always will be, some of the best people I’ve known. We spent a lot of bleacher time together, eating burnt popcorn and lukewarm nachos, chased by watered-down Cokes.

Eventually, those Sunday night trips turned into get-home-on-Monday ventures, when Don and company started racing the Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota and Hartford or Husets tracks at Sioux Falls. If we were lucky, Laurie and I would get to assist with pit duties, which meant we had to refill the tearaway visors or scrape the mud off Don’s helmet. We thought it was “cool” to help, but I’m guessing, in one instance, we had an ulterior motive.

That brings me to the confessions.

Another racer with ties to Wausa - Kim Lingenfelter - raced the same tracks. Kim’s mom and my dad attended school together in Wausa. I had a crush on him one summer. I confessed that teenage angst to one of his brothers Saturday night. We both had a good chuckle. Kim left earth too soon. He was killed in a work accident in 1986.

The other incident I relayed to another racer’s family happened at Riviera Raceway. We were visiting my Tilden grandparents and Dad and I went to the races. It was the weekend after my 15th birthday, so I was decked out in new clothes. After the races, we headed for the pits to visit with the Weyhrichs and a few other friends.

Well, there was a boy. And the teenager kept following and bugging me. I think he had a crush; I did not reciprocate. I tried to maneuver my way to the car trailer, hoping to ditch him, but my foot landed in a big mud hole (it had rained earlier in the week) and I started sliding. Said boy tried to grab my arm to break the fall. I tried to put my hand down to break the fall and ended up on my side, coated in mud. Dad was less than impressed. The next thing I know, Don and fellow racer Jerry Suhr, pull me from the sludge, get out their pocket knives and peel mud from my new jeans.

I lost a bit of my pride and swore off boys that night, but I did go home with a consolation prize: Don gave me the trophy he won in the trophy dash.

After hearing other stories about racing in the area, I’m excited to dig into the history of the Clearwater track. If you raced here or know someone who did, contact me at 402-485-2101.

 

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