McGillivray heading to Hall of Fame at Huset's Speedway
By GALE PIFER, Contributing Reporter
He is known by many names. To many, he is Mr. Lake County Speedway. Others simply call him Chuck.|
On July 22 at Huset's Speedway near Brandon, Chuck McGillivray of Madison will have another title added to his name: "Hall of Famer."
McGillivray will be inducted into the Huset's Speedway Hall of Fame that night, receiving an award he certainly deserves. McGillivray appears ageless as he slings his familiar purple No. 101 sprint car into the high banks of Huset's and other area speedways.
He's been driving race cars since he was 19. But he got bit by the auto racing bug when only 5 years old.
It all started on a farm just east of Junius, where Chuck's father Bill was helping Tom Meehan put together a race car. Lake County, then named Interlakes Speedway, had just opened and Meehan was going racing.
"They let me sweep up," recalled McGillivray.
He got promoted to parts cleaner when Milton Ayers decided to join the racing gang out of Junius. McGillivray wasn't old enough to be in the pits (you had to be at least 18 in those days), but that didn't stop him. He would be discovered in the pits anyway, knocking mud off the cars and doing any other job the racers would let him do.
Escorted out of the pits, he would find some other way to get back in the infield, often beating the official who had tossed him out, back down among the racers. Finally, McGillivray's father signed a release saying he would hold the track blameless if something happened to his son.
But McGillivray didn't want to remain a mud scraper or parts cleaner. He wanted to drive race cars.
His first car was an old used-up hobby stock car in which Danny Neville had campaigned. His first race was at the old Brookings Speedway.
Convinced his son was serious about the racing business, Bill McGillivray helped Chuck build a 1955 Chevrolet. The father-son combination soon became hard to beat. Chuck won the track championship at Madison in his first full year of competition. He raced stock cars first but eventually moved into the super-fast sprint cars. Again he won. In fact, 13 times he was crowned track champion at Lake County Speedway -- no small task, because the track always attracted the best of the best.
One of his biggest thrills came on July 4, 2002, when McGillivray won his 50th feature race at Lake County Speedway before a capacity crowd. What made the win extra special is that it came 15 years, 11 months and 14 days after his very first sprint car win. That first win was also special because it was the day his daughter was born.
Today, McGillivray runs mainly in the big 410 cubic-inch Outlaw Sprints -- the cream of the crop and the fastest cars running locally. He has run with the World of Outlaws and other traveling racing pros.
He continues to win races at an age when most sprint car drivers have called it quits. He gives no indication of retiring as a driver.
"What else would I do?" he smiles. "I just enjoy driving race cars."
But it isn't just his on-track exploits that make McGillivray a champion and a Hall of Famer. He is also one of the best examples of a professional race car driver. He is loyal to his sponsors, often going out of his way to have his car on display at their businesses. He always has time for the fans, especially the youngsters.
He almost never gets angry, no matter what happens at the track. Spun out one time by a young driver, McGillivray just shrugged and said, "Well, everybody has got to learn somehow."
Lots of young sprint car drivers learned from McGillivray. Several admit they admire him and try to follow him during the races to learn his secret of going fast and winning. And if they've got questions about how to set up the car, McGillivray tells them. Sometimes he'll even grab a wrench and work on their cars. And he always is willing to loan a part to a fellow racer.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
Send us your community news, events, letters to the editor and other suggestions. Now, you can submit birth, wedding and engagement announcements online too!
Copyright © 1995 - 2013 madisonet.com All Rights Reserved.