Racing book signing party is Saturday
By GALE PIFER, Contributing Reporter
Bob Lukes, according to auto racing scribe Tom Savage, was "a gutsy bundle of nerves, a dynamo of energy, a laugh-a-minute joker who lived life to the very fullest every second of every hour."|
Unique in every aspect of the word, Lukes was also the first track champion at Lake County Speedway.
The men and women who drove at the little speedway south of Madison during the 47 years the track operated were a collection of characters. Most were farmers, mechanics, business operators and, above all, some truly interesting people to know. Very few raced for money; just as well, because there wasn't much to run for. They essentially raced for the fun of it, and Saturday night at Lake County Speedway soon became a tradition.
The exploits and accomplishments of those racers are detailed in a 510-page book, "Thunder Over the Plains," which will go on sale Saturday morning. Written by longtime Madison Daily Leader staffer Gale Pifer, the book contains more than 460 photos and driver profiles of 115 individuals who ran here, including Lukes.
One example from the speedway exploits:
Lukes, fresh from winning one of the biggest and richest races of his career, didn't have enough money to pay his pit fee the next night. He'd spent the entire winnings buying drinks in every little beer joint on the way home.
Lukes once also found himself with a burned wheel bearing on his racer. Without a spare and unable to find one in the pits, he simply went up into the parking lot and located a car that had the needed part. Lukes jacked up the car, removed the wheel bearing and left a note on the windshield: "I owe you one wheel bearing." But Lukes signed the note "Fred Buckmiller." Buckmiller was the promoter of Huset's Speedway near Brandon.
Did you know that the Madison race track once had a horse race? Or that announcer Dave Dedrick once challenged Lake County Sheriff Norm McGillivray to a duel?
In the early days, several of the racers drove their cars to the speedway, much to the dismay of folks living along the old dump ground road. For several years, race cars were driven down Egan Avenue during a parade. A race staged between two famous female race car drivers proved to be a hoax when one of the "women" lost his wig.
These and other stories about the creation of the track and its rich history are detailed in the book.
Book sales will begin on Saturday at a book signing event from 10 a.m. until noon at The Daily Leader, with several current and former drivers in attendance and race cars on display. The limited-edition book will then be sold by The Daily Leader.