Today we induct into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame a long time stalwart of Kansas City area racing, truly a behind the scenes person, and someone most racers did not want to see, but truly a person every race track needs, former fireman, Butch Smeltzer. Butch became the Lakeside Speedway fireman in 1973. He moved to the area from New Paris Speedway in Elkhart Indiana. For years he was the fireman in a Ford Ranchero.
His first fire vehicle was a 1960 station wagon he made into a Ranchero. He had purchased it at an auction for $40.00. He cut off the roof, cut pieces to streamline the look, utilized a convertible rear window from a company in Elkhart which specialized in canvas, and then he drove it to Kansas City when he moved to this area. Most of his equipment he purchased at auction and from 1973 through the 2012 racing season he was a fixture at Lakeside Speedway.
In 1973, he purchased a repossessed 1969 Ford Ranchero and turned it into a fire truck at Lakeside. For a couple of years, he had a Ranchero located on the front straight and the back straight of the original Lakeside Speedway. He has also been the head fireman at I-70 Speedway from 1975 through 2008, Riverside Stadium for one year, and Atchison County Raceway in 2013 and 2014. Butch was also involved in the Central Auto Racing Boosters for several years serving as a Sergeant-at-Arms and as the Chaplain.
Butch, now 78, sold his last fire truck this past March. He misses all the firemen who have made his team all these years. At one point doing Friday night at Lakeside and Saturday night at I-70, his team consisted of 16 different firemen from several of the area fire departments. Really the only time he would see all of them was when one of the tracks held a special such as World of Outlaws, ARTGO, ASA, NASCAR Trucks, etc.
He does miss racing and was able to keep up with Lakeside through a couple of church members until this year when they have only gone twice to the races. Butch has turned to working for his church, the Northland Cathedral Assembly of God, where he makes DVD and CDs for those who are shut in. Just like supporting racers through his work at the track for many years, Butch is now supporting those less fortunate by ensuring they get the message of Jesus. Butch misses the camaraderie and team work of his crew and the officials and the same with C.A.R.B.
Truly a behind the scenes person who supported our sport for 40 plus years, today we induct Butch Smeltzer into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.