Today’s inductee into the RacingKC.com Hall of Fame was a consistent winner at Lakeside and I-70 Speedways. Per the records of the late great Bob Libby this driver was the winningest Lakeside Speedway asphalt driver. Most of his wins were in the Sportsman/Charger class. He finished his driving career racing a late model at I-70 Speedway. I have tried unsuccessfully numerous times to reach him by telephone or any means to interview him, sent messages to his wife, etc. His racing success and the records he established dictate he be included in the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.
This inductee had 52 wins from 1989 through 1999, the Lakeside Speedway asphalt years. His win total is 7 more wins than Larry Phillips had in the same time, granted Phillips was not always a regular during that time frame. This inductee’s win total is 10 more than the winningest Modified driver of the time Mike Klem, who took the checkered flag first 42 times. Tim Karrick in the same time frame came home first 41 times. David Cotterman, the Pony Stock driver to beat at that time, checked in with a total of 33 wins. The winningest Street Stock winner during those years was Larry Starkey with 23 wins. At I-70 Speedway this driver was a 14-time winner and a season champion. Some of those 52 wins at Lakeside Speedway led to 4 championships in his class. Comparing this inductee’s statistics to those great drivers tells you how much of a dominating driver this gentleman was during his racing career!
This driver has been a lifelong friend because of racing. We met through racing and yes because of his success, he was also a rival. He drew many fans to the sport, similar to today race fans cheered on a winner. They loved rooting for him and his nickname which came from the design of the nose of his car. How much of a rival was he, opening night 1993 I had moved through the field into second place. This was the first year I had assumed driving the Championship Camaro, Dave Perkins had been driving the previous four years. As I caught up to this driver I had a choice, bump him and let him know he has company or go around him. I chose to bump him, which took the front end out from underneath my car causing me to spin out, a huge mistake on my part I have regretted ever since. Anytime you drive with somebody who has been as successful as this driver you will have a natural tendency to disagree of what happened on the racetrack. I learned this driver had many fans, including some of the track workers.
One night we were all racing hard and somehow, I got spun into the infield. I asked the track worker at the time who spun me and he replied Smoky McGill. Once we got back to the pits we replaced the flat tire and off I went back on the track, fortunately as I entered turn 4, McGill was coming out of turn 2. Would I have ever been embarrassed had I let my emotions catch up with me and taken out McGill, because you see after the races several race fans came to my pit and asked what I thought about today’s inductee spinning me. I said no it was McGill and they all said better watch the tape and when we got home and watched our video, oops, it was today’s inductee, not McGill, and years later, as I stepped out of driving into officiating it became apparent the track worker who told me McGill was a huge fan of today’s inductee.
This driver and I developed an agreement we would not discuss what happened on the track that night because there was too much emotion. We would wait a week when the emotion was gone and talk sensibly to each other. Where this came about is this driver came to me and said I heard you are upset with me, and we had a great discussion about the week prior’s events and we agreed this was the best way for us to communicate. Very seldom did we have to have these discussions.
This driver had a great crew supporting him. Some of those helping him are still involved in racing today, many though went the way of the asphalt and disappeared from racing. This driver’s crew was always willing to help, even offering to try an engine change at the track one night for me. This generosity came from the driver himself, always willing to help a fellow racer. In fact, this inductee served one year as the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Central Auto Racing Boosters (C.A.R.B.). He was also the C.A.R.B. Sportsman of the Year recipient.
Many racers were intimidated when this driver was in the lineup. Whether it was his winning ways or the fan favorite shark nose, today we induct one of the winningest drivers in Kansas City Racing History, driver of the #64 Charger/Sportsman Racecar, Tony “The Shark” Sawyer into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.