Local racer honored for contributions to racing


Some years back, the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame came up with the Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize the unsung hidden heroes of the sport. This year’s recipient was long-time racer and contributor Mike Bechelli from Elizabethtown. The induction ceremonies were held on Aug. 10 at the hall located on the grounds of Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky.

The Columbus native’s love affair with racing was handed down from his father Norman, who owned racecars back in the 1950s and 60s. Norman began his own motorsports career in 1962, competing with the AMA flat-track motorcycles campaigning across the country. He continued with the two-wheelers until the late 1970s.

In 1981, he joined the ranks of dirt stock car racing, running in the Street Stock division at the Twin Cities Raceway Park in Vernon. Bechelli would make the move to the headliners, purchasing a Late Model in 1986 and was presented with the Brownstown Speedway Rookie of the Year honors.

Throughout his career, he has collected close to 75 feature checkered flags at tracks in Tennessee, Kentucky and his home state, which includes venues such as Twin Cities, Brownstown, Gas City, Whitewater Valley and more. He has also earned a number of series and track titles along the way, and today at age 79, continues to strap in, competing on the dirt in Late Models, Crates and Modifieds.

But there is much more to the Bechelli story than his exploits behind the wheel. He has been a car owner, seating many a competitor for a good number of years. Mike is also instrumental in assisting drivers to follow their dream of becoming a dirt Late Model racer. He has developed a rent-a-racer program that operates out of his race shop, Bechelli Racing in Elizabethtown. Its purpose is to introduce new racing talent onto the scene and help in delivering much needed competitors to assist in the survival of the local tracks.

Since its inception, Bechelli has been a vast supporter of the Hall of Fame. He has gone over and beyond, supplying the Hall with such treasured artifacts as the completely restored display cars of Jeff Purvis, Jack Boggs and Russ Petro. So much history has been preserved through Mike’s hard work and generous contributions.

Bilbee takes Gaines Memorial

Nick Bilbee of Indianapolis won the Dick Gaines Memorial for sprint cars on Aug. 17 at Lawrenceburg Speedway. Scotty Weir finished second, with Jarett Andretti, Matt Westfall and Joss Moffatt trailing.

In the open wheel modified feature, Matt Hamilton extended his points lead by winning the main event over Joey Kramer, Pete Holt, Curtis Deisenroth and Dallas Miller.

Tonight, Lawrenceburg will host the hornet nationals plus modifieds and school bus races. For further info, visit lawrenceburgspeedway.com.

Twin Cities racing tonight

Twin Cities Raceway Park in Vernon is scheduled to be back in action tonight after seeing last weekend’s race program get rained out. Tonight’s program includes a $2,000-to-win for the crate late models, plus super stocks, pure stocks, hornets and 305 RaceSaver sprints. For more info, visit twincitiestrack.com.

Miles wins again at Brownstown

Shelby Miles of Bloomington won his fourth pro late model feature of the year on Aug. 17 at Brownstown Speedway. Tyler Neal finished in second, followed by Brad Barrow, Marty O’Neal and Isaac Rainey.

Jacoby Hines of Trafalgar won his first Brownstown modified feature of the season, scoring the win over Jordan Wever, John Clippinger, Bryan Barber and Brayden Watson.

Jamey Wilson of Seymour took the win in the super stock feature, holding off Matt Boknecht, Derek Clegg, Tim Schumpe and Steve Hollars for his fourth win of the year.

Rick Gumm returned to Brownstown victory lane for the 11 th time in 2019 winning the pure stock feature race. Jeremey Huebner finished in second, followed by Bryson Clark, Zachary Stalker and Mickey Hines.

Reece Novak of Bloomington took his first career Brownstown feature by grabbing the hornet division feature. Trent Adams was second, with Jon Ortman taking third. Donnie Modesty and Dan Morgan completed the top five.

Brownstown hosted nearly 140 competitors Aug. 17. Tonight, the track will be off with the next scheduled set for Aug. 31. For more info, visit brownstownspeedway.com.

This week in racing history

From 50 years ago in 1969 at Bloomington Speedway, the feature winner was Sheldon Kinser over Steve Cannon, Rex Mitchell and Mike Johnson.

From this weekend in 1969 at Brownstown, the winner of the late model feature was Paul Crockett over Pete Willoughby, John Warner, Jack Owens and Mac Vails.

From 1979 at Brownstown, Paul Crockett won the late model feature over Buck Ridenour, Ira Bastin, Terrence Johnson and Jim Curry. Rick Gumm Sr. won the hobby stock feature over Cooley Singer, Roger Hehman, Jerry Burton and Jeff Hehman.

From 40 years ago in 1979 at Haubstadt, it was Larry Gates winning the sprint car feature over Larr Goad Bobby Allen, Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser.

Also from 1979 at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, the late model feature went to Willoughby who made it a clean sweep for the night as he also was the top qualifier, won the dash and a heat. Crockett was second, with Ed Griffin taking third in the feature behind Willoughby.

From this weekend in 1989 at Brownstown, John Gill won the late model feature over Gary Barrow, Jim Curry, Steve Barnett and C.J. Rayburn. Scott Patman won the street stock feature race over Scott McKeand, Earl Plessinger, Joe Johnson and Mark Barber. The two bomber feature race were taken by Tom Allman and Bob Schrader.

From 20 years ago in 1999 at Bloomington, Tony Elliott won the sprint car feature race over Dave Darland, Kevin Briscoe, Kevin Doty and Bill Rose.

From this weekend in 1999 at Lawrenceburg, Derek Scheffel won the sprint car feature over Troy Link, Terry Pletch, Jeff Wilson and Dickie Gaines. Gary Burton won the modified feature over Allen Barr, Daryl Herbert, Kerry Norris and Jerry Back. Robert Nichols won the UMRA feature over Jason Setser, Oogie Goff, Terry Goff and Collin Ambrose.

In 1999 at Brownstown, Scott Smith won the late model feature over Rayburn, Marty O’Neal, Dan Sturgeon and Steven Godsey. Randy Petro won the modified main over Todd Gilpin, John DeMoss, Nelson Gingery and Brent Londeree. Mike Fields won the street stock feature race over Matt Boknecht, Bret Ezzo, Tim Clark and Rusty Smiley. Larry Harris won the bomber feature over Matt Bex, Darren Crawhorn, Frankie Burch and Rick Applegate.

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