40 years later, racing enthusiast still does things old school style

Billy Moffatt got his first taste of dirt track racing in the 1950s when his father would take him and his brothers to Brownstown Speedway.

The track opened in 1952, and soon thereafter, the Moffatt family made many trips to the Jackson County Fairgrounds track to witness drivers such as Bob Kinser, Calvin Gilstrap, Dick Gaines, Roy Robbins, Cecil Beavers, Ted Pfeiffer and so on compete each weekend.

Moffatt and his family also attended the Columbus Speedway, which was located off of State Road 7 until it closed in the late 1950s.

“We would go to Brownstown, and me and my brothers would make race car noises,” Moffatt said. “It was pretty cool. I remember going to ‘The Hole’ in Columbus and sitting on wooden planks under the shade trees drinking an orange pop and watching the races.”

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The 68-year-old Columbus resident and his son, Joss, own a sprint car race team and are in the final stages of preparing their car for the 2020 race season, but Billy’s racing history started long before his son started his own racing career.

Billy is a throwback to the days when race cars were hand-lettered, and to this day, he still does this with his son’s car. In an era where decals and wraps are commonplace, Billy remains steadfast in doing it his way.

“There was a time when I lost interest in racing, mainly through my teenage years,” he said. “The first thing I actually hand-lettered was a bicycle I had when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I had no idea that I had any talent to do it. The first race car I did was for Kerry Norris in 1980.

“I started painting his car, and like a fool, I started going with his mom and dad and brother, and I got addicted to racing again,” he said. “I was painting a sign for Thompson’s Sporting Goods in downtown Columbus, and Dale ‘Rev’ Black saw me painting the sign, and he stopped and asked me to come to work for him. He showed me how to paint. He was very talented for sure.”

Black was a well-known local artist and sign painter who died in 1980.

As Billy and his son prepare for the new racing season, they are determined to get a fourth Lawrenceburg Speedway track championship after coming up just short last year.

Entering the final night of competition in 2019, Joss and Dickie Gaines entered the final points race tied in the sprint car standings. Gaines was able to finish ahead of Joss to secure the track title.

“We will be back racing at Lawrenceburg on a regular basis,” said the 39-year-old, whose resume also includes a 2017 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year finish to go along with his three Lawrenceburg track titles.

“One of my sponsors, Orville Wright, wants me at Lawrenceburg every time they run sprint cars,” Joss said.

He said he will probably branch out to some other places when Lawrenceburg is not racing.

“Growing up in racing and being around my dad and all the people he was associated with is just a great memory,” Joss said. “Rubbing elbows with people like Steve Kinser and so on was just the coolest thing ever. I remember being at Eldora and watching the cars go by and seeing the drivers’ helmets in the cars and thinking I would like to do this.

“Being in the machinist union and being around people like Pancho Carter and Josele Garza was awesome,” he said. “Even though I race primarily non-wing cars, I do enjoy going to watch a winged show once in a while. The thrill of watching and racing sprint cars is still in my blood. We really have to thank Roger Williams of Williams Precision Engines because without him, we probably wouldn’t be able to do this. Also, thanks to Hoosier Tire, Brad Benic and Nate Brannin of B and B Stables for all of their help with our race team.”

Indiana Icebreaker postponed

The Indiana Icebreaker scheduled for Saturday at Brownstown Speedway was postponed. The event, which was to have been the season opener for the track, has been rescheduled for May 9.

For information on the upcoming race schedule, go to brownstownspeedway.com.

This week in racing history

From 20 years ago, Brownstown Speedway held its season opener for the 2000 season with Mike Jewell winning the late model feature race over Don O’Neal, Greg Johnson, Dennis Erb Jr. and Steve Barnett. In the bomber division, Matt Bex took the feature over Matt Cummings, Sam Chastain, Ray Godsey Jr. and Darrell Burton.

From 10 years ago this weekend, Brownstown opened its 2010 racing season with Rusty Schlenk winning the late model feature event over Cody Mahoney, Joe Janowski, Rohn Moon and Steve Barnett. Mike Cawood took the checkers in the super stock feature over Jeremy Hines, Tyler Cain, Jay Deckard and Chris Hillman. Devin Gilpin took the top honors in the modified division over Kent Robinson, Matt Boknecht, Steven Godsey and Richie Lex. Brandon Norman won the hornet feature over Brad Ray, Wes Ray, Josh Turner and Donnie Modesty.

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