Area racer credited with wing revolution 50 years ago

Tommy Day was coming off of his most successful season in stock car racing in 1971. He had captured the 6-cylinder track championships at both the 25th Street Fairgrounds Raceway in Columbus and at Twin Cities Speedway in North Vernon.

But heading into the 1972 racing season, the tracks that he had planned to race at Twin Cities — Riverview Speedway in Milton, Kentucky and the Northern Kentucky Speedway in Union, Kentucky — were allowing “rocking chair”-style wings atop their stock cars.

In previous years, starting in the late 1960s, several local tracks allowed some sort of top wing on top of their race cars, but 50 years ago, there was an influx of Indy-500 style wings that resembled the rear wings on Indy Cars from that year.

Day, who passed away last month at the age of 87, credited Ray Tabata of Clifford with the idea to run the wing starting in 1972. “There was usually a lot of joking about it. People sometimes say it’s a rocking chair,” said Day in an interview after winning the Gene Crittenden Memorial race for stock cars at Northern Kentucky Speedway that year.

Tabata, who passed away in 1989 at the age of 69, built several cars, including the 1964 Chevy II Nova that Day raced in the early 1970’s. Along with Day and his brother Ron “Pee Wee” Day, Tabata also built cars for Joe King of Columbus and other drivers, as well. He built both stock cars and rails, which were prevalent in the 1960s at area tracks. They were flathead 6-cylinder and chevy 6-cylinder powered cars.

Besides being involved in racing for a number of years, Tabata was also a well-known heavy equipment operator in the Bartholomew County area. Even though Tabata owned and built several cars, he never drove one. Day said that Tabata experimented with the wing on a few of his cars, but “they never won more than a heat race with it.”

“I just took his ideas and refined them,” Day said. “The purpose of the wing was to shift some weight to the rear of the car. I really don’t think it makes that much difference. I think I could probably do as well without it. It gives me a psychological advantage.”

The 1972 season proved to be another good one for Day with the addition of the rocking chair wing idea he borrowed from Tabata. He won the track championships at three tracks. The Riverview Speedway, Northern Kentucky Speedway and Glen Este (Ohio) Speedway.

Lawrenceburg opener today

The Midwest opener for the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship to be held today at southeastern Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway will feature a new time schedule a little bit earlier than the usual.

The event at the speedy 3/8-mile dirt oval will now have the pit gates opening at 1 p.m. today, with the grandstands opening at 3 p.m., the drivers meeting at 3:15 p.m. and cars on track at 4 p.m. with qualifying and racing to immediately follow.

The decision by USAC and Lawrenceburg Speedway officials to move the event schedule up two hours earlier was made to prioritize the comfort of fans and teams due to the forecasted chilly temperatures.

Today’s docket includes the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, KOI Auto Parts UMP Modifieds and Bessler’s U Pull and Save Hornets.

Adult general admission tickets are $30, kids 7-12 are $7 and children age 6 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members. For more information


Brownstown set for tonight

Weather permitting, Brownstown Speedway will try for the third time to get its season-opening race in tonight. It will be the first points night of the year for the pro late models, super stocks, pure stocks, hornets and crown vics. For the latest up-to-date information, visit

Florence racing tonight

Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky, will attempt for the second time to get its season opener in the books tonight, weather permitting. There will be a $5,000-to-win late model race, along with a full program of open wheel modifieds, sport mods and hornets. Fur the latest info, visit

Columbus Karts move opener

Officials from the Columbus Speedway Go-Kart Racing that conducts events at the Tony Stewart Speedway located at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds have canceled today’s opening points race. The next scheduled event is set for April 9.

This week in racing history

From 20 years ago in 2002 at Brownstown, John Gill won the Indiana Icebreaker for late models over Mike Jewell, Jim Curry, Greg Johnson, and Steve Barnett. Brent Londeree won the modified feature race over Gary Barrow Jr., Adam Sasser, Gregg O’Neill and Alan Magner. Matt Cummings took the bomber main event.

From 10 years ago in 2012 at Brownstown, it was Don O’Neal winning the Indiana Icebreaker over Jimmy Owens, Greg Johnson, Steve Francis and Jonathan Davenport. Nick Allen won the modified feature over Joe Godsey, John DeMoss, Devin Gilpin and Clint DeMoss. Tim Clark was victorious in the super stock feature over Tyler Cain, Cullen Goodman, Jason Hehman and Jimmy Cummins. Aaron Fields won the bomber feature over Josh Hayes, Ronnie Pardue, Mickey Hines and Danny Hupp.