It was a family decision and it will be a family effort for the soon-to-be new operators of Lawrenceburg Speedway.
Although an official contract has yet to be signed, the Lawrenceburg City Council approved a resolution Nov. 6 that states “The city agrees to execute a license agreement with STM Motorsports to operate the Lawrenceburg Speedway at the Lawrenceburg Fairgrounds for a period of four years with a renewal option.”
STM Motorsports is led by Dearborn County Sheriff Shane McHenry and family.
McHenry said he, his wife and their four kids will be heavily involved in working at the track. Many others have reached out to lend a helping hand as McHenry continues to put a team in place ahead of the 2024 season.
When Dave and Kim Rudisell, the previous operators of the speedway, announced they would be stepping away from racing at the end of the 2023 season, they called operating the speedway a 24/7/365 endeavor.
McHenry, who stays busy as sheriff and a referee at local high school sporting events, addressed the “elephant in the room” by answering the question many may have: How is he going to have time to do this?”
“Just like at the sheriff’s office, I have a great team, but I’ve always kind of been one of those people that has been busy,” he said. “I’ve done law enforcement my whole career, I’ve coached my son’s and my daughter’s sports teams growing up, I officiate a lot, so I’m always doing something. It’s just finding that balance. I will ensure people that the sheriff’s office will not suffer and Lawrenceburg Speedway will not suffer. I have two great teams in place in both places in case I have to be absent from one or the other. Things will be taken care of. I’ll give 100% to both of them.”
McHenry also spoke about his passion for racing, which extends well throughout his family. His uncle, J.D. Largent, is a track legend at Lawrenceburg Speedway. McHenry even drove himself in the early 2000s. He reflected on winning a race on Aug. 16, 2003, which was just three days before his son, Corbin, was born. He currently races Pure Stocks.
“The kid was practically born at the track. He’s been at the track. He’s probably more crazy about it than I am as much as I love it,” McHenry said.
“Going way back, my grandparents used to take me to the track all the time when I was a child. We were always huge race fans. I grew up over there,” he said. “There’s been a lot of talk about whose going to take it over, and I just kind of sat back and listened, and at the end of the day, I was kind of afraid nobody was going to step up and do it. That track means a lot to our family. I really wanted to make sure there was something in place to keep racing going for Lawrenceburg.”
Looking ahead to the 2024 season, McHenry said the schedule and classes will stay pretty close to the same, which includes sprint cars, hornets, pure stocks and modifieds.
“It’s always been a sprint car track, and it will continue to be a sprint car track, but I do hope to have some late model races. It’s all about balance,” he said.
He added that plans are in the works for a couple of multi-day shows during the 2024 season.
Other plans include upgrades at the track. McHenry looks forward to having a great partnership with the city, which owns the track. Per the resolution approved Nov. 6, “The City agrees to engage a professional to create a plan for installing new dirt and resurfacing the track pursuant to the mutual wishes of the city and STM, to be completed as soon as is reasonably practical.”
Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial returning to Salem
Officials with the 500 Sprint Car Tour, in conjunction with Salem Speedway, have announcedthe series will make its first trip to the historic southern Indiana track in 2024.
The event also will see the return of the Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial after a short hiatus that saw the event being held at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. The event is set for Sept. 7.
“We are really excited and honored to be able to have the Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial return and have the 500 Sprint Car Tour at Salem Speedway in 2024,” Salem Speedway owner Nick Bohanon said. “I’m an open wheel racer, so it was one of my priorities when I purchased Salem to get sprint cars and the Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial back to the high banks. We appreciate the 500 Sprint Car Tour giving us the opportunity to host one of their events. Sprint cars and open wheel racing are a huge part of the history here at Salem.”
The Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial is the second longest running pavement sprint car race in the world behind the Little 500. After traditionally being held at Salem Speedway with the exception of a few years when the race was held on dirt, the race was held this past season at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park as a 500 Sprint Car Tour sanctioned event. The series will continue to sanction the historic event as it goes back to its home track for the first time since 2020.
“We are very excited to not only be going to Salem Speedway but to be bringing the Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial back to Salem, Indiana,” said Jared Owen, director of the 500 Sprint Car Tour series. “We can’t say enough thanks to everyone at Lucas Oil IRP for their willingness to continue the history of this great event. With that being said, we are beyond excited to have the two most historic pavement sprint car races in the world on our schedule and to be running them now at their home tracks.”
Salem Speedway has undergone major improvements since the last time the Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial was competed there. Some of the improvements include new safety lights around the track, a new scoreboard and major improvements to the racing surface and the track lighting. Salem’s continued commitment to not only non-wing pavement sprint car racing but to preserving the history of its facility has driven the desire of fans and drivers alike to return to the high-banked oval.
Continuing on a trend set in 2023, the USSA Kenyon Midget Series will once again be traveling with the 500 Sprint Car Tour as a companion series. Competing on the smaller quarter-mile configuration at Salem, the Kenyon Midget group will make their debut at the track as the series continues to further the development of open wheel talent across the Midwest. This will be one of many events in 2024 that the Kenyon Midget Series will run in conjunction with a 500 Sprint Car event.
Once available, information on the 500 Sprint Car Tour 2024 season can be found online at 500SprintCarTour.com and via social media on Facebook, X and Instagram. Furthermore, information and updates on the 2024 season at Salem Speedway can be found online at salemspeedway.com and via social media posts on the Salem Speedway Facebook page.
Circle City holds season finale
Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis held its final events of the racing season Oct. 28.
The division winners were Keaton Streeval of Edinburgh (pure stocks), Brayden Watson of Bedford (modifieds), Blake Hull of Butlerville (super stocks), Cordell Moore of Holton (hornets), Jeff Roberts of Sellersburg (crown vics), Tyler Miller of Kokomo (steel-block sprints), Logan Prickett of Shelbyville (TQ midgets) and Kevin Newton of Terre Haute (IMCA sprints).
This week in racing history
From 60 years ago in 1963, Lawrenceburg Speedway track champions were Dick Gaines (super modifieds) and Whitey Freeman (stock cars).
From 40 years ago in 1983, Paragon Speedway announced its track champions with Steve Butler (sprints), Gary Barrow (limited late models) and Bil Pollitt (street stocks) taking the titles.
In 1983 at Brownstown Speedway, the track champions were Russ Petro (late models) and Mike Jewell (modified street stocks).
From 30 years ago in 1993, Brownstown Speedway named its track champions with Marty O’Neal (late models), Tim Clark (street stocks), Mark Barber (modifieds) and Murl Robinson (bombers) taking division crowns.