Illiana Motor Speedway
Schererville, IN

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My Memories of Illiana Motor Speedway
By Gary Gasper

June, 2016
In 1956, my Aunt Ann and Uncle Pete, who lived in East Chicago, Indiana, asked my parents if they could take me to Illiana Speedway.  So along with my younger cousin Fred, we all headed to Schererville to see the races.  My 6 year old brain witnessed the greatest thing I'd ever seen!  I was hooked.  Growing up, I begged my parents every Saturday to take me to Illiana. I found a friend down my street who liked racing too.  Sometimes his dad would take us, and other times my dad would.

One time, by myself, the racing ended, and the parade to the pits from the grandstands began.  Waiting for
my "pickup" by the pit gate, the trailers had left, and lights were being shut off.  Then, it was myself and Harry Molenaar, the owner.
He had asked me if I had a ride home.  I told him my parents were coming. (Soon, I hoped.)  In the darkness behind the track coming around the trees, was a pair of headlights that I prayed were my parents!  It was them and I was relieved.  My dad had a flat tire on the way to get me!
Harry had stuck around until they got there and I was really appreciative of him after that.

I found out later in life that the reason we all went to Illiana in 1956 was to see Nick Trgovich race his car.  Nick and my aunt and uncle were neighbors!  Funny how these things worked out. 

Throughout my "growing up" I was a regular there and after the "photo taking thing" started, I enjoyed the racing from the other side of the fence.

It's a weird feeling, knowing it won't be there in the future.   Getting comfortable with something doesn't mean it will last forever.  True with a lot of things, isn't it?

Stories, anecdotes, and photos are too numerous to insert here.
Many different types of race cars appeared at Illiana over the years.  You will see below!

So here are just a few of the photos I've taken, along with other mementos and souvenirs for you to observe!
Please, please, please, support the local racetracks that are still in operation.....before it's too late.
 


One of my "heroes" growing up was Don Allen. And not because he owned a bunch of Dairy Queens either!
Here he's running his "hand me down" Dodge acquired from Gary Bettenhausen who raced it in the USAC division.


Sure glad I saved this program, and others.


The start of the 2005 Bettenhausen that took out Dave Weltmeyer (backwards against the wall) and a couple of others.


You never know what you're going to see in the pits!


Brian Olson, with Don Kenyon, after a USAC Sprint Car race at Illiana in 2008.


This particular night saw some wild racing by the Turbo Stox.


Geoff Kaiser won a HOSS Sprint Car feature in 2008.  These cars were lightning fast on the Illiana asphalt.


The Illinois Vintage Racing guys showed up in 2009 with some interesting old cars.


Indy Lights driver Jimmy Simpson won a USAC Midget race in 2009.


The Legends cars were just too cool to look at and watch.


Ralphie "The Racer" Liguori's grandson Joe at speed at Illiana during a USAC show.


The USSA came to play one night in their Roadster cars!


Needless to say, I didn't stick around much after this photo was taken!  Drove home in a monsoon.


I've always enjoyed this shot of our colors with sunset.


Over the years, the Mad Bomber never disappointed us with the fireworks.


A classic battle for the lead with Eddie Hoffman and Late Model Champ Blake Brown.


During the 50th Bettenhausen, some former winners posed for photos.  I have an 8x10 autographed by all in the shot!


A JEGS/CRA show ready to go on a spring evening in 2012.


Bill Serviss didn't have good luck on this evening, but he did end up winning the championship in 2012!


If only all race cars could be as colorful as Jason Cox' HOSS Sprint Car!


Boris Jurkovic taking the Bettenhausen Classic 100 way after midnight this year!  Nobody seemed to care how late it was though.


This kid is showing everyone he can win on asphalt and dirt, in any kind of car.  His name is Christopher Bell.


Mr. Paul Goldsmith....the total racer.....that's all you need to know!


How many people would love this souvenir in their bar or garage?  I would!


4 wide in the Pure Stocks was a common thing!


Starter Tom White runs down the field before the 2014 Bettenhausen!


"Cubby" joined John Nutley in displaying the colors this particular evening!


Memorial Day weekend.


Jeff Cannon (33) and Boris Jurkovic racing close, but clean!


Andrew Morrissey won a Tommy Gun trophy after his win in the ARCA Midwest Tour race!


My good friend Stan Kalwasinski.  Along with being a Hall of Fame journalist and photographer, he's a former track
announcer at Illiana Speedway.  The stories written, and photos he's taken over the years, could fill a large warehouse!
Not to mention all the memories of Illiana he has since his childhood.


An old poster I have framed.  I believe I saw the late Rich Vogler
 in a late model at this event!


Bought this tee shirt at Harry's cycle shop in Hammond years ago.  Wore it once.


I thought about selling it once, but.....................naw!


These jackets were, I believe, $20 when they came out!  You may see me in it sometime!


Not sure of the date of this.  Could be late 40's and Harry Molenaar tearing it up!


The sun setting on Illiana Speedway...


 

Contact me at: garygaspix@hotmail.com.