“Chicago Whispers” July 12th; Column & photos by Stan Kalwasinski


Stan Kalwasinski photo

Chicago Whispers
By Stan Kalwasinski

July 12, 2018

Chicago, Ill.—The ARCA Midwest Tour comes to town Saturday as the touring late model series visits the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., for the $5,000-to-win, Rod Baker Ford/Illinois Truck & Equipment-sponsored, Wayne Carter Classic 100.

Thirty-one entries have been received for the 100-lap main event at the third-of-a-mile paved oval that is located at the Grundy County Fairgrounds.  Last year’s winner, Ricky Baker of Plainfield, leads the local contingent of entries which includes the likes of four-time Grundy track champion and three-time Carter Classic winner Eddie Hoffman, 2016 track titlist Anthony Danta, veteran racer Larry Schuler, who won the Carter race back in 1981, Pat Kelly, John Nutley and Josh Nelms.  Former NASCAR Truck Series competitor, Erik Darnell, is also among the entries.

Young Austin Nason, with two series wins to his credit so far this year, heads up the out-of-town cast and leads the current Midwest Tour standings.  Nason recently won at the Rockford Speedway.

The Mid American Stock Car Series, Midwest Compacts and the Illini Racing Series midgets will also be on the program with racing beginning at 7:00 pm Saturday.

40 Years Ago (1978) – Minnesota native Mike Miller and his fast and unique-looking ’78 Olds Cutlass won the fourth annual Wayne Carter Classic at Grundy with the race held under the ARTGO Racing banner.  Miller won the Sunday evening 100-lap chase, defeating Joe Shear, Tom Reffner, Tom Musgrave and Steve Burgess.

Veteran dirt track campaigner John Provenzano and Mike Affarano are ready to take on NASCAR and Ohio’s Eldora Speedway as the team is entered for the Eldora Dirt Derby 150 with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series making its one and only appearance on dirt on Wednesday evening, July 18.

With over 40 years of experience, Provenzano, who hails from Streator, Ill., is slated to wheel the  Affarano Motorsports Chevrolet No. 03 truck at the fast Eldora half-mile.  Provenzano has more than 500 feature races on the dirt during his career and was the 1982 track champion at the old Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Ill.  Provenzano had a knack at winning Santa Fe’s season-ending National Clay Track Championship race as Provenzano claimed the event’s trophy five times during his career.

Alex Nalon, the great grandson of the legendary Dennis “Duke” Nalon, has been racing winged sprint cars the last year or so and is a regular in the RaceSaver “305” sprint car ranks at Indiana’s Bloomington Speedway.  Nalon, who lives in Lizton, Ind., won his first sprint car feature at the age of 16 on June 16, 2017 at Bloomington, leading all 25 laps in only his sixth sprint car start.

Duke Nalon was part of the “Chicago Gang” when midget auto racing was popular throughout the country especially in the Chicago area before World War II.  Helping the likes of Wally Zale, who was the “superman” in Chicago area midget racing in the late 1930s and early 40s, Nalon got a ride in a “big car” at Indiana’s Roby Speedway and won the afternoon’s main event in September of 1934.  Nalon went on to compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making 10 starts in the annual “500” classic with a third-place finish his best effort.  Nalon was known as the driver of the famed and powerful NOVI specials, winning the pole position twice at Indianapolis.

Newspaper Stories

An Associated Press story this past week, appearing in newspapers throughout the country, told the story of Venturini Motorsports making history as it entered and started three female drivers in the recent ARCA Series stock car race at Joliet’s Chicagoland Speedway.  The team, which was founded by former Chicago area racer Bill Venturini, had Natalie Decker, Leilani Munter and Toni Breidinger in the starting lineup on June 28.  Venturini, a two-time ARCA champion himself, saw his female threesome finish 12th, 18th and 20th respectively with the team’s fourth driver, Michael Self, winning the race.

Local motorsports writer, Tony Baranek, who has probably promoted auto racing in these parts more than any one person over the last 30 years or so, wrote a great story about Wayne Adams in yesterday’s Daily Southtown newspaper.  Adams was the announcer at Blue Island’s Raceway Park from 1947 until the close of the 1989 season.  Adams also announced at other Midwest speedways and was a motorsports writer, dating back to 1940.  Adams, who lives in Dolton, Ill., and, at the age of 99, shared a bunch of memories with Baranek.  Check it out at www.chicagotribune.com.

Keith Parker, 52, of Hobart, Ind., passed away on June 30.  Parker, who raced out of Gary during his speed career, was the 1997 sportsman division champion at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind.  Parker won three feature races at the half-mile paved oval during his championship season as he bested his brother, Perry, Paul Thompson, John Rastovsky and Chris Cirrincione in the final points standings.  Following his dad Pete’s racing footsteps and carrying the No. 10 on his race cars, Parker was Illiana’s late model “rookie of the year” in 1998.  RIP, Keith.

The address for news and comments is 9618 Cypress Ave., Munster, Ind. 46321-3418 or e-mail to skalwasinski@yahoo.com.