When many race drivers reach the age of 40, they are looking to slow down with their racing agenda or hang up the helmet, Milford’s Curtis Radke got to fulfill his dreams of getting behind the wheel at the age of 40. In his sixth year, Radke made the transition to the Late Model division in 2018. For the year, Radke placed eighth in the Fairbury point standings, with four top ten finishes, and a best race finish of eighth on three occasions.
Originally from Galva, Iowa, Radke’s interest in racing began at the age of eight. “My uncle owned race cars and was a crew chief for several race teams,” Radke said. “He would let me go with them. We went to tracks all over Iowa. Seeing all the action on the tracks, I decided one day that I wanted to try racing.”
Radke graduated from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa with a degree in Business Management, plus played four years of Division 3 football. Staying active in sports and fitness, Radke had a fling in powerlifting. “ One thing about powerlifting, as big as I was I would have trouble getting in and out of the race cars,” Radke spoke.” I tried different diets and found that the Keto diet has worked for me. I have lost over 60 pounds. Before I would tire out when I was racing, but now I have that extra boost of energy and feel that I can race 50-100 laps, no problem.”
Radke began racing in 2012 at the LaSalle Speedway in the Street Stock class. When LaSalle went to a reduced schedule, Radke found a new home at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Racing for three seasons in his Street Stock, the 2017 campaign was a standout year. Radke claimed his first ever feature win holding off, Rick Thomas and AJ Meiferdt. Radke also finished second in Fairbury’s track points to Meiferdt. “To date, those are my proudest accomplishments in racing,” Radke said.
This past off season, Radke found a buyer for his Street Stock. “When that deal came, I looked around for a Late Model,” explained Radke. “ I felt it was time to move up. I wasn’t getting any younger.”
Fairbury boast the stiffest weekly Late Model competition in the state, plus drivers mix it up with many of the top pilots in the Midwest and the World of Outlaws for the Prairie Dirt Classic. “It is really amazing with how fast the Outlaws are,” said Radke. “ It is a tremendous honor to race those guys. For the weekly races, it was difficult for me. I was use to racing up front, but I had to learn all over Radke receives help for time to time at the track and his shop, but his companion, Shannon Gross is always by his side. “Shannon and I have been together a long time,” Radke said. “She is always willing to help me on the car, plus she cooks for a little after race get together. It is a fun time with Shannon. Racing is something that we both enjoy together, but we both look forward to season ending, when we both can have a little break.”
“I didn’t thing that the weekly racing would be that difficult in the Late Model,” closed Radke.” I was getting reeducated on the track and sometimes it can be humbling. The last few weeks we have been getting faster and more competitive. I just would like to run in the top five- ten on a consistent basis and maybe get a feature win. Beside Shannon, I have to thank the fans and officials at Fairbury. They have made us feel welcome and we consider Fairbury our family. Nelson Farms, Show to Go Video and Tanning, Kia of Bradley, Mounce Karaoke, and Rural Route Repair help us out. Roger Friedman does my motors and has been a tremendous boost. We will race the next two races at Fairbury and have plans to close our year, racing at Peoria and finish up at the Kokomo Klash.”
Farmer City Raceway It will be the final night for drivers to earn track points as the track will hold a regular race program, plus the Hornet class returns. Kevin Weaver (Late Model) and Mike Chasteen Jr. (Modified) have already locked up their track championships. Matt Maier leads Tanner Sullivan by 17 points in the Street Stock race, while AJ Mays holds a 57 point advantage over Shawn Diggs in the Pro Late Model battle. Hot laps start at 6:30, followed by qualifying, and racing. Logan Moody (Pro Late Model), Nick Neville (Modified), Jason Feger (Late Model), Josh Griffith (Street Stock), and Tim Hancock (B-Mods) took wins last week.
Grundy County Speedway The 1/3 mile, paved oval will host two nights of racing this week. Firday, will feature a regular program, plus the POWRi Midgets. Time trials start at 6:45 and racing at 8. Some of the finest pavement racers in the Midwest will invade the track as the “Wayne Carter Classic” sanctioned by the ARCA Midwest Tour headline the card in a 100 lap feature. Mid-Am, and the Illini Midget Series will also be in action. Racing begins at 7.
Kankakee County Speedway A full program, plus the Modified drivers will have a $800 to win special. Racing begins at 7:30. AJ Meiferdt ended a long dry spell by taking the Street Stock race. Torin Metillle was the Pro Late Model winner, and Mike McKinney was the Modified winner.
Lincoln Speedway Race fans will be admitted for $5 on Brandt Season Championships Night. On the final night, Austin Lynn leads his father, Brian by 4 marks and Guy Taylor holds a slim 8 point lead over Roben Huffman. There will be six classes competing, with hot laps at 6 and racing at 7. Ken Schrader (Modified), Roben Huffman (Pro Late Model), and Mitch Wissmiller (410 Non-Wing Sprints) were among the race winners from last week.
Fairbury American Legion Speedway All drivers will be admitted free this week for Driver Appreciation Night. The Alkota hard charger points will also wrap up in a tight battle. Prior to the night’s racing action, the top ten drivers in each class will be recognized. Hot laps at 6, followed by time trails, and racing in five classes.
LaSalle Speedway Brian Shirley continued his hot streak by winning the $4000 to win American Ethanol Series Tour race for Late Models. AJ May was the $1000 to win Pro Late Model winner, and Michael Clark took the $500 to win, Street Stock race. Action returns on Sept. 23 for the Bill Waite Memorial race. Racing will be featured in the UMP Late Models, Winged and Non-Winged Sprint Cars.
Macon Speedway A regular night of racing in six divisions will be held. Hot laps start at 6 and racing at 7.
Peoria Speedway A regular weekly racing program takes place this week. Hot laps at 5:30 and racing at 6. Charley Hess (Modified), Matt Shannon (Late Model), and Jeremy Nichols won the Midwest Championship Street Stock race from last Saturday.
Bohmer’s Rt.66 Raceway Kart racing will be held this week. Full concessions and fans are admitted for free. The track is located between Chenoa and Pontiac on Rt. 66.