April has been a tough month as the Central Illinois racing community is mourning the loss of two legendary drivers. Lynn Wilson passes away on April 12 and Dick Turner went home to be with his wife, Sharon on April 28.
Mr. Wilson claimed the track championship in the Late Model class in 1965 and 1966. Driving a #44 Chevrolet, Wilson won 11 FALS feature races, including a Mid- Season Championship race and two of the annual Fairbury Fair races. Sons Jeff and Dennis continued their father’s legacy by racing in the Street Stock and Modified class. Inlater years, Mr. Wilson could be seen at various race reunions proudly displaying his Bill Krieghauser prepared, Janes & Addems Chevrolet.
Mr. Turner was the 1974 Late Model track champion at Fairbury and with 10 career feature wins. In his sweet #16, Mr. Turner won two of the Mid-Season championships and four of the season ending Fairbury Fair race. Turner also has successful runs as a car owner with son, Corey winning the UMP National Rookie of the Year Award and two track championships at the Kankakee Speedway. Kevin Weaver also drove for two years in the Turner Bus Service #B12 claiming numerous wins, several UMP regional titles, and the 2000 UMP Summer National Championship.
At the conclusion of last week’s races at Fairbury, I spoke briefly with Kevin Weaver on driving for Dick Turner. “I had known Dick for years,” Weaver said. “We would talk racing, talking about different setup ideas, even when Corey was driving.”
Weaver’s lone Summer National title came during his time driving for Turner. “That was quite an accomplishment in my career. I remember one race during the tour we were in Minnesota,” spoke Weaver. “We needed a fresh motor to finish up. One of Dick’s daughter went to my shop, got a motor I had, and brought it up. We got the motor in and the next night at Oakshade, we were able to win that race. That was a good memory for me.”
“Dick loved racing. Even when I left, he didn’t want to quit,” Weaver said. “Racing was getting expensive and he needed to take care of his bus business. It was on good terms for us, I understand as you get older, you have to take care of finances.”
“I will miss Dick. He came to my race party this year and he wasn’t looking that well. About four weeks ago, he drove to my shop,” Weaver spoke. “He told me he was on hospice. I looked at him and said, you are on hospice and drove all the way here by yourself! Dick said that he was feeling pretty good that day. My wife and I had planned to go see him this past Sunday, but he passed away on Saturday. Dick was a super nice guy and would do anything to help you. I am so sorry to see him go.”
Although Dick Turner has left us, his memory will be carried on by Grandson, Torin Mettille. Mettille is the reigning Pro Late Model track champion at the Kankakee County Speedway. Weaver has been Mettille’s mentor since Mettille began racing in 2011. “Torin is a good racer and will have a good future in racing. He can be stubborn, but that’s some of the Turner in him,” smiled Weaver.
Farmer City Raceway This Friday will feature a full race program plus the Hornet class returns. Qualifying starts at 7:00 and racing will follow. Admission is $12 for adults and under 12 are free. Military Veterans are admitted for $5 on regular weekly programs. Ryan Unzicker (Late Model), Allen Weisser (Modified), Austin May (Pro Late Model), Don Hilleary (Street Stock), and Jordan Smith (B-Mod) were last week’s winners.
Grundy County Speedway The first race of the season is this Friday night on the 1/3 mile paved oval. Late Models, Sportsman, Street Stock, and Pure Stock are featured. $12 admission for adults, seniors $10, 12-17 $5, and under 11 are free. Racing starts at 8:00.
Kankakee County Speedway The track will hold another practice day this Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00.
Lincoln Speedway Guy Taylor (Pro Late Model), Ray Bollinger (Modified) were feature winners from last week. In his first start ever at Lincoln Speedway, Jim Farris Jr. (Odell) finished sixth. Racing returns on May 18.
Fairbury American Legion Speedway Street Stock drivers will take center stage for their biggest event of the year in the “Earl J. Hubert Memorial”. The race will be a 43 lap affair, with $2000 going to the winner. The Late Models, Modified, and Sportsman classes will also be in action. Kids 5-6 years of age will have a chance to compete in a Dash for Cash before the night’s racing program. Be sure to register at the front stretch. Admission is $15 for adults and children under 12 are free. Hot laps at 6, qualifying at 6:30, and racing will follow.
LaSalle Speedway The ¼ mile dirt oval returns to racing excitement as the Lucas Oil MLRA Late Model series returns. IMCA Modified, Sport Mods, and Hornets fill out the program. Admission is $25 for adults. Hot laps at 6:30, followed by qualifying, and racing will follow.
Peoria Speedway The track will host a regular weekly program in six classes. Hot laps begin at 5:30 and racing at 6.admission is $13 for adults, 6-12 years $5, and under five are free. Todd Bennett (Late Model), Derick Doerr (Modified), and Robert Cottom (Street Stock) were among last week’s winners.
Macon Speedway The KIDMODZ series will be part of the program on the 1/5 mile high banked dirt oval. There will also be Kid’s bicycle races, plus a full racing program. Hot laps start at 6 and racing at 7.