Remembering Wayne Para; By Stan Kalwasinski

Remembering Wayne Para

By Stan Kalwasinski


Crown Point, Ind.—A stock car champion at Blue Island’s Raceway Park, Wayne Para, passed away at his home here on Friday at the age of 81.

Para, who raced out of East Hazel Crest, Ill., at the time, was the late model track champion in 1985 on the quarter-mile pavement in suburban Chicago.  Para wheeled his 1984 Firebird No. 22 to 20 feature wins, 11 heat races victories and seven trophy dash wins during his title-winning season.  Para didn’t wrap up the championship until the final race program of the season, battling with Jerry Kemperman most of the year.

Para, a machinist by trade, appeared in the Raceway Park record books in 1971, winning a late model heat race.  He won a single heat race again the following year.  Helping his brother, Ray, with his late model ride, Wayne Para pretty much did not get behind the wheel of a stock car full-time at Raceway Park until 1977.

Para had a ’74 Camaro for the 1977 season at Raceway Park, where he scored his first career feature win and added two more by season’s end.  He ended up seventh in the track’s late model division standings.  On June 18, 1977, Para went for a wild ride, getting high in the air before crashing near the track’s pit entrance.  His car was badly damaged but he escaped with just bruises.

A machinist by trade, Para was not among the top drivers at Raceway Park in 1978, but finished 10th in the standings in 1979.  He enjoyed a great season in 1982, grabbing 17 feature victories and ending up second in points.  Para would end up with a career total of 41 feature wins at Raceway Park.

Para’s son, Kevin, raced late models at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., in 1988 and 1989, finishing sixth in points both years and winning two feature races in ‘89.  Wayne Para was back behind the wheel of his No. 22 at Grundy in 1990, finishing fourth in the Grundy standings and capturing his first-ever feature win at Grundy on July 6, 1990. He drove his Lumina to the 25-lap win over Tracy Schuler and Tony Hertko.

Para was third in the points at Grundy in 1991, fifth in 1992 with five feature wins and second in the standings in 1993.  He ended up with 10 career feature wins at Grundy.

Para also competed at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind., with a 15th place finish in points in 1986.  He was third in the standings in 1988 and second in points in 1991, capturing his first career Illiana main event on July 6, 1991 in his Chevy Lumina. He was second in the Illiana late model points in both 1992 and 1993 and third in 1994.  He would garner a total of six career wins at Illiana.

After his racing days were over, Para owned and operated Five Star DJ Karaoke Entertainment, handling DJ duties at various parties, festivals and car shows.

Rest in Peace, Wayne.