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Chateau Speedway Hall of Fame Celebrates Tracks History

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June 22, 2019

                                   

Chateau Speedway (5/21/19)                                                                                                                                                                                     Matthew Grage

 

                It was a night 63 years in the making.   Chateau Speedway in Lansing, established in 1956 on a little piece of land along the Cedar River has seen over 150 drivers claim at least one Track Championship over the years and over 650 drivers claim at least one Feature win in that time.   On Friday Night The Track established a “Chateau Speedway Hall of Fame” and inducted its Inaugural Class of 15 members.  The group included 13 former drivers and 2 Legacy Members. 

                The Legacy members were the ones who had the dream and the ambition to build the track, Howard and Art Smith.  They owned the track from 1956 to 1966, opening it on June 30th 1956,  before passing it along to the next group of owners.  Over the years The Track has been owned by over a dozen individuals or partnerships with Mark Wytaske being the latest. 

                Thirty-two Track Championship were represented in the group of thirteen drivers.  The Inductees included (in alphabetical order) 1962 and 1970 Modified Track Champion Dave Bjorge of Austin who still sits in the top 20 in the tracks list of all time Feature Wins.  Ole Brua, a three time Track Champion when it was a single class sport in 1958, 1959 and 1960.  The driver who was out of Albert Lea also is still in the Top 20 of all time Feature Winners.  Verlin Eaker of Mechanicsville Iowa, who lived in Blooming Prairie when he raced at Chateau was the 1961 Modified Track Champion and sits in the top 50 in all time Feature Wins at The Track.  Mike Guttormson who was from Austin was a three time Track Champion.  Mike took titles in the Hobby Stock Class in 1976, the IMCA Modified Class in 1987 and in the WISSOTA Modified Division in 1991 and is still top ten all time in Feature wins at the facility.  Two time Track Champion Don Lowe was from Rose Creek and was a two time Track Champion in the Sportsman Class in 1965 and 1967.  Don McAllister who raced out of Mapleview was the 1964 Track Champion in the Modified Class.  Blooming Prairie native Dave Noble who now lives in Plymouth was a three time Track Champion winning the Modified Titles in 1963 and 1969 and claiming the Late Model Crown in 1977.  Dave is another of the drivers in the top 10 of all time Feature Winners.  The only four time Champion of the group was Greg Pfeifer of Austin.  Greg took titles in the Street Stock Class in 1987, and in the Hobby Stock Class in 1988, 1989 and 1991.  His 1989 title was a shared title as that year it was a tie for the title.  Greg ranks in the top 25 in all time Feature wins.  Leroy Scharkey from Rochester, in the top 10 all time in Feature wins at The Track was a three time Track Champion.  All his titles came in the WISSOTA Modified Class wining the titles in 1990, 1992, and 1993.   Mert Williams of Rochester, another 3 Time Champion, took titles in the Late Model Division in 1974, 1975 and 1980 and sits in the top 15 of all time Feature Winners.  Gerhard Wollenburg of Austin was yet another three time Title winner.  Gerhard wheeled his way to titles in the Modified Class in 1967 and 1968 and in the Late Model Class in 1971.  Don Wytaske of Mapleview who was a big part of Chateau Speedway on and off the Track was the Hobby Stock Champion in 1973. 

                The eight living members of the initial class were on hand to accept there awards while the other 7 were represented by family members.  Those. eight members on hand were Bjorge, Eaker, Noble, Pfeifer, Scharkey, VanWilligen, Williams and Wollenburg. 

                While a lot of racing is still to be done the rest of this season and into the start of next year the excitement and anticipation is already building for the end of June next year when the HOF committee will have to take on the almost impossible task of coming up with the next class of Inductees.  The plan is for future years to be limited to six each year which will make the task even tougher.