Author: Kevin Eckert

Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Ghost Tracks

The show “Lost Speedways” is my new old favorite. It is a collection of 30-minute stories of auto racing venues swallowed by real estate development, indifference, outrage or the trees cleared to accommodate them. Jungle Park, Macon, Asheville, Augusta, Metrolina and Hinchliffe Stadium have all been rediscovered. Each episode is a beautiful blend of photography,

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Runners Up

Winning with the World of Outlaws is the most difficult task in Sprint Car racing. In the 43 seasons since Ted Johnson conceived the international series, 143 men and one woman have attained the honor. If that number seems high, consider how it computes to fewer than four new names per year. In this virus-plagued

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: One ‘Sick’ Season

No trips to California. No swings through New York. No banquet. This was “The Year From Hell!” Historians will reflect on 2020 well past the next plague. The global pandemic, called COVID-19, brought the world to a grinding halt. Everyone was told to stay home, buy a mask. Prior to 2020, those who hid faces

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Woodruff

Kenneth Keith Woodruff was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa on November 11, 1940. At age 19, he came to Sacramento, CA. By day, he repaired cars for neighbors. By night, he tinkered on race cars. West Capital Speedway was booming with sledgehammer square tails but Woodruff wanted a stallion. He wanted a sprint car and

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Two Winners

Halfway to Indianapolis from Fort Wayne is Fairmount, IN. It is an Indiana town like countless Indiana towns, home to fewer than 3000 folks and more churches than stoplights. Yet seven decades ago, the tiny town became “The Birthplace of Cool” because James Dean lived there. The iconic “Rebel Without a Cause” was born in

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Checkered Past

CHECKERED PAST: The Port

Port Royal, Pennsylvania’s sparkling “Speed Palace” is evidence that a beautiful swan can evolve from an ugly duckling. To say that such a beautiful woman scarcely reflects her rough origins is to compare splintered oak to polished steel. The old girl had plenty of personality and atmosphere but today’s heartbreaking half-mile is superior in every

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Shark Evolution

“Original Outlaw” is no token term. Originally, auto racing outlaws were those without membership in the austere Automobile Association of America and by proxy, no honest shot at the Indianapolis 500. AAA became USAC in 1956. Rear engines replaced roadsters and sprint car drivers were as welcome as rain. Sprint cars were no longer stepping

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Checkered Past

CHECKERED PAST: Chronicles of Kansas

Kansas conjures various images: “Wizard of Oz” courage, herds of cattle, staunch conservatives, amber waves of grain, “Carry On Wayward Son.” Sunflower State grows no pro sport but college basketball at the University of Kansas holds fanatical appeal and much ESPN money. NCAA championships in 1952, 1988 and 2008 fanned those flames. “Rock chalk, Jayhawk!”

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Checkered Past

CHECKERED PAST: Nine Seconds

To drive a lurching, snarling sprint car across a rutted dirt track has been compared to sitting on the back of a raging bull. Each is an attempt to control what sane people see as uncontrollable. Wichita, Kansas cowboy A.J Shepherd compared the two extreme sports. After busting broncos, Shepherd won CRA and IMCA sprint

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Checkered Past

Checkered Past: Bands of Brothers

Professional sports have seen its share of brothers. Football had Peyton and Eli Manning under center. Baseball had Pedro and Ramon Martinez on the mound. Basketball has Seth and Steph Curry well behind the arc. Auto racing runs on deeper bloodlines. Why else do proud fathers spend insane amounts of money just to learn if

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