(Special to Linda Mansfield)
Gas City I-69 Speedway promoter, Jerry Gappens was recently honored as the 2018 Heimel Auction’s Promoter of the Year by the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans (HARF). The presentation was made during the club’s 67th annual awards banquet at the American Legion Post 331.
Indiana’s Gas City I-69 Speedway sat dormant for four seasons before Gappens leased the famed quarter-mile clay oval from owner, Jack Himelick in January 2018. Gappens brought vitality and a major resurgence to the area’s sport’s scene by staging weekly Friday night races and special events at the track last season.
He also introduced fun-themed nights and crowd-pleasing intermission entertainment to the facility. Weekly happenings included human bubbleball and helmet-toss competitions, a soccer mom’s gone mad race, kid’s coin scrambles and school bus racing.
“With more than 60 active race tracks in Indiana, including many with great promoters, it is an honor to be recognized by HARF and its fan membership with this very special award,” Gappens said. “I want to give special thanks to owner Jack Himelick for giving me the opportunity to run his facility; to the fans, participants and sponsors for their support, and our dedicated team that executed the hosting of our fabulous events.”
HARF, one of the oldest and largest racing fan clubs in the country, also honored track champions from around the state. Among those recognized was Clinton Boyles, Gas City I-69 Speedway’s 2018 Non-wing Sprint Car champion.
In 2018 Gas City I-69 Speedway staged weekly Friday night racing of non-wing 410 sprint cars, UMP Modifieds, Super Streets, Thunder Cars and Front-wheel-drive Compacts.
Special events last season included the return of Winged Sprint Car racing with visits from the Great Lakes Super Sprints and BOSS/FAST on Dirt 410 c.i. sprints. Twelve different types of race cars competed at the track last year. The highlight of the season was the inaugural James Dean Classic, which featured USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series for the season finale.
The second season under Gappens’ helm at Gas City begins Friday night, April 27.
HARF, which has nearly 2,000 members, also presented special awards for outstanding contributions to racing in Indiana. Veteran photographer John Mahoney and Levi Jones, a seven-time USAC champion and USAC’s director of competition, were named to the club’s prestigious Hall of Fame.
HARF’s mission is to promote better understanding towards the sport of auto racing, to promote better sportsmanship within the ranks of auto racing, and to do everything possible to improve all of auto racing. It actively supports all forms of auto racing regardless of sanction or affiliation.