|Welcome to Dan Erikson's
Vintage IRA Web Site!!
|Remember any underlined words are
links to more Photos and stories. Don't
forget to click on them for more detail!
Clicking on Photo's will enlarge most of
them as well!
|Until just recently Pop's car really
was just a small part of IRA's
history. More of a family heirloom
than anything else. Pop never had
a championship pocket book!
A 1973 News article shows it had a
little more history than we thought!
|Looks like Pop took the first
Checkered flag on the new
track at Wilmot.
The "Interstate Racing Association"
I cut my teeth on racing at an early age. My Grandfather, Pop Kline, raced
with the IRA from it's beginning. My earliest memories include standing out
on our sidewalk just waiting to see car trailers pull around the corner in
down town Genoa City! As they passed our house my checkered flag would
be waving at full force. Wish I had a dollar for every honk and wave!!! How
about that bumper to bumper traffic while exiting Lake Geneva. I remember
laying on the back seat of Mom and Dads car listening to the chorus of frogs
and crickets as we waited for our turn at the stop sign on the way home.
Don't really remember staying awake long enough to make the stop sign!!
Funny how you forget who won and lost after all this time. One thing you
never forget are the drivers names, everyone now legendary!
Looking back at what those drivers accomplished with build it yourself,
back yard race cars really is something!! Running for
points on both Dirt and Asphalt at multiple tracks truly is different than most
anything we see in the state of Wisconsin this day and age. 2,3 and 4 nights
a week!!!! It's no wonder the IRA has evolved into one of the
premier Sprint Car Associations in the country. Let's look at
their meager beginnings.
|The following information is a combination of 2 discussions I was privileged to have with both Ken
Monroe and Whitey Harris. These guy's were part of the IRA's infancy. The first organizational meeting
was held in at Whitey's home. The first club meetings were at the old Tar Foo club south of Antioch on 59
and Grass Lake Rd.! Many of the IRA board meetings were held in Ray Toft's office at City Hall! Ray
was the first club President.
How was this club inspired to form??
Let's go back to 1965! The MSC was running modified divisions at tracks from Milwaukee up through
mid state. Many tracks south of Milwaukee and Northern IL. also ran modified divisions. Most were
promoter run divisions where the drivers were at the promoters mercy. Many treated the drivers and
fans favorably but sometimes problems did arise.
In 65 Modifieds running at Wilmot were paid from 40% of the nightly gate. 4000-4500 was a very
reasonable attendance figure in those days. Looks like fans had to pay the hefty fee of $2 a head to
see their favorite drivers saw the wheels of those fire breathers they rode around in!!
It seems the promoters at Wilmot were experiencing a thinning out of fans and warned the drivers that
the gate numbers were starting to slide. Being a very resourceful bunch, the wives of some of the
owners and drivers decided to help the promoter count his fans as they made their way through the
gate. Unfortunately the Promoters numbers were quite a bit short from the actual count and trouble
soon reared it's ugly head. A boycott was in order and a search for another place to race was on! Only
2 options presented themselves. Talk to Rockford Speedway about adding a division or convince
Sturge Taggert to add a circle track on the grounds of his drag strip at Lake Geneva.
In the Spring of 66 the flat 1/4 paved track was laid down at Geneva in about three days! The original
opening on Memorial Day was delayed as rain kept the pavers away! The full page add taken out in the
Checkered Flag Racing News included an apology from track officials for the delay! A few mod's did
stay on at Wilmot as buying more expensive Asphalt tires was not possible. A Promotion Group
headed up the planning for this widely anticipated grand opening. First estimates thought 5000 fans
would come out on opening day, but at the last minute all food and beverage orders were doubled as
close to 10,000 fans were now expected. The track was all geared up on opening day for a very
meager 1000 fans. Needless to say many local businesses lost a lot of money in this endeavor. When
all was said and done the Lake Geneva Raceway would now be owner by a collection of local
businessmen. By the end of the season the original promotional team was no where to be found and
Mr. Taggart had to go it alone to keep the track operational. All the turmoil created plenty of issues
with the drivers who tried to put on the show. The 67 season saw many question marks as well
With the management of both tracks in question, owners and drivers alike thought it was time to form
an Association to look out for their interests! Hence, the Interstate Racing Association was created .
|There seems to be some confusion about the creation date of the IRA. As
a Board Member for the Southeastern Wisconsin Short Track Hall of
Fame I've poured over years and years of Midwest Racing News and year books
to help verify Inductee bio's and Championship claims. I watch IRA info
very carefully. No printed material to date has mentioned the IRA before the
1968 season! A couple of these MRN articles from 1968 mention the newly
created Interstate Racing Association. In an interview with Ken Monroe he
told me that his wife Colleen and Gwen Schill came up with the name
Interstate Racing Association.
Seems the newly created Board asked for possible names and the ladies
suggestion was voted in by the Board as the groups new name.
to the 68 season.
|1975 reference to
68 season by IRA
|1976 reference to the
first year at Wilmot and
68 as being the IRA start!
|Click on the articles to enlarge them!
|Looking for more goodies to
post here!! If you have
photos or comments email
|RIP Hall of Fame
Member Jack Biddison
Jack passed away on
Aug 4th 2012.
Sad to report that an old
friend Deane Potter has
passed away. We lost
Deane at the end of July