Sheridan's Speedways long history of racing!
The original club was formed in 1947 and was then called Sheridan Hot Rod Club, Inc. The officers were Vern L. Morris, President; Cecil Wentz, Vice-President and Don Welton, Secretary-Treasurer.
The race cars were called “The Wyo Big Cars”. There were stripped down frames with a T bucket and a roll bar behind the driver. Ford front axles and flat head Ford and Mercury engines. The only place they had to run was on the fairgrounds track. They used ethyl gas with a quart or so of pure ether. Billings was running the Wonderland Speedway at this time, so a bunch of us went up to see what and how. After seeing the races the group began building race cars and a track. Most of the cars were 1932 to 1937 coupes and there was only one class. The track was a little piece of land just south of the Girl’s School and with the help of Rasmussen Brothers the Mountain View Speedway was formed. That track closed around 1960. Names from a program from the Mountain View Speedway (year unknown) are Art Smith, Wilbur Martin, Mike DeLuna, Jim Goodlet, Bob Goodlet, Bob Mock, Jim Salistrom, Tommy Barker, Pete Genereaux, Jim Jackson, Gene Wakefield, George Good, Bill Gaugh, Maurice Kennedy, Wilford Helling, Ace Weaver, Hank Sullivan, and Vern Morris.
In the beginning the club was organized to race on the fairground tracks. The club was dormant for the period during the Korean War and was revived in 1953.
The words “Hot Rod Club” were replaced and the organization’s name by “Race Car Association” and a one-quarter mile track was built south of the Wyoming State Girls School. Club officers at that time were: Vern L. Morris, President; Jack Yentzer, Vice-President; and Don Welton, Secretary-Treasurer. At this track, racing continued until 1960 with one class of car, the original “stock car”. During the period from 1957 to 1960, the track was primarily under the direction and control of George Good.
Stock car racing was abandoned in 1960 and again lay dormant until 1970 when Vern L. Morris and Gerald Schaffer reorganized the Sheridan Race Car Association and made arrangements through LeRoy Scrutchfield to build a three-eighths mile track, which was located above the present day Wyoming Game and Fish offices and on the site of the Comfort Inn Suites. It was known as Interstate Speedway and the first race at the speedway was on August 2, 1970.
In 1978 it was no longer feasible to run the track and the track was closed, all the track merchandise was sold off and put into savings at the Bank of Commerce. That money was then brought out to try to purchase and rebuild a track at the Jensik Interchange (kitty corner from the existing Port of Entry) after a difficult battle the plans had to be scraped and the club lost that money. They regrouped and found the present day site. With a lot of hard work and tenacity and donated equipment from Big Horn Coal, Decker Coal, Guernsey Construction and Dan Barker of Barker Brothers the track was ready in the fall of 1991.
The following were garnered from the programs provided by Jerry Schaffer:
Trophies and their sponsors through the years.
Park Way Motel – Super A traveling trophy
1973 – Jerry Schaffer
1974 – Pete Maxted
1975 – Pete Maxted
Doretta and Darren Good – Class “C” traveling trophy
1970 – Jim Barker
1971 – Merrill Hoebelheinrich
1972 – Kenny Bettcher
1973 – Don Manor
1974 – Jerome McLaughlin
1975 – Terry Stevens
Combined insurance – Driver of the Year
1971 – Jim Barker
1972 – Roger Aas
Stan and Mary Legerski – Driver of the Year
1975 – Maurice Kennedy
LeRoy and Doris Scrutchfield – Hard luck drivers of the Year
1970 – Terry Will
1971 – Joe Woods & Maurice Kennedy
1972 – Bob Reed, Pete and Jack Maxted
1973 – Darrell Miller & Mike Semler
1974 – Jim Maakstad & Chuck Terry
1975 – Roy Dygert & Bob Reed
1976 – Rod Will & Doug Gleason
Valley Motor Supply – Traveling Trophy Checkerettes top time
1972 – Joanne Aas
1973 – no class
1974 – Kay Martini
1975 – no class
Bill’s Husky – Top Time A class
1973 – Frank Dannels
1974 – Andy Morris
1975 – Frank Dannels
Edward’s Auto – Most improved driver
1973 – Andy Morris
1974 – Bob Reed
1975 – Don Dawson
1976 – Chuck Floate
Checkerettes - Rookie of the Year
1974 – Harold Smith
Craftman Printing – Rookie of the Year
1975 – Dick Philo
Jerry and Bonnie Cotton – Late model top time traveling trophy
1974 – Jim Barker
1975 – Jim Barker
1972 – Roger Aas
1970 late in the spring to race again in Sheridan was only a dream in the hearts of two men, Vern L. Morris and Jerry Schaffer. Together they were able to stimulate enough interest to set the wheels in motion. The biggest move was to find land, on which to build a track, Vern and Jerry contacted LeRoy Scrutchfield about some available land. Jerry said “as Vern and I stood there in the weeds looking things over we could both visualize a perfect circle right around that damn hole.” This was the place! After several months of organizing planning, and laboring the first stock car race was held at the Interstate Speedway August 2, 1970. The first step was to organize a club. Vern Morris was elected President, Jerry Shaffer, Vice-President and Karl Willms, Secretary Treasurer. Next was to set up car classes and safety rules. On July 4th, Jerry with an old tractor and mower, cut down the sagebrush and weeds in order for work to begin on the track. Very few of the members knew each other, but all worked very hard side by side with one goal in mind. To finish the track. Rod Will recalls the time having worked hard all day putting up the road fence, they went to the pit area for a beer and that old familiar wind came up and blew the fence down at they watched helpless. Jerry and Karl Willms very carefully loaded outhouses from the country for the track only to unload them and watch them fall apart before their eyes. Although nothing seemed to go right and at times seemed most discouraging, no one gave up and their combined interest and determination paid off. August 7 was the first race at the Interstate Speedway and it opened with a lot of enthusiasm. Each race program saw more and more cars. At the end of the season the club paid off all its debts and still had some money left in the treasury.
1971 saw stock car racing under the Speedways new lights, four classes of race cars, crowds of over 1000 people. Also that year Oly Anderson’s Daredevils were a spectator draw. Racing was now in full swing. The club was able to invest in a lighting system and race at night. As makeshift as things were, racing was fun! And the excitement and enthusiasm continued to grow. There were cars from Gillette, Moorcroft, Casper, Riverton and green River.
Club officers during the 1970-1971 year were: Vern L. Morris, President; Gerald Schaffer, Vice-President; and Ethel Willms, Secretary-Treasurer. During this year the club saw for the first time in Sheridan a State Championship meet with cars coming to compete from as far away as Green River.
Track records set in the 1971 season were:
“C” class -- Merrill Hoebelheinrich, # 97, 20.22 seconds
“A” modified class, -- Maurice Kennedy, # 7, 19.07 seconds
“A” super” class -- Gerald Schaffer, # 50, 17.96 seconds
“A” class -- Verne C. Morris, # 2, 19.54 seconds.
State Championship Meet winners for 1971 were:
“C” class – Leroy Fuller – Moorcroft, WY
“A” class – Shorty Campbell, Gillette, WY
“A-modified” class – Ed Sisssons, Moorcroft, WY
“A-super” class – Larry Sucher, Gillette, WY
During time trials, Jim Barker, #51, bettered the track record for A-modified class with a time of 18.95 which wasn’t applied to track records.
1972 was a very successful year for Sheridan Race Car Association under the guidance of our President, Gerald Schaffer, and his staff, who were: Maurice Kennedy, Vice-president