Shear Classic to honor racing legend
A star-studded field featuring two NASCAR drivers will invade Madison International Speedway on Sunday as the American Speed Association Midwest Tour begins its 2009 season with the Joe Shear Classic.
The ASAMT race for super late models, which will honor the Clinton racing legend, also serves as the season-opening event at MIS.
“Obviously, Joe Shear was one of my heroes,” said Steve Einhaus, ASAMT vice president.
Shear collected 58 victories in 360 starts in the old ARTGO Challenge Series. It’s been estimated that Shear won more than 600 races in his career.
He is still the only driver to win the La Crosse Oktoberfest three years in a row. An eight-time National Short Track Series champion, Shear once won seven features in a row at MIS in 1982—when it was known as Capital Super Speedway. Shear died of cancer in March 1998.
Earlier this year, Kari Shear-Carlson, Joe’s daughter, and Einhaus talked about having an event to honor Shear.
Shear-Carlson didn’t hesitate when asked where she would like special event to be held.
“Having this race at MIS is very special to me because while I was living in Madison, my dad would meet me at the track every Friday night to watch the races,” Shear-Carlson said. “After he died, I tried to go back, but not seeing him standing at the pit fence when I arrived was more than I could bear.
“Our family has so many memories of MIS, and we are both humbled and honored to have this race dedicated to him.”
Sunday’s 136-lap race will pay $3636.36 to the winner in honor Shear’s famous car No. 36. The race also will have a mandatory break at 100 laps, followed by a 36-lap sprint.
Shear’s last Milwaukee Mile-winning car will be on display and in the same condition as when he drove it. The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive Joe Shear autograph cards.
Among those entered Sunday are Necedah’s Johnny Sauter and Mauston’s Kelly Bires.
In 2006, Bires held off Matt Kenseth to win the All-Star Challenge event.
“MIS is a great place to race,” Bires said. “We definitely get around there good.”
Bires recently finished fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Nashville Super Speedway in a Kevin Harvick-owned car.
Sauter, who turn 31 this week, has been racing this season in the Camping World Truck Series, where he ranks 19th in points. Sauter has three career victories in the Nationwide Series, including one at the Milwaukee Mile in 2005.
On race day, Five Star Race Car Bodies will be raffling four originally designed Joe Shear door panels created specifically for this event.
Sunday’s event has also caught the eye of NASCAR legend and Fox broadcaster Darrell Waltrip, who has donated $536 to the Joe Shear Hard Charger Award. That prize will go the driver who passes the most cars Sunday.
“Although I didn’t know Joe as a personal friend, I knew him as a special friend of mine in racing,” Waltrip said. ““He was a ‘racers racer,’ and in the racing world that’s one of the best compliments you can get.”
Many drivers who have starred at MIS will be entered, including Bryan Reffner, Nathan Hasleu, Andrew Morrissey, Chris Wimmer, Steve Carlson and last year’s ASAMT champion, Dan Fredrickson.
“We’ve got so many stars. Anybody can win,” Einhaus said.
The 38-lap Big 8 series event will feature Matt Kenseth’s son, Ross, as well as area favorite Bobby Wilberg.