On Oct. 22–23 Gas City Speedway hosted the Third Annual Fall Festival of Speed and Non-Wing Nationals.
Located at 5871 E. 500 S. just off Interstate 69, the dirt raceway concluded its racing season that began in late April.
Jerry Gappens, track promoter of Gas City Speedway, just finished his fourth season with the raceway. Under the leadership of Jack Himelick, track owner, Gappens moved this event from the first weekend in October to the end of the month. By changing the date, Gappens said their hope was to attract more cars and fans from surrounding states longing to attend one last race in the calendar year.
Competitors and fans alike traveled to the Fall Festival of Speed from states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky and even Oklahoma.
Friday, the first night of competition, acclaimed television host David Letterman made an appearance after celebrating homecoming festivities at his alma mater, Ball State University.
As much as racing is a sport, Gappens said Gas City Speedway treats their races as a form of entertainment. Outside of the track, there are state fair-like concessions, a playground for children and grandstands that seat up to 5,000 people.
For an additional fee, fans can purchase a pit pass to meet drivers, get autographs and see the race cars up close.
Rain shortened the action at 10 p.m. Officials postponed the B- and A- mains non-wing 410 sprint car and wingLESS sprints to Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The seven feature events followed at 5 p.m. in the season finale.
Each of these final races have 20–24 cars compete and the fields are determined by preliminary heats.
According to Linda Mansfield, public relations for Gas City Speedway, the winners of the headline races are as follows:
C.J. Leary of Greenfield, IN– 25-lap non-wing 410 sprint car feature 1
Jason McDougal of Turtletown, OK– 25-lap non-wing 410 sprint car feature 2
Jake Kouba of Minneapolis, MN– 25-lap IRA Auto Meter Wisconsin wingLESS sprint car feature 1
Dan Wade of Kenosha, WI– 25-lap IRA Auto Meter Wisconsin wingLESS sprint car feature 2
Tyler Roahrig of Plymouth, IN– 20-lap modified feature
Ervin Turner of Marion, IN– 20-lap street stock main event
Landon Arcaro of Brookville, IN– 15-lap hornet feature
Before Gappens became track promoter, Gas City Speedway only held a few races a year. Now the team hosts 16 race classes and 21 sanctioned events.
“(Gas City) officials have been very supportive,” Gappens said. “They recognize it’s an asset for the community with putting heads in beds, and putting people in restaurants, buying gas … We’re in a great location right here at the intersection of Interstate 69 halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, so there’s a lot of positives here.”
COVID-19 was a prodigious problem for surrounding states, but Gappens said they benefited from other states being shut down in 2020.
The raceway was able to open in June 2020 at 50% capacity and upgraded all the way to full capacity by the end of the year. Instead of fans driving a couple hours to see their races, Gappens said he began seeing people coming from up to six hours away to watch races.
“Festival” is a key word in the event’s namesake. Gappens said he would like to see it grow to where the 33-acre property holds amusement park rides and a swap market. People in attendance could enjoy the county fair-like atmosphere during the day and watch the races at night.
Taylor students are eligible for a $5–$10 discount with a student ID at Gas City Speedway, according to Gappens.