WHEATLAND, Missouri – One of the highlights of the racing offseason returns on Saturday with the 31st annual Ozarks Area Racers Foundation Reunion and Hall of Fame ceremony at the Ozarks Empire Fairgrounds E-Plex in Springfield.
Lucas Oil Speedway and the Lucas Oil MLRA both will have information booths at the event, with schedules and information about the 2018 season.
“This is always the time of the winter when fans and drivers turn their attention to the new racing season and the Racers Reunion is an opportunity for everyone to gather and have a lot of fun,” Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager Dan Robinson said. “We’re excited to again be a part of it and want to encourage everyone to come out, stop by our booths and say hello.”
Fans also will get the opportunity to hear from some of the stars of the sport and get autographs from the 10 inductees into the Hall of Fame. Headlining the class of 2018 are former NASCAR drivers and Missouri natives Carl Edwards and Ken Schrader.
“That area, to me, has so many amazing people,” Edwards said. “I’m reminded every time I go there how good the people are and how many great racers there are down there. It’s amazing to me that they’re going to induct me. I never imagined that.”
Schrader again is expected to compete at the Lucas Oil Speedway 5th annual MLRA Spring Nationals Presented by RacingJunk.com, April 13-14, driving his USRA Modified.
Joining Edwards and Schrader in the Legend category are former Ozarks-area racers Jim Campbell and James Taylor along with the late Daryl Williams. Pioneer category inductees will be Mike Mittler, the St. Louis native and long-time NASCAR Truck Series team owner, along with Bob Aton, Chris Davis, Lonnie Snodgrass and Dan Williams.
Doors open at 4 p.m. with an autograph session from 5:15-6:15 and the induction ceremony at 6:30. There also will be a question-and-answer session with a panel of retired and current area drivers from approximately 5-6 p.m. Vintage and modern-day race cars, plus racing memorabilia, will be on display.
Tickets are $15 in advance at area O’Reilly Auto Parts stores and $20 the day of the event.
The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks also will hold a blood drive, in honor of Mittler and local racing crewman and four-time transplant recipient Brandon Riddle, from 2-5 p.m. Saturday in the Darr Family Lobby at the E-Plex.
Mittler is battling Multiple Myeloma and will undergo an autologous stem cell transplant in February. As a result of his own fight with cancer, he is urging people to donate blood so that others battling cancer, heart disease, illness and injury will have the chance at survival.
Mittler said it’s important to use the blood drive and Ozarks Area Racers Hall of Fame induction as a rallying cry for everyone, and particularly those in racing, to undergo yearly health checks.
“Unfortunately, my health took a severe turn but I’m dealing with it and working through it,” he said. “My message is to try and help other people. Racers are kind of a unique group. A lot of them, like me, are hard-headed and it’s hard to get them to stop and go to the doctor.
“Had I not been going to the doctor for my yearly check up, I would not have found this out and my disease would have progressed much further.”
The Lucas Oil Speedway 2018 season begins April 7 with the Weekly Racing Series opener. Meanwhile, the Lucas Oil MLRA opener is set for March 30-31 with the 7th annual Thaw Brawl at LaSalle Speedway in LaSalle, Illinois.
Complete Lucas Oil Speedway event information, archived stories, ticket info and the tentative 2018 schedule can be found by visiting LucasOilSpeedway.com.
The complete Lucas Oil MLRA schedule can be found at MLRAracing.com.
For ticket information, including season passes for the 2018 season, contact Lucas Oil Speedway admissions director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@LucasOilSpeedway.com.
Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With its entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.
Click LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984.
In addition, fans can get social with Lucas Oil Speedway by following @LucasSpeedway on Twitter, clicking “Like” at www.facebook.com/LucasOilSpeedway and on www.youtube.com/LucasOilSpeedway