Sports and Outdoors

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Hall of Fame" night at Baer Field Speedway

Last Saturday night, Baer Field Speedway played host to several hundred new fans during the first-ever “$20 Car Load night.” Building off the new beginning, this Saturday, the Speedway gives a nod to the past as two new Speedway "legends" are inducted into the Baer Field Speedway “Hall of Fame.”

Active racer Bobby Smith and the late announcer, public relations, and publisher Jim Benson become the 37th and 38th member of the hall. Smith is being inducted in the midst of a career resurgence. He started racing in the early 70’s, and Smith enjoyed won track championships at the old Avilla Motor Speedway. Through the ‘80’s and into the ‘90’s Smith raced in the Super Late Model division before stepping away from driving. Away from the cockpit, Smith served as the Baer Field pit steward for several years before again stepping away from the sport. After dabbling in a variety of cars the next several years, Smith made his full-time return behind the wheel in 2009 as part of the Blaine Miller Front Wheel Drive team. Serving as coach and mentor to some of the teams younger drivers, Smith scored a Speedway-high five wins while finishing fourth in points before coming back to win the track championship in 2010.

Like Smith, Jim Benson began his racing career in the 1970’s working as the track announcer and doing public relations for a number of area racetracks. Benson’s voice was heard over the speakers at virtually every area track during his lengthy career. A columnist for both the MARC Times Racing News and Mid-America Racing News weekly racing newspapers, Benson also served on the board of directors for the Northeast Indiana Racing Museum in Auburn. From 1989 until the time of his passing, Benson wrote and published both the “Tri-State Racing Greats” and “Hometown Heroes” periodicals. Survived by his wife (and current Baer Field scorer) Mary, Benson passed away in August of 2008.

A special Pyromaniacs Fireworks display will honor their induction.

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