The track dubbed “Wisconsin’s Action Track” didn’t disappoint on Saturday night, providing three-wide racing and lots of action in the ARCA Midwest Tour Salute the Troops 100. The race saw Paul Shafer Jr. in Victory Lane with his first Tour victory. But it wasn’t the race cars that were the highlight of the night, as Jefferson Speedway and the ARCA Midwest Tour paid homage to our nation’s military in a very special way.
While Memorial Day weekend is filled with barbeques and some of the most iconic events on the motorsports calendar, it’s also a weekend where we salute those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy in the United States of America. All active and retired military members received a discount on their race admission as well as a voucher to use at the concession stands.
“Both Terry (Tucker) and I feel it is important to recognize all of those that have served our country, those that have paid the ultimate price, those who have served and those that are currently serving. Both the Jefferson staff and our staff have retired military members, we try to help their causes however we can,” ARCA Midwest Tour President Gregg McKarns said earlier in the week.
While the discounts drew active and retired service members out to the Southern Wisconsin short track, it was the pre-race ceremony that touched drivers, crews, fans and media members. Prior to driver introductions, those who have served our nation were invited on to the track where they formed a long line to greet the drivers competing in the night’s 100-lap main event.
Over fifty current and former members of the military lined the front stretch in a touching and fitting tribute. Short Track Scene caught up with several drivers after the race to get their take on the pre-race ceremony:
“It was awesome. Getting all of the cars and vets on the front stretch was a great sign of appreciation. They did a great job with that.”
Casey Johnson, 2016 ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year, finished second
“That was a cool deal. I really appreciated that. It’s a nice touch. I hope that’s a standard deal at all race tracks next year.”
Dalton Zehr, led 17 laps before an alternator issue ended his night early
“That was awesome to see all the military out on the front stretch and get to shake all their hands and tell them thanks for what they do. It means a lot to them and it means a lot to us. It’s a good thing to do and really they don’t get enough appreciation as it is. So it’s just a really awesome thing to do.”
Race-winner Paul Shafer, Jr.
“It’s pretty cool. I was shaking everyone’s hand. They were saying ‘thank you’ to us for coming out and racing, but it’s totally the other way around. When I got in the car, I thought that’s probably one of the coolest things that I’ve seen at a race track. I hope the fans had a good race. It was awesome to see the crowd out here; it was great for such a hot night.”
Billy Mohn, finished third