Nominated by Rob Riemer
Interview by JTodd LeFever
The following is a Hall of Fame interview with Dr. Troy Powers of Duluth,
Minnesota. This was the first time I've talked with Troy. This is truly a man who
loves and knows Dirt Track Racing very well. It was a pleasure and It brought
back many fond memories for myself. Congratulations and welcome to the Fans
Hall of Fame Troy!
(JTodd) Troy can you tell me how you got involved with Dirt Racing, and what
are some of you first memories of a track?
(Troy) Started going to the races when I was four, my parents
held off for four years. They were kind of worried about my
ears. They were race fans, never really involved with the
sport. They went to races before I was born. They started
taking me to basically two races tracks. The Proctor
Speedway in Duluth, Minnesota. Also the Superior Speedway,
well I guess that it was called the Tri-State Speedway in
Superior, Wisconsin. It changed its name a few years ago to
the Superior Speedway. It was a two night a week deal back
then. Late Models were in their infancy class. Really were
only around a couple of years prior to myself going. I use the
term Late Models, back then we're talking about production
cars with chopped out wheel wells with big tires. 67'
Chevelles, Ford Mustangs, Torinos. I remember those
straight pipes coming out of the side of the car, pointing at the
grandstands. I remember seeing those flames from the exhaust
and thinking this is the best thing in the whole world. Each
week was getting through this week so we can get to the
weekend and get back to the races.
(JTodd) What year was that?
(JTodd) Who are some of your favorite drivers, and why do you support and
(Troy) I guess when I started out, there was a guy named Bob
Gherardi from Kelly Lake, Minnesota. He had a car that was
the first car I truly fell in love, he had a 1970 Monte Carlo
yellow #4. His wife and daughters use to sit next to were my
family use to sit in the grandstand. As a kid I would draw
pictures of his car and build model cars and give them to him.
He would always make sure to get me pictures every year
when the car was done. He was one of the first people in this
neck of the woods that had T-shirt made up. Not like the t-
shirts of today, but he had t-shirts and hats. He would always
get me that kind of stuff when I did things for him, so he was
kind of my first all-time favorite driver.
Then I guess thing kind of evolved in the mid 70's. They
started to have some higher paying races in my neck of the
woods. I guess the most notable would be the Silver 1000.
Held at the Proctor Speedway, and they started getting car
that would show up from Iowa. Ed Sanger, Curt Hanson, and
guys from Southern Minnesota. That?s quite a hall from the
part of Minnesota that I live in. There would be 50-60 late
models that would show up for the first couple Silver 1000.
My family was like where did all these guys come from, there?
s racing other places beside here? We thought back in the
early 70's we were on this Island and that was the only place
racing. But when they started having these big dollar shows,
and these guys started chasing the money. We thought well
where does this guy race, and slowly started branching out a
little bit further away from our home tracks.
(JTodd) Do they still run The Silver 1000?
(Troy) Yes, it's been going on since 1973.
(JTodd) Why was it the 1000?
(Troy) Well the 1000 came from the first year it was held. The
winner was paid in 1000 Silver dollars. They had a loving cup
trophy, and it was filled with 1000 silver dollars. It stuck and
back then $1000.00 to win was unheard of. The first winner of
the Silver 1000 was a guy named Dave Bjorge from Austin,
(JTodd) do they still give the Silver?
(Troy) Well it pays more now, of course I don't think it's gone
up like inflation has. What they do now that?s kind of unique
is they give every driver that registers for the Silver Dollar a
plaque with a silver dollar on it.
(JTodd) How many laps?
(Troy) I think its 50 laps.
I guess another one of my favorite when have been Leon Plank
from Mondovi, Wisconsin. Leon was probably one of the first
guys from around here that would venture out from this part
of the World. He was the winner of the big races in Iowa, and
I can't remember off the top of my head if it was the Yankee
Dirt Track Classic or I think it was the Miller 100 in Cedar
Rapids, Iowa. I use to also cheer for Ed Sanger and Curt
Hanson from Iowa.
(JTodd) I haven't talked to Ed Sanger in a few years. Is he still racing?
(Troy) He still races. I don't know if he's quite as competitive,
but he use to be the cat's meow back in his day. He was really
the first one selling cars to drivers. There was time in the late
70's that they use to refer to the Sanger Chassis up here as the
belly button car, because everybody has one. If you were
going to be fast in this part of the world, you had to have a
Sanger chassis or you were not doing anything. I would say in
1978 Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa were probably Sanger
(JTodd) Any other drivers you would like to mention?
(Troy) Into the 80's I liked Willie Kraft. I moved actually
from Northern Minnesota to Louisiana. That was in 1981.
That?s about the time Willie started making a name for him
on a National level. Billy Moyer was a favorite back in the
early 80's too. Simply because when we were living in
Louisiana. We continued going to races in Louisiana, Texas,
and Arkansas. I guess we still wanted to have that tie to home.
Willie and Billy originally being from DeMoine. Seeing him
run when he lived up there, we kind of felt like he was one of
our hometown boys. So we like to see those guys come down
there and run well. Around that time I was introduced to a
whole new set of good drivers from the deep south that I had
read about in paper. Doug Ingalls from Texas, and Wayne
Brooks from Arkansas before he ran Modifieds.
(JTodd) What are some of your favorite tracks and some of your fondness
memories of them?
(Troy) Probably my Favorite race track would be West
Plains, Missouri. I've seen a lot
of excellent racing at that facility. Another favorite would be
Riverside Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas. Really
heavy tight 1/4 mile gumbo sticky track. They really beat and
bang and get after it there. Superior Speedway in Superior,
Wisconsin one of my first tracks and probably one of my
favorites. I guess you would have to include Eldora as well for
(JTodd) How many times have you been to Eldora?
(Troy) Four times. I really like it. The thing that really bites
for me is the fact that the World 100 is run the same weekend
as my home track?s biggest race at Superior. Use to be called
the Russ Laursen Classis, for a driver that was killed from up
in this area.
(JTodd) Was he a sprint car driver?
(Troy) He drove Sprints and Late Models. He was killed in a
Sprint car. His two sons race today. Steve and Brent Laursen.
They had a race after his death in 1970 or so. It's always been
run the same weekend as the World 100. Last year we had
almost 70 late models at the home track. So it's kind of hard
to justify even as great as Eldora is. Getting in the car and
driving about 13 hours when your home track has 70 late
(JTodd) Anything that sticks out at any of those tracks?
(Troy) Well I guess the best race I ever saw, wasn't at any of
those tracks. It would have been at the I-44 Speedway in
Lebanon, Missouri. It was a NDRA event, probably in 82-83.
It was just a battle royal. They were swapping the lead back
in forth. Willie Kraft ended up winning the race. Larry
Phillips was involved in an altercation with Willie Kraft. The
officials sent Kraft to the back, and Phillips pulled up on the
front straightaway and told them it was me. I got into him. I
thought it was really incredible for someone to step up and
say that when the officials had already made there call and
sent Kraft to the back. You know hearing about Phillips from
his career, he was a hard nose competitor Him having the
kahunas, to say put me to the back. I did it. That kind of stood
out to me.
Something that I got to witness was the last NDRA race at
(JTodd) I was there too.
(Troy) Not that the racing was that good. But the neat thing
about that is I don't think there has ever been a race with
such a cross section of drivers from every corner of the
(JTodd) I believe Buck Simmons won that race.
(Troy) Yes, and Ernie Irvan won the Six cylinder division.
(JTodd) Since you've been involved with racing what are some of changes that
you have seen?
(Troy) Starting from back yard creations with the most
ingenious thing to come up with. The better mouse trap.
Going to pre-made fabricated cars. Going thru the wedge era,
big humper tires. Putting it all in the engine and sticking it to
the ground with the big air dams. Then going back to the
stock bodied machines that we have today.
(JTodd) As a fan what do you prefer?
(Troy) I guess I like. Number one would be back in the old
days when they were true race cars. I like that the best, but
definitely like today?s cars much better than the wedge era.
(JTodd) So you are not very fond of the Wedge era?
(Troy) I mean they were really neat to look at, but as far as
racing. I can't say that I saw that many great races with that
form of car. I saw car counts dwindling at that time. I don't
know if it was the factor of the economy or just the cars
themselves that out priced everybody.
(JTodd) So you were fonder of the stock body cars?
(Troy) I guess I like them because they are my first memories
of the sport. I don't think we have to go anymore stock
appearing than we have now. That?s not it. I don't think
today?s cars have the character that the old cars did back in
the 60's and 70's. Seeing the old Chevelles and mustangs, but
today all the cars look the same anyway, so if you made them
look like they do coming out of the factory. That doesn't excite
(JTodd) With the support classes of today, do you still see that? Do you watch
(Troy) I do and there are some places that have their entry
divisions and others don't. In Danville, Illinois last year they
had a support division there that was just like taking you back
to when everything was cool. It was like a time warp, they
looked like late models from the 70's.
When I said I really don't like the wedge era. I really liked
right when the wedge era was coming. They were still stock
bodied, but they had these huge spoilers on them. Back when
Charlie Swartz was driving the Rayburn house car. But when
they evolved into the complete cheese wedge deal. That was
garbage to me.
(JTodd) That Rayburn house car is one of my favorite cars.
(Troy) I saw Charlie run that car in Grand Island Nebraska,
they had a big race they use to run out there called the Mid
Continent National. That was about the first time we saw
Wings hanging off the back of them. My Dad was going
around handing out flyers, there was a big race up around
this part of the world in Superior, Wisconsin. The next week
Charlie Swartz came up there, and at this time a traveler
would be someone from Iowa. Charlie Swartz shows up, and
nobody in this part of the world had ever hung anything from
the back of their car before other than a couple inch spoilers
on the back. Charlie comes to town with this deal, and the
race actually ended up getting fogged out and postponed until
the next day. Well everyone saw this stuff hanging off the back
of Charlie's car. The next day when they held the race, all the
locals had gone out and tried to duplicate what he had on the
back of his car. One guy went to a club in Superior and
actually bought part of the dance floor. It was a plexi-glass
deal over some lights. He bolted it on the back of the car. It
was kind of comical, seeing everybody try to put some
makeshift spoiler on the back of the car. Swartz ended up
lapping the field.
(JTodd) That was my next question
(Troy) Started on the outside pole and lapped the entire field.
(JTodd) If you could have inducted the first class of Dirt Late Model Hall Of
Famers, and picked them yourself.. who would have first five members been?
(Troy) Billy Moyer, Scott Bloomquist, Jeff Purvis, Larry
Moore, Rodney Combs. There is someone I would like to add
on there, Larry Phillips. That brings up another memory.
First time I saw Larry Phillips race in his own neck of the
woods. When he pulled out on the race track for track
packing or hot laps or whatever. All of a sudden there was
this chorus of cowbells ringing in the grandstands. Thinking
what in the heck is this? Why are these people doing this. But
he had this loyal following of fans that carried their cowbells
to the races. Anytime that car set foot on the racing surface
those people ring those cowbells.
(JTodd) What are some of your Favorite racing memories?
(Troy) The biggest thing for me growing up. The reason I like
the whole aspect of it is. It gave something for my parents and
me, and now my children and I can have a common interest
in. So many of my classmates growing up they went and did
their thing, and Mom and Dad did their own things. This was
something my whole family did together. We planned vacation
around it. We traveled to different parts of the country seeing
different areas and different things. I mean I would have
never gone to the middle of Nebraska. So I got to see different
parts of the country. If it wasn't for going to the races, I would
have never had a reason to visit them. Also all the great
people I have met thru racing. People that have the same
interest as you. You see them one weekend is Missouri, then
you might see them again the next weekend in Wisconsin. So
that?s really neat.
(JTodd) Can you tell me a little bit about yourself outside of racing?
(Troy) I'm Married to my wife Kari, whom supports me. She
might not be the worlds biggest race fan like me, but she kind
of lets me do my thing. She knows that it's something that I
enjoy and makes me who and what I am. I have my Son
Jonathan. He's six, he's already started his racing career. He
has a go-cart that we race at a local go-cart track on Saturday
mornings. My Daughter Katie is five. I'm involved with
coaching basketball. I enjoy basketball during the racing off
season to get me thru the transition to the next racing season.
I coached my son?s first and second grade teams. I'm also an
avid follower of college basketball.
(JTodd) Who is your favorite team?
(Troy) Minnesota Golden Gophers, even though it's been a
while since they had a decent team.
(JTodd) Any other hobbies?
(Troy) Well when you have racing as a hobby there?s not a
whole lot of time for anything else.
(JTodd) You?re an optometrist I understand?
(JTodd) Where did you go to school?
(Troy) I went to optometry school in Memphis, Tennessee.
(JTodd) Did you get to attend any racing there?
(Troy) Oh yeah. Did quite a bit of that. One neat thing was. I
got there when Memphis Motorsports Park was built. It
started with their big half mile track. they have had about
four different versions of their track. Saw some really neat
racing there because it was such a hub. It drew cars from so
many different distances. They paid a really healthy purse for
a weekly show. You would get Moyer, Terry Phillips, Larry
Phillips, Jerry Inmon, Johnny Stokes, and Johnny Williams.
You would get U.M.P. cars, MLRA. Got to see Wendell
Wallace as he was cutting his teeth there. They probably have
25 late models on a giving Saturday night. Every week
probably 15 of those cars were different from the 15 that were
there the week before. If they could ever got them all there
together. One week all Mississippi cars would be there. The
next week all the Arkansas cars would be there. So that was
neat being at such a crossroad there where it drew from so
many different directions. But what I didn't like was 99% of
the grandstands were Sprint car fans. They would alternate
running Late Models or Sprints first every other week which
class ran last. All the people would get up and leave when they
ran the Sprints first. That kind of bothered me. So I got to
where when they ran the Late Models first. I wasn't about to
leave cause I liked to watch the Sprint also. But I couldn't let
all those people know that I enjoyed watching. I would get up
and walk and hide to watch the Sprint car feature so nobody
knew I was watching.
(JTodd) How about your parents do they still attend?
(Troy) My parents Dennis and Sandy Powers live in Ponca City, OK. They are
recently retired and just bought a new RV so they will be racing full time.
(JTodd) I want to thank you for your time Troy, Is there anything else you would
like to add or anything you would like to say to all those reading this?
(Troy) I want to say thanks, I really appreciate it.
TRACKS ATTENDED: 107 Total
Buffalo River Speedway
Cannon River Speedway
Dodge Co. Speedway
Grand Rapids Speedway
Grand Rapids, MN
Red Wing, MN
I-94 Speedway (dirt)
Sauk Centre, MN
Minnesota State Fairgrounds Speedway
North Central Motor Speedway
North Starr Speedway
Redwood Falls, MN
St. Cloud Motor Speedway
Sauk Rapids, MN
Steele Co. Fairgrounds Speedway
Beaver Dam Raceway (Powercom Park)
Beaver Dam, WI
Cedar Lake Speedway
New Richmond, WI
Eau Claire Speedway
Eau Claire, WI
Fox Ridge Speedway
Marshfield Super Speedway (Yellow River Speedway) (dirt)
Monster Hall Raceway
Red Cedar Speedway
Rice Lake Speedway
Rice Lake, WI
Superior Speedway (Tri State Speedway)
Wisconsin Valley Fairgrounds Speedway
Echo Valley Speedway
West Union, IA
Hamilton Co. Speedway
Webster City, IA
Hawkeye Downs Speedway (dirt)
Cedar Rapids, IA
Mason City, IA
Iowa State Fairgrounds Speedway
Des Moines, IA
Southern Iowa Speedway
Mid America Speedway
S. Coffeyville, OK
Muskogee Speedway (Thunderbird Speedway)
State Fairgrounds Speedway
Oklahoma City, OK
Tri State Speedway (dirt)
Tulsa Expo Center
Tulsa Fairgrounds Speedway
West Siloam Springs Speedway
West Siloam Springs, OK
I-44 Speedway (dirt)
I-70 Speedway (dirt)
Missouri State Fairgrounds Speedway
West Plains Speedway
West Plains, MO
Santa Fe Speedway
Tri City Speedway
Granite City, IL
Vermillion Co. Speedway
Winnebego Co. Speedway
Crowley's Ridge Raceway
Little Rock, AR
West Memphis, AR
Daytona International Speedway
New Smyrna Beach Speedway
New Smyrna Beach, FL
Volusia Co. Speedway
Baton Rouge Raceway
Baton Rouge, LA
Boot Hill Speedway
Forest Hill Speedway
Forest Hill, LA
Dixieland Speedway (Cotton Bowl Speedway)
Big H Speedway (dirt)
Devil's Bowl Speedway
Golden Triangle Motor Speedway
Lakeside Speedway â??newâ?� (dirt)
Kansas City, KS
Lakeside Speedway "old"
Kansas City, KS
Memphis Motorsports Park
Central Arizona Raceway
Casa Grande, AZ
Terre Haute Action Track
Terre Haute, IN
Mid Continent Raceway
NORTH DAKOTA (2)
Red River Valley Fairgrounds Speedway
W. Fargo, ND
River Cities Raceway
Thunder Bay, ON
Pennsylvania Motor Speedway
SOUTH DAKOTA (1)
Brown Co. Speedway