Elmore mechanic Mike Witty has passion for racing

Brian Liskai

The Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame, located in the Sandusky County Fairgrounds, inducted 10 individuals Saturday, June 25, including Elmore mechanic Mike Witty
The following are now enshrined in the hall of fame, including mechanics Witty and Bob Hampshire.
        Mike Witty, Elmore. Witty, like so many that become involved in racing, began as a fan, attending Fremont Speedway beginning in 1964.
        In 1971 Witty rolled up his sleeves and began helping hall of famer Jim “Smiley” Roepke and the following year helped on Mike Hensel’s machine. In 1978-79 Witty helped wrench on hall of famer Al Liskai’s sprint car.
        Witty purchased a former Bobby Allen sprint car in 1981 and lifelong friend Spike Schneider got behind the wheel and through 1987 they won four features.
        Witty went back to being solely a mechanic in 1988, helping on Bill Reynolds sprint car. The following season he picked up the wrenches and helped driver/owner Alvin Roepke, buying into the team the following season. That duo produced four feature wins before Witty sold his share in 1999.
        In 2000 Witty co-owned and wrenched on Eric Lynd’s 305 sprint car. Witty continued to help various teams through 2009 when he purchased a quarter midget for his grandson and they won three features. Witty bought a go-kart for his grandson in 2014 and they ran until Witty’s retirement in 2014.
        Bob Hampshire, Findlay. Hampshire’s racing life began in 1964 in drag racing where he raced a Corvette for 10 years. He then jumped into go-karts for a few years then moved to the mini-stocks at Limaland, Findlay, Mansfield and Eldora.
        In 1979 Hampshire purchased a car from hall of famer Rick Ferkel and made the decision to become a car owner and mechanic and hired Jay Pilcher to drive. He then hired Johnny Beaber and finished fifth in the All Star Circuit of Champions points.
        Over the next few years Hampshire owned and prepared cars for the likes of Rick Unger, Ferkel, Keith Kauffman and Jac Haudenschild. But it was in 1985 that the legendary relationship began with hall of famer Jack Hewitt. 
        The duo netted over 100 feature wins running with and without a wing and in USAC’s Silver Crown series. The duo won the 1985 All Star Circuit of Champions title and the 1986 and 1987 Silver Crown Championship and scored 23 career Silver Crown wins.
        Hampshire also wrenched Silver Crown cars for driver Kody Swanson who has scored 4 series titles and over 30 wins. To the best of his knowledge about 35 different drivers sat in Hampshire prepared race cars over the years including his nephew Greg Wilson and son-in-law Chad Kemenah.
        Today Hampshire continues building engines – his 305 motors have won many, many features – and now helps his grandson Creed Kemenah as he embarks on his sprint car driving career. In 2008 Hampshire was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.
Special contributors
        Vicki and Monte Collins, Fremont. Monte started his career at Fremont Speedway in 1982, working as a back stretch official. He worked in the infield of the track until becoming assistant flagman to Rex LeJeune. Monte took over as the head flagman in 1985 and served on the stand until he retired in 2017.
        Vicki, Monte’s wife, began working at Fremont Speedway in 1984 in the pit tower. She moved to the scoring tower in 1985 and hand scored and did line-ups through 2018.
        The couple has nearly 70 years of combined service to Fremont Speedway. Today, their sons, Nick and Nate can be seen every race event on the flag stand.
        Bob Raubenolt, Fremont. Raubenolt began as a fan at Fremont Speedway. He got interested after meeting Harold Billow and Fremont Speedway founder Joe Stelter as a young boy.
        That all changed in 1975 when Raubenolt, who had been producing racing films and operated a silk-screen t-shirt business, started the Spinning Wheels coloring book for kids.
        Raubenolt saw a need for a racing publication to cover Fremont Speedway and other area tracks. That led to the Spinning Wheels magazine, a weekly publication that covered past and present drivers and was full of lots of interesting, long forgotten racing history that other publications never mentioned.
        In the mid-1980s Raubenolt became Fremont Speedway’s track promotion director under hall of fame promoter Gary Kern. Raubenolt was a hardcore fan of Fremont Speedway and in fact dubbed the City of Fremont as “Race Town USA!”


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