Written by Brian Liskai
April 03, 2009
Racing and Fremont Speedway have been in Jim Ford's blood his entire adult life. He drove race cars, owned race cars and even promoted “The Track That Action Built.”
The racing community is mourning the loss of this Northwest Ohio racing icon. Ford passed away at his Elmore, home surrounded by his family on Saturday morning, March 28, after a courageous fight against cancer. He was73 - his 74th birthday just a few days away on April 1.
Ford leaves behind his wife, Joanne; daughters, Becky (Bob) Kayden and Vicki Ford; sons, Doug and Randy (Deb); and numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews, along with an entire racing community who respected and admired him.
Ford began racing modifieds at Fremont Speedway in 1954. From 1954through 1963, he drove for three different car owners including the Meyers A-Station ride, Marv Mock in the M&M car and the Burmeister #16. In 1964, he purchased his own race car and continued to race until 1971. His biggest victory came during the Fremont Speedway fair race in 1968 - at that time one of the biggest racing events in Ohio.
He hung up his helmet in 1972 and became a sprint car owner. From 1972 through 1986, Ford-owned sprint cars won over 60 features including a World of Outlaw victory at Eldora with his son, Randy, behind the wheel, and All Star Circuit of Champion wins.
Ford’s cars won track championships at Atomic Speedway (now K-C Raceway) in Chillicothe, Ohio; Eldora Speedway and Fremont Speedway. The drivers who piloted Jim Ford’s sprint cars reads like a “who's who” in racing: Rick Ferkel, Bill Cicanese, Tim Dussel, J.D. Lease, Jim Linder, Al Daugherty, Jim Darley Sr., Al Beale, Johnny Beaber and Randy Ford.
But perhaps Jim Ford’s greatest racing legacy happened in 2000. The historical Fremont Speedway in the Sandusky County Fairgrounds – which opened 58 years ago - was in danger of closing. Ford put together a business plan to bring “The Track That Action Built” back to life. He promoted racing at Fremont Speedway through 2007, making many, many improvements to the facility. He created the dirt truck division to give drivers a more affordable entry level into dirt track racing.
However, if you asked Jim Ford his greatest accomplishment it would be his family. They were all involved with the race cars he drove and owned and when he took over the promotion of Fremont Speedway, every family member was involved, from the ticket booth to the concession stand to track preparations to race procedures.
Those wishing to make memorial contributions may do so to the Grace Lutheran Church Building Fund; Hospice of Northwest Ohio, the Harris-Elmore EMS; or Racers Racing For the Cure, 1040 Cleveland Ave., Fremont, OH 43420.
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