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  .: 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees :.


2015 Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame Induction.  August 15, 2015.
From left;  Speedway co-owner Dave Adams, Ken Stodola (accepting
for his brother Don Stodola), Chuck Robarge (accepting for Dan
Schuster), Jerry Curnow, Larry Quinn, Wayne Kurtzhals (accepting
for his brother Chuck Kurtzhals), Bruce Davis and Speedway co-owner
Mitch Hansen. Quinn, Davis and Kurtzhals were drivers. Curnow, Stodola
and Schuster were promoters.


Chuck Kurtzhals
1 Chuck Kurtzhals was a long time competitor at the Rice Lake Speedway and he raced in just about every class that was offered at the speedway at one time or another. He started out in the Street Stock class, advanced into the RL Stock class and continued to move up, also racing both late Models and modifieds at some point in his career.

He was not a huge feature winner during his racing career and the records will indicate that in total, he won only four feature races during his long time behind the wheel, two in the Street Stocks and two in the RL Stocks.

However, a person's value to a racing enterprise needs to be measured by more than just how many races they have won over the course of their career. Chuck was known as a driver always willing to help out his competition and stories abound about how he opened up his junk yard so that other drivers could pick through the lot and find parts they needed for their own racers, back in the day when junkyard parts made great racing components. He was also known to never charge racers for the treasures they were able to uncover.

Kurtzhals was a regular competitor at the track, never missing a night of racing action. He drove for several other car owners during his career, including Hall of Famer Milo Hegna, but he also raced his own equipment for many years too. His cars were always numbered#16 and carried a predominate blue and while color combination on them.

He raced at many of the area tracks too and his presence is remembered at most every track from Eau Claire to Superior and in between. Just as most racers who put in a lot of years behind the wheel, he was involved in his share of wild accidents. One of the most spectacular was remembered as the time he went off the number one corner at Superior when there was still a grove of trees behind the old Conservation Building just off the track. He stood his late model right on its nose when he hit the groove of trees and when the car was returned to the pits, the cockpit of the car was so jammed full of pine tree branches, they struggled to clean them out of the car.

Kurtzhals was a clean driver too and no one can recall him ever being involved in a “dust up”, remarkable considering the number of years that he raced. Kurtzhals was the kind of driver that a race track needs to survive, one that can be counted on to show up and race, no matter the weather or the circumstances, and put on a good show for the spectators while personally doing the best he could with what he had as he never had a big bankroll to work with. His cars were always clean looking and well maintained

Kurtzhals was a driver that embodied the spirit of racing for the common man. He enjoyed the sport and did the best he could behind the wheel, always being competitive while racing with budget limitations. He was always there every Saturday night, both for himself and for the fans of the sport.

Chuck passed away on November 14th, 2007.

Accepting the award for Hall of Famer Chuck Kurtzhals is his brother, Wayne Kurtzhals.

Dan Schuster
1 Danley A. (Dan) Schuster was a driver, a car owner, a club officer and a long time employee at the Rice Lake Speedway. The combination of all those things more than qualifies his status as a worthy nominee for the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame.

Dan was born in Milwaukee and lived there with his family until 1964 when they moved to Rice Lake. Dan started to hang around the race track when he would tag along with his father Gus, who worked at the track on race day. However, by the time he graduated from Rice Lake High School in 1972, he was ready to start racing himself.

His first race car was a late 50's Chevrolet Belair that he put together for around $2,000. The number of the car, one that he would retain throughout his racing career, was #348, which coincidentally, was the size of the engine in that car. Along with his father Gus, who pitted for him, Hall of Famer Butch Madsen was another who was influential in getting him started in racing. Chuck Robarge was another person close to Dan and pitted for him during his racing career. Dan always had very sharp looking race cars at a time when many drivers didn't devote a lot of time on the looks of their racers. While he was a regular competitor at the track, he didn't ever record a feature win at Rice Lake although he did finish in the top ten in points at both Rice Lake and Bruce.

However, from time to time he put other drivers behind the wheel of his car and one of the most memorable situations of his car owner career came on a night when Butch Madsen won a feature race in Dan's car. When track officials went to tear down the motor in the car to check for its legal status, They could not remove the heads because the bolts holding down the heads were rusted so badly! Needless to say, they ruled the engine legal.

Another humorous incident that also speaks to what racing was like at that time involves a situation when Dan's car suffered a bent frame in a crash on a Sunday at Racer's Raceway in Bruce. They hauled the car to a local dump where they straightened the frame using a caterpillar, road grader and a heavy chain. The car was ready to race the following Saturday in Rice Lake.

Dan retired from racing in 1975 but he was far from done with the sport and racing in Rice Lake. He started to do various jobs around the race track and in 1988 he became the pit steward at the Rice Lake Speedway. It was a job that involved a lot of organization and tact and occasionally an iron hand, and Dan fit the job to a T. In the late eighties, Dan also became a member of the Board of Directors of the track and in 1993, he was hired to also be Pit Steward at the Red Cedar Speedway, holding that job through the 2006 racing season.

Dan was employed at the Holsum Bakery in Rice Lake as well as at American Excelsior and Mastercraft Industries. He was a member of the Rice Lake Moose Lodge, a a board member of the Northwestern Wisconsin CB Club and a member of the Barron County Cruisers Car Club.

He was the Pit Steward at the Rice Lake Speedway for nearly two decades, finally resigning that job when health concerns made it difficult for him to keep up with the physical nature of the job. He then became the guard at the pit gate and many will recall him at his position by the side door to the Track Restaurant, checking to see that everyone going into the pits had the required armband while also greeting and bantering with all the pit personnel. Dan was finally forced to resign from his position in 2013 as his health continued to decline but he never gave up his interest in dirt track racing and NASCAR, another passion of his.

Dan passed away on October 25, 2013 at the age of fifty nine.

Accepting the award for Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer Dan Schuster is his close friend and former pit man, Chuck Robarge.

Don Stodola
1 While Don Stodola was never a championship racer at the Rice Lake Speedway, and indeed, never once carried the victory flag around the track in celebration, the things he accomplished and the achievements he helped orchestrate, are on display for race fans at this track and literally hundreds of tracks across this country every weekend.

Don started out in the sport as a kid going to the races with his folks and other relatives at Rice Lake every Saturday night. Over time, he became one of the legions of volunteers the Indianhead Stock Car Racing Association, the club that operated the speedway, relied on to get projects such as painting, fence fixing and a million other things done so that racing could continue every week. He became known to more and more people within the club and despite his youth, having graduated from Rice Lake High School in 1972, he quickly became recognized as a person with a good head on his shoulders, a good business sense and one who had a vision about where racing was going and what needed to be done to keep the sport on track. In short, a person that would be adapt at helping run such an organization.

He quickly moved to a role of supervision within the club and served a term as Club Secretary before becoming President of the Indianhead Stock Car Racing Association, a position that he held three different times.

He also became the track announcer in 1982 and continued in that role for ten years. While a Board Member at Rice Lake, he also grew into a major role with the WISSOTA Promoters Association, becoming the Vice President of that group. He was the Master of Ceremonies at the WISSOTA annual banquet for four years and as his expertise as an announcer grew, he was asked to work at many prestigious events including the WISSOTA 100 and ASA races at the Milwaukee Mile.

But it was in 1980 that the most significant thing that Stodola will be remembered for took place. Racing was in trouble both locally and nationally. Cars were getting too expensive, drivers were being lost and the sport needed a new infusion of enthusiasm. A gentleman in Vinton Iowa named Keith Knaack had the idea of starting a new class of race car, one that was open wheeled ,using car frames and cheap claimer motors. Small car bodies such as Gremlins and Vegas were put on the frames to give them a unique look and the tires would be kept narrow, so horsepower wouldn't be such a factor.

Was there any interest locally in starting such a class? Stodola and a select few other individuals saw that this could be a class for the future. They traveled to Iowa and met with the people down there. They had the Iowa group come up to Rice Lake and put on a demonstration of those cars and they worked tirelessly to sell the idea to the local racers. Finally the track said yes, and the class was added to the program in 1980. Thus Rice Lake became the second track in the entire United States to run the economy Modifieds on a weekly basis. There were called Sportsman cars at first here, but gradually the name evolved into Modifieds and they were the forerunner of the WISSOTA Modifieds that you see race here every week as well as all the other sanctioning bodies that run their version of the same basic race car. The class boomed at other places too, and now literally hundreds of tracks across the country race the class weekly and thousands of drivers race Modifieds from coast to coast. But it all started right here at the Rice Lake Speedway and Don Stodola was the driving force behind the whole movement. Much of what we enjoy in Modified racing at this track and all the others around us is a reflection of the vision that Don and a few others from this community had.

Don eventually moved on and his desire to try and make it in the world of announcing saw him take other announcing jobs for the next few years. In 1998, Don and his wife Gloria moved to the Atlanta Georgia area where he took a job with G-Force Racing Gear, a manufacturer of motorsports safety equipment. G-Force has grown into a multi-million dollar industry and Don is now the Executive Account Manager with G-Force, with his offices located within the complex of the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord North Carolina.

Don could not be with us this evening as he is currently on a business trip in Toronto Ontario. Accepting the award for Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer Don Stodola is his brother Ken.

Jerry Curnow
1s The journey toward Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame status for Jerry Curnow began at an afternoon race in 1979 at the Speedway. Jerry was in the grandstands watching the races and met Dave Adams, Al Hajdasz and Don Smith. They were discussing the new “low cost” modified that was just starting to be built and raced in Iowa. Some people associated with the track in Rice Lake, led by Don Stodola and others, were interested in bringing this new class of cars to Rice Lake and had been in talks to do just that. These three businessmen convinced Curnow that he should field a car in the class when it was added to the speedway program for the 1980 racing season.

The following Monday after this meeting, Curnow called Adams and asked him to quote him a price on this new type of car, complete and ready to race. The price was $2,500 complete and ready to race. The car would be numbered #2 and Rick Kurshinsky began work on the car at his shop that Fall. That AMC Gremlin would become quite a famous race car and a real crowd favorite.

When the car was delivered in the Spring of 1980, Curnow did not have a driver for the car and Adams agreed to drive it for the first two weeks of the season to shake it down and get any “bugs” out of it. Adams drove it the first two weeks of the season, winning both heat and feature and thus became the first driver to ever win a race in the class at any track but in Vinton Iowa.

After the two weeks, Adams said, “It's all yours now, go and find a driver.” Jerry tapped his friend and neighbor Dave Palmquist to drive the car for the rest of the year and for the next two years also and they went on to win many races as different race tracks as they both dominated the racing while at the same time showcasing this new class to a host of drivers and race fans at various tracks around the Midwest.

Their car was a show piece and was not only a very fast car but extremely well maintained and always sharp looking, something that Jerry always insisted on.

One of the most famous stories involving this car is when they took it to the National Short Track Championships in Rockford Illinois, an asphalt track after first buying some used tires from the legendary Dick Trickle. They won the feature there, then drove back to Rice Lake the following day, switched back to dirt tires and won at Rice Lake! The following Monday the car was sold to Rick Scalzo and became the first Twix car.

A new Monza was built and that car was just as successful winning races at many area tracks and becoming the first WISSOTA Modified to win races at Superior, Ashland, Red Cedar and other tracks.

In 1982 they broke more new ground as with the help of Adams Automotive and Baker Engineered Racing Engines of Michigan, they began development of a V6 powered car. The car won feature races late in 1982 with Palmquist behind the wheel before the motor was sold to Jon Kurshinsky and then to Ron Schreiner, who won a WISSOTA 100 title at Marshfield using the V6 engine.

Jerry's cars won many feature races with a series of drivers behind the wheel and later, Jerry even slipped behind the wheel himself to do some racing. While he won a few races, with the most memorable of them being a Firecracker special at Superior, he never won a main event at Rice Lake.

However, he was also supportive to a number of other drivers over the years, as his business, Rice Lake Glass and Door, sponsored a number of race cars over the years and also was a generous benefactor as a sponsor for various special events and as a track supporter. One of the most successful of the cars he sponsored was the #86 car driven to many wins over the years by Don”The Poo Bear” Folz.

Jerry also mentioned that one of his proudest and most fulfilling moments while being involved in racing was when he loaned his car to the late Don Roseen to run the Championship race at Ashland one year after Roseen had blown the motor in his own car and Roseen drove a spirited race to get the win and title. Whether it be as a car owner, driver, sponsor or track supporter, Jerry has always been a generous benefactor of the Rice Lake Speedway. If not for his efforts back in the 80's to advance the cause of the new modifieds, it's hard to say where the class might have gone.

Jerry wanted to give special credit to his pit crew over the years that consisted of Dann Kann, Don Folz, Nels and Britt Curnow as well as special people that have helped him over the years including Rick Kurshinsky, Dave Adams, Don Johnson, Darwin Ford and of course, Rice Lake Glass and Door.

A graduate of Luck High School and the University of Wisconsin, Jerry was a long time businessman in the Rice Lake area and his business, Rice Lake Glass and Door was on many a race car and many a track billboard over the years at various tracks.

Jerry has always been much more than just a race car owner and driver and his interests in life are wide and varied. He has competed in 25 American Birkebeiner Cross Country ski races and also in five Inline Skate marathons. One of his great pleasures now is to ride his BMW motorcycle with his son and friends on sections of the Baja 1000 off road course in Mexico.

Now retired, Jerry and his wife Judy are crop farmers by Summer in Frederic Wisconsin and winter in Sedona Arizona.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Jerry Curnow.

Larry Quinn
1 Larry Quinn began racing at the Rice Lake Speedway in 1966 at the age of twenty one with his career extending over three decades of racing. Like many of his generation, he got his start in racing because he liked the speed and the competition and racing seemed a more sane way of scratching that “itch”, as opposed to the “street racing” which was a popular thing to do at the time.

Larry was a 1963 graduate of Bruce High School and at that time, there were a number of local racers hauling their race cars over to Rice Lake on Saturday nights, and doing very well by the way. So he fit right in and became a part of the simmering rivalry between the local drivers from Rice Lake and the invaders from Rusk County, that produced some of the most memorable races ever seen at the track.

Before Larry took to the track, he was an athlete in high school, having lettered in track, football and basketball and he put those keen reflexes and competitive nature to good use on the race track.

His first race car was a 1950 Plymouth two door sedan with a flat head engine that he put on the track for $250. Although his first car was a Chrysler product, Larry primarily drove Fords the rest of his career which was at a time when the make of the car really mattered. In fact, the number of his race car that is synonymous with him is #390, from the three hundred and ninety inch monster motors under the hood of his Fords. Larry raced at at time when some of the biggest rivalries ever were in full throat and every Saturday night was a war at the track.

Larry had a great career at the Rice Lake Speedway, winning twenty two feature wins in total. Included in those wins was a ten win season in 1975 that included the Super Stock points championship. He also won Season Championships in 1973 and '74 along with the Mid Season Championship in '74 in the RL Stock before the name of that class was changed in '75.

However, with all the feature wins he earned at the speedway, his most memorable moment came when he and Steve Davis executed a double roll over in turn one at the track. Davis, by the way, is the brother of one of our other Hall of Fame inductees tonight.

Larry had some great people supporting his efforts over the years at the track including the legendary Vince Strobl, Orville Krings, the Hendricks brothers, Wonderspot Resort, New York Life, Les's Barber, Gene's Sanitation and all the many friends and relatives that helped him out over the years.

Larry retired from racing at the age of thirty eight in 1983. However, that didn't end his interest in dirt track racing. Larry still attends the races at Rice Lake on a regular basis and now has a special interest in what goes on as his grandson Tucker, driver of the #11 Pure Stock, is in his second year of racing at the track.

For many years Larry was a business owner and realtor but is now retired.

He and his wife Jarita reside in Bruce.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Larry Quinn.

Bruce Davis
1 Bruce Davis began his racing career at the Rice Lake Speedway in 1962 as a twenty year old, just out of high school. While a student at Chetek High School, Bruce didn't participate in athletics. Instead he worked on the family farm and loved to tinker on cars.

After graduation, he went to work at Ritchie's Garage in Barron and there, during a chance meeting with Neil Gagner, his interest in dirt track racing was formed. They talked about racing, and Bruce became a member of Neil's pit crew for the 1961 racing season. During this time, the “racing bug” really started to bite, and Bruce decided that he needed his own car for the 1962 season, and thus a career that would conclude sixteen years later was started. Bruce also pointed out that racing on a dirt track was a lot safer than the back road racing that so many were doing at that time.

Bruce's first race car was a 1947 Ford coupe that he paid $100 for. Interestingly, he actually drove that car as his personal vehicle for a year, but unable to ever secure the title for the car, he decided to make it into a race car instead and that became the first of many race cars he would drive at area tracks. Success was immediate for Bruce, as what turned out to be his most memorable race at the track was also his first! The first night out in the car in 1962, he won both his heat and the feature and he had the “racing bug” forever after that night.

Bruce drove the car #56 for his entire racing career and the reason he picked the number was two fold. There were five boys and six girls in his family, thus the #56. Also, Bruce was a big fan of Don Brown, another Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, and Don drove car #55, so his number was as close as he could get to Brown's.

The speed and the competition of racing always was something that Bruce loved and he had great success on the track. During his career he won twenty one feature races in the RL Stock class at Rice Lake. Among the big wins were the 1967 and 70 Mid Season Championships, the 1968 Season Championship, the 1969 second place point title, The 1970 Scholarship race and point championship along with the Firecracker in 1970, the points title in 1972 and runner up in points in 1973 along with a collection of other trophies for special wins.

For many of the years that Bruce raced, he was sponsored by Central Motor Sales and Island City Equipment in Cumberland and had a pit crew that consisted of Chuck Bents, Brian Keeler, Don Hagen and Jerry Dawhy.

Rice Lake was Bruce's home track but he also raced at other tracks such as Bruce, New Auburn, Amery and Eau Claire during his racing career.

One of Bruce's most memorable moments from his racing career was on a night when a father brought his young son into the pits after the races to meet Bruce. The boy had made a model of Bruce's race car and wanted Bruce to have it because he was the child's favorite driver. Bruce reports that he still has the model car.

Speaking of family, Bruce was not the only Davis that ever turned laps at the Rice Lake Speedway. Brothers Keith, Steven, Nathan and Greg all raced at one time along with nephews Mike and Kendall Grover and Brandon”Tank” Davis.

And we can't forget Bruce's two sons Randy and Cory, who have both fashioned great racing careers of their own. Randy was a two time WISSOTA point champion as well as also having served as the head flagman for a period of time at both Rice Lake and Kapellah Speedways. Cory has twelve feature wins of his own racing in the Super Stock class as well as many at other speedways and after a brief retirement, he has returned to the wheel of a Midwest Modified, which he has raced here on occasion.

Bruce retired from racing in 1978 at the relatively young age for a race car driver at thirty six.

Bruce owns Davis Auto Body and Towing which is located right on highway eight on Turtle Lake's east side, the community where Bruce and his wife Jan reside.
Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Bruce Davis.

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