A passion that has consumed him so much that he’s made a career in the sport.
He began by racing sprint cars, worked with the late Chris Economaki at National Speed Sport News then underneath legendary promoters Humpy Wheeler and Bruton Smith in NASCAR. Learning from three of the all-time greats in their respective fields rubbed off in a big way.
With the Gas City Speedway sitting idle for the most part for years and perilously close to being closed permanently Jerry went out on a limb and played his hand as promoter for owner Jack Himelick in 2018.
Resurrecting the speed plant and bringing weekly racing back on Friday nights earned him the 2018 Hoosier Auto Racing Fans Promoter of the Year award.
With such honors, Gappens is more determined to up the ante in 2019 with yet another full slate of racing that will include 16 different divisions and nearly 20 different sanctioning bodies.
I have probably the most diverse schedule of any race track in the state, if not the country,” Gappens said Wednesday night after working on the track in anticipation of tonight’s opener. “I’ve had some folks complain because we might have five or six divisions running on some nights but the crew doesn’t mess around. Our goal each and every race night is to get the folks on the road home by 10:30. We drop the green flag at 7:30 each race so that’s three hours. If you go to any sporting event that’s pretty much the norm.”
Putting in between 70 and 80 hours a week during the season, Gappens is anticipating big things not only this season but in the years to come.
“Last year we lost our Sprint Week date, although USAC did get us in late in the season,” he stated. “This year we got the Sprint Week slot back and that’s going to be pretty special having the opening night. Plus we got the Indiana Midget Week show and several other big events on tap that I’m looking forward to.”
If things continue to prosper, Gappens envisions doing some renovations that would include more seating and a facelift to the front stretch.
See you at McGilvery’s Speedway…