Guests on Tuesday December 17 for the Autosportradio.com 2019 Show..The Autosportradio.com 2019 Show presented by Honda and HPD, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT IndyCar Series and the SVRA will stream live on Tuesday December 17th live from McGilvery’s Speedway 3009 No. High School Road beginning at 7PM EST.
The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com then click on the YouTube link just below the screen to watch the live stream on YouTube. The show is also streamed live on the autosportradioshow Facebook page.
When the program concludes you will find the archive available on YouTube. Log onto www.youtube.com and put..”autosportradioshow”.. in the search box and click to see the past shows.
TUESDAY WILL BE THE LAST AUTOSPORTRADIO.COM SHOW. WE WILL RETURN ON JANUARY 7TH, 2020. SANTA IS VERY BUSY SO HE CAN’T JOIN US BUT IS SENDING A SPECIAL IN HIS PLACE. BE SURE AND JOIN US FOR OUR LAST 2019 SHOW AND SEE WHO SANTA IS SENDING…
Vincent “Vince” Welch is an American radio and television personality who is currently employed by Fox Sports. He is the primary lap-by-lap announcer for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series on FS1. From 1998 to March 2007, he was the sports program director at WIBC in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to that job, he worked as a sports reporter at WISH-TV and as sports director for WNDY, both in Indianapolis. In the late 1980s Welch was a sports personality at WKBV Radio in Richmond, Indiana. Welch formerly worked as a pit reporter for ABC Sports and ESPN during broadcasts of the Indy Racing League and Indianapolis 500 as well as occasional stints on ESPN2’s coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and was pit reporter for ABC/ESPN for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series telecasts. He was also a college football sideline reporter for ESPN/ABC. Welch also is the television voice of the Ball State Cardinals and a Ball State University graduate.
After ESPN lost the rights to NASCAR coverage at the end of the 2014 season, Welch moved to Fox Sports, where he is assigned to various NASCAR and college basketball commitments, primarily NASCAR pit reporter duties. After the death of Truck Series lead broadcaster Steve Byrnes during Welch’s first season in 2015, Welch was moved up to the lead role in the Truck Series.
Vince and son Dillon have often worked various NASCAR races together, with Vince on television and Dillon on radio. Welch is the first father and son combination to have worked Indianapolis 500 broadcasts.
Dillon Welch is an auto racing announcer and Emmy-award winning television producer. Welch began his broadcasting career at Carmel High School during his sophomore year, as a sports play-by-play announcer and color commentator for the school’s student-run television station. During his senior year, Welch placed third in the state of Indiana as the lead radio play-by-play announcer of his high school’s basketball and football teams. From 2014- 2016, Dillon traveled nationally as the public address announcer for the United States Auto Club, a dirt short track auto racing organization. He joined the Motor Racing Network in 2015, and currently works with the network as a turn announcer and pit reporter for select NASCAR radio events each year. As of 2018, he has worked for the NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1 as a pit reporter for several NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Racing Series events throughout the season.
Welch graduated from Ball State University in May of 2016. As a member of Ball State Sports Link, the only student-run production company in the United States, he earned two Great Lakes Regional Emmy’s as the executive producer of “Out of the Shadows”, a monthly all-access show on the Ball State men’s basketball team. Additionally, he worked numerous Ball State sporting events in the production truck as well as in front of the camera.
In addition to broadcasting, Dillon’s still finds time to race himself. He began racing at age 7 and continues to do so to this day, thus using his communications degree as a way to combine his two passions. Dillon has used his racing to partner with numerous organizations, such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Sheltering Wings, a center for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. Born and raised in Indianapolis, he now resides in Charlotte, NC.
Andy O’Gara grew up watching and competing in karting at Whiteland Raceway Park, so when he and his wife, Sarah Fisher O’Gara, were looking for a nearby track to get their two young children started at carting last summer, that was the first place they thought of. So much for best laid plans. “We show up,” Andy O’Gara said, “and it wasn’t open when it was supposed to be, and the facility itself was just overgrown and run down. We’re like ‘Man, what’s going on?’”
Billed as “America’s Oldest Kart Track,” Whiteland Raceway Park (WRP) has launched many a motorsports career, O’Gara’s included, since it opened in 1958. But the facility had fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years, with the lone building on site rapidly deteriorating and trees — some approaching 15 feet in height — growing up through the pavement on the back straightaway.
Shortly thereafter, owner and longtime friend Mike Swails gave O’Gara a call. He simply didn’t have the time or the resources available to keep the track running properly and was looking to sell it. Swails had an offer on the property from a trucking company that had plans to raze the track and turn it into a parking lot, but he was reaching out in hopes that he could still save the track.
With no time to ponder a decision, O’Gara and Fisher jumped on the opportunity. “We basically had to say, ‘Yes, we’ll purchase it from you,’” Fisher said. The couple teamed up with Wink Hartman of Kansas, their longtime partner from Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing when Fisher raced on the IndyCar circuit, to buy the track from Swails last August for an undisclosed amount.
Upon closer inspection, O’Gara and Fisher knew they were going to have to shut things down temporarily to get WRP back to an acceptable state. “The way that the facility was when we took it over, I couldn’t see a family of four wanting to spend time in a place that looked like that,” Fisher said. “It wasn’t really safe, it wasn’t clean. A mom couldn’t bring her 5-year-old with a baby in the car and feel comfortable.” The track was closed for six weeks, enough time to begin a large-scale cleanup, before re-opening for late-season races in October.
O’Gara and Fisher weren’t sure what to expect when only 15 people showed up for the initial drivers’ meeting around the time of the sale, but there were 169 racers in 18 classes for their debut night. The overhaul of the facility continued in the offseason, with the previous main building bulldozed and replaced, and 32 new garages built that drivers can rent out to store their karts on site. Sections of the track were repaved, fencing extended and an observation mound added, and some infrastructure work was done to improve drainage and connect to the town’s sewage line. The pre-existing barriers, which consisted of approximately 2,500 old kart tires bundled up in plastic bags, were removed and replaced. All told, the new owners have put more than a million dollars into the track, including more than $800,000 last winter alone.
The new and improved Whiteland Raceway Park began its 2019 season on April 13, and the track has hosted seven days of racing with five more on the schedule between now and Oct. 19. O’Gara and Fisher are trying to offer as many racing opportunities as possible without stepping on the toes of the other karting organizations in the area — New Castle Raceway and the Ohio Valley Karting Association in Camden, Ohio, and Southern Indiana Racing Association Karting, which actually has a Saturday night stop in Whiteland on its own schedule this season (Aug. 17).
Self-interest played a small part in O’Gara and Fisher taking over the track — their kids, 8-year-old Zoey and 5-year-old Danny, are beginning to race, and there was a strong desire to have a home track for them near their home on the southeast side of Indianapolis. But the couple says it would likely have been involved in the karting world even if they didn’t have children of their own in it. “Initially, yeah, it was the love of grassroots racing,” Fisher said. “Without kids having the opportunity to race at a facility like this one, they’ll never have a chance to learn how to do the basics. There are so many out there that have a need for that chance, somewhere to go to learn. “We knew that if we had a need for our kids to go, that there would be others. We’re not the only two people in this city that love racing that have kids.”
Whiteland isn’t the first karting venture for O’Gara and Fisher, who also own Speedway Indoor Karting (SIK) — just up the block from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With the racing side at Whiteland likely a break-even proposition at best, they’re hoping to eventually replicate their SIK business model here. A fleet of about a dozen rental karts is slated for rollout early this month, with more expected to be added next year. At most family fun centers that have go-kart tracks, the cars usually top out at around 8 to 10 miles per hour. The karts at SIK and WRP, though — European style 9-horsepower Hondas with roll bars, four-point harnesses and adjustable seats and pedals — can run at speeds of 35 mph or more. “It’s something you need to wear a helmet for,” Fisher said.
While it’ll still take some time for O’Gara and Fisher to get everything at WRP exactly how they want it to be, they’re pleased with the progress they’ve made — and they’ve been earning rave reviews from their patrons thus far. For that, O’Gara credits the SIK staff, which has done much of the heavy lifting to get Whiteland operational again. “Our team has made us look like heroes,” he said.
O’Gara hopes that more spectators will come to check out the remaining race dates this season and take advantage of the opportunity for some cheap family entertainment; fans can enter the grounds for $1, bring their own coolers and watch the action unfold.
The oldest karting track in the country is enjoying a resurgence in its early sixties, one that came very close to not happening at all. It’s quite possible that WRP would have been bulldozed by now had O’Gara and Fisher not happened by the property around the time that they did last year. “We wouldn’t have found out in time to save it, probably,” Fisher said.
See you Tuesday evening at McGilvery’s Speedway…