By Doc Lehman
During 1968 and 1969 businessmen Bud Miller, Wellman Lehman, Chris Economaki and several others came together to research the possibility of building a superspeedway south of Youngstown, OH. After many meetings with public officials, attorneys and marketing specialists, the plans were eventually dropped when the group could not find enough land to suitably be utilized for their facility. But out of these meetings another idea was conceived that Bud Miller eventually carried out: a touring “outlaw” organization for Sprint Cars. In 1970 the All Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) was born.
From 1970 through 1973 Bud Miller, of Sharon, PA, operated the first “outlaw” Sprint Car organization in modern times. The ASCoC became a huge success and attracted the biggest names in Sprint Car racing from across the country. In 1973 the ASCoC went “national”, sanctioning events all across the country including the Knoxville Nationals.
Despite the success and popularity of the series, Miller suspended operations when the first national gasoline crisis occurred. Couple with a thriving and expanding business, Miller’s other commitments had to take top priority and the ASCoC ceased to exist.
But the ASCoC would return seven years later, in 1980. As Bud Miller explained: “Wellman had been on me to start the ASCoC up again. I wanted to, but didn’t have the time to give it what it required and deserved. Wellman recommended Bert Emick and you know the rest.”
The circuit reformed in 1980 under Emick’s leadership.
Emick, the previous year, had started the Midwest Outlaw Sprint Series (MOSS) and met with some success. MOSS and the ASCoC merged into one entity and Emick and Miller brought on to the ASCoC Board of Directors Earl Baltes, Bill Moore, Jean Lynch, Jerry Clum and Lehman.
But between the first and second incarnations of the ASCoC and before the arrival of the World of Outlaws and MOSS, there existed another touring Sprint Car organization that ran a very successful series for two years (1975-1976). This group was known as the All Star Super Sprints and was at first based primarily in Ohio.
In early 1974 Wayne County Speedway president and promoter Wellman Lehman and Eldora Speedway owner and promoter Earl Baltes discussed a mutually agreed upon series of races. Other interested promoters came on board and the five tracks held a five-race Wednesday night series. The five races were well received that year and Lehman began planning a more organized version for 1975.
Keeping the name All Star Super Sprints, Lehman and five promoters met on Sunday afternoon, January 26, 1975 in Delaware, OH. Lehman organized the series as a co-op partnership with all the promoters. According to the contracts each promoter shared the cost of advertising the Wednesday night races equally, and all contributed an equal amount to the point fund.
Additionally, all profits from ticket sales from each track was deposited into an account and at the end of the series, when the point fund and other expenditures were paid, the promoters shared the profits equally.
Ticket prices were set at $4.00 for each track with 50 lap features paying $500.00 to win. There was a $600.00 payoff to the series point champion, from a total point fund of $2,800.
Was it a success?
Opening night, June 4, 1975 at Millstream Speedway in Findlay, OH, a grand total of 81 Sprint Cars signed into the pits. Taking the first of the series’ seven features was Paul Pitzer in his #29 over Bobby Allen, Harold McGilton, Ralph Quarterson and Fred Linder.
The following week at Atomic Speedway in Chillicothe, OH, Kramer Williamson’s #72 came across the checkers first followed by a Rick Ferkel win at Fremont Speedway. Williamson came back and won the next two weeks at Skyline Speedway and Wayne County Speedway. Lynn Paxton took the second Millstream race (St. Clairsville’s July 9 date was cancelled when construction on the new track was incomplete) before Williams collected number four at Eldora Speedway.
Large car counts, with an average of 58 entries, and huge crowds made the series a big hit and financial success and both promoters and drivers made money without a great deal of travel. Like Speedweek today, scores of race fans made most and/or all of the midweek races, many visiting tracks for the first time.
The point chase to see who would b crowned the first All Star Super Sprint point champion was close all summer. Coming into the last race at Eldora, Fred Linder was leading Harold McGilton by three points. Neither one had won a race but due to consistent top five and top ten finishes they found themselves in contention for the title.
When the cars took the green at the smooth and tacky track, one of the series’ best main events unfolded with both Linder and McGilton charging through the pack. But neither would win as Linder left late in the race with mechanical failure and McGilton could only manage a seventh place finish. But it was enough to put McGilton on top as the 1975 All Star Super Sprints points champion by a two-point margin. Kramer Williamson, one of the hottest drivers at the time, scored the Eldora win in Al Hamilton’s car.
The series was a virtual who’s who of Midwestern Sprint Car stars. Over the course of the 1975 season 142 different drivers competed during the Wednesday series. Among the many throttle-stompers were Lou Blaney, Lynn Paxton, Bobby Allen, Rick Ferkel, Larry Dickson, Dick Liskai, Doc Dawson, Don Hewitt, Jack Hewitt, Ed Lynch, Sr., Jim Linder, Gug Keegan, Charlie Swartz, Rick Unger, Darl Harrison, Jim Darley, Gary Albrittain, Dean Alexander, Roger Wiles, Randy Ford and Bill Banick, among many, many others.
There were also a few youngsters among the stars and veterans. Fresh-faced kids with just a year or two of experience and just starting out. “Kids” like Kenny Jacobs, Tim Richmond, Ed Haudenschild and Sammy Swindell.
With the tremendous success of the series Lehman was asked by other promoters about booking All Star Super Series races. Lehman began organizing during the winter months and on January 31, 1976, he called a meeting a the Holiday Inn in Mansfield, OH for all interested promoters wishing to be a part of the 1976 series. The group congregated and finalized dates, times, purses, gate admissions, point fund money, etc…
A 13 race schedule was planned for a four state area (Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana). By the middle of the season Lehman had added a 14th race and a fifth state, Crystal raceway in Michigan. Each feature would be 50 laps with the winner taking home $900.00. A total series purse of nearly $80,000 was up for grabs and the series posted a $5,200 point fund, of which the champion would receive $900.00.
The ambitious 1976 schedule started off at Mike Rakoci’s Mercer Raceway on May 12 and ran on consecutive Wednesday’s throughout the summer. Ernie Holdren promoted the Tri-City Speedway events with other promoters and tracks signing on, including Earl Baltes’ Eldora and Limaland speedways, Bill Moore’s St. Clairsville Speedway, Jack Tutko’s Mansfield Speedway, Gary Kern’s Fremont Speedway, Don MacFarland’s Atomic Speedway, Ed Rettig and Doyt Woodward’s Millstream Motor Speedway, Carroll Hamilaton’s Lawrenceburg Speedway, Lehman’s Wayne County Speedway and Ron Smelka’s then-being-constructed Oakshade Raceway.
The second season was every bit as successful as the first with over 160 different race teams participating that year. Again, the cream of the crop were on hand at each of the venues throughout that bicentennial summer.
Lynn Paxton topped the field in the series opener at Mercer driving the Boop’s Aluminum Castings Special #1x. Paxton lapped the field through eighth place with Steve “Black Bandit” Smith, glued to his bumper. At Tri-City Bobby Allen won his first of four features (Morgantown, Fremont and St. Clairsville). Paxton won another three at Millstream, Mansfield and Oakshade while Williamson raced up three wins at Atomic, Wayne County and Lawrenceburg. Rick Ferkel took a win at Eldora and Jim Linder took the season finale at Crystal. Limaland’s date was rained out as was St. Clairsville, though St. Clairsville opted to try again on August 18.
Rick Ferkel, with one win and many top fives, won the 1976 All Star Super Sprints points championship.
With basically the same cast as the previous year, with an additional 20 or so drivers, the series once again showcased the best the Midwest and east had and offered young and up-and-coming hotshoes the chance to take their best shot with the big guns. Besides those previously listed, regular entries again included the likes of Van May, Keith Kaufman, Rick Hood, Jimmy Sills, Bob Frey, Sammy Sessions, Chuck Amati, Larry Helms, Jack Sodeman, Dick Byerly, Gary Griffith, C.J. Holley, Johnny Beaber, Willie Keegan, John Naida, Buddy Cochran and Ted Wise.
Among the young guns who dueled it out with the outlaws were Bill Underwood, Randy Kinser and Jac Haudenschild. In Haudenschild’s first race with the All Star Super Sprints, at Wayne County, the 15-year-old won his heat race and finished 12th in the main event.
The series had proven popular two years in a row. Fans and drivers were willing and able to support midweek races, especially ones that brought out the fields of high caliber talent that the All Star Super Sprints were able to attract. Promoters cooperated with each other, promoted each other’s races and shared the risks…and profits. It was building in momentum and gaining in stature, but 1976 would be the final year of the All Star Super Sprints as a traveling series.
Kramer Williamson & "Kramer's Kourt" - Eldora, July 16, 1975
Lehman faced the same situation as Bud Miller three years earlier with his ASCoC. It had gotten too big and Lehman didn’t have the time to devote a full-time effort to it as he had other business responsibilities which included a large trucking firm, a jewelry store and Wayne County Speedway. Although Lehman and a couple other promoters used the All Star Super Sprint name and logo for a year or two beyond 1976, as a series it concluded at the end of 1976.
But winged outlaw Sprint Car racing wouldn’t go without an “umbrella” for long. By the end of the following year Ted Johnson had begun putting together the World of Outlaws. A year after that, Bert Emick would start MOSS, which would evolve into the second ASCoC in 1980.
Lehman remained as president and promoter of Wayne County Speedway until 1983. HE remained another year as Public relations Director and retired in 1984. During the ensuing years since the All Star Super Sprints, Lehman booked World of Outlaw and MOSS races, as well as ASCoC Sprint and Late Model events and eventually the new STARS sanction. When the ASCoC was reformed in 1980, Lehman was brought on as a member of the ASCoC Board of Directors.
During the two years the All Star Super Sprints existed, Sprint Car
racing was evolving and it was a special time. New chassis concepts, the
proliferation of wings and greater speeds each season. The series showcased
the midwest’s best and today many are considered “legendary” and are Hall
of Fame members. The series also afforded the chance for a few of today’s
“superstars” to hone their skills during their formative years. And it
provided many of us “oldtimers” a lot of great memories.
1975 Feature Winners
June 4………..Millstream (OH) Speedway……….....Paul Pitzer
June 11………Atomic (OH) Speedway……………..Kramer Williamson
June 18……....Fremont (OH) Speedway……………Rick Ferkel
June 25……....Skyline (OH) Speedway……………..Kramer Williamson
July 2………...Wayne County Speedway…………....Kramer Williamson
July 9…………Millstream (OH) Speedway………….Lynn Paxton
July 16………..Eldora (OH) Speedway…………..….Kramer Williamson
1976 Feature Winners
May 12……...Mercer (PA) Speedway……………...Lynn Paxton
May 19……...Tri-City (PA) Speedway……………..Bobby Allen
May 26………Morgantown (WV) Speedway…........Bobby Allen
June 2………..Millstream (OH) Speedway……….…Lynn Paxton
June 9………..Atomic (OH) Speedway……………..Kramer Williamson
June 16……....Fremont (OH) Speedway…………....Bobby Allen
June 23……....Mansfield (OH) Speedway…………..Lynn Paxton
June 30……....Wayne County (OH) Speedway…......Kramer Williamson
July 14……......Lawrenceburg (IN) Speedway……...Kramer Williamson
July 28…….....Eldora (OH) Speedway……………..Rick Ferkel
Aug 4………...Oakshade (OH) Raceway…………..Lynn Paxton
Aug 18…….....St. Clairsville (OH) Speedway………Bobby Allen
Sept 3……......Crystal (MI) Raceway………………Jim Linder
1975 FINAL POINT STANDINGS
1. Harold McGilton 646
2. Fred Linder 644
3. Kramer Williamson 613
4. John Naida 580
5. Jim Darley 576
6. Darl Harrison 558
7. Paul Pitzer 523
8. Gug Keegan 496
9. Duke DePonzi 494
10. Bobby Allen 481
11. John Auxter 476
12. Brad Miller 468
13. Rick Ferkel 458
14. Doc Dawson 364
15. John Beaber 369
1976 FINAL POINT STANDINGS
1. Rick Ferkel 1129
2. Gary Griffith 1090
3. John Beaber 1048
4. Willie Keegan 1040
5. Kramer Williamson 1020
6. Bobby Allen 994
7. Lynn Paxton 976
8. Harold McGilton 953
9. John Naida 823
10. Fred Linder 772
11. Brad Miller 596
12. Terry Thompson 594
13. Doc Dawson 566
14. Dick Liskai 507
15. Gug Keegan 441
©2003 Doc Lehman/Dirt America!
Used by permission