Back in 1994, Lonnie’s late son, Chuck, was leading the “B” modified points race and old dad was running second. Following Chuck’s untimely death — he was only 27 — Lonnie realized how close of a community those connected with the track really were.
“I found out you have three families — your blood family, your church family and … your racing family,” Lonnie said. “There have been some incredible people connected with Quincy Raceways. They all helped us get through Chuck’s passing. I had no idea (our) racing family was as strong as it was.”
Lonnie explained how he got behind the wheel the day after Chuck was laid to rest.
“There was like a voice in my head telling me, ‘Dad, just because I’m no longer with you, that’s no reason to quit,” Lonnie remembered.
Lonnie’s snow-white hair earned him the nickname “The Silver Fox” a long time ago, and during that first night back without his son the Silver Fox admitted it was difficult to drive a race car.
“I was teary-eyed, and could hardly see, but … I learned a lot about my racing family during that time,” he said.
That, above all else, is why Sunday’s induction will mean so much to the Silver Fox. There will be members of his blood family, racing family and his church family there. Lonnie attends Riverside Community Church where the Rev. V. Lee Amsler pastors. Church has been canceled Sunday night. Members will be at the track in support of Lonnie.
Carter will be joined by former drivers Dick Crane and Tom Long, plus friends of racing Bill Bair, Maroline Long, Joe Gower and representatives of long-time sponsor Gem City Ford in making up the 2013 induction class.
Carter raced for a quarter of a century, his career ending in 1998. He started in the old sportsman class and eventually moved to “B” modifieds when they came on to the scene in 1993. He won two titles (1995-96) and is the No. 6 driver in the all-time Herald-Whig modified rankings.
“I’ll always consider 1993 my greatest year in racing,” Carter said. ” That was when Chuck won the ‘B’ mod championship in the first year of the class at the track, and I was second. Chuck was my toughest competitor ever.”
Lonnie’s youngest son, Rob, also raced “B” mods through 2005 when the class was dropped. A consistent top-10 car, Rob’s fourth-place points finish in 2000 was his best overall season.
“Racing has become very sophisticated today, it has become a science,” Carter said. “We used to go the salvage yard for parts. No, everything is factory-made.”
Carter said he misses the camaraderie of racing, and although he’s 66 years old, he would hop behind the wheel in a second if someone asked him. “I know my heart wants to, but I’m not sure about the reflexes,” he said.
The Silver Fox has just one regret from his career.
“I wish I would have started sooner,” he said.
* The inclusion of Crane and Long in this year’s class provides three of the Bullring’s all-time favorite drivers. Crane won a late model championship (see below) during an era when the late model division was dominated by three drivers, and although Long never won a title his ability was never questioned. Both late model drivers, plus Carter in the mods, were three of the most consistent performers in Quincy Raceways history.
A LOOK AT THE 2013 QUINCY RACEWAYS HALL OF FAME DRIVER INDUCTEES
Track championships: 2 in “B” modified (1995, 1996).
All-time Herald-Whig modified ranking (1987-2012): No. 6 behind Hall of Famer Hank DeLonjay, Tony Dunker, Michael Long, Sam Burgtorf and Dave Wietholder.
Notable: Carter finished second in “B” mod points in 1993 … He said racing against the likes of DeLonjay, Terry Schlipman and Lonnie Bailey represented some of the high points of his career. “I raced against legends, and they were great guys, too,” Carter said.
Track championships: 1 in late models (1986).
All-time Herald-Whig late model ranking (1975-2012): No. 5 behind Hall of Famer Mark Burgtorf, Hall of Famer Terry Gallaher, Hall of Famer Steve Fraise and Lonnie Bailey.
Notable: When Crane won his track title, it marked the only time a championship was won between 1979 and 2001 by a driver not named Steve Fraise, Terry Gallaher or Mark Burgtorf … Crane’s final full-time season in a late model at QR was 1993.
Track championships: 0, but was a consistent contender for more than a decade, from the early 198os through the early 1990s. Long finished in the top 10 in points in 13 consecutive years, including seven seasons in the top seven.
All-time Herald-Whig late model ranking (1975-2012): No. 11. Long was knocked out of the top 10 two years ago by Justin Reed.
Notable: One of the track’s all-time most popular drivers, Long’s final full season in a late model at QR was 1995 when he finished fourth in points behind Mark Burgtorf, Terry Gallaher and Ryan Fierge … Long started racing at the track in the 1970s.