Tom Reffer with Art Frigo  Grundy  9_7_75

Wayne Carter Classic Continues to Build on History

Stan Kalwasinski Photography

by Kari Shear Carlson / July 15, 2015 - When the ARCA Midwest Tour presented by Scag Power Equipment rolls into Grundy County Speedway this Friday, July 17th, it won’t just be another race. The Wayne Carter Classic carries with it a history that isn’t just remembered but continues to grow.

In 1975, Art Frigo and John McKarns started the ARTGO Series. The very first event was held at Grundy County Speedway. The race was 59 laps, in honor of Wayne Carter who brought racing to the Grundy County Fair 59 years earlier. It was the Wayne Carter Classic that kicked off the ARTGO Series and put a Midwest touring series on the map.

Wisconsin Rapids, WI native, Tom Reffner, in his 1974 American Motors Javelin, set a new track record and held off Bob Roper and Joe Shear to take the first ever ARTGO Series and Wayne Carter Classic win.

As the years went on, John McKarns took over the ARTGO series and carried on the race tradition. The race was held under the ARTGO banner from 1975 through 1997. After the inaugural 59-lap event, every race through 1994 was 100-laps. The final three ARTGO races were 200-lap events.

Just like any other event, the Wayne Carter Classic has some more memorable moments than others. In 1982, the late Jim Sauter won with a broken left axle and held off future NASCAR great, Mark Martin who finished in third. In 1987, Dick Trickle won his second Wayne Carter Classic in front of one of the largest crowds the track had ever seen. Dale Earnhardt, Sr., who finished fourth, may have been the reason for the big draw.

NASCAR greats, Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Davey Allison, and Ron Hornaday, to name a few, all sought to add the Wayne Carter Classic to their resume’s over the years.

In the early 1990’s, younger drivers started to get into the mix, although it was the veterans who were still showing the way to victory lane. A young Matt Kenseth, now a NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, was coming on the scene. In 1991 he finished fourth as Kevin Cywinski pulled off the win.

The late Joe Shear showed domination in the mid to late 90’s. After his victories in 1986 and 1988, Shear went on to win consecutively in 1993, ’94, and ’95, and also won the final event under the ARTGO name in 1997. Shear holds the most Wayne Carter Classic wins with six.

In 1998 and 1999, the event was held under the NASCAR Elite division with Eddie Hoffman and Steve Carlson picking up victories. The event took a hiatus until 2011 when the Midwest Tour returned. A young, Ross Kenseth won in 2011 and Eddie Hoffman picked up his second Wayne Carter Classic victory in 2012. Current Touring Stars, Jonathan Eilen and Chris Weinkauf are the most recent Midwest Tour winners.

So what’s difference between then and now? According to Tom Reffner, “The difference is in the driver.”

This Friday night gates open at 5:30pm and all of the action begins with qualifying at 6:30pm and racing to follow at 7:30pm.

The ARCA Midwest Tour will be joined by the Mid-American Stock Car Series as well as the Pure Stocks.

For complete event details, log on to

Be sure to follow the ARCA Midwest Tour on Facebook (/midwesttour) and Twitter (@midwesttour).

To learn more about the Automobile Racing Club of America Midwest Tour, log on to The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is among the leading auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country. Founded in 1953 by John and Mildred Marcum, the organization administers more than 100 events each year in multiple racing series, including the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the ARCA Truck Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour, plus weekly racing at Toledo and Flat Rock Speedway.

Wayne Carter Classic - Grundy County Speedway, Morris, Illinois
compiled by Stan Kalwasinski/Chicagoland Auto


Tom Reffner ARTGO 59 Laps first ever ARTGO Racing event held/49 entries/Reffner - Fastest Qualifier (16.25 seconds - NTR)
9/7/75 59-lap feature, honoring Wayne Carter’s 59 years of racing at the Grundy County Fairgrounds
Reffner in a ’74 AMC Javelin defeated Bob Roper, Joe Shear, Tom Musgrave & Dick Trickle
Reffner passed Roper for the lead after 44 laps and took home $825 from a purse of $5855.
Wayne Carter passed away on 1/31/1980 at the age of 84.


Dave Watson ARTGO 100 Laps Watson defeats Bob Senneker and Ed Hoffman


Larry Phillips ARTGO 100 Laps part of two-track ARTGO Summer Nationals


Mike Miller ARTGO 100 Laps part of two-track ARTGO Summer Nationals


Mike Miller ARTGO 100 Laps First of 15 Tuesday night specials/Miller wins in his Oldsmobile Cutlass/51 entries 


Mark Malcuit ARTGO 100 Laps Ohio “Invader” in unpainted car wins


Larry Schuler ARTGO 100 Laps Local favorite wins/Dick Trickle Burned Piston on Last Lap/Darrell Waltrip finished 7th


Jim Sauter ARTGO 100 Laps Won with broken left axle, Mark Martin finished third


Tom Reffner ARTGO 100 Laps Bobby Allison finished 7th


Dick Trickle ARTGO 100 Laps Rusty Wallace finished 8th


Butch Miller ARTGO 100 Laps 7th win in 10 starts for the year/won in V6-powered Camaro


Joe Shear ARTGO 100 Laps defeats Butch Miller and Dave Watson in close finish


Dick Trickle ARTGO 100 Laps Big Crowd/Dale Earnhardt Sr. finished 4th


Joe Shear ARTGO 100 Laps Davey Allison was 4th


Ted Musgrave ARTGO 100 Laps Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Chicago Style/Musgrave wins by five feet over Dick Trickle


Steve Carlson ARTGO 100 Laps Former ARTGO rookie of the year finishes ahead of Rich Bickle and Dennis Lampman


Kevin Cywinski ARTGO 100 Laps Matt Kenseth-4th, Turn-Away Crowd/Earnhardt and Martin competed in Special Match Race


Steve Holzhausen ARTGO 100 Laps Holzhausen over Larry Schuler and Kevin Cywinski


Joe Shear ARTGO 100 Laps came from the back of the pack after a spin on 17th lap


Joe Shear ARTGO 100 Laps Sunday night after Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis


Joe Shear ARTGO 200 Laps Wild Ride by Ron Hornaday


Dave Weltmeyer ARTGO 200 Laps battles with Tracy Schuler for the win


Joe Shear ARTGO 200 Laps Shear’s sixth Carter Classic career victory


Eddie Hoffman NASCAR Elite 125 Laps


Steve Carlson NASCAR Elite 150 Laps


Ross Kenseth ASA Midwest Tour 125 Laps 2. Steve Carlson, 3. Eddie Hoffman, 42 pre-race entries


Eddie Hoffman ASA Midwest Tour 100 Laps 2. Jonathan Eilen, 3. Erik Darnell, 18 entries  FT: Chris Wimmer 14.741 (NTR)


Johathan Eilen ARCA Midwest Tr 100 Laps 2. Chris Wimmer, 3. Dan Fredrickson, 25 entries,


Chris Weinkauf ARCA Midwest Tr 100 Laps 2. Ty Majeski, 3. Jonathan Eilen, 16 entries