Saturday, May 4, 2024

1986 – Shear Stars at Rockford in Spring Classic

Joe Shear completed the clean sweep in the ninth annual ARTGO Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway. He also set fast time and won his heat race. – Russ Lake Photo

Rockford, Ill. (May 4, 1986) – Joe Shear continued his domination of the ARTGO Challenge Series by slicing through the field from his 12th starting berth to win the ninth annual Spring Classic late model feature at Rockford Speedway, Sunday afternoon.

Shear, who won the series opener at Grundy County Speedway two weeks ago, recorded a rare clean sweep by setting fast time at 13.656 seconds, and then winning a 12-lap heat race before scoring the 86-lap feature victory.

A field of 35 cars participated in the show, which was held in sunny, but windy conditions.

Rich Bickle Jr. edged into the lead on the first lap from his front row starting berth with Dave Weltmeyer and Don Leach right behind him. Shear was already slicing through the field using the inside lane with Dick Trickle right behind him, trying to keep up.

By lap 34, Shear was right behind Bickle and for the next 20 laps, the two Wisconsin driver kept the fans on the edge of their seats as Shear looked for a way to take the top spot away.

By lap 55, the top six – Bickle, Shear, Weltmeyer, Terry Baldry, Bobby Dotter, and Trickle – were running nose-to-tail. Finally, on the 57th lap, Shear drove to the inside of Bickle, traded some paint, and took the lead on the fourth turn. He would never relinquish it,

Meanwhile, Trickle’s V-6 powered Celebrity came to life, and he picked off Dotter, Baldry, and finally Weltmeyer to finish third behind Shear and Bickle.

After the win Shear was asked his secret to running “the tough groove” at tracks like Grundy County and Rockford.

“It’s the chassis,” the six-time National Short Track champion explained. “We only ran this car four times at the end of the ’85 season but we knew it was just what we needed to hopefully secure our first ARTGO championship.”

Results –

1. Joe Shear, Clinton, Wis.
2. Rich Bickle Jr., Edgerton, Wis.
3. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
4. Bobby Dotter, Chicago
5. Terry Baldry, Omro, Wis.
6. Dave Weltmeyer, Harvey
7. Al Schill, Franklin, Wis.
8. Tony Strupp, Slinger, Wis.
9. Steve Holzhausen, Bangor, Wis.
10.Don Leach, Beloit, Wis.
11.George Prziborowski, Apple Valley, Minn.
12.Bobby McDonald, Combined Locks, Wis.
13.Scott Hansen, Green Bay, Wis.
14.Lee Sohns, Waterford, Wis.
15.Doug Herbst, Wausau, Wis.

The one and only lead change in the 86-lap ARTGO Spring Classic takes place on lap 57 as Joe Shear (36) gets by Rich Bickle Jr. (45) for the lead and the eventual win. – Don Thies Photo

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