By Danny Burton
Danny Burton’s Hoosier Race Report appears courtesy of OpenWheelRacers.com
Many, too many, race fans don’t get to see very much of the behind the scenes work that a countless number of dedicated people do before, during, or after a typical weekly short track race. Race track workers, officials, mechanics, gofers, and car owners, all have much to do before the gates even open on a weekend night. These are the people who matter, as any good promoter will tell you. One wonders if, there was no crowd at all, if these folks would still show up, merely because they love racing so much. Quite often, on a personal level, these people are as friendly as friendly can be. And of these, many could be called princes (of course, some could be called princesses) of men and women. One of these would be Richard Briscoe, long time sprint car owner and my personal nominee for the Hoosier Auto Race Fans’ Hall of Fame.
Mr. Briscoe has been in racing for 30 years now, with a wide variety of drivers who had sat in one of his cars. He bought his first car from Bob Papoy, who ran in these parts back in the 60’s and 70’s. After a brief driving career, Dick put Mike Johnson in the car. The list of those who drove for Dick is impressive and lengthy. How about Ed Angle, Fred Boso, Tom Busch, Mark and Kyle Cummins, Dickie Gaines, Buckwheat Gates, Bernie Graybeal, Danny Holtsclaw, Steve and Kelly Kinser, Larry Martin, Rodney Ritter, Derek Scheffel, Johnny Sharp, Danny Smith, and Jeff Swindell? But wait, as they say, there is more. Here is a list of guys who drove for Dick and won: Besides Mike Johnson, there was Chuck Amati, Dave Blaney, Steve Butler, Ronnie Dorsett, Dick Gaines, Joe Gaerte, Jack Hewitt, Andy Hillenburg (the Indiana version), Kevin Huntley, Craig Keel, Randy Kinser, Terry Shepherd, Rich Vogler, and Doug Wolfgang, who was one for one when driving for Dick, winning the only feature he ever drove for Team Briscoe.
Notice that we’ve omitted one driver who was raced for Dick, namely his son Kevin. For the past 20 years, Kevin has created his own niche in Hoosier/Midwest racing circles, compiling five track championships at Bloomington Speedway, 200 or so feature wins, and the total respect of fellow racers, fans, and all who have come into contact with him. He learned his life lessons, as well as his racing lessons, well, thanks in large part to his dad.
If the criteria for admission to a Hall of Fame were for on field/track accomplishments only, then Richard Brisoce would be an easy choice. If it was for dedication, again, he would be in quite easily. And if it was for being a decent, caring, family loving type who happens to love this often cruel, but occasionally rewarding sport, then Dick Briscoe has to be considered. This is my nomination to admit Richard Briscoe to the Hoosier Auto Race Fans’ Hall of Fame.
Many, many thanks for this article go to Roger Claridge, who put the bug in my ear, as it were, this past summer about wishing to see Richard Briscoe being admitted to the Hall of Fame. Thanks to Kevin Briscoe, Barry Boone, and Eldon Butcher (both of the Midwest Sprint Car Series) for the information about Dick that is listed here. And of course, thanks to Mr. Briscoe himself, who has been an inspiration, leader, friend, and all round example for many in the Hoosier racing community for many years now.
Wishing that Marv, the guys, and I were heading out West in a few days, I’m…
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