GOSHEN —In the 51-year history of motorcycle racing at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, Saturday, July 26 will not go down as one of the biggest or most memorable.
But it didn’t dim the enthusiasm for those that raced.
For the first time in recent history, the American Motorcycle Association also had a race schedule at the I-96 Raceway just outside Lansing, Mich., on Saturday — which cut the entry list at the fairgrounds by nearly half from last year.
In addition, to take advantage of the huge number of race fans in Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, there was also motorcycle racing at the state capital on Saturday, which took a few more riders away.
Oh, and the fair board requested that the start of the racing be moved up two hours — to the surprise of many — so there would be plenty of time to set up for the Demolition Derby on Saturday evening.
But standing tall in the middle of it all was Goshen Iron Horsemen treasurer Jeff Cole.
“Our relationship with the fair is very good and we understood their request,” Cole said. “They provide a great race track and all the equipment and people we need to have a great show every year. It’s one of the biggest reasons we always have a great purse to attract the amateur racers.
“When we set the day for our race, we talk to other promotors with AMA and there is a gentlemen’s agreement not to schedule a race on the same day. Unfortunately, this year it happened and it hurt our numbers.”
On a picture-perfect day for racing, there were 68 riders at the fairgrounds, down from the more than 120 last year.
One of the happy riders was Ken Maynard, who won the Senior-40 Plus race and finished third in the 750 Open event.
Maynard, who lives in Anderson, has been racing at the fairgrounds since 1975, even though the track has caused him a lot of pain in those 38 years.
“I broke my neck here one year and then almost did it again five years ago on the frontstretch,” the 49-year-old Maynard said. “But I love racing here and it helps me get ready to try and run some of the pro events later in the year.”
One of the top performers of the day was Ron Williams, who won the Vintage-Heavy and Senior-50 Plus race and finished second to Maynard in the Senior- 40 Plus event.
The Gerencer family of Elkhart also had a big day, with Koleman Gerencer leading the way with a first in the 0-85 cc Jr&Sr and a second in the 86-125 cc. Lou Gerencer won the Vintage Light event, while Charlie Gerencer was fourth in the 201-250 cc race.
For Lou Gerencer, who travels with his family to race at tracks in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, racing less than a half-hour from home made it an even better day.
“It’s nice to be close to home and run well,” Lou Gerencer said. “We race and travel as a family and really enjoy it, but winning in Goshen was really nice rather than at a track two or three hours away.”