Even though he wasn’t born until four years after his passing, Derek Kraus has relied on resources like his father Mark Kraus, friends, fans, the internet and YouTube to learn about the legend of Joe Shear. The famous Midwest short track driver that passed away on March 6, 1998.
“I looked back at his races, watched a few things on YouTube, and talked to my dad about him,” the 15-year-old from Stratford, Wisconsin recently said. “From what I have gathered, he was a really good man and a great wheel man. I look up to him and hope to do what he did in his career.”
Another thing he learned about Shear was not only his presence on the track, but off the track as well.
“He seemed like a real nice man and was helpful to a lot of people. I hope I can do that someday when I grow up.”
Kraus is getting prepared for the ninth annual Joe Shear Classic 200-lap event on Sunday, May 7th at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin. The season opening event for the ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment.
Kraus will be focused on improving from his 17th place finish in his first ARCAMT race last year at Wisconsin’s Fastest Half-Mile Oval.
“I had run at Madison in the truck and the super late model in the past. I think with 200 laps, it is going to be a race where you will need to save your brakes, because you will be hard on them for 200 laps along with saving tires, and I think that is going to be tough.”
Coming into the Joe Shear Classic, Kraus already has one victory in the ARCA Midwest Tour as he became the youngest winner last season by capturing the Bill Meiller 101 at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
He also already has four long distance races under his belt in 2017 by competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West for Bill McAnally Racing.
During the off-season, he racked up some airline miles after getting a call from Bill McAnally offering him a tryout at Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, California, then landing a full season ride.
“Bill McAnally Racing is a great race team and surrounds us with good crew members,” Kraus explained. “Our goal this year is just to run in the top five for the races and do what we can do in the points and try to get rookie of the year.”
In his first four starts, he already has two top-five and three top-ten finishes driving for one of the top teams in the series that includes teammates Chris Eggleston and Todd Gilliland, who each won the championship in the last two years.
One of those top five finishes was a second-place finish to Gilliland in his second race at Kern County Raceway Park.
“We had a really good run at Kern County. We qualified sixth and in the early part of the race we were running third behind Gilliland and Michael Self. In the latter half of the race, Todd and I checked out and ran one two at the finish.”
Kraus said that so far it has been easier to transition from the super late model to the K&N car versus going from the other way around. His next K&N race will be after the Joe Shear Classic on May 13th at Spokane County Raceway in Spokane, Washington.
His focus for now is the ninth annual Joe Shear Classic.
“I like Madison, it’s a fun place,” Kraus exclaimed. “It would feel really good to win it because of his name and have his trophy in our shop. It would be really cool.”
Spectator gates will open Sunday May 7 at 11:30am, racing begins at 2pm and will also feature a post qualifying fan autograph session in the new Turn 4 Party Pavilion. Adult general admission tickets are $25, Whelen Heroes, Seniors and Students (ages 12-17) $22, Kids (6-11) $10 with Children (5 & under) Free. Family Pricing is also available for $60 which includes up to two adult tickets and up to four admissions for those ages 17 and under. For additional information visit www.misracing.com or call 608-835-9700.
Past Winners of Joe Shear Classic at Madison International
2008 Dan Fredrickson
2009 Nathan Haseleu
2010 Steve Carlson
2011 Ross Kenseth
2012 Andrew Morrissey
2013 Travis Sauter
2014 Nathan Haseleu
2015 Johnny Sauter
2016 Ty Majeski