The History of ARTGO at Wausau
By Stan Kalwasinski
“Back in the Day” – 40 years ago, the ARTGO Racing late model series visited State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wis. The date was Thursday evening July 3, 1980 and the “stars and cars” of the John and Sue McKarns-owned traveling stock car circuit were to see action in twin 50-lap feature races on the quarter-mile paved oval. Hometown racer Larry Detjens got things underway by setting fast time during qualifications with a lap of 14.143 seconds in his ’80 Camaro No 25. Dick Trickle, in a newly-built ’79 Firebird, won the first 50 lapper with Joe Shear second and Marv Marzofka third. Jim Sauter, Steve Burgess and Tom Reffner rounded out the top six. Detjens spun out during the first 50 lapper while running third. “I was just tryin’ too hard,” said Detjens. Detjens came back and won the second 50-lap chase, defeating Shear, Trickle, Sauter, Reffner and Mike Miller with Trickle garnering the overall event win. Receiving the trophy from Wimmer Construction and North Forest Campground and Resort after the second 50 lapper, Trickle, who would go on to win his third career ARTGO championship in 1980, had destroyed his fast-running Firebird No. 99 and suffered a concussion at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway a few weeks earlier on June 21, necessitating the building of a new race car. “It seems like it’ll be a good car,” said Trickle that night at Wausau. “We took some parts off of Boomer’s (Jim Bohmsach’s ’74 Nova) car like the roll cage, rearend and brakes. The rest is all new.” Oddly enough, this was the first and only visit to State Park Speedway by the ARTGO series. Fast forward the clock to 2020: the ARCA Midwest Tour, headed by the John and Sue McKarns’ son, Gregg, will be at the speedway this Saturday evening for the Larry Detjens Memorial 125 late model stock car special. The popular Detjens died from injuries suffered in a crash during an ARTGO race at the Wisconsin International Raceway on August 1, 1981.
***Thanks to Ed Wodalski for his story about the race in the July 5, 1980 edition of the Wausau Daily Herald. Some photos from that night show include Larry Detjens and Dick Trickle in victory circle and Dejtens (#25), Trickle (#99), Joe Shear (#36), Jim Sauter (#7), Mike Miller (#18) and Steve Burgess (#12) battling during the night’s action.***