Stewart driver honored as TQ Midgets champ

By James Essex

The UMRA King of the Three-Quarter Midgets conducted its annual awards banquet Jan. 20 at the Indiana Grand Casino in Shelbyville. Ron Combs of Greensburg, who drives for Tony Stewart Racing, was crowned the champion for the third time in the series’ long and storied history.

Combs’ Tony Stewart Racing teammate, Callie Wolsiffer-Hewitt, finished a close second in points for the 2017 racing season.

The 47-year-old Combs also has announced that the car he has raced for the past 14 years will be driven this year by Stewart’s father, Nelson.

“We are building a new car for this year,” Combs said. “The car we have driven has kept me safe and won a lot of races. To win four championships with the same car says a lot about the craftsmanship and quality of the care. This year, Tony’s dad will be back racing with it.”

Combs’ sponsors are Ison’s Family Pizza, Billman Trucking, ACRO Eng, Sea Cow Media, Jen Marco.com, The Mascaro Group, Creative Finishing, Pro Shocks, Asher Pallets and the Tony Stewart Foundation.

UMRA President Terry Eaglin in a recent interview said he hopes the series continues to grow in future years after a reduction in car counts in recent years.

“Like any form of racing, car counts are down everywhere,” Eaglin said. “UMRA used to get a ton of cars every race. I think with the rules we have we can build it back to close to where it was. I know of some new cars being built. Hopefully, we can get some new drivers involved in the series. I know Tony (Stewart) will be running a few races with us this year, so that increases the exposure the series gets.

“I have had a passion for racing since I was a small child,” he added. “I started driving Midget race cars at the early age of 15. I continued on to race street stocks and dirt late models with many victories throughout the U.S.”

“Over the years, I have never lost my love for motorsport competitions. In the early ’80s, I began promoting demolition derbies, mini-car derbies, stock car racing, figure 8s, bus derbies, combine derbies, enduro’s, quad drags, mudslings, truck drags and motocrosses at our surrounding county fairs.

“There were food vendors, carnival shows, insurance agents, musical productions, tractor pullers, clowns, firework displays and more. This interested me, and I thought if these people could do this, why can’t I promote motorsports events. That was the beginning of T.E. Promotions, Inc. ‘King of the derbies.’ We currently are doing over 100 events yearly in the Midwest and have opened a second office in Florida. We promote the largest racing event in the Midwest with over 800 entries.”

The 66-year-old Eaglin, a Purdue University graduate, owned dirt late models for many years with drivers such as Merrill Downey, Marty O’Neal and John Gill driving for him.

“Along the way, I have had many family members help to make this company a success,” Eaglin said. “Our children grew up in the business, along with my nephew, and now their kids are starting to become involved. I had the fortune of owning my own business, so I was able to employ some of the same employees who worked for me, long the way providing jobs for quite a few college kids over the years.

“We have learned a lot over the years, and it never ceases to amaze me that there is always something new to learn. Our goal is to provide each organization and competitors with a fair, safe and exciting show. We run strict rules, show no favoritism to any participants, provide insurance, trophies and prize money.”

Eaglin just recently released the 2018 schedule for the UMRA King of the TQ’s with the first race to be conducted April 20 at Bloomington Speedway.

Stewart races in Florida

Tony Stewart continued his early season sprint-car schedule in Florida racing in four events last week.

On Feb. 7 and 8, Stewart participated in the series he owns — the Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champion Sprints — with shows at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida. Stewart recorded finishes of 18th and 22nd at the half-mile oval.

Stewart was more successful at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida, on Feb. 9 and 10, when he participated with the ASCS Sprint Car Series. Feb. 9, Stewart started 19th in the main event and finished in fifth place. On Feb. 10, Stewart again started deep in the field in position No. 17 and wound up finishing seventh.

Brownstown adjusts schedule

Brownstown Speedway has made some adjustments to its March racing schedule. The track will conduct open practice sessions on March 3 and 10. The first two events of the season will now be on March 16 and 17.

On March 16, Brownstown will open the season with super late models, pure stocks and hornets.

The next night will be the 21st Annual Indiana Icebreaker, featuring a $12,000-to-win Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series program, plus modifieds and super stocks.

For more information, visit brownstownspeedway.com.

If you go

The 2018 King of the TQ Midgets schedule:

  • April 20;Bloomington Speedway;Bloomington
  • April 21;Thunder Valley Speedway (ARCA weekend); Salem
  • May 5;Twin Cities Raceway Park;Vernon
  • June 12;Jennings County Fair;North Vernon
  • June 16;Circus City Speedway;Peru
  • June 20;Marion County Fair;Indianapolis
  • June 23;Brownstown Speedway;Brownstown
  • June 28;Rush County Fair (Tony Stewart Night);Rushville
  • June 29;Rush County Fair;Rushville
  • June 30;Twin Cities Raceway Park;Vernon
  • July 4;Rush County Fairgrounds (UMRA Old Times Day and picnic);Rushville
  • July 5;Shelby County Fair;Shelbyville
  • July 10;Bartholomew County Fair;Columbus
  • July 20;LaGrange County Fair;LaGrange
  • July 21;Kokomo Speedway (Sprint Week);Kokomo
  • July 28;Twin Cities Raceway Park;Vernon
  • Aug. 4;Montpelier Speedway;Montpelier
  • Aug. 18;Circus City Speedway;Peru
  • Aug. 24;Kokomo Speedway (Smackdown);Kokomo
  • Aug. 25;Montpelier Speedway;Montpelier
  • Sept. 14;Thunder Valley Speedway (ARCA weekend);Salem
  • Sept. 21;Brownstown Speedway (Jackson 100);Brownstown
  • Oct. 12;Brownstown Speedway (Funfest);Brownstown
  • Oct. 13;Brownstown Speedway (Funfest);Brownstown

James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Republic. Send comments to sports@therepublic.com.