Photo: Marion native Tom Yeager competes in a 1965 race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He will return to the track this weekend as the grand marshal of the Mechanics Bank Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. / Submitted Photo
LEXINGTON — Tom Yeager raced at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course soon after the first asphalt was laid. Fifty-one years later, the Marion native is returning to Lexington.
Yeager will serve as the grand marshal for this weekend’s Mechanics Bank Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.
“It’s an honor to be named grand marshal at Mid-Ohio and feels like a homecoming for me as I grew up nearby the track,” Yeager told Jesse Ghiorzi of Mid-Ohio. “Mid-Ohio was instrumental in getting me hooked on racing as I started driving the same time the track was being built.
“I have turned more laps here than I can count and can’t wait to get behind the wheel for some more in June.”
While going to college in Florida, Yeager fell in love with racing while watching the famed 12 Hours of Sebring. Later, he drove in the event and also finished second in class at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1967. He raced in the Trans-Am Series during its golden era in the 1960s before retiring as a professional driver. However, he’s continued to compete in club and vintage events over the years and will do so again this weekend in a 1964 Merlyn MKV.
Yeager now lives in Naples, Fla.
“Tom is a revered club racer and has been coming to Mid-Ohio since the first pavement was laid. The track was built with club racing in mind,” track president Craig Rust said. “No one epitomizes that more than Tom Yeager.”
The event runs Friday through Sunday and this year’s featured marques will be British sports cars. Tickets are $15 each day or $30 for a weekend pass. Call 800-MID-OHIO or visit MidOhio.com for more information.
» ANOTHER GRAND MARSHAL: The AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days set for Mid-Ohio July 20 to 22 recently named its grand marshal.
Hall of Famer Craig Vetter, famous for designing the Windjammer fairings for motorcycles, will serve in the capacity. He will celebrate his 70th birthday at the event. He will also lead special laps around the track and will hold autograph sessions. Some of his best creations will also be displayed.
Vetter will offer one of his fuel economy challenge rides on July 20 as well.
“Craig Vetter was a man ahead of his time back in the day, and he remains that way today,” AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman said in a statement. “If you ride a faired motorcycle today, there’s a good chance that its design reflects the inspiration of Craig Vetter, and his recent focus on motorcycle fuel economy runs demonstrates how prescient his events were in the ’80s.
“It will be an honor to provide attendees at this year’s AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days with an up-close and personal experience with a living legend of motorcycling.”
» LARIBEE PULLING AGAIN: Crestline’s Mike Laribee is tied for first with Pennsylvania’s Tom Lindsey in the standings for the Pro Pulling League’s Hot Rod Semi class. He finished as the seasonal runner-up in 2011.
Laribee was third at an event Saturday at Lancaster, Pa., in his 1971 Chevrolet semi with a KT Cummings engine. Shelby’s Joe Metzger was seventh in the pull. The area duo’s next pro event will be July 7 in Shippensburg, Pa. Laribee will defend his Ohio State Tractor Pullers Association championship starting July 3 in Mount Gilead.
» BONUS MONEY: Mansfield’s Jeremy Dickerson earned the bonus after posting feature wins at Napa Auto Parts Wayne County Speedway on Friday and Hilltop Speedway on Saturday, competing in the street stock class. He earned an extra $100 for the victories.
» CLOSED: Wayne County Speedway will be closed Friday as it gears up for the 30th annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek, as the All Star Circuit of Champions comes to the Orrville short track Monday at 7 p.m. Sprint car drivers will compete for a $5,000 winner’s check.
Hilltop will hold its weekly card Saturday evening as usual, plus will host the sprint tour June 28.
Rob McCurdy covers motor sports for the News Journal and can be reached at email@example.com or 419-521-7241. On Twitter follow him @McMotorsport.