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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Mel Kenyon


Matt Panure
Mid American Stock Car Series
January 5, 2010

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. (January 5, 2010) – Mel Kenyon, a 2003 inductee of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, will speak before the Mid-American Stock Car Series awards banquet on Saturday, Jan. 16 at the Wintergreen Resort and Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Through his 57-year career, Kenyon won seven USAC national midget championships and was runner-up in championship points eight times. He netted 111 career feature wins.

Kenyon also competed in eight Indianapolis 500s from 1966-1973. He finished in the top five four times and secured a podium finish in 1969.

Recently Kenyon concluded his racing career with two races in Fort Wayne, Ind. “Now I’m looking forward to working on race cars instead of driving them,” Kenyon joked.

Kenyon will speak about his illustrious racing career and faith prior to the awards ceremony at 3 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Wintergreen. A banquet ticket will not be required and the speech is open to the public.

Whether he knows or not, Kenyon and the Mid-American Stock Car Series are forever tied together. Kenyon began his racing career by driving modifieds at Rockford Speedway in 1954. Almost 40 years later in 1993, Mid-American held its first ever race at that very facility.

“We are incredibly honored to have Mel joining us in Wisconsin Dells this year,” said MASCS co-owner Doug Strasburg.

Strasburg was introduced to Kenyon through one of Kenyon’s co-authors of the book [i]Burned to Life[/i], Bruce Darnall of Lake Mills, Wis. “Going through such adversity and using his faith to propel him to a successful career is a truly inspiring story. We look forward to having him share it with us,” Strasburg said.

Burned to Life is a biographical account of Kenyon’s career which was published in 1976. The story accounts for Kenyon’s accident at Langhorne (Penn.) in which he was severely burned on over 50% of his body, and the subsequent recovery when he came to terms with his faith. An updated version titled [i]A Hand for the Wheel[/i] was later published.

By publishing his story, Kenyon hopes to help others find the inspiration he found in 1965. “When I got burned I was ready to die for the third time,” Kenyon said. “I turned my life over to the Lord. The sun came out, the clouds went away, my body started to heal and I was out of the hospital in two weeks.”

He says the books carry a message of hope. “It’s a good message for people to believe in the Lord, that anything is possible with his help.”

The 2009 Mid-American Stock Car Series awards banquet will begin after Kenyon’s speech with dinner at 6 p.m. The banquet will feature a speech by Fr. Dale Grubba and the giveaway of a new B&B Race Engine.

For more information about the Mid-American Stock Car Series, including results, the final 2009 standings, and driver information visit www.midamericanracing.com.

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