AMSOIL SPEEDWAY INDUCTS FIVE INTO HALL OF FAME
By Jerry O’Brien,
On Friday July 21st the AMSOIL Speedway Hall of Fame inducted five new members.
Founded by Duane “Andy” Anderson, the class of 2017 is the fifteenth to be inducted since the
Hall of Fame’s inception in the summer of 2002.
The induction ceremony, again sponsored by the Rick Gondik Law Office, was held at the
Curling Club building on the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds with track announcer Fred Pearson,
himself a Hall of Fame Member, taking care of the Emcee duties as he has for several years.
More than a hundred family members, Hall of Fame Committee members as well as other
Hall of Fame members enjoyed a buffet produced by Joanne O’Brien and Joyce Klick along with
several of Joyce’s grandchildren. After the new members are inducted they are taken around the
race track in convertibles and then introduced to the fans in attendance at the Hall of Fame race.
Each new member has their name attached to a section of the grandstands. This sign will stay
there until it is supplanted by the class of 2018. Unfortunately the 2017 Hall of Fame race fell to
There are three categories in the Hall of Fame: Retired Drivers, Pioneer/Achievement and
Active Driver. Each year three Retired drivers are inducted. This time they are Mike Rich, Joe
Andrews and Kenny Melanson. The inductee in the Pioneer category is Jerold “Crash” Carlson
and the Active Driver is Kelly Estey.
Keep in mind that the following driver accomplishments came only at this speedway and do
not reflect any of their other accomplishments, and there are many, at other race tracks.
Mike Rich is from Duluth and is one of those drivers that sometimes come along and can be
competitive and win in anything he drives. Mike is one of those special racers. His record at the
Tri-State/Superior Speedway speaks for it’s self. In the Street Stock division Mike had three
feature wins, four heat wins and was top five in track points twice and top ten three times. In the
Super Stock ranks he scored three feature wins, one heat win and was the Super Stock winner at
the season ending special event, the Northern Nationals. Moving to the Modified class, he won
three features, one heat race and had one top five and two top tens in track points. A brief stint in
a Late Model brought him a feature win as well as two heat wins. Mike also raced a Sprint Car
for several years. He joins his sister Bonnie Gillette in the Hall of Fame.
Joe Andrews got interested in Stock Car Racing and hung around the sport taking it all in. At
age 20 or 21 he decided to give racing a try and became hooked. Joe’s first race car was a 1953
Buick. During his career he raced under the numbers 88 and later on the number 19, but is
mostly remembered for the 8 Ball Chevelle Late Model.
While he was racing at the then Tri-State Speedway he was also employed as the Used car
Sales manager at Arrow Cheverolet in Duluth.
His record at the speedway stood at one Late Model Championship, Six heat race wins and
five feature wins to go along with one top five in track points and one top ten in points.
In the fall of 1971 Joe moved to Fargo, North Dakota but didn’t give up racing in Superior as
he frequently towed the race car back here to compete at the speedway.
He still lives in Fargo and is still working as the Sales Manager for a High End car dealer.
Kenny Melannson is the semi-retired owner of Melanson’s repair in Hermantown. MN.
Kenny’s Dad Marv Melanson raced quite a bit at the speedway way back when it was the half
mile horse racing track and before the Tri-State racing Association was formed. Kenny used to
pit for his Uncle Bill and had to sneak into the pits as he was too young.
H raced in the Street Stock division and was track champion in 1973 and 1974 winning seven
times during the regular season. He also raced in the Super Stock class for three or four years and
in the Late Model division for five seasons. Kenny also had a feature win in the short lived
Modified Sportsman class also known as “Smart Cars” and also raced Sprint Cars. He has been
retired from racing since 2009.
For 2017 the Pioneer/Achievement Inductee is a familiar face around this speedway as well as
other area tracks. Crash Carlson of Duluth has devoted his life to racing and competed here at the
speedway back when it was known as the Tri-State Speedway. He also served a term or two as
President of the racing association guiding the speedway through some difficult times. He is
currently one of four men that comprise the Head of the Lakes Management Group, Inc that
manages and promotes AMSOIL Speedway as well as overseeing everything at the Head of the
The Active Driver inductee must have reached fifty years old and still be competing. In 2017
Kelly Estey reached this mark and has not slowed down. The Kelly Lake Minnesota resident has
raced the number 37 here for many seasons and has had great success, primarily in the
WISSOTA Modified division.
He has won five Modified track point championships here, 1994, ‘95; 2004, 2009 and 3014.
He has won 40 regular season Modified features thus far. He also won the Northern Nationals
Modified title seven times, 1995, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2012. There were two
Modified features at the 2012 Northern Nationals and he won them both.
Kelly also raced briefly in other divisions an won a regular season Late Model feature as well
as three regular season main events in the Super Stock division.
He is married to Wendy and has two sons Skeeter and Mack. Both have followed in dad’s tire
tracks and are having stellar careers in the M idwest Modified division, in fact, Skeeter just won
his 30th Midwest Modified feature here at the speedway.
There are a number of people I need to thank for their help. I couldn’t have put on this event
without them. First and foremost is the Head of the Lakes Management Group especially Crash
Carlson for, amongst other things, furnishing us a place to hold our event. My wife Joanne and
Joyce Klick for crafting the buffet that everyone seemed to enjoy. The voting committee for their
quick turnaround getting the ballots back to me and to Jeff Christman and Fred Pearson for
taking the time to help me tally up the count. Thanks to Alloueze Signs for the grandstand signs
and to Dennis Pattee for making sure they were installed. Also Jack Hunker for furnishing the
convertibles for the new members to ride in around the track. A big thank you to Fred Pearson
for doing what he does best, announcing and serving as Emcee each year.
If Duane Anderson had not felt it was time for a Hall of Fame for the speedway since in 2002
the track had been in operation for 40 years, none of this would have been possible. The Hall of
Fame is his legacy.