Auto Racing

Quincy family among championship racers

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 10, 2018 9:35 pm Updated: Jun. 10, 2018 9:41 pm

QUINCY -- Great Scott, what a weekend.

For one Quincy family, the return of the Grand Prix of Karting to South Park was punctuated with a twofold exclamation point.

When Riley Scott, 15, took the checkered flag in Sunday's Briggs 206 Medium competition, that bookended a victory by his father, Jeff Scott, in Saturday's 206 Heavy class.

Making Riley Scott's win even sweeter was both his dad and older sister, Avery Scott, 16, were also racing in that division. Jeff Scott finished fifth and Avery Scott sixth.

"This was freaking awesome!" the 47-year-old Jeff Scott said. "I was watching Riley race (ahead of me), and I knew I couldn't catch him.

"I was considering not even letting the kids race in this. It's a fast course, and it's a dangerous course -- but they wanted to do it."

Riley Scott said he had nervous moments in the closing laps.

"It was getting kind of crazy out there, and my brakes were going down late in the race," he said. "I couldn't have done this without my dad. We race just about every weekend."

Riley Scott thought long and hard when asked which victory he enjoyed the most, watching his dad win on Saturday and collecting his own victory Sunday.

He paused. He thought some more. Then he smiled.

"I'd have to say my win," he said.

Rachel Scott, wife of Jeff Scott and stepmom to Riley Scott, took the diplomatic route when quizzed about what which moment was more enjoyable.

"Both wins were ... equally exciting," she said.

Riley Scott's victory was one of 11 championship races Sunday, following three on Saturday as the Grand Prix returned to its South Park roots after a 17-year hiatus.

Sunday's crowd was even larger than Saturday's turnout. Quincy Park District officials and event organizers estimated Sunday's crowd at 10,000, giving the event a two-day total of about 16,000. Fans were shuttled to the park from various off-site parking areas, beginning at 6 a.m. both days.

The original Grand Prix was the brainchild of the late Gus Traeder, who died two years ago. His son, Terry Traeder, a former world champion karter and Quincy businessman, worked with city officials and the Quincy Park District to resurrect the race.

The final car count for the weekend was 302, or about 100 more than originally anticipated when news about the rebirth of the Grand Prix went public about six months ago.

"I know Gus is watching us today, and I know he appreciates it," Terry Traeder told the huge crowd before the start of Sunday's racing.

Traeder asked that everyone look across 12th Street from South Park at Greenmount Cemetery.

"You see that big checkered flag over there?" he said. "That's on Gus's tombstone."

Keith Scharf of Kirkwood, Mo., who won the Margay Ignite class with a last-lap pass of Matt Krechel of Pacific, Mo., was one of many overcome with emotion -- not only because he won at one of the nation's most prestigious karting events, but also because the Grand Prix itself had returned.

"This is what karting needs to bring (the sport) back," Scharf said.

At 57, Scharf has spent many years in all kinds of karting competition and is a walking, talking history of the sport. He sang the praises of the Traeder family and the Grand Prix.

"I even remember racing against Scott Pruett in 1982 in the pro race here in Quincy," he said.

Pruett was the event's special guest this weekend. The U.S. Motorsports Hall of Famer and former Indy Car and NASCAR driver was on hand all day Saturday and most of Sunday, talking with drivers and fans alike.

Tony Neilson of Delmar, Iowa, was another driver greatly affected by winning at South Park.

"For me to be on the list of greats who have won here at Quincy is incredible," he said after winning the Yamaha Masters.

Neilson led all racers with three weekend victories. His other triumphs came in the Briggs 206 Heavy and the Yamaha Masters.

The rest of the Grand Prix winners were Michael Welsh (Bettendorf, Iowa) in Yamaha Medium, Devin Smith-Harden (Nashville, Ind.) in the 80 Shifter, Joe Ruch (Fishers, Ind.) in the 125 Shifter, Colin Predith (Wildwood, Mo.) in Margay Ignite Masters, Todd Bolton (Bowen, Ill.) in the Yamaha Heavy and Jerry Miller (Carlinville, Ill.) in Briggs Super Masters.

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