The Jerry Winger Memorial (Update)
First of all, Jerry Winger was one of the youngest at age 19 to drive a stock car, during the sport’s infancy. Jerry Winger hailed from Ridgeway, Ontario and came from a very quiet religious background, but the racing bug bit him at an early age.
In the beginning, Jerry raced his own cars and won his first championship at Merrittville Speedway in 1953. My understanding is that most of the racers he competed against respected his young natural talent. By the mid 1950's Jerry would drive one of the top cars of its time, the red #10 for Church Rd. Motors of St. Catharines. Church Rd. had sponsored, owned cars for past track champions Orville Kelley in 1953 and Murray Stricker in 1955 and 1956.
Jerry Winger was at the top of his sport in 1957 and would capture the points championship at his home track Merrittville Speedway. From 1958 on, Jerry developed an illness that would limit his driving in 1958 and 1959. During the 1959 season, the condition called nephritis claimed his life.
Fellow racers, officials and track owners were saddened to hear of his passing and fellow racer Fred Hurst eulogized him in a 1959 newspaper article & program. Jerry Winger was a friend to all at Merrittville Speedway and so in 1959, one solemn night Murray Stricker drove the bright red and white race car on to the track one last time. In front of the grandstand, the #10 was peeled off the car permanently. The owners of Merrittville Speedway decided to retire the #10 forever and to this date no modified stock car can wear it.
Also in 1959 the Jerry Winger Memorial Trophy was initiated by his former car owners Hugo “Butch” Bogusat and Al Aalto. Every year after there would be a special race to compete for the trophy. The first winner would be George Winger #18 in 1959 up to Lloyd Holt in 1965.
The trophy would disappear for decades after that, but after much detective work, it was located in Alabama in 1996. By 1997 it had crossed the border to be returned to us, along with the John Spencer Memorial. Former Speedway owner,Ken Kavanagh & I reconditioned the trophy but tried to leave it original. It is a part of our racing legacy. To this day, we, The Merrittville Speedway Reunion Committee , award this trophy to the winner of a Jerry Winger Memorial Feature, every year on Reunion Night, In 2011 it was won by Larry Lampman jr.. During our 50th Anniversary in 2001, we inducted Jerry Winger along with 4 others to the Merrittville Speedway Alumni Wall of Fame. Since then Larry Lampman jr. has repeated, in 2012, for his 4th win ,then again with Tyler McPherson in 2014, & finally our Champion in 2015 ,who won his first in 2013, Mike Bowman. Peter Bicknell holds the record .so far, with five wins during the modern era. Who will become the Jerry Winger Memorial champion ,during our 65th season long celebration in 2016?
In closing, Jerry Winger loved the sport, was a friend to many, including my father Ken and mentored others like Teddy Renshaw, & was an inspiration to the driving career ,of his brother Keith who along with his family assist us in presenting the award every Reunion Night . Today, we would call him a pioneer, but Jerry Winger just wanted to race and died way too young. This is how we remember him.
Winners of the Jerry Winger Memorial Trophy
1959-George Winger #18,
1960-Bill Rafter #22,
1961-Ed Ortiz #0,
1962-Chuck Boos #9,
1963 *-Fred Hurst - #35,
1964- not awarded, & 1965-Lloyd Holt -#15.
1999-Rich Vinson -#93 ,
2000- Rich Vinson-#93,
2001 **- Peter Bicknell -#42 ,
2002-Larry Lampman jr.-#23,
2003- Brian Stevens-#44,
2008-not awarded ,
2009-Larry Lampman jr. - #22,
2010 Peter Bicknell- #42,
2011-- *** “ 60th Anniversary Champion”– Larry Lampman jr. — #22.
2012– Larry Lampman jr.-- #23
2013–Mike Bowman - #71
2014–Tyler Mc Pherson –#777,
2015- Mike Bowman – #71
2016- **** 65th Anniversary Champion – ???? .
* denotes 5th Anniversary, ** denotes “50th Anniversary”& *** denotes 60th Anniversary, ****denotes 65th Anniversary.