In a career that took him from the high banks of Holland Motorsports Complex to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, Dave Heitzhaus gained much success along the way. On Saturday evening, that success culminated with his induction into the Friends of Auto Racing (FOAR Score) Fan Club Hall of Fame.
Joining Heitzhaus in the FOAR Score hall Saturday were retired drivers Gene Schulz and Dick Barton, along with the late Ken Bainbridge Sr., a race engineer. The ceremony was part of the FOAR Score club’s 68th annual awards and holiday party, held with 206 people in attendance at the Elks Club in Lancaster.
Heitzhaus, known as the “Strykersville Flash,” authored four Holland championships in his long career, including three consecutive Limited Modified titles from 1986-88 and a Holland NASCAR Late Model championship in 1994. He also won the prestigious U.S. Open Late Model event once at Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway.
He took his career into the national limelight when he competed in the NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series from 1996 to 2004, entering 19 events, scoring best efforts of a third place run at Charlotte in 2003 and a 10th at Daytona in 2002. He still drives locally on limited occasions in Sportsman and Late Model race cars.
“Quite honestly it’s amazing and when you’re racing you don’t even think about these kinds of things,” Heitzhaus said of his induction. “You think back and you start back in 1983 and you go through all the stuff that we’ve been through and now there’s things like this. I’m not retired yet but I’m getting closer and last year was the first year that in 30 some years that I haven’t driven a car.”
Heitzhaus made special mention of his Goody’s Dash days.
“That was the most exciting part just because it was something bigger and better to try to do,” he said. “We finished third at Charlotte, which was like really pretty incredible for a small team to be able to run against some of those guys and finish that good.”
Schulz, whose racing nickname was “Gentleman Gene,” began his racing in the 1960s and his glory days came later when he captured three straight Lancaster Street Stock season crowns in 1982-84 as well as a Perry Speedway championship in 1984. After his retirement he and his wife, Faye, mentored the careers of their sons, Dave, Mark, Dan and Brian.
“This is kind of a surprise and quite an honor,” Gene Schulz said. “I have four sons and they all raced at one time or another. It was quite enjoyable to see them all get into it. My career started out kind of slow and all my cars were home built and that was kind of good and bad. It was a lot of work but a lot of pleasure when you achieve something with it.”
Schulz found humor in his nickname.
“Someone gave that to me. I think Mike Ticco got the credit for that name. It was a nice name. It was better than a lot of other ones you hear.”
While NASCAR has its “King Richard” in the form of Richard Petty, for decades the Western New York dirt track racing community has had its own “King Richard” in the person of Barton.
Barton raced for nearly 50 years until his retirement in 2014. During his long career he amassed impressive numbers, accumulating 267 feature race victories and 48 track and series championships. The bulk of his success came in Super Late Models. Barton holds the record for the most Super Late Model career feature wins at Stateline Speedway with 80.
Barton was not present at the induction Saturday as he is in Florida enjoying his new grandson, Brody Aaron Barton, who was born last Wednesday.
“I’m very grateful, humbled and very happy to be selected into the FOAR Score Hall of Fame,” Barton said by phone. “But I want everyone to know that this induction is the result of an entire team effort. My job was made easy on race days by the tremendous group of people that worked on and prepared the car during the week. They all did a great job. All I had to do on race days was turn left because of the great people on my team that I was blessed with.”
Barton cited John Lamb as the crew member that was with him the longest and further acknowledged the big contributions to his career by Randy Anderson, Greg Farrar, Delbert Seekings, Jim Seely, Warren McDonald, Ron Nielson, John Kennedy and John and Charlie Lacki. Anderson represented Barton at Saturday’s ceremony.
The Bainbridge family name is legendary in the fabric of the local racing community for the contributions of various family members over so many years. It all began with the exploits in the garage of the late Ken Bainbridge Sr., who was a common sense student of and teacher of racing technology until his death from cancer Feb. 9, 2005.
He formed the company Old Man Engineering and achieved much mechanical respect. Among his greatest achievements was the radically designed Roman III asphalt Modified car that was driven by Bill Bitterman and appeared nationally on the cover of Stock Car Racing Magazine in 1980. His Munice style racing transmissions were the first designed to lock into high gear, eliminating the need for jury-rigged methods to keep transmissions from jumping out of gear.
His work was well known locally and beyond as evidenced by his connections with Cale Yarborough and Ken Schrader as well as local racing heroes such as Maynard Troyer, the late Richie Evans, the late Tommy Druar and the late Tony Jankowiak.
“It’s pretty awesome and we’re all thrilled that my dad is in the Hall of Fame,” said Ken Bainbridge Jr. “I started building transmissions with him when I was 10 years old. I’m still doing it today. He was an awesome all around person who took care of everybody.”
Many special awards were also handed out Saturday. They were: Don and Marilyn Toal, Emily Casey Memorial Award; the Hanel and Maltby families, Family in Racing Award; Jacob Bansmer, Youth Achievement Award; Jacquie Walker, WIVB-TV, Media Award; Jeff Ruddy and Terry Weldy, Perseverance Award; Dave Catalano, Mechanical Achievement; Bob Reis, Promotional Achievement; Todd Hoddick, Most Improved-Dirt; Jake Wylie and Joe Horvatits, Most Improved-Asphalt; Brandon Sherwood, Achievement on Dirt; Andy Jankowiak, Achievement on Asphalt; Jim Thompson, Dick Hammond Dedication to Racing; Tracey Thompson, Woman in Racing; Gary Lindberg, Driver of The Year-Dirt; Kyle Hutchinson, Driver of The Year-Asphalt.