ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Auto Racing Fan Club’s 47th Annual Banquet of Champions was held on Saturday night at Orlando Gardens.
Among the awards presented honoring the St. Louis area driving champions was a special Lifetime Membership Award, which was presented to George “Butch” Welsch by the fan club. Welsch owns a huge Heating and Cooling company in St. Louis.
A race fan since 1947, Welsch covered races for National Speed Sport News as well as sold the paper at the old Lake Hill Speedway. In the 1960’s he obtained the rights and held the telecast of the Daytona 500 at the Kiel Auditorium. In the 1970’s he promoted super modified and flat track motorcycles at the Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill. He also promoted a pair of SCCA National races at the now shuttered Mid-America Raceway.
Welsch sponsored Ryan Newman’s 1999 championship winning USAC Silver Crown ride, which led Newman to a stock car tryout at the Gateway Int’l Raceway and eventually a NASCAR career. Next he was one of the sponsors of 1999 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the race Robby McGehee. Currently Welsch holds the record for the longest consecutive streak of attending the Indianapolis 500 at 66 years and counting. Welsch has also attended every AAA/USAC race at Springfield and DuQuoin, Ill., since 1948.
Other Award Winners:
George Award – Dan Eby
Bob Mueller Award – Sheila Burkett
Mechanic Award – Don Conner & Jerry Hodges
Mike Meurer Ambassador Award – Dave Beimfohr
Curt Lehman Award – P.J. Passiglia
Outstanding Media Award – Tim Herbst