Tenure as track announcer comes to abrupt close

Every Saturday evening from April through October and every Wednesday night from June through August and miscellaneous holidays for the past two-and-a-half seasons, I had the honor of being the voice of the historic Rockford Speedway. That run came to a close last Tuesday, July 25, when I was informed by track General Manager Greg McKarns that owner Jody Deery and the management team decided I was no longer needed.

I was given the explanation from McKarns that, “I wasn’t on top of my game this year.” This was news to me. I have received nothing but positive feedback from the fans and drivers following this year’s shows.

I was shocked to find that I went from the starting quarterback of a winning team to an unrestricted free agent. I wasn’t demoted to second or third string; I was kicked off the team. I was never called in for any meetings and told to “do this, change that, or you’re done.” It was simply, “Sorry, we are bringing in someone else.”

I respect the right of the owner and her management team to make that decision, I just wish they had handled it differently.

I was proud to be associated with the track. I displayed Rockford Speedway window decals on my personal vehicle. When children came into my print shop, I made sure they left with Rockford Speedway wooden nickels. My billing statements went out with racing schedules in them. I sold sponsorships for ticket packages so our fans from Milestone could attend last year’s National Short Track Championships.

Each racing night, I stopped by Broadway Florist to pick up a dozen roses to give away to one of our lucky female fans. I felt I made every effort to put the Speedway in a positive light. I considered myself a team player. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t.

I will miss the loyal fans and drivers who made my job so enjoyable. I will also miss my fellow employees who worked hard every night to put on an entertaining program. The Speedway has been a Rockford institution for a very long time. I considered it an honor to have been a small part of that history for the past two-and-a-half seasons.

I’ll still be at the track every now and then as part of my reporting duties for this paper.

See you at the races…

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the Aug. 2-8, 2006, issue

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