Halberstadt: Rockford Speedway GM steps down

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

I last worked as the announcer at Rockford Speedway in July 2006. It’s been more than eight years since I had any dealings with the management or owners. Yet, what continues to amaze me is how many people over the past week or so have asked me if I knew any information about why their general manager, Gregg McKarns, resigned in the middle of the season.

In the words of former Hogan’s Heroes television character Sergeant Schultz, “I know nothing!”

When it comes to this story, that is the 100 percent truth. For some unknown reason, there are people in this community who don’t believe that.

I can guess or theorize, just like anyone else, what may have motivated McKarns to walk away from a pretty cushy position that he’s held for the past 10 years, but that’s all they are — guesses. Pure speculation, conjecture — nothing more.

The main thing to remember about the Rockford Speedway is it is the true definition of a family business. The Deery family has owned and operated the track for more than 50 years. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume nothing happens there unless approved by someone with that last name.

That’s why I’ve always wondered why they even needed a general manager to begin with. I never saw McKarns’ job as necessary. From my vantage point, he had the easiest gig in all of local sports. All he really had to do was pretend to oversee a successful family business and not irritate or get in anyone’s way. Basically, lay low, say yes a lot, and pick up a paycheck. Why would anyone voluntarily walk away from that?

Believe me, I’m not suggesting in any way that he didn’t spend countless hours at the track. I know firsthand there were numerous days he was there from sun up to long after sunset. From what I was able to witness, his biggest responsibility was serving as a buffer between the competitors and the track’s owners. I think he was placed there to solve disagreements and disputes so the owners didn’t have to take that heat. As long as he handled the so-called disgruntled troublemakers, he had a job.

Could a person get tired of that? Without a doubt. Could he have gotten tired of saying yes? Certainly. Could there be a lot more to this story than we’ll ever know? Absolutely!

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

Posted July 9, 2014, issue

4 thoughts on “Halberstadt: Rockford Speedway GM steps down

  • Jul 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Reading this story makes me sick. You manage to bash everyone that has anything to do with racing or working here down to the owners.your so called thoughts of what he did does not even scratch the surface.i think you need to take the story Down and do some real reporting first.i have helped that family out for few years now and you know what? Them being fun and thankful people are what keep me coming back.

  • Jul 9, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I spent 20 plus years working at Rockford Speedway. The Derry family runs one of the best short tracks in America. I worked hand in hand with Gregg McKarns and he is one of the best at what he does. Until you have held his position or walked in his shoes you have no idea in what he really does. You being an announcer at the racetrack should know first hand that it takes many people to make an event there successful. I feel that your article is one of a person who knows nothing about racing and what it takes behind the scenes to make it successful. With this being said that is why your article is invalid, incorrect and wrongly worded. After hearing you announce I would expect you to write such a poor review. If you would like to be enlightened on what little I know about making a race event possible feel free to contact me after failing as an announcer and writing poor articles maybe you should talk to people to get the correct information then maybe you would be successful like the Derry family and McKarnes family are.

  • Jul 9, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Just to say we (The Schmelzer Family) have known the Deery & McKarns way of life for years.
    A lot of hard work and long hours, yes.
    Some times you just have to give in and walk to fine out what you really want in life and if you can do something different.

  • Jul 10, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Maybe you should have a clue about what you’re talking about before you write such a misleading and uninformed article. Gregg’s involvement in racing is more than a job, it’s a way of life. His dedication to helping local racers, tracks, series, the industry, and the sport in general are second to none. After God and his family, racing is a true passion that he has dedicated his life to, not for the love of money, but because he truly cares about the industry and it’s participants. You sir (I use that term loosely!) are a disgrace to your industry and paper for writing such a misleading article about a good man. I can’t believe anyone would actually pay you to write anything. Good day!

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