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

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