Concord, NC — January 26, 2009 — By Chris Dolack, World Racing Group VP Media/PR
*Hein Bros. Racing Photo
The World Racing Group, Lernerville Speedway and DIRTcar Racing join countless others who are saddened to learn of Lou Blaney’s passing on Sunday, Jan. 25.
Blaney was an incredible competitor on the track, piling up more than 600 victories and more championships than he could count in Sprint Cars and Modifieds during a legendary career that ultimately earned him a Hall of Fame induction in 2000.
Off the track, Blaney was a gentleman. He was calm, quiet and extremely knowledgeable. He was highly respected not only as a racer, but as a person. Few men have represented the racing community with such grace and elegance as Lou Blaney, who called Hartford, Ohio, his home.
His feats at Lernerville Speedway are matched only by the elite drivers in the track’s 41-year history. He is second to only Bob Wearing Sr. in career feature wins (118) and track championships (seven). In one incredible stretch from 1972 to 1975, Blaney captured 49 wins and four consecutive track titles in Sprint Cars. He then moved into a Modified and reeled off championships in 1980, 1991 and 1996, along with a division-leading 69 feature wins. He also drove a Modified to a career-best second-place finish in 1981 at the New York State Fairgrounds during Super DIRT Week events.
“I grew up watching the red No. 10 and have to admit that my favorite nights at Lernerville were when my Dad (Lynn Geisler) won the Late Model race, Ed Lynch Jr. the Sprints and Lou Blaney the Modifieds,” said Pennsylvania native and WRG Chief Marketing Officer Ben Geisler. “It never mattered where he started, because you knew he would always be in the mix at the end. He set the bar high, will live long in our minds, and will be known for generations to come in the history books.”
Blaney was athletic and passed his competitiveness on to his sons, Dave and Dale, each of whom has achieved success behind the wheel of a race car. In recent years, the Blaney family, including Lou’s wife Kate, has owned and operated the legendary Sharon Speedway, site of several World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and World of Outlaws Late Model Series events.
“Lou was a true racer’s racer,” said Lernerville GM Gary Risch Jr. “He was a gentleman on and off the track. Lou has done so much for racing in our area, from being one of the best drivers in the country to working on rebuilding Sharon Speedway. He will be missed.”
“It’s honestly difficult to find the words to express what Lou Blaney meant to Lernerville Speedway and the local racing community in general,” said Lernerville PR Director Eric Westendorf. “It sounds cliché, but he truly transcended the sport. He was a rival, a mentor, a hero for multiple generations of drivers and fans. He made everyone around him want to be better — a better driver, a better promoter, a better person. He will be sorely missed for a very long time.”
While many in the coming days will recount the stories of Blaney’s incredible and numerous epic performances on the track, some will recite the win totals and countless championships in a racing career that started in 1958. For others, Blaney is a measuring stick. To achieve, or surpass, a mark he established is truly a career accomplishment.
But ultimately numbers don’t define this man. He had as much fun watching Dave and Dale race as he did himself.
“Working in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to cover Lou Blaney toward the end of his racing career,” said Chris Dolack, the World Racing Group VP of Public Relations. “He still dominated every week, but he carried himself so differently than many others. He was quiet, but even when he was busy, he had time to talk. I never saw him without a smile no matter what was going on around him. It’s the smile and quiet conversations in the pits that I will always remember.”
Visitation is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the Hartford United Methodist Presbyterian Church on State Route 305 in Hartford, Ohio. A funeral will be Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Cards can be sent to the Blaney family at P.O. Box 159, Hartford, OH 44424.