Dave Adams began his distinguished racing career in 1971 driving a 1967 Ford Fairlane powered by a small block Ford motor as he started right out in the Late Model class. Partnering with Rick Kurshinsky from Cameron, who would go on to be a notable chassis builder in his own right, Adams selected the number #40 for his race car based on the fact that no other local driver was using that number.
Over 40 years later, and that number would still be synonymous with the Adams family’s racing endeavors, both in remembrance of Dave’s long and many varied achievements and also with son Kevin having taken over carrying the torch for the family on the area dirt tracks.
Dave didn’t win a feature race that first year of racing as the local stock car action was being dominated by another Hall of Famer, Dave Morgan. However, after the 1971 season the Fairlane was sold for $800 and a new car, a 1968 Ford with a big block 427 cubic inch engine more designed for dirt track racing was built and the results were immediately noticed.
They raced that car fifty six times during the 1972 season all over Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada and along with breaking Morgan’s win streak, they won the championship at Rice Lake, the first of nine Late Model championships Dave won at Rice Lake. He also picked up sponsors that included Kohel Implement, Crossroads Café, Woody’s Bar and Rice Lake Glass & Door that he would retain throughout his long racing career.
Dave won the last Late Model race staged at the track when it was a fifth mile oval before it was expanded to a quarter mile track for the 1978 racing season.
However, the winds of change were in the air. In 1979 the talk began about a new, low cost form of racing that was just starting in Iowa and several folks in the Rice Lake area, including Jerry Curnow, Don Smith and Al Hajdasz were interested in getting the class started in Rice Lake. Along with Adams, they convinced the local track to start the Modified division in 1980. Curnow had Kurshinsky build one of the cars for the new class for $2,500 and when it was done, they had no driver for it at the start of the season.
Adams agreed to drive it and he won both the heat and feature the first two weeks of the season, thus being the winner of the first ever Modified races conducted out of the state of Iowa. Rice Lake went on to continue to run the Modified class to this day, and proudly claims that they were the second track in the entire United States to run the Modified class which now has grown into thousands of race cars and hundreds of tracks across the country that run the division every week.
Dave’s racing achievements at the Rice Lake Speedway are many. Along with nine track championships , he also won season championships in 1977, 1986 and 1988. He won thirty seven feature races in the Late Model class, the last of which was during the 1988 season. He also won fifteen times driving a Modified with the last win coming during the 1993 racing season. He also won feature races in thirteen of the seventeen years that he raced at the Rice Lake Speedway.
During this time, he also gained much notoriety for his skills as an engine builder for racing cars. His Adams’ Automotive Racing Engines shop in Cameron, located right next door to his home, continues to this day to turn out championship caliber racing engines that are delivered to racers all over the United States and Canada.
However, as much as he is known for his skills on the race track and under the hood, his longest lasting legacy may involve something else that he has done for the local racing community in recent years.
In 2010 the Rice Lake Speedway was facing a dire situation. The track was for sale, and if the owners didn’t sell the track, they didn’t plan to open it up for the racing season which would have created a huge void for the local racing community and could likely had led to the end of racing forever in the Rice Lake area, a situation the local dirt track racers hadn’t faced since the track was opened in 1952.
However, Adams with a friend and fellow Cameron businessman Mitch Hansen formed a partnership, and in the Spring of 2010 Adams-Hansen Inc. purchased the speedway. With only 10 days to get prepared, they opened the 2010 racing season right on time in April and in the three years that they have run the track, the speedway has prospered since. Despite a challenging economy and skyrocketing fuel prices, the new owners have made many improvements to the track, strengthened the weekly racing program and brought in more special events than in many of the preceding years combined and they have continued plans to do much more in the future as they are in for the long haul.
Driver, engine builder and now track owner; Dave Adams can truly say that he has done it all when it comes to his involvement with the Rice Lake Speedway.