|Doctor R.A. Doctor
Doctor R.A. Doctor is probably the least known of all the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame inductees, yet without his important contributions to the track, it is likely the speedway where we are currently enjoying the racing at, would most likely be either an industrial site or a housing complex.
Dr. Rude A. Doctor, a dentist in the Chetek and Barron area, was one of the first co-owners of the Rice Lake Speedway in 1952 of a track which was then known as the Rice Lake Speed Pit.
Along with Rice Lake businessmen Forrest Nutter, Art Shudlick, Hartferd Skrupky and Jerry Widdes, they were the first owners of the race track. As owners, they joined together with a group of local racing enthusiasts that had been meeting since 1949 and formed an organization known as the Rice Lake Speed Pit Inc. Among those enthusiasts were Lyle Nelson, Harris Johnson, Aldy Knudson, Ed Hyland, Roger Cipra, Richard Kurshinsky, Lyle Robarge, Lou Carpenter and Dean Harrington.
In 1951 the five owners purchased a former gravel pit on the north side of Rice Lake as the site for a new race track. The owners and the enthusiasts then built a lighted race track that was the first racing facility in the area equipped with lights that allowed for night racing.
The original track was a flat, fifth mile oval with a wooden rub rail that surrounding the inside of the track and was frequently broken by errant race cars out of control. Admission prices were one dollar for adults with children under the age of twelve admitted free of charge. The local track gave area racers a place to run and no longer forced drivers to tow their cars to such far off places as St. Paul, New Brighton and St. Cloud to race.
The first race at the new facility was held on Saturday night, September 13th, 1952 with a crowd of nearly five hundred fans on hand who braved glowering skies and intermittent squalls of rain.
Dr. Doctor steadily bought his co-owners out, until by 1954 he was the sole owner of the track. He then leased the Speed Pit to Speed Pit Inc, a group of racing enthusiasts and drivers while he continued to operate the concession stand, known as “Doc’s Concession Stand.”
Then, after being co-owner of the track for four years and being the sole owner of the track for eighteen years after that, he sold the Rice Lake Speedway(renamed in 1967), to the Indianhead Stock Car Racing Association(ISCRA), in 1972. The sale price was a very reasonable $21,000 with the understanding that Doc would still be in control of his ever popular and highly successful concession stand.
The focal point of the track, Doc’s Concession Stand was the place that fans hung out before the racing started to trade rumors and chat about the upcoming night of racing action. With a slogan of “Good food, reasonable prices, lousy service…..but the coffee’s good”, Doc was a jovial soul who knew by name most of the regulars who frequented the track. Doctor Doctor continued to operate the concession stand into the mid 1970’s , at which time the track took over the concessions.
Unfortunately, despite extensive research, the Hall of Fame Committee has been unable to contract any of Dr. Doctor’s relatives. If anyone in the crowd would have a contact for someone from his family, please contact a Hall of Fame member.
Accepting the award for Hall of famer Dr. R.A. Doctor in the Friends of the Speedway category is Dean Harrington. Dean, already a Hall of Fame member, was one of those involved in the original negotiations that saw the speedway become a reality and knew Dr. Doctor well. Last year Dean celebrated his sixtieth consecutive year of involvement with the speedway and I believe this is Dean’s first visit to the track this year. Let’s all welcome Dean back.