New book tells stories of racing in the Upper Peninsula

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) – After growing up around racing, Joe Verdegan decided to write books about the sport. He has five in all - his most recent - "Racing in the 906."

"That history hadn't really been recorded or documented in that form before. I had written four other books on racing in Wisconsin and some of the characters and players there, and it just seemed like a good fit. I really took a liking to the people up here, the traditions, the generations and it all kinda fell into place," says author Joe Verdegan.

Verdegan conducted about 200 interview beginning in January 2019, got to writing, and launched the book in early December.

"It's all about the history up here and how long it's been around. The track that we owned was opened in 1969. Paul Smith actually built that track, he also built the track in Kinross. The track here in Marquette was the first paved track. There was a dirt track in Escanaba, and then Paul Smith paved that track, so we had racing there. He was a big track promoter, he actually owned and operated the track in Escanaba for about 10 years, so it's just a lot of people around that are good friends involved in racing," explains Sue Racine, former owner & operator of Thunder Valley Raceway.

Joe Verdegan is currently promoting his book throughout the Upper Peninsula, most recently stopping at the Crossroads Restaurant in Marquette on Tuesday, Dec. 10. With Sands Speedway nearby, a lot of race fans came out in support.

"I think it's really cool. Racing is - I think it's coming back a little bit. I'm kind of partial to this race track because my dad and I helped build this race track in 1968. I feel like this is home for me," says Don Britton, part owner of Sands Speedway.

So whether you're partial to Sands, Norway, Kinross or a different track, you're sure to find plenty of stories from each raceway.

"Each chapter is a short story. I let the drivers and the promoters do a lot of the talking and some of the stories are hilarious. They're funny, it's the highs and lows, the checkers and the wreckers. And it's something if you're a race fan in any capacity up here, you're going to want a copy of this book."

Verdegan will be in Escanaba on Wednesday, Dec. 11th at Pacino's Pub, next Wednesday, Dec. 18 at the Thirsty Whale in Norway, followed by Stateline Apparel in Menominee on Dec. 19. If you're unable to make it, you can also purchase the book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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