It takes more than just a skilled driver to compete successfully with a major traveling series, and this sprint car team from nearly four decades ago ticked all the boxes for success.
Fred Linder, of the legendary Ohio racing family, was behind the wheel. The car was one of Hall of Fame racer and car builder Lee Osborne’s creations. The car owner was Harold “Flake” Kemenah, and Linder was mentoring young crew chief Brian Kemenah, one of Harold’s two sons that would go on to successful careers in sprint car racing (Chad Kemenah being the other).
It was the 1984 season of the All Star Circuit of Champions and, though they only captured one feature victory that season, this team ran in the top three all year to earn the series championship.
Years later, the car was restored by Lee Booze. It had been discovered in 2007 running as a 305 winged sprint.
The All Star series was a tough circuit during the 1980s. And, in ‘84, in addition to Linder, fans could see shoes like Dave Blaney, Rick Ferkel, Joe Gaerte, Jac Haudenschild, Jack Hewitt, Kenny Jacobs and Kelly Kinser competing at All Star events, in addition to occasional Outlaw or PA invaders.
Linder was a staple and strong contender with the series for several years. Entering the ‘84 season, he had already proven himself with the ASCoC, having run second in points to Osborne in both 1981 and ‘82. He ran fourth in points in ‘83 (with Osborne taking another title, and Kenny Jacobs and Dave Blaney finishing second and third, respectively). Incidentally, Linder would go on to capture another All Star title in 1986.
Fred was a driver from the old school, partially building his own engines and some parts.
He laughed when he recalled, “It would have been nice to arrive at the track and just jump in the car, but I was never in a position to do that. If a part had to be fabricated, it was me most of the time who had to get it done.”
Linder reminisced nostalgically as he remembered his time behind the wheel.
“I was always thinking no further ahead than the car in front of me. I would carefully watch his style. Then, when I started to move in on him, I prayed that he wouldn’t change what he was doing,” he shared with a smile.
Linder would earn the checkers in over 75 sprint car features throughout his career, earning a spot in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame class of 2010.
In 2019, he returned to Ohio’s Fremont Speedway, the legendary facility that’s on the All Star Circuit of Champions schedule to this day, to turn some laps in this old mount.
It was an emotional evening for Fred, who shared that climbing back behind the wheel of the car was “just like old times.”
Just like old times, indeed.