Racers get revved up at annual show, swap meet

As he mingled with dirt-track racers from around the Midwest, 11-year-old Tanner Lamb of Valley Center had his eyes on a black sprint car chassis that was on sale for $2,700.

Tanner, who races go-carts, said he's eager to try his hand at big-time racing.

"I want to right now," he said Saturday while attending the 22nd annual Kansas Auto Racers Auction, Trade Show and Swap Meet at the Kansas Coliseum.

"To get into a full-blown race car, you've got to be 15," said his father, Joseph Roth. "He'd race them right now if he could."

Event organizer Greg Deatherage, a Wichita native who now lives in Wichita Falls, Texas, said several hundred racing enthusiasts attended the event in Pavilion II at the Coliseum, many of them preparing for the upcoming racing season.

"There's tool vendors, equipment vendors, T-shirt vendors, souvenir vendors — anything that's race-related," he said.

Deatherage said the only glitch in the event occurred when The Eagle incorrectly reported Friday that the event was free. Admission was $10.

"I'd just like everybody to know it wasn't a bait-and-switch by me," he said.

Among the vendors was Richard Bias of Tulsa, who offered an eclectic collection of gears, carburetor pieces, and smaller doo-dads that the bigger vendors didn't handle.

"And brackets; all kinds of brackets," Bias said. "I try to fit into a niche, to do something nobody else does."

Bias said he's been attending the event for at least a decade.

"This is really a good way to get all the racers together in one area," he said.

Also in attendance was Nic Baalman, whose family runs Pro Motor Sports at 5607 N. Broadway. He said many of those at the show were avid dirt-car racers.

During the racing season, he said, 30,000 people across the country compete in modified race cars, the most popular form of auto racing.

On Saturday nights from April through October, you can find Baalman at 81 Speedway.

How often does he race?

"Every week," he said.

How often does he win?

"Not every week."