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Lucas Oil Speedway

Honor allows Phillips to reflect on career

May 11, 2016, 4:25 pm
By Lyndal Scranton
Lucas Oil Speedway
Terry Phillips is becoming a Hall of Famer. (John Vass)
Terry Phillips is becoming a Hall of Famer. (John Vass)

There are plenty of races remaining and more checkered flags to chase. But the type of honor Terry Phillips received this week tends to turn even steely-souled veterans a bit reflective.

So it was with Phillips on Tuesday after he the Missourian was named part of the 2016 induction class for the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame.

"I guess when you get a little older you need to look back at what you've done and appreciate it," the 30-year racing veteran said. "You tend to always be looking to the next weekend and the next race and that's all you think about.

"Moments like this make you stop and think about what you've done and what my father's done and the ones before me accomplished. It's pretty humbling."

Phillips, who turns 50 next month, will officially enter the Hall of Fame in ceremonies Sept. 20 at the University Plaza Convention Center. Tickets will go on sale later this summer at springfieldmosportshof.com. Other members of the induction class are baseball player Mark Bailey, basketball player Virgle Fredrick, football coach Bob Price and boxer Jon Pinney.

Phillips' father, racing legend Larry Phillips, went into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. Other racers in the Hall include Lester Friebe and the Roper Family (Dean, Tony and Dale).

Terry Phillips said the opportunity to represent the racing community in a club with only 117 other members, most of whom made their marks mainstream sports, is significant.

"There's not a lot of racing people in things like this," Phillips said. "It's good to be recognized and represent racing fans and racing people.

"Racing's a big deal around here and a lot of people don't know it. We work hard and work a lot of hours. It's a tough deal and it's good to be recognized."

Phillips is a three-time Lucas Oil MLRA Series champ and all-time MLRA leader with 109 feature wins. He has six MARS Dirt-Car championships and 87 career wins in that series — more than double anyone else.

Phillips' wife, Lisa, and Carol Kuntz, wife of the late founder of Andy's Frozen Custard, John Kuntz, attended the Hall of Fame announcement. Andy's Frozen Custard and Don Babb of Bolivar are Phillips' major racing sponsors.

"I have to thank my wife and my family to supporting me in a sport where I stay gone a lot," Phillips said. "Thanks to Carol and (her son) Andy Kuntz for their support, along with Don Babb. It we didn't have them, we'd be in trouble.

"My dad told me one time that if you won three races, you could pretty well pay for your race car. You can't do that these days."

Phillips also thanked his father, who died in 2004, for "teaching me everything I know."

Shortly after the luncheon announcing the new Hall of Famers, the time for reflection on past accomplishments was done. Phillips was back at his race shop, preparing for a big MLRA weekend with races Friday at the Dubuque (Iowa) Fairgrounds and Saturday at Deer Creek in Spring Valley, Minn. Both features will pay $5,000-to-win.

Still in search of his first Late Model victory of 2016, Phillips said he's boosted by a strong third-place run in his Black Diamond Chassis last Friday at Davenport, Iowa.

"I've never run Dubuque before, but I've heard it's a real good track," Phillips said. "Deer Creek, I've raced there a bunch in my Modified, but never in the Late Model. So I might have a little advantage over these guys. We'll see. It's a cool track."

Phillips said it's important to build positive momentum with the 24th annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Lucas Oil Speedway just two weeks away. Phillips admits he often struggles at Lucas Oil Speedway, but is hopeful of finding the right combination this year.

"That race is huge for us around here," Phillips said of the Show-Me 100. "It might even be on TV and in the papers. It's a huge deal. People come from all over the country to watch that race. It's good for our area. Hopefully, we'll run good.”

Show-Me 100 tickets

There are a select number of three-day passes remaining for Memorial Day weekend's Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway — which for the first time this year has full Lucas Oil Late Model Series features each of the three nights. Those passes are $95 and include reserved seats along the front straightaway. Call Anna Harnden at (417) 282-5984 at the Wheatland, Mo., oval for more information.

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