Edgerton Native Rich Bickle Jr. wins Joe Shear Classic as racing returns to Madison International Speedway

Mis Pic

OREGON, Wis. — After more than a year of missed or modified events, fan-attended racing was back at Madison International Speedway Sunday.

MIS opened its 2021 season with the Joe Shear Classic, a 200-lap race with a $10,000 prize in honor of the late Clinton, WI native Joe Shear.

For MIS owner and operator Gregg McKarns, Sunday’s event was a long time coming.

It feels great,” McKarns said prior to the race. “Having the pit area full with race cars and pit crews, having the fans smiling as they pull into the parking lot, they’re glad to be here, the drivers are glad to be here, our staff is glad, our sponsors, there’s no one that’s not enjoying this moment. So you just kind of sit back, take it all in.”

McKarns said only a handful of events were able to take place at the track in 2020, but under Dane County’s latest public health orders, racing with fans in attendance was able to make a return.

We’ve always felt like we could do this outdoors,” he said. “We have a big facility, so it’s just no magic that we did. Everything transpired. We were blessed with a beautiful day and blessed to be able to be open.”

In the end, it was Edgerton Native and former NASCAR competitor Rich Bickle who took the checkered flag and cash prize. Bickle drove the part, also, with a color scheme and paint job that honored the late Joe Shear.

McKarns said being back for live racing at the track is a special feeling.

“It’s sensory overload,” he said. “From the sights, the sounds, the smells. Your heart rumbles in your chest when the cars come rumbling around turn four. It’s just something to see.”