A wreck in the season finale at Holland Motorsports Complex last September brought Marty Hughes’ racing season to a disappointing end. But don’t count out the veteran driver known as Mad Man, who is back this year with a brand new NASCAR Charger car.

Hughes was at McKinley Mall in Hamburg last week showing off his new ride at Holland’s annual preseason stock car show.

“I’ve been a part of the racing at Holland for so long that I feel like I’m part of the grass that gets cut there every spring,” Hughes said, laughing. “I have no intention of quitting. This will be my 36th year at Holland.”

Hughes recalled the accident that tore up his car last fall.

“I got stuffed on that night and put the car clear through the wall and tore it up pretty bad,” recalled Hughes, Holland’s 1985 and 2000 Figure-8 champion. “It happened so fast. If I didn’t have a full contained race seat that I run now, compared to the cheap seat I ran years ago, I probably would have had some broken bones.”

Hughes is predicting a competitive NASCAR Charger field at Holland, whose season opens May 25.

“I think we’ll have a good season but I won’t win a championship this season because I will not be at Holland for about six races because I will be off other places running Joe Mancuso’s Big 10 Super Stock Series,” he said.

Years ago Hughes, who lives in Holland, earned the nickname “The Mad Man” partly because of his love of competing in Figure-8, demolition derby and crash-a-rama type events. He has grown accustomed to the name.

“Why change it now?” he said.

Also showcasing his NASCAR Pro Modified at McKinley Mall was George Skora III, who after being married two weeks ago is ready to jump back behind the wheel at Holland.

Skora, of Eden, has been racing primarily NASCAR Late Models at Lake Erie Speedway the past few years but Lake Erie has dropped that class.

“Lisa and I got married April 26 but we postponed the honeymoon until after race season in the fall and the hard part of getting married is over with and now the fun begins because race season begins,” joked Skora.

Skora had hoped to run in the season opener May 4 at Elegant Builders Raceway Park in Lancaster but could not. According to Skora, despite the fact that almost all area asphalt tracks such as Holland are allowing the use of crate engines in the Sportsman-type class this season, EBRP is not allowing crate engines. Skora is running a crate engine.

No matter whether one is in favor of allowing crate engines or not, the simple fact is that local asphalt tracks almost never seem to have a uniform set of rules encompassing all tracks. The opposite is true in dirt track racing, where uniform rules from track to track are generally the norm and therefore produce larger fields of cars. Unless asphalt rules are also uniform, car counts in the asphalt ranks will never reach their full potential. Asphalt racing is regarded by many as its own worst enemy.

Memories of Stroker

Elsewhere, fans, drivers, officials and promoters of local auto racing were sharing their memories of local stock car star Stroker McGurk of North Collins, who died last week at age 80 after a brief illness.

McGurk, whose real name was Harold McGrath, was the 1968 New Car champion at Holland Speedway and also won the Eastern Racing Circuit of America (ERCA) championship that same year. The ERCA circuit included Holland, Perry and North Collins speedways.

McGurk also is a member of the Friends of Auto Racing Fan Club’s (FOAR Score) Hall of Fame. He is tied with the late Bruce Pikett for the ninth most Holland Speedway all-time asphalt Late Model career feature wins with 15.

Kenny Hangauer Jr., a veteran local motorsports race track announcer, knew McGurk well.

“Stroker was a very good guy,” said Hangauer, who hosts Motorsports Journal on WXRL 1300 AM each Wednesday through Friday at 8:30 a.m. “He was a very competitive hard charger but he was a fan favorite because he was a salt of the earth good person.”

Meanwhile, EBRP’s stock car program featuring the Hoosier Modified Series Mr. Modified 100 was postponed by rain on Saturday and will be run on June 22.

Ransomville Speedway’s rain-postponed 358 Modified feature race will be presented this coming Friday.