A Tribute to Tom Reffner

This Friday night at Madison International Speedway is Hall of Fame Night. One of the five inductees is Tom Reffner who will be with us on Friday. Inductions will take place during intermission.

Friday’s racing program includes the Whelen All American Late Models, American Ethanol Super Trucks, Pellitteri Waste Systems Bandits, Legends, and Vintage Modifieds. Practice begins at 5:00 with qualifying at 6:20 and racing at 7:30.

Thanks to the Reffner family and MIS track historian Gary Schmelzer for providing the information to help me put this story together a few years ago.

Unofficially, Tom Reffner won a total of 391 feature races in his career that began at Stratford Speedway and Wausau in 1959 before going to the first asphalt track in central Wisconsin at Griffith Park Speedway in Wisconsin Rapids in 1960. He won nearly sixty races at Capital Speedway (Madison) and picked up track championships in both 1975 and 1979.

His first track championships came in 1965 at Griffith Park and Black River Falls Speedway. He won his first race at Madison on the old quarter mile in 1968 and finished second in the points to Jim Back in 1969 after the half-mile was built and is now known as “Wisconsin’s Fastest Half-Mile.” He came back in 1970 and was runner-up once again this time to John Ziegler.

But of all his accomplishments, the miracle season of 1975 really stands out. In that season Reffner won an amazing sixty-seven features driving an AMC Javelin. This includes sixteen at Madison, thirteen at LaCrosse Interstate Speedway, eleven at Golden Sands, nine at State Park, six at Dells Motor Speedway, three at I-70, two each at WIR and Elko, and one at Berlin, Columbus, Grundy, and Tri-County (Ohio). He also notched a track championship at Golden Sands and the ARTGO title.

His 1976 season wasn’t bad either as he won thirty-nine races and titles at LaCrosse Interstate Speedway and State Park Speedway. He also won the World Cup 400 at Odessa, Missouri.

Other racing hightlights include winning the ARTGO championship in 1978, the October Nationals at Madison in 1983 and 1984, Bobby Allison Night at the Dells in 1985 and CWRA Championships in 1987, 1990, and 1993. He was also a three-time LaCrosse Oktoberfest Champion.

Besides the aforementioned championships, he also won titles at LaCrosse Interstate Speedway (1976), State Park Speedway (1976), Golden Sands (1977), LaCrosse Interstate Speedway (1986), Dells Motor Speedway (1987), LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway (1987), State Park Speedway (1987), Dells Motor Speedway (1990), State Park Speedway (1993) and Golden Sands (1993).

Reffner’s final feature wins came in 1999 when he won a pair of races at Marshfield Speedway. He did appear in one event at Madison in the early 2000’s with ASL.

Come out to Madison this Friday night and let Tom know how much he has meant to short track racing in the upper Midwest.