Jerome Robert “Jerry” “J.R.” Smith, died at Madison’s St. Mary’s Hospital on April 7 at the age of 72 years old.
While attending college at UW-Whitewater Jerry worked at Fordem Co., a paper converting business. In 1966, he and his brother Jay joined forces and purchased the business, creating unique processes to produce the various paper packaging products.
They sold the company in 1983. Jerry also founded American Walker Inc. which designed, built, and distributed mobility solutions for the elderly. Jerry holds a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the core product of this company.
His passion for racing followed him to Fitchburg Racing, where he teamed with Jim Fiscus, claiming the four Badger Midget Auto Racing Association titles with three drivers: Dan Boorse, (1984-85), Kevin Olson (’89), and Dean Erfurth (’90). The J.R. Smith Enterprises colors also captured several best appearing car awards during the period.
Jerry is survived by his wife of 49 years, Kathy, son, Sean, grandchildren, Madeleine and Ian; one sisters, two borthers and numerous nieces and nephews. A celebration of Jerry’s life is planned for May 5, 2015, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Nakoma Country Club, 4145 Country Club Road, Madison. In lieu of flowers or gifts, memorials may be made to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
William “Bill” Earnest died on April 6 , four days shy of his 90th birthday, in Orange, CA. He served in the Marine Corps, during World War II. Earnest built and operated several automotive parts & service business’ in the greater Rockford, IL area. On the racing side he is remembered for being co-owner of Rockford Speedway with Hugh Deery when the track was first constructed.
He also organized and promoted races at Chicago’s Soldier Field. His expertise and reputation led him to purchase the Dodge dealership in Rockford, where relocated it to the New Dodge City location. Earnest moved out west to Arizona and then to California where he owed and ran Sunnyvale Datsun in Northern California and then settled in beautiful Orange County, California, owning and running Earnest Ford.
Earnest also sponsored several midget racing teams and drivers in the Midwest over the years, and regularly attended events at Angell Park Speedway. Living in Orange, CA, Earnest began hosting a legendary “Thanksgiving Dinner” for his many Midwestern & West Coast racing friends, on Wednesday, preceding the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ascot Park. He was a veteran lifetime member of the USAC and lifetime member of the Indianapolis Old-timers Club.
-Badget Midget Racing Series Press Release