Hall-of-Famer Gary C. Ainsworth passes away

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January 26, 2018

Lakeside Speedway is saddened to hear of the passing of 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Gary C. Ainsworth. We send our deepest condolences to the Ainsworth family and will keep the entire Ainsworth family in our thoughts and prayers through this difficult time.


Gary C. Ainsworth has been involved in racing since at least 1965 when he started racing Super Modifieds (a form of Sprint Cars) in his late 20’s. During his racing career he raced Super Modifieds, Sprint cars, along with dirt and asphalt Late Models. He was competitive in all of these classes, but it was in the Super Modifieds and Sprint Cars where he was a force to be reckoned with.

While most people are immune to danger and to tension from the daily grit and grind, Gary Ainsworth could be seen at any speedway near and far gritting his teeth and grinding the tread of his super modified into a quarter-mile track. Many people would shake their heads and say it’s crazy to spend one’s free time gambling with danger and growing tense because of the nearness of danger instead of relaxing with the thought of any danger far away. But to Gary Ainsworth, his hobby of driving sports cars is not something to get uptight about, but something which commands a challenge, tests a confidence, and generates a spirit of competition found in every game of life.

Whether the fact that Gary started racing when he moved to Excelsior Springs in 1965 has any kind of connection, or whether it’s just a coincidence, he has won several trophies that would light up anybody’s room. Some of his victories have been at Riverside, Olympic Stadium and I-70 Speedway. Old Lakeside Speedway and Shawnee Speedway in Topeka, KS. Sportsman Speedway in Marshall, MO and State Fair Speedway in Sedalia. The course of a race is anywhere from 25 to 50 laps with a lap length of a quarter mile. He has also traveled to such places as Burlington, Iowa and West Memphis, Arkansas.

His racing career also included a crash on Easter Sunday at I-70 Speedway in 1973 that nearly took his life and kept him in the hospital for several weeks.

In 1977, when his oldest son Randy was 12, Gary asked him if he might be interested in racing go-karts. Soon after, the family traveled to Springfield, Missouri to buy a go-kart. Thus began the next phase of Gary’s love of racing. Over the next several years the family traveled to many Midwestern go-kart tracks with Randy racing. When his youngest son Gary Don was 10, he too started racing go-karts and it became a sport for the whole family.

Gary guided Randy from go-karts to Street Stocks and later Modifieds. When Randy moved into his own racing team, Gary helped his youngest son Gary Don move into Dirt Modified racing in 1987, which later changed to asphalt and continued until 2006.

Gary was also a car owner for several other race teams throughout the years. Many times, he quietly loaned parts and racing supplies to other teams when he saw the needed a helping hand. He stopped driving in the early 80’s.

A couple of highlights in Gary’s career was when he won the Jud Larsen Memorial and receiving the Tom Karrick Family Award.

Gary is well respected in the racing and local community. He’s a no-nonsense guy who will quietly help where he can in ways that others may never know.

As a driver, Gary won many races and was highly competitive. As a car owner and father, he played a key role in shaping and guiding future racers.