Mr. and Mrs. Whiskey Row

Thunder Bay racing fans and sponsors Linda Tasa, left, and Rick Charban are affectionately known as Mr. and Mrs. Whiskey Row.

Whiskey Row was a section of the stands in corner number 4 at Riverview Raceway.

It was started by Thunder Bay’s Rick Charban and others. This season marks 44 years this group of race fans have loved the sport and supported it.

There was the sale of 50/50 tickets to earn the funds and many draws for items all to support our race car drivers.

The group originally formed to sponsor a friend’s race car. They sponsored Ron Matthews. The group also took on sponsorship of Stu Crawford and Wayne Hari. Riverview Raceway closed in 1993, and when Mosquito Speedway started the Whiskey Row fans did not have a car to sponsor. The fans decided to sponsor a race called the Whiskey Row Classic which ran every Labour Day weekend.

The Classic payout was $1,000 to win, at the time it was the largest payout for street stocks anywhere in North America.

Winners of the race include: 1994: Wilf Denzler #77, 1995: Andrew Pilo #24, 1996: Tom Owen #21, 1997: Joey Tougas #1,1998: Warren Kettering #57K, 1999: Tom Owen #21, 2000-Tom Owen #21, 2001: Rick Simpson #70K, 2002: Riley Matthews #9, 2003: Tom Owen #21, 2017: Tanner Ulakovic #86, 2018: David Caruk #12, 2019: Darren Wolframe #96.

Every year from the start in the 44 years that there was racing at either Riverview or Mosquito a new edition of the Whiskey Row T-shirt was made and today they are collector items.

“I got a call from the Simpson’s asking if they could continue the Whiskey Row Tradition at Mosquito Speedway and keep the history alive,” says Rick Charban. “I have to tell you when I got that call it was a real honour.”

“It was really nice of those guys to call and ask me. I thought it was a very classy move on their part. I am sure with no fans the payout will be less but still nice of them to carry on the tradition. “We (the fans of Whiskey Row) when it first started never thought it would last 44 years, Let’s see how many more years it will continue,” he adds.

Charban and Linda Tasa are known as Mr. and Mrs. Whiskey Row. The couple have had their share of health issues. They both suffered serious brain issues and both say they are lucky to be alive. Rick was given only a three per ent chance to live and he is happy he is still here to tell this story.

There will be no fans allowed at this year’s Thunder Bay Truck Centre Dirt Natoinals at Mosquito Speedway, Sept. 19-20.

However, the drivers will compete with those fans’ spirit behind them, including Mr. and Mrs. Whiskey Row.

Johan Vass is a Thunder Bay-based writer. Reach her at jvass@tbaytel.net.

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