USAC Sprint Car Owner Jerry Shields Passes At 80

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Kelly Kinser poses in the Jerry Shields-owned No. 56 before a USAC National Sprint Car Series feature in 1983, while Shield looks on. (John Mahoney photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – Jerry Shields, who owned cars that won five USAC National Sprint Car Series races at five different tracks with four different drivers during the 1982 and 1983 seasons, passed away on Nov. 24.

Shields was 80 years old.

A native of Bloomington, Ind., Shields owned and operated Shields Construction, which his No. 65 and No. 56 sprint cars were adorned with throughout his sprint car career as an owner, which began in 1969.

During the 1982 season, Shields earned his first two USAC National Sprint Car Series wins as a car owner with his wheelman, Chuck Amati, who likewise earned his first two with the series.

Each of those wins came on Hoosier soil, with victories arriving in May at Paragon (Ind.) Speedway and June in the series’ only event ever held at Chandler Raceway Park.

In 1983, Shields was the recipient of the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans Mechanical Achievement award after his cars earned three more USAC National Sprint Car feature victories.

Kelly Kinser was the first driver to do so for Shields in May at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind. That night marked the first of Kelly’s five career USAC sprint car wins.

Shields’ cars won on consecutive weekends in early September of 1983, including the first ever USAC sprint car event held at Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway on Labor Day weekend with Rick Hood as the pilot.

The following weekend, it was driver Larry Martin who scored his first and only career USAC sprint car triumph, and the last for Shields, at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway.

Among the names who competed in Shields’ sprint cars over the years are a number of Kinsers, with the likes of Steve, Sheldon, Randy and Kelly taking their turns in the seat.

It was Bob Kinser, however, who made the team a force to be reckoned with, winning early and often together during the decade of the 1970s.

Track championships came for the pairing at Paragon (Ind.) Speedway and at the defunct 25th Street Fairgrounds in Columbus, Ind.

Shields’s sons, Todd and Troy, would go on to compete for their father in the 1980s and 1990s.

Todd Shields was triumphant during the early part of the 1990s, collecting multiple sprint car track championships in 1991 at Paragon and in 1994 at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway.

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