There are few places Roger Haudenshild preferred to be than at dirt-track ovals watching race cars go 'round and 'round in heated competition.
He was never far from the action during his colorful lifetime and has remained so since his death a little over a year ago, thanks to protégé Matt Duste.
WHAT: Race night at Southern Oregon Speedway, 6900 Kershaw Road, White City.
Haudenshild, who worked for three decades in Medford before moving to Klamath Falls, passed away from natural causes shortly before he was to join several local racers on a road trip for the IMCA Modified Speedweek at tracks throughout Oregon and Washington.
"I went on Speedweek," said Duste, "and the family gave me his ashes. I actually put some on each of the tracks as we went. It's what he would have wanted."
"Other than when it was raining," Duste added. "He wouldn't have liked that."
Haudenshild's name is on several cars that will be in action Saturday at Southern Oregon Speedway for the Roger Haudenshild Memorial. Duste's IMCA car, which was given to him by Haudenshild two years ago, is adorned with the iconic figure's name, as are the speedway regular B modifieds of the late Billy Hammon and Dwayne Melvin.
Hammon, a 31-year-old Central Point resident, died in a motorcycle accident just two weeks ago. His uncle, Tom, will take over the car this summer in his honor.
Melvin, who also is the crew chief for modified racer Monte Bischoff, has a family conflict and will miss this weekend's race, so Dave Duste Sr. will be behind the wheel.
In addition to modifieds, classes that will run Saturday are street stocks, mini stocks, pro stocks, dwarf cars and thrill cars.
Two of Haudenshild's nephews will come over from Klamath Falls and race under the family banner. Steve Haudenshild will be in a B modified, and Jeff Haudenshild will drive a street stock.
Gates open at 4 p.m., qualifying is at 6 p.m. and racing starts at 7:15. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $8 for juniors, seniors and veterans and kids get in free. Reserved seating is $15.
When Matt Duste dusted tracks with Haudenshild's ashes, he did so out the window of his car as he cruised around the oval in non-racing situations. One time in Banks, he'd wrecked the car, so he and a group of others in the racing community walked out to the track for a brief ceremony.
"We tried to get him on all the tracks he frequented," said Duste.
He still has a couple of California tracks to go, he added.
There's no way Duste could hit every track Haudenshild had been to. One of the latter's joys was to visit small dirt tracks in different parts of the country at the end of the racing season. He also had been to virtually every NASCAR track in America and countless other race venues.
"That's what he loved," said Duste. "He liked to go places he hadn't been. He had the largest race shirt collection I ever knew about. He bought shirts everywhere he went."
In his racing days, Haudenshild tried a lot of different classes and particularly gained notoriety in demolition derbies. He was pictured for a 1997 Mail Tribune article atop his battered 1960 black Ford station wagon. It was still June and he'd already racked up two first places, a second, a third and a fourth.
"I love them," he said then. "They're like giant bumper cars."
Years later, in a story about him and Duste hooking up with the car in 2011, Haudenshild said of racing, "It is my total enjoyment. It's what I'm all about."
Melvin, who leads the B modified standings with 153 points, was another nephew of Haudenshild's — Haudenshild was the youngest boy in a family of 16 children.
"I just grew up with him racing for many years," said Melvin. "I used to watch him drive at the Posse Grounds, the old speedway. Everybody knew him or knew of him in the racing community. That's what he lived for. He helped a lot of people."
Haudenshild supported races across all classes, said Duste, adding that if another driver needed a part or something, Haudenshild would do what he could to help out.
"He was one of those people who would stop on the side of the road and help you," said Duste.
Duste maintains his car and Melvin does likewise with his and Hammon's.
"We're pretty much teammates in a sense," said Duste, "because we're trying to continue everything Roger had going."
Roger Haudenshild Racing added money to most of the purses Saturday, and the A modified purse will be about three times what it normally is.
"We're hoping to draw some out-of-town cars to it," said Bischoff. "Hopefully guys will come out and support his memory."
SPEAKING OF BISCHOFF, he could be a threat to record his biggest win at the speedway since 2007, when he captured the Firecracker 50.
That is, if recent showings mean anything.
Bischoff became the first two-time winner on the IMCA series last week when he won back-to-back races at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon.
On July 3, he had the first clean sweep in his nine-year racing career, winning the heat race, the trophy dash and the main event.
He nearly pulled it off again three nights later when he was second in the heat race before taking the trophy dash and A main.
In the first main, he out-dueled Jesse Williamson.
"I just had a great race with the local hot shoe," said Bischoff. "He dominates the sport whenever he races there. It was a good feeling to beat him."
Days later, Bischoff was comfortably in front until a red flag brought the top three cars together. Still, he held on for victory.
Bischoff put in a new chassis over the winter.
"We've been working out the bugs and it all clicked the last two races," he said. "It responds very well to changes and doesn't take a lot of change to get it to do what I need it to do."
He admits he's due for another win here.
"We're gonna try out best," he said. "There's a lot of great local drivers."
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org