David Kurtz of Parkersburg said he will always remember seeing entertainment legend Dick Clark at the Ona Speedway in West Virginia in 1971 or '72.
Kurtz thought of that day in Cabell County after the death of Clark, host of "American Bandstand," the New Year's Eve party telecast from Times Square and other TV shows, last week at the age of 82. Kurtz's father, Harry, drove him to the speedway that day. Harry Kurtz, who lives in Wood County, said Clark sat a few rows behind them at the auto race track.
"It was pretty impressive seeing a star in the stands," Harry Kurtz told me this week. "He was sitting there as a spectator. We respected his privacy and did not talk to him (Clark)."
Steve Chapman of Barboursville, racing historian whose family worked at Ona Speedway for years, has an Ona race program from Aug. 24, 1969, that has a photograph of Clark in the pace car at International Raceway Park.
The program lists Clark as chairman of the board of Raceways Inc., which operated International Raceway Park, a previous name of Ona Speedway.
Chapman said he is not sure how long Clark was an owner of the West Virginia race track. But Chapman is sure he passed Clark while walking around the Ona track with his father in 1969. Chapman was 14 years old at the time.
"As he came toward us, I said 'that looks like Dick Clark.' I was staring at him and Clark smiled as he walked past us,'' said Chapman, who works at West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
Lynn Bauer, who, along with her husband, Bill, now owns Ona Speedway, said people called her about Clark's former association with the track after his death on April 18.
The Ona Speedway, West Virginia's only asphalt track, opened in 1963 and was a NASCAR-sanctioned speedway. Richard Petty won races there, Chapman noted.
Friday was Adam Dotson's last day working at the Blennerhassett Hotel as he takes a job at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs. Dotson, a 1999 graduate of Parkersburg High School, will begin working soon as a supervisor at Draper's restaurant, which provides casual dining. Dotson has worked at the Blennerhassett Hotel for six years, most recently as assistant food and beverage manager. He said the Blennerhassett has been a wonderful place to work with a wonderful staff. Dotson has two degrees from Johnson & Wales University in culinary arts and food service management. He has played the part of Harman Blennerhassett, greeting visitors on the front porch of the Blennerhassett Island mansion, during October's "Blennerhassett Mansion by Candlelight" tours.
Steve Shelene of Vienna will be playing music in Russia next month. Shelene, on lead guitar/vocals, is a member of the Vegas-style show band Rick K. & The Allnighters, scheduled to perform in eight Russian cities May 12-22. Shelene, a member of the band for three years, said this will be his first visit outside the United States. Rick K. & The Allnighters, based in Morgantown, performs 200 shows a year, playing cover songs from the 1950s to the present, said Shelene, 28, a 2002 graduate of Parkersburg High School.
Two anniversaries will be celebrated today at a wine shop in Vienna. The Wine Basket, in the Shops at Grand Central, lower level behind Cold Stone Creamery, will be celebrating its fifth anniversary with a cookout/wine and chocolate tasting called "Our Journey Together" from 1-6 p.m. Bringing their two new wines to the celebration will be Vu ja de Vineyards of Spencer winemaker/proprietor Bryan George and his wife, Ali. The Georges are celebrating their first wedding anniversary today. Bryan will discuss his red, dry "Our Journey Together" wine and a "First Kiss" white Riesling. Bryan said Wine Basket owner Rene Imler has helped to launch Vu ja de wines in the Parkersburg area since he moved here from San Francisco.
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