Traeders announce Gran Prix to be discontinued
April 29, 2002
By Steve Eighinger
An old friend is waving the white flag.
The Gran Prix of Karting, a spring fixture at South Park for 32 years, has run
Founder, organizer and promoter Gus Traeder has announced the event will be
discontinued after a decline in driver participation and spectator attendance in
“The event has become financially impossible to conduct, due to the high cost of
everything involved in running and organizing an event of this caliber,” Traeder
said. “I feel sad. This has been a big part of my life.”
Gran Prix entries fell from a high of 625 for the 25th anniversary in 1994 to
130 in 2001. Only the race’s first year drew fewer entries (80) than last year.
During its glory years, the Gran Prix was known virtually from coast to coast as
the sport’s showcase competition.
“This was America’s greatest karting event,” Traeder said. “To win a race at the
Gran Prix was harder than winning a national championship event.
“We got a lot of pleasure out of doing it, and I met a lot of wonderful people.
It was a great event for the people of Quincy for 32 years. I hope they enjoyed
it. It brought a lot of attention to the city.”
Traeder’s son, Terry, rose to national prominence through his success in the
Gran Prix and admits this is a bittersweet time.
“South Park was the greatest track in the country,” Terry Traeder said. “It was
the most beautiful and the most exciting track.”
Terry Traeder’s 27 career wins stood alone atop the Gran Prix leaderboard until
last year when Scott Evans of Des Moines, Iowa, tied the record. Terry Traeder
also has 14 national and two world karting championships to his credit.
In recent years, karting has turned more toward ovals and away from street and
“I think South Park may have also gotten an unfair rap as a dangerous course,
but I’m really not sure why the drivers stopped coming,” Terry Traeder said.
A year ago, only 45 drivers made up the 130 entries in the 12 Gran Prix races.
One race had only four karts entered.
“It simply became too much effort for too little,” Terry Traeder said. “Everyone
in the community should be thanked for supporting the races over the years. I
know a lot of people always looked forward to the Gran Prix.
“It was always kind of like the starting point for the summer. People could
spend a day in the park.”
The Gran Prix helped give rise to numerous professional racing careers at all
levels of motorsports. Gran Prix alumni include Scott Pruett, Scott Goodyear,
Alan Kulwicki, Alex Barron, Mark Dismore, Lake Speed and 10-time defending
Quincy Raceways late model champion Mark Burgtorf.
Both Traeders said even though the Gran Prix has been discontinued, that does
not necessarily mean it is dead. Its status might best be described as comatose.
“If anyone or any organization would be interested in renewing the event in
2003, I will be happy to assist them,” Gus said.
“There is always a chance it could resume,” Terry said. “Maybe some day ...”
Major karting is not completely dead in Quincy. There will be a special package
of vintage races June 6-8 at TNT Kartways in West Quincy. Only karts made before
1975 will be running.
“We have had a great response to this,” Terry Traeder said. “It should be a
TNT also has been awarded the 2003 International Karting Federation Four-Cycle
TNT, which is owned by the Traeder family, also has weekly karting events
through the spring and summer.