After the Bob Shryock Memorial ended, Kelly Shryock pulled his modified up to the restored car that his father last drove. He took a moment to remember his hero. It had been nearly 35 years since the tragic day that forever changed Kelly’s life.
Bob earned much success behind the wheel of a race car. That included many wins and 15-plus track championships. Bob’s family often traveled with him to the races. As Kelly got older, he became more involved with working on his father’s race cars.
Bob had recently switched jobs so he could work four 10-hour days and have more time to race. Kelly worked for noted Iowa chassis guru Bob Harris during the day and alongside his dad at night and on weekends.
It was at that new job, Bob passed away in a construction accident on August 19, 1985. He was 41.
“Back then, we talked all the time about racing full-time in the late model division,” said Kelly, 55, of Fertile, Iowa. “I had visions of him being someone like Billy Moyer, and I would be working on his car full-time.”
Kelly didn’t think of himself as a driver. He struggled in the cockpit of a race car during his early years. However, his father saw him win his first feature at Minnesota’s Fairmont Raceway on a Friday. Then, Kelly watched his father win at Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City, Iowa, on Saturday. The following Monday, Bob was gone.
“When you are 20 and lose your best friend, it changes you forever,” Kelly said. “We try to keep the memorial race going and his memory alive, so new racers learn who my dad was.”
Every year Minnesota’s Fairmont Raceway hosts a memorial to Bob Shryock. This season’s edition featured The Dirt Knights IMCA Modified Tour. Kelly raced it, finishing seventh in the feature.
Kelly dedicated his life to carrying on the tradition his father began. Despite a rough go at it early on, it turned out Kelly could steer a race car, too. He holds the record for most wins in the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS), with 182, and 10 USMTS championships, with nine national and one regional. In addition, he started Shryock Racing Components (SRC), which builds the Skyrocket Chassis.
It turned out that Kelly lived out the dream his father, Bob Shryock had — to work in racing as a full-time career.
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 50th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.