Roger Regeth, pictured in 1977, won four straight Shawano Speedway titles in the 1970s. Regeth will be inducted into the track's hall of fame Saturday night.
If there was a driver who played the "villain" role on the area racing scene in the 1970s, it was Roger Regeth.
"The Bear" quite often drew more jeers than cheers when his name was announced over the P.A. system at the Brown County Fairgrounds in De Pere, Seymour Speedway and Shawano Speedway. Regeth, along with Johnny Beyers, will be inducted into Shawano Speedway's Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
Regeth, now 74 years old, was an intimidating figure on the area racing scene. In 1975, he teamed with car builder Mike Randerson of Kaukauna and car owner Jerry Sheriff and drove to 23 feature wins. He was undefeated in Tuesday night action at Leo's Speedway in Oshkosh.
"I was the first late model driver at Shawano to win four straight championships (1974-1977)," said Regeth. "J.J. (Smith) won three straight before me, and after that M.J. (McBride) won five straight in the 80s. We were always fast at Shawano."
If Regeth would have been a pro wrestler, he most certainly would have been the heel.
"The fans booed me, but hey, they were making noise," Regeth said. "But I'd get the drivers mad, too. At the start of every race I'd ram the guy ahead of me square, to get the field kattywhompus. I'd pass three or four cars that way. I got Pete Parker so mad one night after I pulled one of those moves he came after me. That's just the way it was."
Regeth was a true "hired gun" during his career, driving for car owners Crooks Schultz, Gene Wheeler, Bob Stepan, Al Piette and Toby Kralovetz.
"I always drove somebody else's equipment," said Regeth. "The money was good back then, too. There were nights we'd come out of Shawano or De Pere with 700 or 800 bucks. To get fast time back then paid half of what a feature paid. We had some 400 or 500 dollar nights, too. Seymour and Oshkosh paid well, too.
"On average, throughout the mid-70s we figured we'd win on average 23 features out of roughly 40 nights of racing."
Regeth has plenty of stories from yesteryear.
"One night at Shawano (USAC driver) Butch Hartman was there from Ohio. He drove for Bert Anderson Chevrolet, who sponsored an extra $1,000 to the winner that night. J.J. spun me out on the 10th lap. They never threw the yellow and I still went back and won the feature.
"Bert was so damned mad he didn't want to pay us the bonus money. We went to his supper club to collect the money. When we got there, he still didn't want to pay. We sat there for 2 hours but we finally got our money out of him."
Regeth still drives the pace car on Thursday nights at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna. He also works for his son, Spuds Regeth, in the used car business.