By Phil Whipple. RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
PLEASANTON, Texas — He's one of the most recognizable short track pilots in the Deep South, with an impressive resume and huge fan following.
When three-time and reigning Southern Texas Late Model Series (STLMS) champion GW Egbert IV straps into a race car, be it a Late Model, Modified and any other class, he's a contender to take the win. Yet on March 16 of this year, that stellar driving career was put on hold.
Egbert was competing in the Modified division at I-37 Speedway when a large chunk of clay somehow got through his rock guard and hit him in the face. The injuries were substantial, and the entire Texas racing community instantly felt the pain. It was as if time stood still for several minutes in south Texas.
“GW is highly respected by our fans, owners and officials at I-37,” speedway general manager George Jones said. “He always races clean and interacts with his fans every time he races. We were devastated when he got injured at our place last month. I'm not surprised how the fans responded when we asked.”
On Sat., March 23, fans in the I-37 grandstands generously gave just under $1,000 ($987) towards his cause. It was inspiring to witness, yet typical of the loyal, supportive dirt racing fans in south Texas.
“He's just an all-around great guy who would do anything for his fellow racers and fans,” Jones added. “To see our fans dig deep and contribute to his cause was heartwarming, and we're praying for a full recovery. We know GW's determination to compete again and support from his fans will surely help.”
Kody Hardage runs the Southern Texas Late Model Series. His teams are scheduled to kick off their 2019 campaign on Saturday, April 6, at I-37 Speedway. Hardage will miss his fellow racer and good friend on race day, yet says the series and those who compete within it are behind him all the way.
“GW won our points title the last three years, but didn't win a feature until 2018,” Hardage said. “Last year, he won eight races and earned the points title by a large margin. He's a very talented racer and a generous man who helps his fellow racers a ton.”
Hardage also says Egbert does a lot for racing and those who support it. Short track racing needs more men like GW Egbert.
“He's a great ambassador for not only our series but dirt racing in general,” Hardage added. “He's the kind of guy that if you're in a bind and need something, if he's got it you are welcome to it. I've seen him loan cars to guys who were racing for points and had trouble.
“He loaned me his personal truck last year when I blew the motor so I could get to the track and race. He fielded two cars in our series last year just to help the car count. He put one of his helpers in that second car to reward his hard work and dedication. It was quite a gesture for him to do that.”
On Friday, March 29, Egbert underwent extensive surgery to begin his long recovery process. He's back home now recovering, and told his pal Hardage his goal is to race again as soon as he can get a helmet on his head, possibly by mid May. While that may be a bit optimistic, his spirits are inspiring.
Egbert, of Salado, Texas, started racing in 1998 in the I-Stock division at Texas Thunder. He notched his first feature win in 1999, and his career highlights include the IMCA National Rookie-of-the-Year title in 2002. Last year, Egbert won the STLMS title over 'Little' Robbie Starnes.
If you'd like to contribute to the GW Egbert medical expense fund, there is a fundraising page on Facebook where you can do so. The original goal was to raise $10,000, yet a recent check revealed the number had already surpassed $15,000. It's easy to see how Egbert's medical expenses will be huge during this whole recovery process, so any contribution is helpful and greatly appreciated.
Express Race Cars is even raffling off a race car for $50 per ticket to help GW's cause. What started out as a bare chassis has now become nearly a full roller. Several companies have contributed parts and pieces to support this worthy cause. Just another example of how people truly love GW Egbert IV.