While looking for historic images of racing at Wisconsin State Fair Park to use in our upcoming Alan Kulwicki: A Champion’s Story exhibition, we came across the gem of a portrait in the Harold Stanfield Collection, a photographer for the Milwaukee Journal. This is Milwaukee native Myron Fohr, who along with West Allis’ Tony Willman and Kenosha’s Paul Russo, was a terror on dirt tracks throughout the United States, winning dozens of midget races throughout the 1930s and 40s. Driving Milwaukee-built Millers for the Marchese Brothers, Fohr later drove for Bob Wilke, the founder of Leader Card Racers. The team was instantly successful and Wilke quickly became a winning car owner and a distributor for midget cars, engines, and parts. Wilke’s Leader Cards team eventually parlayed their midget success into Champ Car racing and won races with drivers such as Jim Rathmann, Rodger Ward, Don Branson, and Bobby Unser, including three Indianapolis 500s.
Myron Fohr ran a total of 25 Champ Car races in his career, and won four races, including two at the Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway, now called the Milwaukee Mile. He also ran two Indianapolis 500s for the Marchese Brothers, finishing in 4th place in 1949 and 11th place in 1950. Like many open wheel drivers of the 1940s and 50s, Fohr was also an adept stock car racer, winning several feature races in Milwaukee.
Myron Fohr, Paul Russo, and the Marcheses have all passed away, as has Bob Wilke, but the Wilke legacy lives on through Leader Paper Products, still located in the Third Ward on South Fifth Street, and run by his grandsons Scott, Mark, Greg, and David. The race team is still around, too. Now called Wilke/PAK Motorsports, the team is managed by Greg Wilke and his son, Chris, and is a force on the short tracks of the Midwest. You can learn more about their plans for 2013 at www.wilkepakmotorsports.com.