By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
Dennis Slader has spent all of his life involved in automobile racing.
“I started to go to the races since I was a week old,” he said.
The Sladers ran the operations at Muskogee’s Thunderbird Speedway until recently when Stanley, Dennis’ father, had to turn over operations to Tommy Fulton because of health reasons. Stanley was the owner and Dennis was the general manager.
“He’s doing a lot better,” Dennis said about his dad. “The doctor told him he had to get away from the race track and kinda take it easy for a while.”
Since the change, Dennis has been able to devote his time to run his nephew Kyle’s Sport Modified car. When Kyle is unable race because of a conflict, Dennis is allowed to get behind the wheel, both times at Outaw Motorsports Park in Oktaha.
“That’s only happened the last two weeks,” Dennis said. “I probably won’t race this week because of my work schedule. Kyle’s been out of town working and Brian (Slader, Kyle’s dad and Dennis’ brother) said I could race the car when that happened.”
The first time, Dennis won his heat and was second in the feature when he broke a rocker arm and had to stop. The second time was last Saturday when Dennis finished second in the feature to Travis Johnson of Enid, who also won the race that Dennis was unable to finish.
“I guess I was the second best car both nights,” Dennis said. “I’ve been talking to my wife about getting a car next year. If I do, it will be race when I want to and maybe hit different tracks.”
The 37-year old has been racing off and on for 20 years and finds having two tracks in the same area more convenient, especially for local drivers. With Thunderbird racing on Friday’s and Outlaw on Saturday’s, Dennis believes this will help both tracks.
“Outlaw has a lot of out of town cars because it’s so difficult to travel on Fridays,” Dennis said. “But for the racer that wants to race two nights a week, it’s the best of both worlds. You can’t ask for anything more from a racing standpoint than to have two race tracks in the same town.”
When Slader began racing, there weren’t two race tracks in the Muskogee area in close proximity to each other.
“When I was growing up, we would race two or three nights a week,” Dennis said. “But we’d have to travel hours to go race. We may race in Muskogee on Friday night, Fort Smith (Ark.) on Saturday and Ardmore on Sunday. It was never that convenient to just drive across town to race two nights a week.”
Now with more time on his hands, Dennis can pick and choose what he does with his weekends.
“If I want to go race, I go race,” Dennis said. “If I don’t want to race, I go home or do something else.”