The Delta Dream
note: This article written by the track founder Paul Schlegel. The well known promoter started many events including the TransAm and InterAm races at Delta, the Pontiac Silverdome, Loretta Lynns Amatuer Race, the Lima Half Mile and over 100 Professional Motorcycle events. Paul comes to the track and announces on a regular basis and always loves to talk about the old and new times.
Motorcycle competition before the late 1960s was held on property owned by people who let clubs use their property at no cost or at a very low rent. As civilization moved out into the suburbs these properties were either developed or zoned so that land for motorcycle activity disappeared. Paul Schlegel was the leading imported motorcycle dealer in Northwestern Ohio and had promoted amateur club races and indoor pro races in the local hockey arena. Paul dreamed of buying a piece of land that would be a place for motorcycle competition forever. In 1969 Paul bought isolated unzoned land between the village of Delta, Ohio reservoir and the Ohio turnpike, Delta Motorsports Park was born. It was to be the home of the Glass City Motorcycle Club. The club would promote weekly amateur events. Paul built stands, concession building, restrooms and track fencing suitable to host professional races. Hard work and unbelievable good luck came together to make Delta one of the world centers of motorcycling. Paul was also, an elected AMA congressman. AMA wanted to sanction an international motocross series in the fall of 1970. A small committee was formed to put this series together. Paul and people like Ward Robinson of Unadilla were on that committee. Unadilla and Delta were featured stops in the series. World motocross champions Jeff Smith and Joel Robert along with future world champ Brad Lackey were competing. Joel Robert won the Delta event with Englishman Dave Nicoll second in the featured 500cc class. Lackey finished 8th and was the first American. Future multiyear enduro champion Dick Burleson won the support 250cc class. For the national/international events, the current track area was only for fans on foot and pit parking. Fan parking was in the 100+ acre parking field across the street. Also, in 1970 the Glass City Motorcycle Club held its first annual Fallen Timbers National Championship Enduro at Delta. Weekly Saturday night races were started and have continued for 50+ years.
The 1971 Trans-AMA was a fantastic success with a huge crowd and half the international class from Europe. World champ Heikki Mikkola of Finland was the ’71 winner. In 1972 the AMA offered Delta one of summer 250cc Inter-AMA International Championships which was new the previous year. Paul declined the ’72 Inter-AMA to concentrate on developing a Camel Pro Series Grand National half mile dirt track program at the beautiful horse track Toledo Raceway Park. After establishing the fall Raceway Park Half Mile, Delta hosted a summer Inter-AMA in 1973. Jaroslav Falta of Czechoslovakia was the Delta winter. In 1974 outdoor AMA National Motocross was being established. Delta promoted one of the nationals. Jimmy Ellis won the 250cc Championship and Jim Weinert won the 500cc National class. In 1975 Delta hosted the 250cc Inter-AMA International Championship with the great American Moto crosser Tony DiStefano winning. A 125cc National Championship won by Marty Smith was part of the ’75 Inter-AMA program. 1976 125cc National Motocross Championship at Delta saw the advent of the real “Greatest of All Time” Bob Hannah. Smith had dominated the popular 125cc National class in 1975. In 1976 the wild kid from California, Hannah, dazzled the motocross world and the fans at Delta with a fantastic win. In the seven years from 1970 to 1976 the great motocross champions from American and the world raced at Delta. Before each International/National Motocross, Delta had a big amateur race. AMA Motocross Czar Mike Diprete was dead set against having amateurs on the pro track. But Schlegel would not relent and Delta set the precedent for having an amateur race with pro race weekends.
1976 was the last Outdoor National/International Motocross at Delta because Paul Schlegel became a principal in Pace-Delta Motorsports. For 30 years they promoted the Supercross at the Pontiac Silverdome. The Delta scheme of having amateurs in pro races was carried to Pontiac. Over 1000 riders each year raced under the ‘dome at Pontiac. Later Schlegel and Dave Coombs Sr. formed MX Sports to promote the historic AMA National Amateur Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch.
Paul remains a big part of Motorcycle Riding and Racing. A current Motorsports Hall of Fame Board Member, AMA Congressman, Road Riding event organizing and participating in Road Riding events. Paul competes in events such as the annual Toledo Road Riding Tournament, District 12 of Ohio, the NorthWest Ohio Motorcycle Association and the feared Florida Motorcycle Gang. Paul is also the official guest announcer at Delta Raceway, always entertaining the house with his unique take on the races. His coverage of the first ever AHRMA Vintage Glass City Classic National gave the event a solid historical perspective and his knowledge of the era gave the program a fantastic boost.