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Michigan Motorsports History Month: Tom Kestenholtz

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Harrison Twp, MI (Saturday, March 18, 2023) - One of the more recognizable voices to get behind a microphone in Michigan auto racing, Tom Kestenholtz started his path by being a fan in the stands like the rest of us. That fandom eventually led to him jumping behind the wheel of a Hudson Hornet, where he competed at the Lansing and Owosso Speedways.

Mr. Kestenholtz’s passion was not contained to just him, as his family fully supported his racing endeavors; so much so that they ended up purchasing the Lansing Speedway in 1962 and changed the name to Spartan Speedway and added a figure 8 track. Tom is credited with creating the Michigan Figure 8 Championship and the popular “Hare and Hound” race that was at one point featured on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Spartan wasn’t the only track that Kestenholtz put his stamp on as he also owned at one point the Jackson Speedway. Having worked almost every position at a race track during the 1960s, his announcing career didn’t really take off until he had to fill in for his regular announcer at the Spartan Speedway. Jack Doering reached out to Tom and wanted him to help announce when Mr. Kestenholtz was at the end of his run as the promoter/owner of both Spartan and Jackson Speedways. The filling-in turned into 20-plus years of calling the action at the Dixie and Auto City Speedways.

His success as an announcer led him to be asked to be a stand-in for numerous tracks when their regular announcers had other commitments. He also became the announcer for the Midwest Classic Racers Dwarf Car Series and also had a stint as the announcer for the Auto Value Super Sprints Series.

A founding member of the Michigan Speedway Promoters Association, Mr. Kestenholtz was inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004. His legacy lives on as most successful announcers carry the same enthusiasm and excitement that Tom conveyed each time he got behind the microphone.

Story - Chuck Darling



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