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Howie Schill Memorial Set for Friday at River Cities Speedway

Howie Schill, right, his his son Cole and family after a feature win in 2020. (Cody Papke Photo)

Friday night will likely be a very emotional night for the Schill family at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks.

The 3/10-mile oval is hosting the Howie Schill Memorial NLRA Late Model Special in honor of the late Howie Schill, who passed away from a massive brain stroke on Dec. 25, 2020 at the age of 55. Howie was a long-time late model racer in the Red River Valley and a friend to many, but first and foremost, was a dedicated family man — leaving behind his wife, Juanita, two sons and two grandchildren.

Schill’s son, Cole, will be one of the late model drivers racing during Friday’s program, which will pay $1,404 to the win (Howie’s number was 4).

“Our family has lost a huge part of our lives. He enjoyed spending time with all of us,” Cole Schill said. “Whether it was racing, fishing, playing cards or visiting. That’s the toughest part is not having him around to bull shit with or whatever we’re doing that day. He did so much for all of us. It’s been a real adjustment to get a ‘new’ normal without him.”

The race will pay $404 to start, and all of the finishing positions will be paid ending with the number four — in honor of Howie. He won three NLRA features in his career.

It’s fitting the race is an NLRA Late Model race, too — Howie Schill won the first-ever NLRA race in 1998 at Victory Lane Speedway in Winnipeg, Mant. After he stepped away from racing, Howie devoted his attention to helping Cole start his racing career in the late models.

“My dad was a huge influence on my racing. He did so much for me and what we did with racing,” Cole Schill said. “We were like a smooth oiled machine (most of the time). But the most important thing to him was the time we spent together as a family. The racing was extra.”

Not only did the Schill family grieve the loss, but many, many in the racing community felt the loss as well. He was a mentor to some and a friend to countless others.

“The racing community has been great. We have gotten a lot of support from the racing community,” Cole Schill said. “We have gotten a lot of support outside the racing community. But it really shows what kind of man he was. For the support people have given us because of him. He was a true mentor, hero, and friend to so many people. He did not care who you were or what was going on if he was able to lend a hand he would. He as a person will be the thing I miss the most. Because there aren’t too many people like him.”

It’s been an adjustment for the Schill family at the racetrack this year with Howie no longer being there.

“My dad was my hero. He was my best friend,” Cole Schill said. “We did so much together it was a void that will never be replaced.”

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