ROSSBURG — By the looks of social media this past week, Shane “Doughboy” Unger, the 35-year-old Dirt Late Model racer who died as the result of a multi-car crash at Eldora Speedway here last Saturday night, was a popular young man and loved not only by his family and local friends but by many people in the racing industry as well.
Unger, who drove the 79 car, was pronounced dead after being rushed to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater, following the crash that happened during a late restart in the second heat race on a turn in the half-mile oval at Eldora at the 46th annual World 100.
“Shane was not only a passionate racer but also our neighbor and friend. His father, Mike, has been Eldora’s track welder at events for 36 years. His mother, Jann, works in our pit area concessions. His brother, Shad, was his car owner and crew chief,” said Roger Slack, general manager of Eldora Speedway, in a statement on behalf of the raceway. “Shane and the love of his life, Michelle Heindl, are the parents of two beautiful children, Lexi (3 years old) and Owen (5 months old) and his favorite hobby was working on his race car with them. The Unger family are the kind of people that makeup the heart and soul of short-track racing. It’s a tremendous loss for the entire Eldora family.”
Here are some additional words shared via Facebook and the funeral home:
Tony Adlington said, “Friends of the family were sitting right behind me. The husband got a phone call and their mood instantly changed. They informed us and a few others sitting around us of his passing and immediately left the track. I was in complete disbelief. Thoughts and prayers go out to friends and family of Shane Unger.”
“I always watched him race at Waynesfield and sometimes at Montpelier. Today I did not make it to the world 100 I was at Fremont, ” remarked Greg Leitch. “I’m glad I wasn’t there for that. Prayers go out to the Unger friends and family. It’s just so much going through my mind I got the message from a buddy about the wreck and my heart sank. But Unger will always be remembered in Ohio.”
Tony Vitali had this to say: “Condolences from our family to yours! As we also lost our father Larry ‘Doughboy’ Saunders last Monday from a lengthy battle with cancer. He raced for 26 years.”
Leo Ej Wise commented, “The pic of Bobby Pierce after the World 100 sums up what we mean by racing family. Won the biggest race of his career and turns the focus to Shane’s family. True sportsman right there.” In another message, he wrote: “Thoughts and prayers go out to the Unger family in their time of need. Shane is up there banging wheels with Charlie Floyd and all the other fallen drivers. Running on heaven’s speedway, where the track and car is always perfect. God speed. Rip”
Casey Moorman stated, “Of all of the things nobody was ready to let him go, but at least the man died doing something he had a passion for. Rest easy.”
“I have looked forward to and attended the World 100 and Eldora track for 29 years now, and surely God willing will continue each year now after,” said Theresa Smith. “But would like to say for us die-hard 100 fans, Shane will be remembered and never forgotten, His memory both as a driver and sad passing will always be a part of something we love and He loved. Rest In Peace Driver Shane Unger.”
Jason Kelch remarked, “Shane Unger, AKA Doughboy, words can not express how much you will be missed. A lot of the greatest times I had in my life were with you… from softball right out of high school to being on the same dart league team for years. You truly were awesome to be around, Never ever did you not have a smile on your face. My thoughts and prayers are with the whole Unger family and your beautiful son and daughter. My Heart Hurts. FlyHigh79 DOUGHBOY.”
After Kelch attended the viewing on Wednesday night, he had this to say, “I can’t even explain Shane Unger how hard it was to say goodbye tonight. I’m still hurting. Your brother Shaun told me to quit crying that you would not want that but I couldn’t help it. All the memories of times spent with you flooded my brain as I walked up to the casket. You truly are one of the most genuine guys out there. I will most of all remember being your dart partner for years the conversations on the way to league or tournaments. We had some awesome times and I will never forget them.”
“He always had a way to make you smile no matter what was going on. I always enjoyed his presence at the family gatherings and anytime we ran in to each other,” said Brandon Finlay.
Tommy Finlay responded, “He definitely made a positive impact on many. Being his cousin I can’t name a time where I didn’t like to be around him.”
Rusty Schlenk wrote: “Shane Unger was an awesome guy and I’m glad to have known him and called him a friend. I got the opportunity to spend an hour signing autographs next to him Saturday before the races! I enjoyed our conversations as we signed autographs for the youngsters. It breaks my heart that he had to leave us so early. Rest in peace buddy! Until we meet again.”
Leslie Lang replied, “My deepest sympathy, prayers, and thoughts go out to the Shane Unger family, but most of all his beautiful little girls. Shane’s accident and death have had a huge impact on the racing community. I hope his family knows that they are not hurting alone. I did not know him, but last night is something I will never be able to forget and my heart will always remember that awful event in life.”
“Thoughts and prayers to his family and all his racing buddies,” stated Vicky Stepp Cumbee. “This is such a terrible accident in our racing world. God bless all of our family and friends. Racing families are a tight bunch and it saddens everyone to hear such terrible news.”
The track is owned by three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, who was racing at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night. A team spokesman said after the race that Stewart had not been informed of the driver’s death, the Associated Press reported.
“Please keep the Unger family in your thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace, Shane and Godspeed. – TSR,” read a statement from Tony Stewart Racing.
Official donation information for the Unger family is now available. Race fans from across the country have been requesting how they can offer the family financial assistance during this time of need.
Donations may be made online, by mail and credit card through the Tony Stewart Foundation, a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit registered with the IRS. One hundred percent of donations made “In Memory of Shane Unger” will be directed to his family.
ONLINE, visit www.TonyStewartFoundation.org , click the “DONATE NOW” button, select “in memory of” from the Tribute Type pull down menu and enter “Shane Unger” in the Tribute Information field; by mail, note checks or money orders “In memory of Shane Unger” and mail to The Tony Stewart Foundation, 438 Southpoint Circle, Brownsburg, IN 46112-2203; and by phone, call 317- 299-6066 to make credit card donations by phone.
It was noted that Fullenkamp Frenchtown Trailers and Homestretch Sportswear made sure the Unger family got shirts for the funeral. The cost was taken care of by the two businesses.
“We wanted to make sure the family was able to get shirts to wear for the funeral,” a spokesperson said. “Once the funeral is over, Homestretch Sportswear wants to be a part of a fundraising event. They will send us a link to share and you’ll be able to order the same shirt online for everyone that would like one. We are sorry that we couldn’t include everyone in the initial order but we want to make sure EVERYONE gets a shirt as another memory of Shane Unger.”
Because Unger had so many race fans, the family asked that visitors dress casual with their favorite race shirt to the funeral which was held on Thursday.
The Unger family had conveyed their appreciation of the prayers and support expressed by the racing community and requested their privacy be respected at this time.
Unger was laid to rest in St. Peters Cemetery, Webster. It was also the the wishes of the family that memorial contributions be given to a fund for his children, Lexi and Owen.
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.
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