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Motor Racing

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Baer Field icon dies at 54


– Al Cook Jr. outran cancer through one final, magical summer. But Wednesday it finally caught him.

Cook, a Baer Field Speedway Hall of Famer and member of one of the Speedway’s iconic racing families, died. He was 54.

Cook was the oldest of four brothers who followed their father, Speedway Hall of Famer Al Cook Sr., into the family business. Cook Jr. won track titles, and, this past summer, came up four points short of another late-model title despite battling the stomach cancer.

Cook led the late model points for a majority of the season until a pit accident during warm-ups cost him the lead, and the title, to John Gatton Jr. Nonetheless, he won the Season Championship Feature and also won a pair of races back-to-back at Angola Motor Speedway. His last race was at Winchester Speedway on Oct. 12.

He began his career at Avilla and moved on from there to find success on both pavement and dirt short tracks around the area.