BORN: JANUARY 31, 1940, LUDINGTON, MI
Dave Boertman is a household word in
the sport of drag racing,
where he was among the best in the world for nearly three decades. The 1958
Muskegon Catholic Central graduate got
his start in the sport in 1962, when
he went with some friends to the Central Michigan dragway. The high speeds
back then were 76 mph, but Boertman had started a lifelong obsession that
would take him to much higher speeds at venues around the country.
Boertman won 17 National Hot Red Association super stock eliminator events, five world championships and set 23 national records in the sportsman class. He also captured 16 national titles and one world championship on the International Hot Rod Association Tour. During his heyday in the 1970s, Boertman competed in as many as 30 competitions each year in all corners of the country.
Inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990, Boertman received plenty of media attention during his racing years. Four times he was named Car Craft Magazine “Driver of the Year.” He also won awards as the IHRA “Driver of the Year”, Super Stock Magazine’s “Mechanic of the Year” and the NHRA North Central Division “Person of the Year.”
In 1985, Boertman, at age 45, came back from a seven-year retirement to win the world Super Stock title and become the winningest sportsman driver in drag racing history. That victory also netted him $12,000.
BORN: FEBRUARY 16, 1933, KIRKLAND LAKE, ONTARIO, CANADA
DIED: JULY 16, 2014, MUSKEGON, MI
It’s not much of a stretch to say that professional hockey in Muskegon was
built around Joe Kastelic. An eight year veteran of the International Hockey
League, the left winger had spent time in Fort Wayne and Louisville before
his arrival in Muskegon in 1961. The Zephyrs, entering only their
second year in the league, had acquired one of the league’s premier talents.
Kastelic was in his prime and it showed as he posted a career-high 54 assists and a team-leading 101 points as the Zephyrs posted a 43-23-2 regular season mark. The team won eight of nine playoff contests en route to their first ever IHL Turner Cup championship.
During his seven seasons in Muskegon, Kastelic never scored fewer than 78 points. In fact, he scored 78 points in the final season of his career (1967-68), helping the Muskegon franchise win their second Turner Cup championship. Many believe that team was the best in Muskegon hockey history, featuring the likes of former National Hockey League star Carl Brewer, as well as Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame inductees Bryan McLay and Gary Ford.
Kastelic grew up in Ontario, Canada, the son of immigrant parents from Slovenia who came to the small northern town to work in the gold mines. A natural athlete, Kastelic played in the top baseball minor league in Canada and was courted by the Boston Red Sox as a first baseman and outfielder, before deciding on hockey.
He retired in 1968 after a 15-year career in the IHL. When he left the game, he was the league’s all-time leading scorer with 551 goals. The mark lasted 24 years before it was topped. Kastelic’s career total of 583 assists ranked fourth. His 63 goals scored in 67 games during the 1962-63 season was fifth in league history at the time of his retirement.
BORN: MARCH 25, 1930, MUSKEGON, MI
Sherman Poppen was just trying to get
his daughters out of the house on Christmas Day in 1965, so he bolted
together a pair of kid's skis, then gave the creation to them
so they could ride down the
Lake Michigan dunes behind his house.
Who would have thought then that his
idea would evolve into the popular pastime of snowboarding, which now is an
His kids had so much fun with his contraption that Poppen went into his workshop and customized a board better suited for snow. His wife, Nancy, christened the invention the “snurfer,” noting that the board allowed the rider to surf on snow. The idea was picked up locally by Brunswick Corp., which manufactured the snurfer for distribution around the country.
It would be almost 20 years before snowboarding really took off, but Poppen’s invention was not forgotten. Poppen was presented the "Tranny Award" in 1995 at the Fifth Annual TransWorld Snowboarding Industry Conference, hosted in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Given annually to an individual in the snowboarding industry for lifetime achievement in the sport, the honor has been presented to the biggest names in the industry, including Jake Burton Carpenter, Tom Sims, Dimitrije Milovich, and Craig Kelly. Hailed as the “Father of Snowboarding,” Poppen also was featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Inventions” program for his snurfer.
A Muskegon High School graduate, Poppen was a successful and civic-minded businessman. He also was a skilled sailor and longtime member of the Muskegon Yacht Club. Following his retirement, Poppen took to the hills of Colorado to learn how to snowboard, riding the slopes with kids one-third his age.
“I figured I started this thing,” Poppen told The Muskegon Chronicle, “so I’d better get into it.”