Scotty Bitner leaves lasting impact on local community

Bitner, a local racing "legend", passes at the age of 83

PITTSBURG, Ks. – Scotty Bitner, a lifelong car enthusiast, entrepreneur, and champion racer, passed away last week at the age of 83.

Bitner touched the lives of many. He loved to share his vast knowledge and passion for cars with others.

“The things people were posting, they were saying he’s a legend, he’s the sweetest, nicest man, he helped so many people, he helped preserve the history of the community,” says Scotty’s wife Phyllis Bitner.

“Every time I saw him he had a smile on his face and it made me smile,” says local racing historian, Tim Belk.  “Some people are just like that.”

Cars were always a part of Bitner’s life. Early on in his career, he worked for Bill Lemon at his car lot.

“The college kids would come in there and Bill would say, ‘Go talk to Scotty. He’ll tell you about it,” and 50 years later we’ve heard from some of those kids, who are now adults,” Phyllis Bitner says. “They would come in and say, ‘You don’t know how much it meant to me, what you taught me or what I learned from you.'”

Bitner is also remembered for his achievements behind the wheel.

“Scotty raced everywhere,” Phyllis Bitner says. “He raced Springfield, Joplin, Nevada, Neosho and a lot of local tracks like that.”

Bitner also raced and won at the 69 Speedway in Pittsburg, Kansas, which is located where the Home Depot is now. He co-operated the track in its final two years.

“He took a racetrack that was struggling and made it successful,” Belk says.

In 1973, Bitner opened Bitner Motors, which is now run by his son, Mike. In retirement he opened Scotty’s Classic Cars, a museum that ran for 12 years. On the day it closed in 2011, Bitner saw an outpouring of support.

“We were going to keep count and we quit counting at 700 people,” Phyllis Bitner says. “People were standing in line to wait to come up to him. I think that was probably one of the most emotional days for him where he really saw what a role he had played in helping so many people around the area.”

“I run into his name repeatedly as I do historical records for racing,” Belk says. “They remember that Bitner guy from Pittsburg.”

The love of cars and racing spans multiple generations in the Bitner family, beginning with Joe Bitner, Scotty’s dad, and on to Scotty’s son, Mike.