Joe Wadeís racing career began as an eight year old youngster, when he began racing go-karts at tracks in and around Lincoln. By age 16, he had turned his attention to motorcycles, racing at tracks in Fairbury, Wilbur and Crete.
During the winter of 1968, Wade and a group of friends began putting together a Stock Car, and that next season, in 1969, with the race car finally completed, he began his dirt track racing career at Midwest Speedway in Lincoln. As a testament to his natural talent, Wade picked up his first Feature Race win in July of that year at Midwest.
In 1973, Wade was a late entrant in the IMCA New Model Stock Car event at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln, and after finding a suitable replacement for himself at the fire station, where he worked as a firefighter, arrived at the race track in time for the Feature race. Starting at the back of the field, Wade powered the Ron Pohlman and Phil Durst owned Late Model into the lead on the 30th lap and went on to the biggest win of his career.
Wade continued racing Late Models with great success through the 1970s, at Beatrice, David City, Lincoln and Eagle, Nebraska and Harlan, Iowa, before teaming up with Ivan Tracy to race Sprint Cars at Midwest Speedway in 1981. During his first season as a Sprint Car pilot, Wade scored three Feature Race wins and continued racing Sprinters through the 1985 season when he hung up his racing gear for good.
During his 17 year career, Wade successfully raced at over two dozen tracks in seven Midwestern states. He won track championships at Beatrice, Lincoln, York and Nebraska City and at one time held one-lap records at eight different Nebraska race tracks, including Midwest Speedway in Lincoln, The Speed Bowl in Red Cloud, Eagle Raceway in Eagle, and Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan. He was the seventh most winning driver in the history of Midwest Speedway, scoring a combined 16 Feature wins in a Late Model and a Sprint Car at the popular Eastern Nebraska facility.