OTHO, Iowa – Thirty-seven Iowa motorsports legends will be inducted into the first Iowa Hall of Fame and Racing Museum on March 24 in Webster City, Iowa.
Eleven of the inductees are still living and it is hoped most, if not all, of those will be present for the induction ceremonies.
The inductees represent a virtual who’s who among Iowa legends in automotive sports.
J. Alex Sloan: Founder of the International Motor Contest Ass’n, who brought motorsports into Iowa.
Al Sweeney & Frank Winkley: Operated National Speedways Inc., and Auto Racing Inc., respectively, the two main promotional arms of the International Motor Contest Ass’n.
Gus Schrader: A Newhall native, regarded by many as the greatest driver ever to come out of Iowa. Lost his life in a race crash in 1941 in Shreveport, La..
DeWayne “Tiny” Lund: His 1963 victory remains the only Daytona 500 win by a native Iowan.
Frederick and August Duesenberg: Immigrant Iowa brothers who built and raced the famed Duesenberg, then moved the company to Indiana, where they built some of the first American luxury automobiles.
Ernie Derr: The driver who was responsible for Keokuk being called the “City of Champions” and leader of the so-called “Keokuk Komets,” a 12-time IMCA Stock Car Series champion.
Don White: Derr’s brother-in-law, himself a three-time IMCA Stock Car champion, who was twice champion of the USAC Stock Car series.
Emory Collins: A Canadian native who settled in LeMars, Iowa, and became a four-time IMCA driving champion.
That’s only a partial list of Iowa legends who will be honored in memory or in person during the induction ceremony in Webster City. The list also includes many living Iowa legends in various areas of the motorsports industry in Iowa. For years Iowa led the nation with the number of tracks holding weekly races in a per-capita basis.
Sixteen individuals will be inducted on the basis of their inclusion in other halls of fame around the country, each of whom is a native Iowan or someone who made his mark on the profession while living in Iowa.
In addition, five individuals have been named in three categories – drivers (1970 to present), drivers (1946 through 1969), and Owner/Mechanic/Builder/Manufacturer/Car Sponsor. Three were named in the Promoter/Official/Media Member/Event-Series Sponsor category, and one each were picked in Motorcycle, Figure 8 and Drag Racing.
Two living Iowa racing legends are among the 16 individuals named as automatic inductees because of their inclusion in other national halls of fame. They are driver Ramo Stott of Keokuk and driver/car builder Ed Sanger of Postville.
In addition to Stott and Sanger, plus the 10 individuals listed above, the automatic inductees include: Marion Robinson, long-time promoter at Knoxville and originator of the now-famous Knoxville Nationals; Dick Hutcherson of Keokuk, a 13-time NASCAR race winner and former IMCA Stock Car champion; John Gerber of Davenport, a former IMCA big car champion and promoter (he built the old quarter-mile track in Centerville), and; Johnny Beauchamp of Atlantic, the former IMCA champion and the driver originally declared winner of the first-ever Daytona 500 in 1959.
Others inductees include:
Drivers (1970 to present) – Curt Hansen of Dike; Tom Hearst of Wilton (first-ever NASCAR national champion of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series); Gary Webb of Davenport (former NASCAR national champion and winner of 18 straight features one season); the late Bob Shryock of Estherville; and Roger Dolan of Lisbon (a former NASCAR national champion).
Drivers (1946 through 1969) – the late Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, the late Ronnie Weedon of Pleasant Valley (winner of more than 500 feature races during his career), Denny Hovinga of Laurens, the late LaVerne “Red” Droste of Waterloo, and Verlin Eaker of Mechanicsville (winner of the first-ever Yankee Dirt Track Classic at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids in 1977).
Owner/Mechanic/Builder/Manufacturer/Car Sponsor: the late Bob Trostle of Des Moines (builder of championship sprint cars for many decades), Bob Harris of Story City (founder of Harris Auto Racing, Inc., a builder of race cars), Larry and Penny Eckrich (car owners of several different championship drivers), the late Dale Swanson of Harlan (credited with being the first to bring national automotive sponsorship into the IMCA Stock Car series when he was backed by GM in the 1950s), and Larry Clement of Fort Dodge (a well-known Iowa car owner/sponsor).
Promoter/Official/Media Member/Event-Series Sponsor: the late Al Frieden (innovative Iowa promoter/car owner who founded the prestigious Yankee Dirt Track Classic and the promoter who brought NASCAR to Iowa racing in the 1980s), the late Ralph Capitani of Knoxville (former high school football coach who became promoter at Knoxville and took the annual nationals event to national prominence), and the late Keith Knaack (who founded Hawkeye Racing News in 1967 and later became the head of IMCA in developing the IMCA Modified program).
Also named were the late Whit Hemingway of Webster City in the motorcycle division; Larry Conklin of Carlisle in the figure-8 division, and; the Grove brothers of Fort Dodge in the Drag Racing category. Junior and Jerry Grove owned the car, driven by a third brother, Jimmy Grove.
Many living inductees will be present, or represented by family members, at the ceremonies, as will a number of relatives of those who have passed away.
The event is open to the public, but advance tickets are required. The event will be held at the new Hamilton County Events Center at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. Tickets are on sale now by contacting Marty Pringle via email at [email protected] or via phone at 515-570-5646.