KALWASINSKI: Chicago Chips


Two racing greats, Herb Shannon and Jack Tyne, now both deceased, were inducted into this year’s class as they represented the South Region. Shannon was a hard charger at the Peoria Speedway, winning two championships at the old track and one at the new speedway. His 1957 title-winning year saw him win 19 out of 26 features held. He was a two-time winner of Peoria’s Illinois State Championship race. Shannon competed in USAC stock car competition from 1956 until 1982. He was fifth in the USAC standings in 1963. Shannon wheeled a “factory-backed” Dodge to a fourth place finish in Colorado’s Pikes Peak Hill Climb event in 1965. He competed in three NASCAR Grand National races, finishing 24th in the 1965 Daytona 500. Shannon died Sept. 8, 2012 age the age of 81.

Hailing from Streator during his career, the late Jack Tyne was a multi-time stock car track champion at the Fairbury Speedway and also captured honors at the Farmer City dirt oval. If there was a dirt track in Illinois, Tyne probably competed there from the Springfield Mile to the smallest clay track “bull ring.” Tyne, who began his racing career at the age of 16 at the old Third Street Speedway in his hometown, passed away in July of 2009. He was 80 years old.

The late Hugh Deery of the Rockford Speedway passed away in July of 1984, but not before building the Rockford oval into one of the nation’s short track success stories. Deery was this year’s race track promoter inductee. Whether it was a new idea for race track refreshments, an idea of a season-ending special or a whole set of new technical stock car rules, which he instituted in 1974, Deery was at the top when it came to race track promotion. The Deery Family, led by Deery’s wife, Jody, still own and operate the speedway to this day.

Santa Fe Speedway track announcer Jan Gabriel was part of this year’s hall of fame induction class. Beginning in 1968 and for 14 consecutive summers, Gabriel handled the microphone duties at the “track of clay” — working as many as four-nights-a-week. He was part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track announcing crew for three years and, after his Santa Fe days were over, began producing the nationally-syndicated “Super Chargers” TV series for 12 years. Gabriel passed away at the age of 69 on January 10, 2010.

Finally, Wayne Lending was honored as this year’s stock car builder inductee. Born in Iowa, he got interested in stock car racing as a teenager while working at a local hometown garage. He moved to Illinois and began racing at the Rockford Speedway, winning the very first race he ever competed in, wheeling a ’58 Chevy convertible to the checkered flag in 1969. Stock car racing titles at both Rockford and the old Lake Geneva Raceway in Wisconsin came later with Lensing beginning to pay more attention to building race cars instead of driving them. He started his own company — Lefthander Chassis in 1982 and built the business into one of the most successful and well-known stock car chassis building and parts companies in the country. In 2001, he created the Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe, which is the home of the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame.

It was a busy night as some of the greats of Illinois stock car racing were honored and remembered.

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Stan Kalwasinski
Stan Kalwasinski has been involved in auto racing for nearly 50 years as both a writer and photographer. He has a particular interest in Chicagoland auto racing — primarily stock car racing. Look for him at tracks in the Chicagoland region of Illinois.