BELLEVILLE, Kan. – Officials from the High Banks Hall of Fame & National Midget Auto Racing Museum have announced the class of 2021 that will be inducted on Aug. 5.
The 2020 High Banks Hall of Fame class, whose original ceremony was postponed due to health concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will also be inducted on Aug. 5.
The 2021 class will include midget racing greats Keith Rauch and Wally Zale, as well as sprint car champ Gordon Herring, stock car phenom Lennie Funk and long-time racing official Charlie Gottschalk.
Rauch, the 51 year-old open wheel racer from Broomfield, Colo., has won 12 RMMRA Midget titles and 89 feature events while racing with the Colorado series during more than 30 seasons with the series. He won his first title in 1993 and claimed his most recent crown in 2020.
Those accomplishments are club records with RMMRA, which has been conducting race meets for more than 80 years. Rauch has also competed in both the Midget Nationals and the 305 Nationals at Belleville during that time.
Herring was born in Kansas in 1920 and later relocated to the Denver area. After racing stocks and roadsters, Herring would become one of the first stars of the BCRA Sprint Car Club out of Colorado in 1958. He also raced with IMCA and RMMRA and also competed in the Pikes Peak Int’l Hill Climb. In BCRA Gordon won three championships as a driver in 1959, ’61 and ’62. The three-time champ was killed in a racing accident in Owatonna, Minn., during an IMCA sprint car event. He was 44 years old.
Funk was one of the greatest drivers in IMCA stock car racing history. The driver from tiny Otis, Kan., was a farmer by trade, who in between tending the family soil, went toe-to-toe with the big boys of the IMCA circuit, including Ernie Derr, Dick Hutcherson and Ramo Stott. The privateer raced without corporate backing in IMCA from the 1950’s until 1968. He finished as high as third in the point standings while running a limited schedule. He won at like the Belleville High Banks, Topeka and Sedalia.
Gottschalk has been involved in racing since the 1950’s as a racer, official and vintage race car enthusiast. He grew up in North Denver and attended the races at Lakeside Speedway during his youth before becoming a competitor with RMMRA when he was 21. From 1957-59 he would race his own car, as well as midgets owned by Marty Weiland and co-owners Bill Hill and Jim Steele. Later, Gottschalk would become an official for RMMRA, as well as the AIMS and SWIMS Midget Series with Mitch Miller. Working with Miller, the likable Gottschalk, who has lived back and forth between Colorado and Arizona over the years, would work as the pit steward for the Belleville Midget Nationals.
Chicago racing phenom Zale was one of the top midget racers during the pioneering days of the sport in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. A member of the Chicago Gang of racers that included Tony Bettenhausen and Duke Nalon, Zale was a top competitor until his untimely death in an automobile accident in 1942. Before his passing Zale had won championships at venues in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri while setting standards for midget wins in a season that have never since been surpassed. In 1936, Zale won 65 features while racing in midget competition. He would surpass that before the World War II shut down the sport, winning 67 features in 1940.
Also being honored in at the High Banks Hall of Fame Ceremony will be the class of 2020 which includes “Tiger” Bob Williams, Larry Dickson, Roger McCluskey, Rodger Ward, Bob Wente, Bob Tattersall, Cecil Green, Duane Carter Sr., Carl Williams and Buddy Taylor.
The High Banks Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and luncheon to be held at the Belleville High School, in Belleville, Kan. Doors open at 11 a.m., food is served at Noon, followed by the induction ceremony. This event is open and free to the public. The luncheon is free with a donation to the High Banks Hall of Fame.