CALISTOGA, Calif. – When the annual Louie Vermeil Classic sprint car race hits Calistoga Speedway Sept. 1-2, the late summer event will kick off a new tradition as inaugural members of the track’s Hall of Fame will be inducted during the weekend, led by a couple whose name is synonymous with the famous half mile oval, Alice and Louie Vermeil.
“Creating this Hall of Fame is our effort to preserve the past and recognize the importance of people who made major contributions to sprint car racing and Calistoga Speedway, and do it in a way that people can enjoy,” said Tommy Hunt, West Coast vice-president of the United States Auto Club (USAC) who led the effort to create the Hall of Fame. USAC is the sanctioning organization for the Louie Vermeil Classic, a Labor Day weekend tradition that features non-wing sprint cars and midgets.
The inductees or their family members will be introduced during the weekend racing program and their place in the Hall will be memorialized with a trophy that will be kept at Calistoga Speedway, which is celebrating its 75th year of racing.
Leading the list of eight inductees will be the late Alice and Louie Vermeil, whose passion and dedication to Calistoga Speedway and sprint car racing throughout Northern California set the foundation for the track to thrive for decades. In recent years, the speedway has been known as “the track that Louie built”, in recognition of his support as a car owner, race official and founding member of the Northern Auto Racing Club, during a critical time when racing was just getting established in the Napa Valley.
Other inductees to be honored that weekend include: Leroy Van Connett, the eight-time Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) champion and the speedway’s all-time race winner with 31 victories; Charlie Wolleson, a long time member of the Napa County Fair Board of Directors and a NARC pit steward, whose support was critical to maintaining the racing program for many years; Billy Anderson, a three-time Calistoga Speedway champion; Bill Sullivan, a former NARC and Calistoga Speedway champion; Charlie Curryer, promoter of the first race at Calistoga Speedway and subsequently at tracks throughout Northern California; Bill Deschamps, a former member of the NARC Board of Directors, car owner and driver and 13-time NARC and Golden State Challenge Series champion Brent Kaeding who, with 21 victories, sits second on Calistoga Speedway’s all time win list.