SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The initial eight 2017 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame have been announced and four more, selected by popular vote from a list of 16 eligible candidates distributed through social mediums, will be announced Tuesday.
The sixth annual USAC Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held July 20 at Lucas Oil Raceway in conjunction with the Rich Vogler Classic USAC Silver Crown race.
The new inductees are Donald Davidson, Frank DelRoy, Gene Hartley, Steve Lewis, Howard Linne, Robbie Stanley, Steve Stapp and Johnny Thomson.
Davidson served as USAC’s statistician and historian from 1965-’97 and during that time preserved the bulk of USAC’s historical archives. His work in the sport has earned him a place in the Auto Racing Hall of Fame. During his USAC tenure he recorded driver and car owner records for all of USAC’s participants, including statistical data and prize money earnings. His enormous ability to retain information has earned him legendary status in our sport and he is constantly sought out for historical correctness. His enormous knowledge of the World’s Largest Single-Day Sporting Event began with memorizing the statistics, which were displayed in the Indianapolis 500 Floyd Clymer Yearbooks, which he found each year in a downtown London bookstore.
DelRoy served USAC as its Technical Director from 1970 until his untimely death in the chartered USAC plane crash in April of 1978 returning from a Championship race in Trenton, N.J. He grew up in Paterson, N.J., location of the famed “Gasoline Alley,” and at age 19 began racing. In the 1930s he served as a riding mechanic at the Indianapolis 500, his car earning the pole in 1937 with driver Bill Cummings. He was involved with 1941 Indy 500 winner Mauri Rose and also worked with legendary driver Ted Horn before Horn’s demise at DuQuoin, Ill. in 1948. In 1951 DelRoy was the chief mechanic for Mike Nazaruk who earned a second place finish in the “500.” His mechanical expertise was immense and he was highly regarded as one of the sport’s top mechanics for many years. He also worked tirelessly for safety in the sport leading to many innovations regarding safety regulations.
Hartley will best be remembered as the driver who captured USAC’s inaugural race, held January 8, 1956 at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. The son of Ted Hartley, who himself competed as a Midget racer into his 70s, was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1985 and earned 31 USAC Midget victories, which still ranks among the top-10 on the all-time list and he was among the “top-three” in USAC National Midget points five straight years (1957-’61). In 1959 he was crowned the champion of the USAC National Midget Series. In addition to his Midget racing he also competed in AAA and USAC Championship Cars and among his 10 starts in the Indianapolis 500 was a 10th in 1957 and three 11ths. At the famed Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway in 1956 he finished second behind George Amick. After retiring as a driver, he joined forces with racer Leroy Warriner as co-promoter at the Indianapolis Speedrome. Hartley died in 1993.
Lewis was one of USAC’s most proficient car owners. Nearly every major name driver competed for him during his tenure with USAC, racing up a record 133 National victories, more than anyone in history. His victories included basically every major race in America and during the 10-year stretch between 1993 and 2004 he was nearly unbeatable, winning 10 USAC National Car Owner titles with drivers Stevie Reeves, Tony Stewart, Kenny Irwin Jr., Jason Leffler, Kasey Kahne, Dave Darland, J.J. Yeley and Bobby East! The founder of the sport’s highly acclaimed Performance Racing Industry trade show, Steve set new standards for excellence in the sport which may never be matched. As a race promoter, he organized lucrative race events in Indianapolis, Ind. and Orlando, Fla., which offered a $50,000 bonus for any driver who could claim double victories in either. In 2006 he was inducted into the Belleville High Banks Hall of Fame in Kansas and in 2004 he was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame. He also earned USAC’s coveted Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence in 2009.
Linne amassed 69 USAC National Midget feature wins during his long career, which involved a multi-car stable which attracted many of the top drivers of his day. In 1961 he won the USAC National Midget Car Owner title with driver Jimmy Davies. In 1996 he was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame and drivers of his cars included the likes of the great Tony Bettenhausen, Bob Tattersall, Parnelli Jones, Mike McGreevy, Lee Kunzman and Henry Pens. He operated a race car parts shop in Mendota and also owned a farm implement dealership. In 2005 he was inducted into the Mazon Speed Bowl and Grundy County Speedway Halls of Fame. He passed away in 2008. It was not uncommon for Linne cars to dominate the podium at USAC National Midget races.