LINCOLN, Neb.—A large crowd was on hand for the 19th annual Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held at the Lincoln Firefighter’s Hall on October 14.
This year’s event included an Ice Breaker for board members and the Class of 2016 inductees at Bill Smith’s Museum of American Speed, followed by a dinner and the induction ceremony, held at the Firefighter’s Hall.
Following dinner, Master of Ceremonies Tony Glenn welcomed those in attendance and introduced the 2016 Gordie Schuck Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Bob O’Neill of North Platte. O’Neill was involved in racing, in varying capacities, for portions of six decades in western and central Nebraska, mentored many young drivers during his long career, and was instrumental in saving dirt track racing at the fairgrounds race track in North Platte. O’Neill won numerous track championships, as a driver, throughout Nebraska and northern Kansas during his driving career.
The six members of the 2016 Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame class of inductees were introduced and interviewed by various members of the Hall of Fame board. This year’s inductees included:
Marlin Bogner (Kearney)
Marlin Bogner began his drag racing career at Kearney Dragway in 1974. He won the NHRA Division V Stock Eliminator championship in 1978 and two years later was the NHRA World Champion in the Stock Eliminator Class. Major wins that year included the NHRA Mile High Nationals in Denver, Colorado and the NHRA World Finals in Ontario, California. During his career, he has secured over 30 Class wins, multiple NHRA Division V championships, and has held numerous NHRA records in both the Stock Eliminator and Super Stock Classes. Bogner continues to operate his family-owned performance engine business, Bogner Automotive Services in his hometown of Kearney and races part-time with his son David.
Noell Chadd (Lincoln)
Noell Chadd has been involved in Sprint Car racing, as a car owner, for over 35 years. His list of successful drivers includes J.J. Riggins, Ken McCarty, John Sernett, Gary Dunkle, Rich and Russ Brahmer and his two sons, Dean and Mike Chadd. He was instrumental in bringing the 360 cubic inch Sprint Car Class to Knoxville Raceway and saw his son Dean win the track’s 360 championship in 1985. With Mike at the wheel, Noell’s car secured the National Championship Racing Association (NCRA) Sprint Car title in 1983, the Nebraska Sprint Car Association (NSCA) championship in 1991 and the Eagle Sprint Touring Series (ESTS) crown in 1993. Noell retired from car ownership in 2009.
Fred Garbers (Columbus)
Fred Garbers became involved in dirt track racing, as a car owner, in 1965. Over the years, his Modifieds, Super Modifieds and Sprint Cars have raced successfully in central and eastern Nebraska, as well as South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. In 1969, with Dean Ward at the wheel, Garbers’ machine won 14 of 17 Modified feature races they entered at Hastings and Kearney. Other drivers who piloted Garbers-owned machines included Jimmy Stewart, Russ Brahmer, Kim Lingenfelter, Dick Forbrook and Lloyd Beckman. After selling his racing operation, Garbers did chassis set-up for successful eastern Nebraska Sprint Car driver Mike Boston for 17 years, with the pair winning eight track championships together.
Tom Gutowski (Omaha)
Tom Gutowski has been involved in various forms of racing since the mid 1970s. He began as a road course driver with the Cornhusker Corvette Club (CCC). After achieving both local and national success with Corvette Club racing, Gutowski secured his license with the Sports Car Club of America in 1979 and the next year, won the Midwest Division B Production Regional championship. After giving up road course racing, Gutowski built and owned the first registered IMCA dirt modified in 1984, and raced it successfully throughout the Midwest for a number of years. He later became a track promoter at three western Iowa dirt tracks (Harlan, Denison and Alta) and currently is the Competition Director for IMCA.
John Larson (Lincoln)
John Larson began his career in motorsports as a drag racer in the 1950s. While working for “Speedy” Bill Smith at Speedway Motors in Lincoln, he got his first taste of dirt track racing, becoming a member of the team that built the successful 4X Sedan driven by Lloyd Beckman. Larson eventually opened a performance engine building business, Larson Racing Engines, in Lincoln and formed a successful Sprint Car racing team, with a number of drivers, including J.J. Riggins spending time in the cockpit. Over the years, his engine building business built power plants for some of the most successful dirt track drivers in the Midwest including Late Model pilots Clayton Petersen, Jr., Rex Nunn and Dan Rabbas.
Clarence “Pop” Miller (Gothenburg)
Pop Miller developed an interest in speed at a very young age, racing automobiles and motorcycles and even learning to fly and becoming a member of a flying circus. Following his marriage and the birth of his first child, Clarence relocated his growing family to California, where he immediately became involved in racing as a mechanic. In the 1930s and 40s, he built, worked on and owned flat-head V8 powered Roadsters that ran with the California Roadster Association, before the CRA phased in Sprint Cars in the 1960s. At that point, Miller turned his attention to Sprinters, and having a keen eye for young talent, provided Parnelli Jones and Bob East with their first driving opportunities in a Sprint Car. Other successful drivers who drove for Miller included Bobby Unser, Buzz Rose and Gordon Wooley.
Tim Schultz (Lincoln)
Tim Schultz began his racing career as a drag racer in 1977. After driving drag cars for a number of years, Schutz was asked to be on the team of a Bonneville Salt Flats car driven by “Big Daddy” Don Garlits in 1988. The following year, Schultz and fellow Lincolnite John MacKichan built their own salt flats racer, with Tim eventually being selected as the driver. During their first trip to Bonneville with the car, Schultz set a new D Gas Division record of nearly 249 miles per hour with a 302 cubic inch Chevrolet engine running on gasoline. In the two decades the MacKichan/Schultz Speedway Motors Streamliner raced at Bonneville, it set eight records, with two of them remaining unbroken to this day.
Following the induction ceremony, attendees were invited to tour the Museum of American Speed, a three-level, 135,000 square foot display of cars, engines and other historical artifacts pertinent to automobile racing and the automotive industry.