Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Inc. (NARHoF)
The idea of a Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame had its origins during discussions at State Fair Park in Lincoln in the mid 1990s. Bob Nickolite and Tony Glenn had begun promoting the Nebraska State Championship Races during the Nebraska State Fair in 1995 and over a cup of coffee during a planning session, the pair began “kicking around” the idea of a Hall of Fame to honor the many Nebraskans who have made substantial and far-reaching contributions to the sport of auto racing.
Following a number of subsequent telephone conversations, Nickolite and Glenn decided to assemble a small group of racing enthusiasts to further discuss their idea and “Speedy Bill” Smith, the owner of Lincoln’s Speedway Motors, racing historian Ray Valasek, former driver Bob Burdick, and long-time race announcer Wayne Dake came on board, bringing the original group to six members.
The initial formal meeting of the group was held during the spring of 1997 and things began to happen quickly. Nickolite was named the organization’s first President, Glenn was selected as Vice President, Valasek assumed the role of Secretary, and Dake took on the duties of Treasurer. Ideas developed into plans, plans eventually became by-laws, and eventually non-profit 501C3 papers were filed with the Nebraska Secretary of State.
A little over a year later, as part of the 1998 State Fair Championship Races, the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame’s first induction ceremony was held at the Club House at State Fair Park. The initial inductees included George “Andy” Anderson, Roy Burdick, Wilbert “Willie” Hecke, Bob Kosiski, Jan Opperman, Joe Saldana, Bill Smith, and Gene Van Winkle. Since those first inductions in 1998, over 150 members of the Nebraska racing community have been enshrined into the Hall of Fame.
The Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame holds its annual Induction Ceremony, which regularly draws crowds of over 300 racing enthusiasts, each October at Courtside Banquet Hall in Lincoln. The Hall of Fame’s display room, which includes plaques honoring each past inductee, is housed within the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln.
Nominees to the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame must have been a resident of the state of Nebraska for a minimum of two years and must be retired from the discipline they are being honored for, at least four years. Active participants in the sport will be considered if they are at least 55 years of age and have been involved in the sport for a minimum of 30 years.
All candidates must have made positive contributions to the sport of automobile racing on both a local and regional level and have gone on to achieve a level of national prominence.
The purpose of the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame is to perpetuate the memory of these individuals who have brought lasting fame to the state of Nebraska through their efforts in auto racing.
Objectives and Purpose
To collect biographical information on current and/or past Nebraska residents who have been involved in auto racing. Involvement may include, but not limited to, drivers, car owners, car builders, mechanics, promoters, officials and media representatives.
To perpetuate the memory of individuals who have brought lasting fame and positive recognition to the state of Nebraska through their achievements in the sport of auto racing.
To select a minimum of six (6) and a maximum of eight (8) individuals annually, with a minimum of two deceased, who have made significant accomplishments in auto racing.
To honor the individuals selected with and award and make the appropriate public recognition of their achievements at a location designated by the Board of Directors.
To place on permanent public display a duplicate of the award presented to the individual, or a member of a deceased individuals family at a location designated by the Board of Directors.
To engage in other activities related to the pursuit of selecting and honoring individuals for induction into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Final selection of inductees will be the responsibility of the Board of Directors.
Anyone wishing to nominate a person to the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame can do so by mailing the person’s name, with a list of their accomplishments to Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame, 5527 S. 20th St., Lincoln, NE 68512. Nominees may also be submitted by clicking here.
The Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame is operated by a group of volunteer administrators and officers, and we appreciate both monetary and physical assistance from the racing community. If you or your business would like to donate funds, products, services or volunteer time, please contact us:
c/o Joe Orth, Secretary, Treasurer
5527 S. 20th St.
Lincoln, NE 68512