LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to announce inductees for 2010. The induction ceremony will be held on Friday, October 15, at the Lincoln Firefighters Reception Hall at 241 Victory Lane in Lincoln. The event will honor Nebraskans with an outstanding history of involvement in auto racing. Ticket information for the 2010 Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be available soon.
The 2010 Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductees include Gene Barnett of Lincoln, Merwyn “Mert” Dunker of Fremont, Bryon “Speed” Hinkley of Elba, Al Humphrey of Giltner, Wayne Lewis of Lincoln and Bob Woodhouse of Blair.
Lincoln’s Barnett had a long and distinguished career in motorsports. As a participant, he competed in county fair events around central Nebraska prior to World War II. When racing started at Capitol Beach in the early 1950s, Barnett was invaluable working as a promoter, flagman, pit steward, photographer and just about any other job that needed to get done. Soon, Barnett’s services were sought by other tracks throughout the region as well. After Capitol Beach closed, his regular gig was Midwest Speedway in north Lincoln, but he still helped with other facilities and also worked for National Speedways, Inc.
Merwyn “Mert” Dunker
Dunker was born in Fremont in 1937. Growing up, “stock” was never good enough as he even customized his bicycle as a youth, and later became a mechanical engineer. In 1957, his life changed after joining Omaha’s Roadstars Car Club and winning his first award for his custom ‘31 Ford pickup. His career as a starter came from being in the right place at the right time when the race promoter handed him the flags after the designated starter failed to show. From there, he established himself with the NHRA, flagging the starts across the country in the era before the now ubiquitous “Christmas Tree” lights. In the meantime, Dunker established himself as a top official on the show car circuit and is a noted collector of small scale cars. Also a drag racer and writer, Dunker has done it all and continues flagging old-timers races to this day.
Byron “Speed” Hinkley
Like many Nebraskans of the time, this Elba native honed his mechanical skills on the farm and cut his teeth on the dusty half-miles and fairground tracks in Nebraska and Kansas in the late 1910s. Following his family to California in 1920, Hinkley soon established himself on the 5/8- and mile-long tracks of California where he became one of the legendary early heroes of Ascot Speedway, winning many races and holding the track record for an extended period. His last win came in 1931 – a 60-lap contest at San Jose. He passed away December 31, 1989, at the age of 91.
Born in 1953 and starting his racing career in the early ‘70s, Al Humphrey became a fixture of late model racing in the Midwest, showing up to take on and beat the big boys – at times with just a skeleton pit crew and a modest trailer. At his peak, Humphrey was the man to beat at Mid-Nebraska Speedway where he won a total of five track championships. He took his winning ways elsewhere, claiming track championships at Red Cloud’s Speed Bowl, Lexington and I-80 Speedway. He won the inaugural Spec (now Super) Late Model Racing Series season championship in 2008. Humphrey is a life-long Nebraskan and currently farms near Giltner.
Lewis was born in 1941 in Rulo. He honed his mechanical skills on the family farm as a youngster, then grew up to work full time as an auto mechanic. In the early 1960s Lewis began building race engines and raced at drag strips across the region. He gave up driving to concentrate on customer engines, eventually setting up his own shop. Lewis’ engines saw success on the track, with his motors winning championships at Beatrice, Eagle and Lincoln’s Midwest Speedway. Lewis is currently an NHRA assistant tech director and still works his magic at Lincoln’s Speedway Motors.
A success on the track and in the business world, Woodhouse’s early love affair with the automobile led him to choose a career with Ford Motor Company over teaching. The Montana native left Ford and ran a chain of dealerships rooted in Blair. Woodhouse began a successful SCCA career behind the wheel in the 1970s, winning championships in regional and divisional series. In 2006, at the age of 60, Woodhouse took a podium finish in the SPEED World Challenge event at Sebring International Raceway, and finished sixth in the driver standings while still running his dealerships full time. His Woodhouse Performance team claimed three victories in the SPEED World Challenge series with veteran driver Tommy Archer in 2008. He now heads a group working to elevate the status of the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge.
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. Nominees to the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame must have been a resident of the state for at least two years and must be retired for at least four years from the discipline for which they are being honored. Active participants in the sport will be considered if they are at least 55 years of age and have been with the sport for at least 30 years. All candidates must have made positive contributions to the sport of auto racing on a local and regional level and go on to some national prominence.
Anyone wishing to nominate a person to the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame can do so by submitting the person’s name, with a list of their accomplishments in a short bio to:
The Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame
5527 S. 20th St.
Lincoln, NE 68512
You can also call 402-421-2266 or e-mail your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame is located inside the Museum of American Speed at 340 Victory Lane on the Speedway Motors complex in Lincoln, Neb. The Museum of American Speed hours: May through September, two-hour guided tours begin at 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. October through April, two-hour guided tours begin at 2 p.m. every Friday. Admission is $10 to tour the museum.
For more information about the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame, please visit www.narhof.com.