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Iowa Motorsports Legends Named to Initial ‘Racing Hall of Fame’

Posted: Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 at 4:52 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS News - Nathan Sage

Thirty-seven Iowa motorsports legends will be inducted into the first Iowa Hall of Fame and Racing Museum, Inc., Saturday, March 24, in Webster City, with two having ties to Knoxville.

Long-time promoter at Knoxville and originator of the now-famous Knoxville Nationals, Marion Robinson will join Ralph Capitani as inductees to the hall of fame. Capitani, is a former high school football coach and teacher who became promoter at Knoxville and who took the annual race to national prominence. The event will begin with a meal at 6 p.m., followed by induction ceremonies at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. The ceremony will be held at the new Hamilton County Events Center at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. Tickets are on sale now by contacting Marty Pringle, 603 Hayes St., Otho, Iowa 50569 (email: or telephone: 515-570-5646). He also has lodging information.

The inductees represent a virtual “who’s who” among Iowa legends in automotive sports.
Included are:
J. Alex Sloan: Founder of the International Motor Contest Association, who brought motorsports into Iowa;
Al Sweeney & Frank Winkley: Who operated National Speedways, Inc., and Auto Racing, Inc., respectively, the two main promotional arms of the International Motor Contest Association;
“Gus” Schrader: The Newhall native, regarded by many as the greatest driver ever to come out of Iowa and who lost his life in a race crash in 1941 at Shreveport, La.;
DeWayne “Tiny” Lund: Whose 1963 victory remains the only Daytona 500 win by a native Iowan;
Frederick and August Duesenberg: Immigrant Iowa brothers who built and raced the famed Duesenberg, then moved the company to Indiana where they built some of the first American luxury automobiles;
Ernie Derr: The driver who was responsible for Keokuk being called the “City of Champions” and leader of the so-called “Keokuk Komets, a 12-time IMCA Stock Car Series champion;
Don White: Derr’s brother-in-law, himself a three-time IMCA Stock Car champion, who was twice champion of the USAC Stock Car series, and;
Emory Collins: A Canadian native who settled in LeMars, Iowa and became a four-time IMCA driving champion.
But, that’s only a partial list of Iowa legends who will be honored in memory or in person during the induction ceremony in Webster City. The list also includes many living Iowa legends in various areas of the motorsports industry in Iowa, regarded by many as the nation’s “racingest” state. For years Iowa led the nation with the number of tracks holding weekly races in a per-capita basis.
Sixteen individuals will be inducted on the basis of their inclusion in other halls of fame around the country, each of whom is a native Iowan or someone who made his mark on the profession while living in Iowa. In addition, five individuals have been named in three categories – drivers (1970 to present), drivers (1946 through 1969), and Owner/Mechanic/Builder/Manufacturer/Car Sponsor. Three were named in the Promoter/Official/Media Member/Event-Series Sponsor category, and one each were picked in Motorcycle, Figure 8 and Drag Racing.
Two living Iowa racing legends are among the 16 individuals named as automatic inductees because of their inclusion in other national halls of fame. They are driver Ramo Stott of Keokuk and driver/car builder Ed Sanger of Postville.
In addition to Stott and Sanger, plus the 10 individuals listed above, the automatic inductees include: Dick Hutcherson of Keokuk, a 13-time NASCAR race winner and former IMCA Stock Car champion; John Gerber of Davenport, a former IMCA big car champion and promoter (he built the old quarter-mile track in Centerville), and; Johnny Beauchamp of Atlantic, the former IMCA champion and the driver originally declared winner of the first-ever Daytona 500 in 1959.
Others named, include:
Drivers (1970 to present) – Curt Hansen of Dike; Tom Hearst of Wilton (first-ever NASCAR national champion of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series); Gary Webb of Davenport (former NASCAR national champion and winner of 18 straight features one season); the late Bob Shryock of Estherville; and Roger Dolan of Lisbon (a former NASCAR national champion).
Drivers (1946 through 1969) – the late Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, the late Ronnie Weedon of Pleasant Valley (winner of more than 500 feature races during his career), Denny Hovinga of Laurens, the late LaVerne “Red” Droste of Waterloo, and Verlin Eaker of Mechanicsville (winner of the first-ever Yankee Dirt Track Classic at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids in 1977).
Owner/Mechanic/Builder/Manufacturer/Car Sponsor: the late Bob Trostle of Des Moines (builder of championship sprint cars for many decades), Bob Harris of Story City (founder of Harris Auto Racing, Inc., a builder of race cars), Larry and Penny Eckrich (car owners of several different championship drivers), the late Dale Swanson of Harlan (credited with being the first to bring national automotive sponsorship into the IMCA Stock Car series when he was backed by GM in the 1950s), and Larry Clement of Fort Dodge (a well-known Iowa car owner/sponsor).
Promoter/Official/Media Member/Event-Series Sponsor: the late Al Frieden (innovative Iowa promoter/car owner who founded the prestigious Yankee Dirt Track Classic and the promoter who brought NASCAR to Iowa racing in the 1980s), and the late Keith Knaack (who founded Hawkeye Racing News in 1967 and later became the head of IMCA in developing the IMCA Modified program).
Also named were the late Whit Hemingway of Webster City in the motorcycle division; Larry Conklin of Carlisle in the figure-8 division, and; the Grove brothers of Fort Dodge in the Drag Racing category. Junior and Jerry Grove owned the car, driven by a third brother, Jimmy Grove.