The racing career of Kenny Sizemore has taken every twist and turn through 25 years. He dazzled fans, inspired drivers, and mesmerized competitors over that quarter century in an illustrious career that launched in 1976. He raced in the Stock class until a year later. He quickly showed outstanding driver prowess and moved up to the high-horsepower level of the Late Model elite in 1978. A year later he finished 7th in the point standings. The early portion of his career was memorable as he often raced with family members. In the late 1970’s he became part of a formidable group of drivers that included Dean Sizemore, George Sutton, Red Sutton, and James Sutton. In the 1980’s Kenny’s career was a model of consistency. He posted 5 consecutive finishes inside the top ten in the final standings. They landmark victories were is lone Figure 8 feature triumph on June 26, 1987 and his dominate performance in the 50-lap Carquest Bash oval. His on-track driving career ended in a hardcore crash in 2000. Sizemore has been a proud supporter of the track and has sponsored too many cars to mention throughout the years. Kenny’s family has also been a big part of the racing action for several decades. Son Rodney won the Late Model championship in 1994, daughter Cynthia took home a Roadrunner title in 1999, and son Darren was one of the best oval drivers at the Speedrome. Grandson Chad is currently one of the top pilots in the Late Models. Kenny was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.
Mike St John
This 2004 Speedrome Hall of Fame induction is presented in recognition of a great racing career that has spanned three decades. Mike was the Indianapolis Speedrome Late Model Track Champion 1985, 1986, and 1988. On three occasions, he captured the World Figure 8 Championship Three Hour Endurance Race (1987, 1990, and 1991). He was also the National Figure 8 touring series champion in 1996. Mike’s battles with his brother Kenny and his nemesis Wayne Arnold are ingrained in Speedrome history forever. Not only could Mike drive anything on four wheels, but his persona is legendary. In every cowboy movie, someone had to “wear the black hat” and Mike took that role and flourished with it. He will go down as one of the most popular drivers of all-time.
This 2005 Speedrome Hall of Fame induction is presented in recognition of a great racing career that has spanned two decades. This son of 1986 Hall of Fame inductee Jack Lee was a four-time Indianapolis Speedrome Late Model Track Champion (1990, 1991, 1997, and 1998). On two occasions, he captured the World Figure 8 Championship Three Hour Endurance Race (1992 and 1995). He was also the Inaugural National Figure 8 touring series champion in 1992 and Late Model Rookie-of-the-Year in 1984. Speedrome history will remember his battles with Figure 8 legends Mike St John and Jack Dossey Jr. Duane’s clean, but aggressive style and reputation for being in contention at the end of each race is what fans thrived upon. Nicknamed “the General”, Duane Lee will go down as one of the most popular drivers in track history.
This 2006 induction to the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame is presented in recognition of a vast career in racing that has spanned nearly four decades. The legendary car builder from Whiteland, Indiana is just as strong a competitor behind the wheel. At first, CJ was primarily an engine builder before seeing a need for a better overall racecar. In 1979, he began building those cars with many going to victory lane at the Speedrome and tracks throughout the nation. The pinnacle Speedrome prize was when Kenny St John captured the 1982 World Figure 8 Championship. Since those years Rayburn has become known worldwide with a wealth of racing accomplishments as a car builder, owner, and a driver. His thought, ingenuity, and inventiveness have revolutionized the business of short track racing. We are proud to have the cycle completed with CJ Rayburn returning home to be part of the Speedrome Family and inducted into its Hall of Fame.
Phyllis & Bill Tunny Sr
This 2007 induction honors two true Speedrome Spirits, Phyllis & Bill Tunny Sr. They began building a Family in 1954 that would become fully ingrained in the Speedrome framework for decades past, present, and future. Phyllis successfully led the charge to save the track from the mayor’s wrath and the wrecking ball in 1982. Phyllis conveyed her Speedrome passion in registering bike racers, penning articles for racing publications, and supporting her family’s thirst for competition. She also would help anyone around who needed it. Bill has helped prepare racecars for three generations of Speedrome drivers including track champions Jack Lee and son Bruce Tunny as well as his brother Jim Tunny and eldest World Figure 8 Champion son Bill Tunny Jr. After Phyllis’ passing in 2002, Bill Sr. would go on to mentor his racing grandsons Mark, Ben, Jesse, and Austin with his experience, advise, and wisdom in her honor. The Speedrome Hall of Fame welcomes Phyllis & Bill Tunny Sr. who are perfect role models of caring, pride, respect, and most of all Family values inside or outside the race track.
The Late Model Division
In 2008, we are very proud to induct the Late Model division into the Speedrome Hall of Fame. This division broke the mold for short track racing. For the 1979 season, then track owner John Stiles married the quickness of the oval Stock division with the daringness of the Figure 8 Stocks into a class called Pro Stock. That now combined group of drivers then raced on both disciplines each and every night (a racing first). Rechristened as the Late Models in 1997 by the Cohen Family, it has spawned household names like Arnold, Dossey, Lee, St John, and Tunny over the 30 season campaigns. Nearly 600 Late Model drivers have challenged the famous Speedrome fifth-mile with only ten reaching the pinnacle as champion. Records were made and broken, dreams were fulfilled, and spectators stood in awe of the breathtaking crossover action. And it continues to be the most unique, innovative, and electrifying class on the American landscape. This induction honors all the drivers, car owners, mechanics, car builders, sponsors, and loyal fans that have supported the Late Model/Pro Stock division throughout its first three decades. We thank you!
In 2009, we are very proud to induct longtime track announcer Kevin O’Neal into the Speedrome Hall of Fame. The lifelong motorsports fanatic’s voice continues to ring through the speakers now in a third decade. The talented wordsmith who made average races good and good races great with his crafty commentary has a flair for the dramatic on the microphone. Kevin’s vast inventory of racing knowledge is second to none increasing weekly through his sharp memory recall and by numerous trips mingling with teams inside the pits during the pre-race. He has attached his voice to most of our biggest events and memorable moments during his time as the primary race caller. Over the years, O’Neal’s writing and photography skills have also been displayed for folks all over the Hoosier landscape in the Indianapolis Star and inside our very own Speedrome Pit Board newspaper. The Hall of Fame welcomes Kevin O’Neal who displays his passion for the track’s faithful fans throughout the years. Whether as the lead announcer, Pit Board editor, or photographer Kevin gives his maximum effort to entertain and inform everyone at the Indianapolis Speedrome.
This 2010 Speedrome Hall of Fame induction is presented in recognition of years of track success and support as a championship car owner, sportsman, and friend to the sport. This Indianapolis area entrepreneur brought his accomplished approach to the Late Model division in the 1990’s with wonderfully prepared machines and skilled drivers behind the wheel. No item was spared as he gave his teams all the necessary equipment to win races and contend for championships. With the turn of the new millennium came a decade of dominance for his cars. Numerous World Figure 8 Championships and Late Model track titles were amassed by his brilliant lineup of Bruce Tunny, Jack Dossey Jr, and Mark Tunny. In the pit area, he always kept spirits elevated with a quick smile or a funny remark or that infectious laugh, while on the track his racers were all business. When the Indianapolis Speedrome record book is finally closed, he may go down as one of the most successful car owners the track has ever known. We at the Indianapolis Speedrome are proud to welcome into the Hall of Fame, championship car owner Ed Bishop.
Tommy St John
This 2011 Speedrome Hall of Fame induction is presented in acknowledgment of a great motorsports career at the Indianapolis Speedrome. This consummate man behind the scenes has turned wrenches for numerous Track Champions and an unthinkable number of feature victories. The second-generation racing mastermind has played a prominent role in no less than 10 World Figure 8 Championship triumphs. Many of those ultimate achievements came with his celebrated Hall of Fame brothers Kenny and Mike St John behind the wheel. In addition to his family, he has a long history of helping other skilled racers and rising stars over the years. His wide range of knowledge and uncanny ability for setting up a racecar spans decades of drivers, divisions, and technology. As a sportsman he was always unselfish. Tommy freely gave advice to those who drove and those who prepared the cars even if they were competing against him. The Indianapolis Speedrome proudly welcomes Tommy St John into the Hall of Fame.
This 2012 Speedrome Hall of Fame induction is presented in recognition of an exceptional motorsports life at the Indianapolis Speedrome. The local entrepreneur and family man with a passion for racing found success on various levels at this historic facility. His skill as a driver led to a Stock championship in May 1981. After winning in the Late Model division, he was triumphant in the track’s first-ever points race held for the open-wheel Modifieds on April 30, 1993. Then solely as a car owner, he captured the Modified title in 1994 with son Robby as well as the 2004 and 2005 Late Model crowns with driver Curtis McMurtrey. Achievement in 3 different classes on the championship level is a rare feat. His support of racers and teams over the decades is tremendous. Country Auto Parts, United Auto Sales, and United Auto Salvage have appeared on a very long list of cars. This does not even count the numerous times he helped individuals with no sponsorship display or mention requested. His true Speedrome spirit comes from the old school style of “racers helping racers” when at all possible. The Indianapolis Speedrome proudly welcomes Bill Frye into the Hall of Fame.
John and Linda Dixon
This Hall of Fame induction is for 2 wonderful people. For over 3 decades, John and Linda Dixon were an essential and devoted part of the Indianapolis Speedrome. The always joyful couple were more like a member of your family when interacting with them at their familiar souvenir trailer. John and Linda joined the Speedrome landscape in 1977 when the Stiles family purchased the eastside racing landmark. The Dixon’s were the official photographers at the track while popularly providing picture services for other events via their nearby Fountain Square shop called Silver Square Studios. They expertly caught great action shots and perfectly positioned victory lane time capsules. When video tape became more common place a few years later, the pair added videographer to their list of Speedrome titles. Thousands of faithful fans have Dixon produced VHS tapes of complete race evenings in their collection still to this day. A plethora of peoples’ personal treasured memories were created by them. Kids loved visiting their souvenir trailer located just outside of the famous fifth-mile oval’s turn 4. A vast variety of toys and mementos were available to make a fan’s Speedrome experience more fun. But the most everlasting moments came during any conversation with John and Linda. One could feel their heartfelt love of the Speedrome and for its people. The duo never passed up a chance to tell a story, crack a joke, listen, or caringly ask how you are doing. They were two of the few individuals who had interaction in some form or manner with nearly every person of any age who stepped through the gates during their 3-plus decade association with the Speedrome. The track was certainly better for it. On this day July 20, 2013, we proudly welcome John and Linda Dixon into the honored rolls of the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame.
Bill Tunny Jr
This Hall of Fame induction goes to one of the most popular drivers in the history of the Indianapolis Speedrome. “Wild Bill” and “The Man with No Fear”, those monikers do well to describe the on-track exploits of Bill Tunny Jr. Outside of his racing seat, he is a respected family man filled with integrity, class, and devotion along with his unquestionable kindness to assist others. The Figure 8 course would become the perfect host to showcase his skill and boldness for nearly 40 years. Practically growing up on the grounds of the Speedrome, Bill sold popcorn and programs while watching and learning the values of the elder Tunny generation who excelled at aspects all around the track. The eager young man attacked the famous fifth-mile for the initial time in the late-1970’s and was part of the pioneering pack that launched the landmark Late Model class soon after. He dramatically won a patriotic first Figure 8 under the lights on live central Indiana television on July 4, 1986. For decades, fans would feed off the raw energy displayed in the titanic battles between Bill and younger brother Bruce. Numerous feature wins came during the next fifteen plus years including triumphs in the Late Model division’s signature clash, the One Hour Figure 8 Endurance Race. In September 2003, everyone witnessed a generational passing of the torch as Tunny majestically earned the World Figure 8 Championship in his 25th try while oldest son Ben was 10th in that same event. Sons Jesse and Austin would follow in the tradition with each adding major event victories to the Team Tunny resume under dad’s guidance. One of Bill’s proudest moments came on August 29, 2008 when he raced against all of his boys for the first time. We proudly welcome Bill Tunny Jr as he joins parents Phyllis and Bill Tunny Sr into the honored rolls of the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame.
This Hall of Fame induction goes to one of the most successful people in the history of the Indianapolis Speedrome. Perhaps no driver burst onto the big league Figure 8 scene like Bruce Tunny in 1983 claiming 4th in the standings and Rookie-of-the-Year honors while already nipping at the back bumper of dominant future Hall of Famers Wayne Arnold and Mike St John. Doubters saw no sophomore jinx as he firmly planted his flag in Figure 8 victory lane just a few weeks into that season and again in a 100-lap Memorial Day weekend crossover clash. The next few campaigns brought a plethora of victories through skillful preparation and all out speed. In 1987, Bruce became the first driver to wrestle the coveted Pro Stock crown away from last names Arnold and St John. He would add 4 more Late Model point toppings to his vast resume consecutively from 2000 thru 2003. Tunny has claimed nearly 150 feature wins at the track ranking him among the top five in history. The new millennium also brought him a trio of triumphs in the World Figure 8 Championship 3-Hour Endurance Race including the initial checkered flag for a Tunny in 2000. This almighty racer has placed his name in the victory lists of every major Figure 8 held at the Speedrome. Family has been a central word surrounding Bruce's entire Speedrome on-track career. It has ranged from the mechanical knowledge handed down from father Bill Sr to his rugged, but respectful battles with his older brother Bill Jr to his mentoring of champion son Mark. And after his time behind the wheel faded, his presence continued to be powerful as custom built cars out of his shop known as T8's have emerged as the treasured mount of many drivers in the sport. We proudly welcome Bruce Tunny as he joins parents Phyllis and Bill Tunny Sr as well as his brother Bill Tunny Jr into the honored rolls of the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame.
This man is the patriarch of a storied Speedrome racing family. His resume as a driver included a plethora of laps on the ultra-fast oval as well as the celebrated Figure 8 course spanning decades from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. His wheelman skills were prominent across Stock, Pro Stock, Outlaw, and Modified classes along the way. His years as a car owner have continued after his cockpit duties all the way into the 2000’s. The names above the driver’s door on those cars he owned included Hall of Famers like Thompson, St John, Dossey, Lee, and Tunny as well as renowned monikers Greig, Norton, McMurtrey, Turner, Sizemore, Ford, and Miller just to name a few. Ownership has in addition led to championship campaigns from his own family including children and grandchildren during his lifelong dedication to motorsports and the Speedrome. Through his business, Chuck’s Race Car Parts, he was the longtime sponsor of the Stock division and to a wealth of racers who have competed here over the years. That profound parts business and the eastside Indianapolis track have gone hand-in-hand for many decades. He would be there for all ranges of teams with parts, even meeting racers late at night or early morning to help get a competitor what they needed to race. Hargraves was the promoter of countless successful demolition derby events at the Speedrome thrilling fans with the crunching of cars, trucks, and even school buses. His love for the track was shown all around town in the early 1980’s when the city unsuccessfully pressured for our closing. Chuck proudly displayed the Save The Speedrome crusade across all his vehicles in a dedicated show of support. He has touched nearly every aspect of the track during his lifetime. We proudly welcome Chuck Hargraves into the honored rolls of the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame.
This man was one of the most versatile drivers in the state of Indiana and the Speedrome was his home track. His skills shined on dirt as well as pavement from oval to figure 8 to the drag strip. His Speedrome career blossomed in the premier Late Model (formerly Pro Stock) division. He was the series championship runner-up in 1986, 1989, 1992, and 1993 while finishing third in points in 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990. Reed finished in the coveted top 10 in the standings a stout 12 consecutive seasons. He was the championship car owner for Wayne Arnold in 1984. He owns 41 career Late Model Figure 8 feature wins and 30 Late Model oval feature wins. His major Figure 8 triumphs include the 1 Hour, Pepsi 100, Sonny Thompson Memorial, Summer Championship, Midseason Championship, Firecracker 50, Independence 100, and Final Fling. He has won features here in 5 different decades. Charlie was the 1993 America's Figure 8 Challenge Series Champion, a national touring campaign that stretched from Florida to Michigan and tracks in-between during the year. His superior skill was on full display winning series features at Orlando, Sunshine, Sportsdrome, Rockford, Benton County, Auburndale, Beech Bend, Four-Eleven, and of course the Speedrome. Not many drivers can say that they won the first Figure 8 they raced in. The then dirt Late Model ace took up neighbor and legendary car builder CJ Rayburn’s offer of driving a car at the Speedrome in 1978 and won the 50-lapper, his first ever time on pavement. Reed has also had success travelling the drag racing circuit with neighbor and NHRA champion Bob Glidden. The Reed Speedrome legacy will carry on for years to come with Casey and Quentin White in competition. We proudly welcome Charlie Reed into the honored rolls of the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame.
The late Sonny Thompson became the first inductee into the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame. In 1982, a plaque commemorating Sonny’s achievements was accepted by his widow Earline Thompson during ceremonies at the start-finish line. Thompson was an 11-time Speedrome champion and 2-time winner of the World Figure 8 in Islip, New York. Thompson, who also competed in the first 3-Hour Endurance Race at the Speedrome in 1977, tutored numerous drivers on the art of Figure 8 driving. Thompson died of a heart attack on August 13, 1979. A memorial in honor of Sonny Thompson is located at the start-finish line at the Speedrome.
The Sexson Brothers
The late Sexton brothers, the original builders of the Speedrome, were honored as the second inductees to the Hall of Fame in 1983. Burl, Earl, and Troy Sexson completed the track in 1941 and held the first race there on September 9, 1941. Mrs. Carol Sexson Lambert, daughter of the late Troy Sexson, accepted a plaque on behalf of the brothers during the ceremonies at the start-finish line. The plaque praised the Sexson brothers for their vision and love of racing that has brought enjoyment to thousands of spectators since 1941. Without their efforts, the Speedrome would not have existed.
NASCAR great Darel Dieringer, the third Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame inductee, began racing stockcars at the Speedrome in the early 1950’s. He later went on to win 11 NASCAR Grand National races, including the 1966 Southern 500 at Darlington. Dieringer brought the checkered flag from the 1966 Southern 500 to be the honorary starter for the 1987 old timer’s race and greeted Carquest Winner’s Circle members in the pre-race ceremonies. Dieringer retired from racing received the coveted Hall of Fame plaque for his outstanding achievements.
4-time Speedrome champion Frank Emberton was recognized for his accomplishments during the fourth annual Speedrome Hall of Fame induction in 1985. Emberton, who raced at the Speedrome from 1958 through 1976, won track titles in 1968, 1969, 1971, and 1972. Emberton achieved his championships during a major transition from six-cylinder engines to V-8 engines at the track. Emberton was joined by his championship cars owners and chief mechanics Frank Ellett and Paul Watson during the 1985 induction ceremonies at the Speedrome.
Jack Lee, 3-time track champion, was named the fifth inductee to the Indianapolis Speedrome in 1986. “The Speedrome was a way of life for us”, said Jack Lee about his racing career. Lee never finished worse than fifth in points during a 10-year span from 1956 through 1965. Lee won the Speedrome championship in 1958 and again in 1964 and 1965. Lee retired from racing in 1969 and resided near Shelbyville with his wife Betty. The Lee’s are the parents of Speedrome champion Duane Lee.
Forrest Halliburton, one of the all-time greats of Speedrome and Midwest stockcar racing, became the sixth inductee into the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame in 1987. Halliburton, whose racing career spanned the late 1950’s to the mid-1970’s, won the 1966 World Figure 8 at Islip, New York. Halliburton’s career began in 1956 and since then his desire to win and sense of fair play have brought honor to the Speedrome.
Collins James (CJ) Rigdon was named to the Speedrome Hall of Fame in 1988 in reorganization of his achievements both as a driver from 1953 to 1966 and as the Speedrome official from 1966 to 1980. During his 13-year driving career, Rigdon was Speedrome championship driver runner-up three times to Sonny Thompson. He was frequently the point leader and won more than 30 championship races at the Speedrome. Rigdon was Pit Steward from 1966 to 1976 and Chief Steward from 1977 to his retirement in 1980. In addition he supervised and contributed unselfishly to the reconstruction of the Speedrome facilities in 1977.
Kenny St John
Kenny St John was named to the Speedrome Hall of Fame in 1989 in reorganization of a record that can probably never be matched: five consecutive World Figure 8 Championships. St John won the championships as a result of victories in the track’s grueling Three Hour Figure 8 Endurance Races in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1982. In winning the five Three Hour Endurance Races, St John completed 2384 laps and had an average 12 lap margin of victory and completed a record 512 laps in 1981. St John, a second-generation Speedrome driver, began his Speedrome career in 1966. He won the Speedrome track championship in 1979 and 1980 after numerous top ten finishes in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. St John retired from racing as the result of injuries sustained in a crash at Winchester Speedway during an American Speed Association race in October 1982.
For 3 generations of racing fans “Wild Bill” Billy Arnold was the name that most often thought of when they talked about the Indianapolis Speedrome. In a career that started in 1951 and ended in 1990, Billy Arnold was seldom out of the Speedrome spotlight. Through his 39-year career, some Speedrome fans cheered Billy, some jeered Billy, and more than a few suggested he go room with the Devil – but no one forgot his name. Billy’s “bad guy” antics along with Sonny Thompson’s “good guy” triumphs filled the grandstands in the 50’s and 60’s to create the Speedrome traditions of Figure 8 racing excitement. Speedrome racing records do not list the number of times a driver has been “thrown out”, but no one questions that in this category Billy Arnold ranks #1. Billy won his share of races too. Hundreds of victories were mixed in with the other excitement he provided Speedrome fans – including a feature win in 1989 at the age of 63. But Billy’s induction into the Speedrome Hall of Fame was not just because he was a winning driver – it was because he was Billy Arnold. For the three generations of fans who watched him race, Billy Arnold will forever embody the spirit of the Indianapolis Speedrome.
Harold Bennett, the 1991 Hall of Fame inductee, always came to the Speedrome ready to race. During his 18-year career at the Speedrome, Bennett won many Figure 8 races including 100-laps championships in 1963 and 1964 and the only 150-lap race run until his retirement in 1972. Bennett carried the Speedrome banner to the 1969 Figure 8 championship at the Islip, New York Speedway where he started 36th and finished 4th. He competed in a Plymouth and a Ford while most competitors during Chevrolets. Most of his wins came in a Plymouth Coupe. For most of his career, he drove a convertible until they were outlawed at the Speedrome. With car owners Bill Henry and Ralph Locker, he ran team cars with Sonny Thompson in 1964 and 1965. Bennett’s motto during his career was to race so hard to dominate the competition and make them go home and cry.
Jake Cohen perpetuated grassroots racing at the Speedrome for 5 decades. He had a hand in keeping hundreds of drivers involved in racing for 5 decades from the 1950’s into the 1990’s. Cohen built and owned many stockcars and was an innovator. More importantly, Cohen touched hundreds of drivers through sponsorship as a co-owner of Washington Auto Parts or by providing parts to keep them racing. In return for his unselfish assistance, many drivers and mechanics placed the Washington Auto Parts name as courtesy recognition of Cohen’s generosity. Among drivers Cohen has sponsored are Hall of Fame members Sonny Thompson, Frank Emberton, Kenny St John, Billy Arnold, and Harold Bennett. Cohen and brothers Bill and Norm founded Washington Auto Parts, a 40-foot building at 2113 East Washington Street. In 1991, the Cohen’s sold the business which had expanded to a facility of 55,000 square feet. Jake was inducted in 1992.
Leroy Warriner guided the Speedrome through a transition in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the same style that highlighted his illustrious motor racing career. “I had good equipment when I raced and I had great people working for the track”, Warriner said. “And we had the best fans as well as a lot of good drivers who really made the Speedrome a part of their family”. When Warriner retired from active driving in 1961, he and Gene Hartley, a former Midget car champion and business partner, agreed to operate the Speedrome for the Sexson family. In 1972 Warriner brought the track from the family’s estate. He sold the track to John Stiles prior to the 1977 season. During his racing career, Warriner won against the best open wheel competition of his era at the Speedrome (even when it was covered with dirt briefly in the late 1940’s) plus the defunct 16th Street Speedway and Alexandria’s Armscamp Speedway and Soldier’s Field in Chicago. He barnstormed the United States and later won the 1953 AAA Midget championship in the #67 Higman Midget. After selling the Speedrome, Warriner retired to Key Largo, Florida with wife Faye. Close family members were at his Hall of Fame induction in 1993, including sister Delores, and brothers Jim and Eugene and cousin Earl Warriner, as well as many longtime friends who were more than eager to tell their stories about young Leroy Warriner from the Westside of Indianapolis.
Dewey & Thelma Burgess
Dewey & Thelma Burgess are a part of the Speedrome that is as treasured of the history of the track itself. Giving much of their time unselfishly, they have made the Speedrome a better place for generations of fans. His friendly demeanor and sense of responsibility set the highest standard of professionalism for all track officials. Her devotion to duty is a hallmark of performance for all track employees. Dewey was a racing fan, driver, and car owner before serving promoter Art Zipp and track owners Leroy Warriner and John Stiles for 4 decades. He served for years as track registrar, originally collecting a fee of $1.25 from each participant entering the Pit Area. In later years, he has served as an official at the main entrance to the Pit Area. Thelma began her career as track matron a few years before her husband became registrar. They were inducted into the Speedrome Hall of Fame in 1994 during the same weekend as their 47th wedding anniversary with their 3 daughters in attendance. The special on-track ceremony bestowed the Speedrome’s highest honor upon Dewey and Thelma Burgess as joined those they had admired for years in the Hall of Fame.
Wayne Arnold was a winner in all cars. Arnold captured 7 Speedrome track titles, won the World Figure 8 Championship 3 times, and showed his versatility by winning a USAC Midget series feature. He also spread the fame of the Speedrome by racing in many Figure 8 events throughout the Midwest and in selected American Speed Association races. His World Championships were won in 1983, 1985, and 1989 with track crowns in 1975, 1976, and 1981 through 1984 as well as in 1989. He competed in 25 USAC Midget events as well as hundreds of Figure 8’s. Arnold raced for many car owners during his illustrious career, but he is best remembered with the dynamic combination of sponsor Charlie Milam, crew chief Bob Clark, and master engine builder Fred Embree. They teamed in 1981 in a Pontiac Firebird to set a single season money-winning record. They won 18 of 26 Pro Stock features that year. Prior to his 1995 induction, Arnold revealed that his will to win was instilled by his father, 1990 Hall of Fame inductee Billy Arnold, his smoothness on the track from George McKinney, and his racing savvy from inaugural Hall of Fame inductee Sonny Thompson. He is the first second-generation driver inducted into the Speedrome Hall of Fame.
Joe Simpson was inducted into the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame – an honor to his dedication as a champion car owner. Simpson built, owned, and sponsored scores of cars and assisted hundreds of drivers through his Hart’s Auto Parts. He is best known for his championship drivers. Jim Fox drove a Simpson owned car to the 1977 track championship and to victory in the first World Figure 8 Championship Three Hour Endurance Race. Fox was just one of several top caliber drivers who raced for Simpson, including Hall of Famer’s Sonny Thompson, Frank Emberton, and Kenny St John plus Al Rackley, Ron Flick and longtime driver Jack Dossey Jr, a 4-time Speedrome track champion and 3-time World Figure 8 Champion. The team of Simpson and Dossey is one of the most successful in track history. Simpson also raced at the Speedrome in the 1970’s before turning the wheel over to a long list of champions. Even into his third decade of racing, Simpson continued to do most of the sheet metal and body work on his racecars.
Bobby Long & Carl Hall
For two decades, track officials Carl Hall and Bobby Long dedicated their efforts for improved safety and the betterment of racing at the Indianapolis Speedrome. They were virtually inseparable as the most competent track officials – Carl Hall as the chief starter (flagman) and Bobby Long as safety director. They acted as one in their concern for drivers and track safety. Off the track, they acted like brothers, especially in mind and spirit. Hall began flagging races on the few nights when Long could not be there due to his fire fighting duties. When Long and Hall shared the flagstand, they were paid only $15 per night. Hall became the track’s most respected flagman. Long was respected for his concerns about safety and for training numerous track officials. He served as safety director for nearly 20 years. Long was an Indianapolis firefighter for 28 years and was certified for the department’s hazardous materials team. Long died in February 1996 after a courageous battle against cancer. Long was represented by Widow Pat Long at induction ceremonies on July 26, 1997. It was befitting of their lives on and off the track that the two officials were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the same time.
When Marshall Emberton won successive track championships in 1966 and 1967, he touched off a family’s succession of racing championships that remains unrivaled at the Indianapolis Speedrome. Nearing the end of his first decade in racing, Emberton’s two title runs launched a remarkable era in family racing history among two brothers that stays untouched today. Brother Frank Emberton captured track titles in 4 of the next 5 years to give the Emberton brothers a remarkable 6 championships in 7 seasons. Marshall Emberton’s induction into the Hall of Fame July 25, 1998 placed him with his late brother, Frank Emberton, as the first racing brothers in the Hall of Fame. Marshall Emberton raced through the early 1970’s. He returned to the track in the late 1990’s as car owner of a Stock class car for son Marshall Emberton II.
Neither Jim Fox nor the stockcar racing world had no idea in 1977 exactly how big the World Figure 8 Championship Three Hour Endurance Race would become. Today, it’s known as the world’s greatest Figure 8 race. Fox was the inaugural race winner and also claimed season oval and Figure 8 track championships in 1977, winning 44 features and driving for Hall of Fame car owner Joe Simpson. He is the only driver who finished among the top three in his first three World Figure 8 Championships. He won the One Hour Figure 8 Endurance Race in 1984 and is remembered for his popularity among fans. Jim Fox was inducted into the Speedrome Hall of Fame in 1999.
Bob Clark, the first inductee of the new millennium, becomes the first crew chief to be inducted into the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame. Clark is recognized as the consummate crew chief who was meticulous in car construction, preparation, and safety during a career that spanned 3 decades from unitized stockcars to the advanced Pro Stocks of the 1990’s. He worked with Hall of Fame drivers Sonny Thompson, Kenny St John, and Wayne Arnold. Clark modestly said, “I was really fortunate to being 3 of the greatest drivers who ever raced here. They were good at (car) setup, and they could tell me what the car was doing. I learned a lot from all of them”. Teaming with Arnold and engine builder Fred Embree, they won track championship from 1981 through 1984 and again in 1989 as well as World Figure 8 Championships in 1983, 1985, and 1989. The trio built cars under the ACE Chassis marquee. Clark got his start at the track with Tom Wood Pontiac co-workers St John and Ron Flick. He counts Arnold’s win in the Washington Auto Parts 500 among the team’s greatest wins. Clark, a widower, is the father of two sons and two daughters and has 10 grandchildren. As the first crew chief in the Hall of Fame, Clark’s car preparation provides a great example for all crew chiefs today who strive to win races at the Indianapolis Speedrome. Bob entered the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Al Stilley’s racing career has always been behind the pencil, but has touched more people worldwide than any other inductee to the Speedrome Hall of Fame. An Indianapolis native and member of the Speedway Sparkplugs basketball team in the early 1960’s, the lanky Stilley traveled south to Western Kentucky University for his journalism degree. While in college he married the former Jane Burris who gifted him with 3 children Darla, Shannon, and Greg. After graduation in 1967 Stilley worked for the Nashville (Tennessee) Banner covering high school sports and the local and national racing scene. The Stilley’s moved back home to Greenwood in 1969 where Al settled in at the Daily Journal covering sports and local news. Al’s interest and knowledge of racing earned him a regular column in Stock Car Racing magazine and he often worked the pits at races throughout the Midwest covering the Late Model racing scene and especially the fledgling American Speed Association. Al joined the Speedrome staff as News Director in 1980 taking over from Jep Cadou. From 1986 to 1988 he left to run the PR department at the ASA returning to the Speedrome in 1990. In 2001 Al resigned from the Speedrome to become the editor of the Southside Times covering Southport and Homecroft. He continues to contribute to various racing publications but has cut back on some of his racing coverage to attend to business at the Times and his 6 grandchildren. Stilley was inducted into the Speedrome Hall of Fame in 2001.
When you think of Jonathan Byrd, several things come to mind. How he started his career as a car owner at the Speedrome 20 years ago, buying a Pro Stock for Jim Begley, the father of multi-time track Modified champion Jim Begley Jr. How Byrd expanded his racing team and hired the mercurial, but talented Mike St John. How Byrd once hired Darrel Waltrip to run at the Speedrome in a refrigerator-white AMC Pacer, and Waltrip was astounded to learn he’d had to race clockwise on Triple 8 Night. How Byrd was impressed, on a doubleheader Midget and stockcar racing night, by a Midget car driver named Rich Vogler, and how that led to a long, winning association between the two that led them to the Indianapolis 500. How Byrd grieved for Vogler after the drivers death in 1990, then continued in his racing career with more cars in USAC competition, the Indianapolis 500, and the Indy Racing League. Imagine that the same car owner hired Mike St John, Rich Vogler, Darrel Waltrip, Arie Luyendyk, and John Andretti. Jonathan Byrd’s the only person who could make this claim, because his roots at the Speedrome are that deep. And it’s not just for play or show – Byrd understands the worth of that track that started him in racing, and you’ll see him at the Speedrome several times in a racing season. Jonathan was inducted into the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame in 2002.