2017 Driver Inductees

     Bill Lutz: A native of Louisville, Ky., was the Late Model Stock Car Champion at the old O’Hare Stadium in Schiller Park in 1959 and again in 1964 and was always among the frontrunners at the banked quarter-mile paved oval that once sat in the shadows of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.  Bill was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, he began his racing career in and around the Louisville area.  In 1952, he was among the top drivers in the stock car action at the Jeffersonville Sportsdrome in southern Indiana.  In 1954, He raced full time on the Society of Autosport, Fellowship and Education (SAFE) Circuit of Champions “showroom stock” late model tour, visiting tracks throughout the Midwest and eastern states.  When SAFE merged with NASCAR, Bill was among the drivers who competed on the new NASCAR convertible circuit in 1956.  He competed in 30 of NASCAR’s 47 convertible events that year.           

  During his career, Bill made only a handful of NASCAR Grand National events.  He competed on the Daytona Beach, Fla. road and beach course in February of 1957.  Driving his Petty Enterprises 1957 Oldsmobile No. 43, a teammate to NASCAR champion Lee Petty, he started 27th in the field and came home in sixth place. 

  1958 saw Bill busy commuting between Louisville and Chicago in order for him to race late model stock cars at O’Hare Stadium and at Soldier Field. Lutz would be crowned the overall “Chicago City Champion” after a special three-race, three-track series that pitted drivers from O’Hare, Soldier Field and Raceway Park.  He scored three second-place finishes to capture the title. During his career, Bill made “spotty” appearances on both the United States Auto Club (USAC) and Midwest Association for Race Cars (MARC) stock car circuits. 


     Tony “Shaggy” Izzo: Tony “Shaggy” Izzo: Tony started his racing career in 1964 in the Sportsman Division at Santa Fe Speedway. Legend has it that midway through the season he rolled his #99 Ford and he liked the look of #66 when it was upside down and he changed the number when he returned to Santa Fe after repair. “Shaggy” moved to Late Model Division a few years later in a 1967 Chevelle. The learning curve continued with a 7th place in final points in 1969 and 12th in 1970.

In 1971 Tony revolutionized Late Model Racing when he debuted a light weight Bemco Camaro. It woud change LM racing forever at Sante Fe Park. It was so radical from the current heavy cars. It’s short wheelbase small block engine and light chasis earned the #66 Team their 1st top 5 in final point standings. Santa Fe Officials named the car “The Pony Car” and changed the rules limiting the Camaro to 8 inch rims and tires to even the playing field. In 1972 Izzo won his 1st LM Championship at Kankakee Fairgrounds and is listed as 9th on their all time record feature wins with 34.

In 1973 Tony won the Ken Finley Classic 50 lap in record time. It was his 1st ½ mile win at Santa Fe. Tony won the most championships and held records during the 1970’s & 80’s. He won 4 Championships in a row at Santa Fe 1977-1980 then another 5 in a row 1984-1988. In between that he held 1 lap records 7/21/85, 4 lap record 7/20/86 and still holds the .50 lap ½ mile record 8/22/87. The famous #66 also won Santa Fe’s Prairie Classic in 1983 & 1985, scored 7 Bush All Star Classics and 3 NCTC 200’s in 1974-77-78 and he is the only driver in the history of Short Track Racing to win the NCTC 200 and the Illinois Bettenhausen 100 race in the same year. The Izzo family holds the record for Father & Sons Championships Shaggy in 1972, son Tony Jr 1995 and son Joey in 1999.


     Dave Weltmeyer: Dave is one of only a few drivers to win late model stock car track championships at three Chicago area speedways during his career.  A native of Harvey, IL. who later relocated to Dyer, IN. he captured season track titles at Raceway Park (Blue Island, IL.), Grundy County Speedway (Morris, IL.) and Illiana Motor Speedway (Schererville, IN.).

Following the racing footsteps of his dad, Norm, Dave began racing six-cylinder cars at Raceway Park before he turned 16.  He would be crowned the speedway’s Late Model Champion three times – 1979, 1980 and 1983.  During his Raceway Park career, he would win 103 late model feature races. Dave garnered late model track championship honors at Grundy County Speedway twice – 1982 and 1986.  Over the years, he enjoyed success in Grundy’s end-of-the-season Lee Schuler Memorial race, winning the event six times.

In 2003, Dave won the Late Model Driving Crown at Illiana Motor Speedway, the site of his first late model feature victory in 1977.  He would capture Illiana’s Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100 on four occasions—1995, 1996, 2001 and 2004.  The record books show Dave winning a total of 65 late model main events at Illiana.

During the early part of his racing endeavors, the young racer would try his luck on the old United States Auto Club (USAC) stock car circuit without too much success.  Later in his career and with a lot of “short track” experience under his belt, Dave would become a winner on the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) stock car tour, picking up his first win at the “Milwaukee Mile” in 1983 and going on to score a career total of 13 ARCA wins.  Dave Weltmeyer had seven straight seasons with at least one ARCA win.


     Dick Taylor: Dick started his racing career at the age of 21 in 1967. He raced in Street Stocks, Sportsman Divisions and advanced to Late Models in 1972. Throughout the years he was awarded Most Popular Driver by his fans and most winning sportsman of the year 4 times. Dick always helped fellow competitors and mentored new drivers including his sons Matt & Guy.

Dick is one of a few in Illinois to successfully build, race and win with a Chrysler Kit Car which was powered by a 340 cu in engine in the 1970’s. He was named CAR Club 1980 Driver of the Year. He Accomplished the unthinkable Nov 6th & 7th 1980 when he won a big race at Tri City Speedway on Dirt and the next day he won then last feature ran at Lake Hill Speedway on Asphalt ! Highlighting some of his big wins, he won the 1981 Illinois State Championship Peoria Race, 1981 Macon Speedway Qualifying Record 12.53, 1982 Coke Cola 100 at Macon, UMP Summer Nationals at Macon & Godfrey Speedways, 1987 USAC 1-mile Springfield, 1988 Herald Review 100 at Macon.

In 2000, Dick along with his son Matt became the record holder of the only Father-Son Duo to win Prestigious 100 Event. In his 46 year career he has won over 200 feature events and 15 Track Championships. His fans always enjoyed it when Dick was sponsored by the Springfield Cardinals Minor League AAA Baseball team. Dick had twin birds sitting on both ends of the #24 on his late model. Dick is currently involved in racing with his sons Matt & Guy assisting with their Late Model careers.


     John McKarns: John’s career in Auto Racing started in 1965 at Waukegan Speedway while attending College at North Western University in Evanston, IL. He became the tracks P.R. and Announcer which he held for 13 years. John expanded his love for racing working at the new Grundy County Speedway in 1971 as well as writing for the Midwest Racing News. In 1974 he formed the Chicagoland Driving Championship which was a combination of points at Grundy, Illiana and Waukegan Speedways. It was extremely popular with the drivers and fans. In 1975 John partnered with Art Frigo to form the ARTGO Asphalt series. This series was successful bringing Wisconsin drivers and Chicagoland drivers together. John promoted his 1st race at Waukegan Speedway it was the All Star 200 on 7/05/1976. In the next few years the Midweek Specials would become sold out events. In 1979 John became the sole owner of the series. He was the 1st to bring special Nascar Guests such as Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett and Rusty Wallace to his events. In 1980 McKarns left his full time job and established ARTGO as one of the top Stock Car Series in the country. In 1984 his series became known as the ASA ARTGO series. Over the years John promoted 330 ARTGO Specials at 38 different tracks. In 1998 his series was licensed by Nascar and John continued on as a consultant for many years. John will always be known as the Promoter who could deliver a great show for the fans.


     “Jumpin” Jack Heiman: Jack’s racing career started in the mid 50’s in California. He became a crewman on Roger Wards USAC 1957 Fords, this also included towing and working on Wards other team cars for Tony Bettenhausen and Len Suttons. Jack taught himself the art of sign painting and was soon lettering the teams 58 Fords.

1960 was a special year for Jack, he lettered his 1st Indianapolis Car for Johnny “The Flying Scot” Thompson’s #3 Offenhauser. This car finished 5th in the Indy 500 that year. Another milestone that year found Jack the official flagman at Rockford Speedway on Saturday nights & Sterling Speedway on Sundays. He also flagged special events at Meadowdale, Road America and 2 years of events at Soldier Field.

In 1962 Jack received the highest award in Auto Racing when team mates Roger Ward & Len Sutton finished 1st and 2nd at Indy and Jack was on their pit crews. The inaugural 1966 NSTC 200 at Rockford Speedway had cars from all over the USA. There were many duplicate numbers causing a nightmare of scoring conflicts. At the 100 lap pit stop Jack took out his sign painter kit and re-lettered the duplicate numbers, therefore, solving the scoring issue. He then climbed the Flag Stand and restarted the race. He flagged Dick Trickle to the checkered flag. Jack retired from Rockford Speedway in 1976 them became the Flagman for Sal Tovella’s International Racing Association Series from 1981-85 flagging at Milwaukee, Kaukauna, Illiana and Lake Geneva Speedways.

Jack earned his nick name “Jumpin Jack” because before every event he would jump high into the air as he waved the Green Flag. He attributed his flagging style to his wife who made all of his Flags out of silk and they just flowed through the air.


     Seth Piper: In 1947 when Seth was 13 years old an auto repair garage opened in his Grandview Park neighborhood. This garage was owned and operated by Bob Pohlman Sr. Seth started hanging out at the garage and Bob knowing Seth had lost his father at the young age of 5, took him under his wing and mentored him until 1958 when Seth and Bill Van Allen met. Seth was a carpenter by trade and he offered to help Bill build a garage in Justice, Il. They decided to go racing together. In 1959, Bill offered Seth 10% of his winnings if he would help him build the first of five Studebaker Larks and be his mechanic/crew chief. They built the Lark on a Studebaker Commander Frame installing a 289 c.i. Studebaker engine. They raced in Blue Island, IL at Raceway Park and the Lark had 13 Feature victories.

In 1960 Seth engineered a few changes into another Lark and that car won a record setting 29 Features at Raceway, a record that stood for many years. In 1961 with another Seth Piper engineered Lark they racked up another 19 Feature wins. In 1962 Bill earned 3 track Championships at Santa Fe Speedway. They then built another Lark and Seth proved he could set up a car to race on dirt or asphalt, winning 15 Features including the “National Clay Track 200” and their first Championship as a team. They also won the Championship in 1963 with the last of the 5 Larks. Between Raceway and Santa Fe over the 5 year span Seth was the crew chief for 96 Feature wins and 2 Championships. In 1964 they switched to a Ford and won their third Championship in a row at Santa Fe. In 1969 Seth teamed up with Don Waldvogel winning his fourth Championship as a crew chief. In late 1969 Bill Van Allen returned to the team driving a 1969 Buick Skylark previously owned by Larry Jackson, purchased by Frank “Chico” Venturella the pair of Bill Van Allen and Seth Piper won another NCTC 200. In 1970 Seth engineered a 1969 Chevelle for Don Waldvogel with Bill Van Allen beginning the year in the Skylark. In 1971 Seth and Chico had Bill Van Allen teamed up with Jim O’Connor finishing second and third in the Santa Fe point standings. In 1972 Seth and Chico fielded one car driving by Jim O’Connor who finished second in the Santa Fe point standings. In 1973 & 1974 the team won the Santa Fe Championship. 1975 was the final year for Seth and Chico being co-owners putting Larry Jackson behind the wheel of a Boyce Trackburner chassis and won the Santa Fe points Championship. From 1959 through 1975 Seth was the builder and crew chief for Bill Van Allen, Don Waldvogel, Jim O’Connor and Larry Jackson, winning seven championships and never finishing worse than second in the Santa Fe or Raceway point standings.

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