The Birth of the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame
Welcome to all who are here to view the new Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame. Through the years, I have always been fascinated reading about Hall of Fames throughout the United States but never really thought about why Illinois didn't have one. As a former Stock Car Driver myself, I raced against and watched my Dad, Art Fehrman Sr., race against some of the most entertaining and talented drivers that ever put on a helmet and slid into a race car.
In 2009, Pat Heaney who is an Illinois Vintage Racing Club member invited Pat (my wife) and I to the Southeast Wisconsin Hall of Fame ceremony. Pat Heaney is Wisconsin's Race Historian and is a member of their Hall of Fame Board of Directors. We arrived early and enjoyed the displays, ate a great meal, had some cocktails and attended the ceremonies. The detailed displays, restored cars and the ceremony stuck in my mind as they were thoroughly enjoyable and fantastic to view. I was honored to be sitting in the audience listening to all of the Inductees and their families and representatives. They told some of the most fascinating stories about well deserved drivers, car owners and engine builders.
After the ceremonies, we were bench racing over some more cocktails and Pat Heaney casually said "When you go home you ought to create a Hall of Fame for Illinois. There is a rich history of Stock Car racing in Illinois". My reaction was "Are you kidding me?" Working a full time job and being President of the Illinois Vintage Racing Club is more than enough responsibility.
But the seed was planted and over the next several weeks I thought about all the deserving drivers, announcers, owners, promoters and car and engine builders throughout the state of Illinois both past and present. All I could think of was that they deserved to be recognized for their accomplishments. It kept returning to my mind and I rolled it over and over in my brain trying to figure out a way to make it happen.
The first hurdle was to come up with a Board of Directors and to convince my wife Pat to be the first board member because I needed her support and needed her to work hundreds of hours printing, scanning and editing photos and putting together our quarterly newsletter for $0.00 per hour, in addition to her full time job. Luckily, she's as crazy as I am and she agreed to tackle this huge undertaking with me. For the Board of Directors, I needed a Racing Historian, a Car Builder, Veteran Drivers and a current Driver to share their years of experience and represent all regions of the State.
I hit the jackpot when I decided on Stan Kalwasinski, a long time motorsports writer and photographer in the Chicago area, for the Southeast Region, Herb Shannon Sr & Herb Shannon Jr, both veteran Champion Stock Car drivers, for the South Region, Jerry Gille a current Stock Car driver and Champion for the Northwest Region and Wayne Lensing, a former Stock Car driver and Champion and owner of Lefthander Chassis and the Historic Auto Attractions Museum, for the Northwest Region.
Once the Board of Directors was chosen, I was faced with the biggest challenge of all which turned out to be where to put it and how to fund it. Once again I lucked out with Wayne Lensing saving the day. Wayne offered to donate space in his Historic Auto Attractions Museum and to dedicate the time and supply the resources we needed to build this display. The funding would need to be generated from Membership and Sponsorship Fees. Our members and sponsors grow each day and we are extremely grateful and appreciate every one of them. Note: Our first Member was Keith Grantland of Harold's Auto Service in Cicero, IL and our first Sponsor was Ken Poellauer of Ken's Auto Center in Geneva, IL.
The longevity and success of the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame depends on the loyalty and generosity of our members and sponsors. Please enjoy our exhibit and join us as a member or sponsor to preserve this precious piece of Illinois history for generations to come. Members and Sponsors receive a Hall of Fame identification card, a Hall of Fame sticker and our quarterly newsletter which allows members and sponsors to vote for and suggest future nominees
I extend my sincere gratitude to all who are fans of Illinois Short Track Racing. I hope our website will be both educational and enjoyable. Thank you for logging on. Please print an application and become a Member or Sponsor today to help the Hall of Fame grow, enabling us to include more future inductees and to expand our exhibit.
Art "Fireball" Fehrman
INTRODUCING THE ILLINOIS STOCK CAR HALL OF FAME BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Stan Kalwasinski Stan Kalwasinski is a longtime motorsports writer and photographer in the Chicago area and has been a racing fan since attending his first race in the mid 1950?s. For many years he announced at both Grundy County and Illiana Speedway. He is the founder of the Chicagoland Memorabilia Show which has been going on for over 20 years. Kalwasinski is an authority on the history of Chicago area racing. He is the co-author of ?Images of America Blue Island?s Raceway Park and maintains the historic website ?chicagolandautoracing.com?. He was inducted into the Mazon Hall of Fame in 2015.
Jerry Gille Jerry is a longtime stock car competitor at the Rockford Speedway and is a three-time NASCAR late model champion at the high-banked quarter mile paved oval. He was the 1999 late model champion at Madison International Speedway. During his career he has won features at 17 different tracks. He has won in 6 different divisions. Jerry grew up in a racing family, they raced 6 times a week and sometimes twice on Sunday. He is an avid Vintage enthusiast and owns an original short track 1965 Dodge Stock Car. His nickname is ?Champ?.
Michael Papp Michael has been around racing all of his life. His Dad, John, was a well known Driver and Late Model Car Owner on Dirt Short Tracks. Mike started racing Go Karts & Mini Bikes when he was 5 years old. He graduated to Motor Cross Bike Racing and traveled the circuit for 7 years. Mike served as Pit Crew along with his brother John Jr. on his Dads Late Model for years until he became a full time driver in 1980. He competed in Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida. He still holds a 6 lap record at Santa Fe Speedway ½ mile set in 1983.
In recent years he helped develop the Illinois Vintage Racing series driving Show Cars and promoting the series at the Speedway Display Booths. Mike has been our Master of Ceremonies at the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame Banquet for the last 2 years. His love of all kinds of Bikes led him to being a Harley Davidson employee. He & his wife Karrie (our beautiful Banquet Hostess) both own Motorcycles and travel throughout the USA. Displaying a Lifetime commitment as a racer, fan and sponsor of Short Track Racing makes him a perfect addition to our Board of Directors.
Karrie Papp Karrie is an avid Nascar Fan and a Kyle Bush supporter. She says she will be a Cub Fan till she dies and a Colts Football Fan forever. Karrie, along with her husband Michael, is an enthusiastic Motorcycle rider and has gone on many cross country road trips driving her bike. She is fitness conscious and works out daily. Karrie has been employed by AT&T for 17 years as a liaison between Business Clients and their IT Project Team.
She has assisted with Hall of Fame promotion booths and displays at special short track events every summer. If you have attended one of our banquets, you probably recognize her as our Beautiful Hostess on stage during the awards ceremony. Karrie will now also assist with coordinating Hall of Fame special announcements and press releases on our Facebook Page. She is an important addition to our Board of Directors.
Earl Clement Earl, from an early age was going to Stock Car races all over the Midwest with his Dad, also Earl aka Clem, who was a good friend, pitman and mechanic for Arnie Gardner. They followed Arnie all over Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Indiana. Earl has been involved with Go Kart racing as the Flagman for their Championship Enduro Series at tracks in the Midwest including Gateway, Blackhawks Farms, Gingerman, Road America, Grattan and Indianapolis Raceway.
For the past 5 years he has been racing ¼ scale radio control stock cars in the National and Regional Series along with weekly races at Machesney Park Raceway, just down the road from Rockford Speedway. For several years he assisted with the Illinois Vintage Racing series. Earl has worked for Chevrolet for the past 30 years as a Corvette and Hybrid Technician and Mechanic. Earl has shown a lifetime of participation and preserving Illinois Short Track Racing and is an excellent addition to our Hall of Fame Board of Directors. Upon accepting this position he stated he was honored to be part of our great organization and the perks were outstanding as he would be meeting Illinois Racing Legends, many of which he watched while growing up.
Jack Bell Jack has been around racing all of his life. He states he has fond memories of serving on the pit crew of Dick Blakley?s Championship finishes 3 years in a row in the Mini Stock Division. Jack was with Wayne Lensing?s pit crew winning championships at Rockford and Lake Geneva. He?s proud that he was part of that same winning crew when Lensing won a Dayton Ohio 500 lapper and a Louisville Kentucky 500 lapper. Jack finished out his pit crew days during the last 5 years of Joe Shear?s career. In the past Jack has helped out at our annual Hall of Fame Day event and has given private guided tours of LeftHander Chassis to our guests. He is an asset to our Board of Directors.
Terry Young Terry started going to Springfield Speedway in 1973 at the age of 10 and continued until 1987 when it closed. Terry has organized and ran 2 Springfield reunions one in 2012 then again in 2015. He promoted races at the Macon Speedway twice putting on the 4 Cylinder Dirt Track World Championship which drew an all time record car count of 162 cars. Most years he attends in excess of 100 race events per season.
He flagged at the Shepp?s Speedway and has been published in the Midwest Racer newspaper, Illinois Racer Magazine, Hawkeye Racing News and Speed Sport News. Terry Co-Produced a book with renowned racing author Joyce Standridge titled ?Fast Memories? Springfield Speedway 1947-1987 published in 2015.
In January 2017 he will host the 17th Annual Midwest Speed Expo, a racers trade show and swap meet that is held in conjunction with the United Midwestern Promoters Annual Championship Banquet. Terry has been employed with Hoosier Tires since 1994. We are excited to welcome Terry to the Board.
Wayne Lensing Wayne is another former stock car racer who currently owns and operates the Historic Auto Attractions Museum and is the owner of Lefthander Chassis, Inc in Roscoe, IL.
During his successful driving career he racked up over 100 feature wins in the Midwest and he is a 3 time Rockford Late Model Champion. His biggest wins were ASA 500 lappers at Dayton Ohio and Louisville Kentucky. He used his years of experience as a driver and applied his knowledge into growing Lefthander Chassis into the largest stock car chassis builder in the USA. Over 200 lefthander chassis and complete race cars are built annually. He also carries an enormous inventory of parts and set ups for the weekly racer. Wayne is also the proud owner of the Dells Raceway Park Speedway.
Pat Fehrman Prior to meeting Art Fehrman some 15 years ago, she had absolutely no racing knowledge or experience. She brings with her strong organizational and business skills. She designs and edits the Hall of Fame newsletter as well as designs the Inductee case contents. She is always amazed to see the deep commitment of all of the extended racing community.
Art ?Fireball? Fehrman Art began racing in 1968 at Santa Fe Speedway where he competed in both the sportsman and late model divisions. In 1971 he won 8 features in a row and all of the Holiday ½ mile races. In 1972 he won 10 features. Rookie of the year was his prize in 1973 at both Santa Fe and Kankakee Speedways, something which has never been duplicated. In 1979 he won the DeKalb County Championship Race. He has organized numerous Race Track Reunions and keeps in touch with hundreds of drivers, car owners, mechanics, fans and promoters. He accomplished his lifelong dream in 2007 when he drove the Milwaukee Mile and finished 4th. In 2009 he drove Darlington Speedway finishing 3rd . He was the founder and President of Illinois Vintage Racing which is no longer in existence. He is the founder of the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame.