Hall of Fame Coming to MIS
By John Wells
Officials from Madison International Speedway have announced the creation of a Hall of Fame recognizing the best of the best in the sixty year history of the speedway. Racing began at this location in the early 1950's when a quarter-mile track was built and operated by the Oregon American Legion. The current half-mile configuration was constructed in 1969.
“It’s something that a lof of people have talked about, but it always got put on the ‘to do” list. We thought it was time to put the idea of a Hall of Fame into action,” said MIS’ Chuck West who is one of the organizers behind the project.
West put together a steering committee seeking names for the first ballot of inductees. This group included current MIS officials, racing historians, and fans. After much discussion, ten names were selected comprised of former drivers, officials, owners, and track personnel.
Dave Dushek, owner of Fast Signs located in Madison, has been an integral part of the Hall of Fame process. “Dave has been actively involved and all of the great signage at the track including our victory lane signs are a result of his work,” added West.
Criteria for determining who would be on the ballot needed to established before anything could proceed. Candidates had to meet one of the following criteria: Historic (Deceased more than two years), Inactive (Living and retired from racing for more than two years) or Active (25 years in racing and still involved in some aspect of the sport). All nominees needed to be involved in racing for at least 25 years and have made a significant contribution to the sport of racing and / or racing at Madison.
“When you consider the rich history here, it was a challenge limiting the original list to just ten names,” said MIS Marketing / PR Director Megan Wood. Nominations were brought to the table with dozens of names presented to the committee.
After reviewing all of the potential candidates the committee was able to agree on ten names. The original list included drivers Eddie Hume, Conrad Morgan, Joe Shear, Tom Reffner, Dick Trickle, and Johnny Ziegler. Track officials included Sam Bartus, John McKarns, Tom Powell, and Bob and Darlene Schmelzer.
Following voting that took place at the track earlier in June, the list was shortened to six names: Shear, Reffner, McKarns, the Schmelzers, Trickle, and Ziegler. The list has since been reduced via voting to four who will be the inaugural inductees in the MIS Hall of Fame. The committee will also be selecting a fifth member of the Hall of Fame.
A tribute night for the inductees and / or their family representatives will take place in the early part of the 2015 racing season. “We are going to make this a big deal because it is something very special. There are so many names that could be included on this list it’s challenging to limit it to just five people,” noted Wood.
“We are also going to be putting up information about the Hall of Famers on the concourse are at the speedway so everyone who comes here understands their accomplishments and contributions to racing at Madison," added Wood.
Stay tuned for more information about the Madison International Speedway Hall of Fame.