Class of 1999

Lloyd Beckman


Lloyd Beckman began his motorsports career racing motorcycles in 1948. A year later, at the urging of Woody Brinkman, he was hired by Bill Smith to pilot his race car at Lincoln Speedway at Capital Beach.

Although the team achieved success from the outset, it was when Smith built the famous Speedway Motors 4X Sedan in 1960 that Beckman’s career began to roar into high gear. From midway through that season through the halfway point of the following campaign, Beckman strung together 16 consecutive feature race wins at “the Beach.” Those wins continued to pile up through 1965 when the pair of Smith and Beckman parted ways for the first of three times.

In 1966, behind the wheel of a Charlie Williams and Gary Swenson owned machine, Beckman won a record nine consecutive feature races at Midwest Speedway. That same year, he qualified for the main event at the Knoxville Nationals and, after leading the event with four laps remaining, finished a close second to Jay Woodside.

Beckman wheeled Sprint Cars for Larry Swanson in 1968 and 1969, racking up numerous feature race wins, capturing a pair of Nebraska Modified Racing Association (NMRA) titles and becoming the first driver to eclipse the 20-second barrier at “the fastest half-mile in the world,” the Belleville Highbanks.

After returning to the Speedway Motors race team in 1971, Beckman captured his third championship at Eagle Raceway, before retiring from the sport. Retirement was short-lived however, and at age 55 Beckman grabbed another track championship at Midwest Speedway in 1982. He retired again following the 1983 season, only to come out of retirement for a second time in 1993. A couple of years later, at the age of 68, Beckman capped his incredible career by scoring a feature race win at Webster City, Iowa and setting a track record at the Masters Classic at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.

Beckman’s dirt track racing career spanned portions of five decades, from 1949 through 1995. During that time, he scored countless feature race victories driving for some of the biggest names in the sport. He won the NMRA championship seven times and scored multiple track titles at Capital Beach, Midwest Speedway, and Eagle Raceway.

He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1984.

Woodrow “Woody” Brinkman


Woodrow “Woody” Brinkman was born in Winner, South Dakota, but moved to Lincoln when he was eight years old.

He began his racing career in 1947, when, as a 23 year old, he jumped behind the wheel of Russ Biegley’s V8 powered Midget at Playland Park in Council Bluffs after goading the driver to “get out there and drive.” As the story goes, Biegley responded to Brinkman, “If you think it’s so easy, you drive!” and Brinkman’s career was underway!

During the 1947 season, Brinkman shared time turning the wheel of Biegley’s Midget and the Offenhauser Midget of Iowan Frank Dasher. He raced at Playland Park in Council Bluffs, Riverview Raceway in Sioux City, and occasionally at Olympic Stadium in Kansas City.

Brinkman raced the next two seasons for Fred King, Sr. before being recalled into the Navy in 1950 during the Korean War. While serving in the North Pacific with frequent stops in Seattle, he briefly drove a Horning GMC-powered Super Roadster at asphalt tracks in both Seattle and Portland. Upon his discharge, Brinkman returned to Nebraska and resumed his racing career during the 1952 season driving for Bud Graves and “Speedy Bill” Smith.

After hanging up his helmet late in the 1952 season, Brinkman began his long relationship with the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) and National Speedways, Inc. (NSI), a relationship that lasted more than 20 years.

During his initial season with NSI in 1953, Brinkman helped the organization by doing advance work for upcoming race events. Eventually, Brinkman became the official starter for NSI and, over the years, became one of the most respected flagmen in the business. He became Vice President of National Speedways in 1970 and purchased a half interest in the organization with Gene Van Winkle. When NSI was eventually sold, at the conclusion of the 1977 season, Brinkman stayed on as a consultant for the new owners until his retirement a year later.

During his tenure with National Speedways, Brinkman promoted and served as the official starter for hundreds of IMCA sanctioned events, including the IMCA Winternationals in Tampa, Florida and state and county fairgrounds events in 17 states and Canada. In 1967 and 1968, Brinkman’s busy schedule included 102 and 91 race dates, respectively.

Brinkman passed away in 2015.

John “Bud” Burdick


John “Bud” Burdick began has racing career in 1947 racing motorcycles in eastern Nebraska. A year later, his older brother, Roy, talked him into driving the stock car he had recently built and the two of them, along with a third brother, Ralph, and Roy’s son, Bob, formed the Burdick Racing Team.

Racing a Ford Coupe numbered V8, the team proceeded to dominate Midwest short tracks for the next two decades.

In 1951 and 1952, Bud won the championship at Grandview Speed Bowl in Omaha and later began racing at Playland Park in Council Bluffs. In 1953, he won the title at Playland, and captured subsequent championships there in 1955, 1958 and 1959.

When Sunset Speedway opened in northwest Omaha in 1957, Bud powered the number V8 Coupe to four consecutive point championships from 1959 through 1962. He continued racing Roy’s yellow Coupe through the 1968 season and ranks as Sunset Speedway’s all-time winningest driver in the Modified division with a total of 146 wins, including 33 feature race victories.

In 1969, Bud began driving Late Models for car owner Wayne Mason. His transition to Late Models was an instant success, as Burdick powered Mason’s Chevelle Late Model to numerous wins at Harlan, Atlantic and Denison, Iowa, as well as his home tracks of Sunset Speedway and Playland Park. Burdick captured the points title at Sunset in 1970, edging Bob Kosiski on the final night of the season, for his fifth and final championship at the popular eastern Nebraska speed plant.

Burdick raced briefly on the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) touring circuit for his brother Roy, winning four times in ten starts in 1955. He also drove one of Roy’s 1959 Ford Thunderbirds in the 1960 Daytona 500, finishing ninth in one of the 100 mile qualifying races and a very respectable 11th in the 500, behind eventual winner “Fireball” Roberts.

Burdick retired as a driver following the 1973 season. He was one of the first racing superstars to come out of the Omaha area during the post-war period.

Earl Cooper


Earl Cooper was born in the small community of Arborville, Nebraska, but moved to California at a young age.

He began his professional racing career in 1958 in San Francisco in a borrowed race car. Cooper, who had already been racing locally, won the race that day and was promptly fired for beating his boss. He was, however, on his way to having one of the most successful careers in the history of auto racing. For portions of the next three decades, Cooper ran locally, nationally, and even internationally, racking up numerous victories.

Cooper found early success driving for Harry Stutz and the Stutz Racing team from 1912 through 1915. During that time, Cooper won the American Automobile Association (AAA) national championship twice, in 1913 and 1915, scoring major AAA wins at San Francisco, Santa Monica and Fresno, California; Tacoma, Washington; Phoenix, Arizona; Elgin, Illinois; and the 500-mile event at Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After Stutz retired from racing following the 1915 season, Cooper established his own racing team and powered his Stutz machine to his third AAA National Championship in five years in 1917. He nearly missed a fourth AAA title in 1924 when his Studebaker was narrowly edged out by Jimmy Murphy.

Cooper competed in the Indianapolis 500 eight times with his best finishes being a fourth place finish in 1915 and a runner-up finish in 1924. In the 1924 race, Cooper led throughout much of the race and shortly after recapturing the lead, blew a tire less than 12 laps from the finish. He sat on the pole for the 1926 Indianapolis 500, but his transmission let go after only 73 laps. He was the first driver to exceed 110 miles per hour at Indianapolis, achieving a speed of 110.728 during a qualification run in 1925.

During his final season of competition, in 1927, Cooper raced in the Italian Grand Prix where he finished third.

After his driving career had concluded, he ran his own race team for several years and also served as a senior race official for the American Automobile Association.

Cooper was inducted as one of the original members of the Helms Hall Automobile Racing Hall of Fame in 1949. He was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 1954, the AAA Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1954, the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in 1962, and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001.

Les King


Les King was born in Loveland, Iowa, but lived most of his life in Omaha.

His first interest in speed came in the mid 1920s when he began souping up Chevrolets for street racing. In a relative short period of time however, his interest turned to dirt track racing when he put his mechanical abilities to use accompanying John Bagley on the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) Big Car touring circuit.

In 1930, King built a Stock Car and hired newcomer Eddie Kracek as his driver. The following year he assembled his first Big Car which he campaigned on the IMCA circuit with Chuck Boye at the controls.

In 1934, when the Midgets began to appear in the Midwest, King became one of Nebraska’s first Midget owners as well as one of the pioneers of Midget racing in the country. Through much of the 1930s and 1940s, King campaigned Midgets throughout the Midwest, and for a couple of years, in California. In the early years, Kracek and Kenny Crabb handled the driving duties while in later years, King’s popular number-2 Midget was wheeled by Johnny Wood, Der Merkley and Don Ross.

In 1951, King purchased his first Sprint Car and for the next nine seasons, his K2 Offenhauser raced the IMCA circuit and numerous other events from Canada, to the IMCA Winternationals in Tampa, and most stops in between. During that time, King’s machine won numerous Sprint Car events and set a number of track records including both three and six lap records at the Belleville (Kansas) Highbanks with Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee “Andy” Anderson in the cockpit.

The list of drivers who wheeled the Les King Offy during this period reads like a “who’s who” of Sprint Car racing. Legendary drivers who sat behind the wheel of King’s machine included not only “Andy” Anderson, who won major events in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and South Dakota in the K2, but also Jerry Blundy, Don Branson, Don Carr, Leon Clum, Dickie Ferguson, Jack Jordan, Harry Kern, Jud Larson, Mac McHenry, LeRoy Nuemayer, and Bobby Parker.

Following his Big Car career, King got involved in Sports Car racing with Omahan, Loyal Katskee. The pair raced together from Daytona to Riverside, California and also raced at the Gran Premio Libertad in Havana, Cuba.

King retired from racing in the early 1960s and passed away in 1980.

Edward O’Boyle


Edward O’Boyle was born in Farmingham, Massachusetts and eventually moved to North Platte, Nebraska, following his graduation from high school, in 1947.

While in North Platte, O’Boyle stumbled across a magazine article about an organization headed up by Bill France promoting and operating stock car racing events under the name of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). The article captured O’Boyle’s young imagination and he decided to call NASCAR to find out more about the organization.

O’Boyle’s phone call to NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach was eventually diverted to William “Bill” Tuthill, who was the organization’s Executive Director. Tuthill became O’Boyle’s mentor and during the first few months of 1949 provided him guidance in preparation for O’Boyle’s first season of NASCAR racing in Nebraska. O’Boyle was named NASCAR’s Midwestern Representative and on a Sunday afternoon in May of 1949, the state’s first sanctioned event was held on the half mile dirt track at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in North Platte.

Following that original race, the popularity of the sport blossomed. Drivers from all over the state participated and the demand for O’Boyle to expand to other county fairgrounds tracks eventually led him to operate NASCAR-sanctioned tracks not only in North Platte, but also in Lexington, Holdrege, Broken Bow, Hastings, McCook, Sidney, and Chappell, Nebraska as well as Julesburg, Colorado and Rapid City, South Dakota.

In early 1953, while in Daytona for the beach race and NASCAR’s annual meetings, O’Boyle was awarded a 100-mile Grand National Race (now known as Cup) which was to be held in North Platte. On July 26, 1953, with a sellout crowd on hand, Dick Rathman won the race with a last lap pass to take the checkered flag in front of Herb Thomas, Lee Petty, Buck Baker and Marv Copple.

In 1957, O’Boyle founded and promoted the Circuit of Champions throughout the Midwest, with his final event in Moline, Illinois being the first 500-lap short track race ever held on a paved track.

In 1963, after a five year hiatus from promoting, O’Boyle leased and began promoting the Continental Divide Sports Car Course in Castle Rock, Colorado, and three years later formed an investment group that built Pike’s Peak International Raceway in Colorado Springs. The facility eventually hosted a variety of NASCAR, Indy Racing League (IRL) and United States Auto Club (USAC) events.

O’Boyle passed away in 2001.

Otto “Pappy” Ramer


Otto Ramer was born in Omaha in 1890 and lived his entire life there. At an early age, he developed a love for all types of racing; motorcycles, boats and Midget race cars.

Ramer, who operated a Harley Davidson shop in Omaha, rode in his first motorcycle race in 1909 at Aksarben in the same race meet that saw Eddie Rickenbacker start his racing career. He became one of the top motorcycle racers at the Omaha Speedway board track and also raced boats on Carter Lake near Omaha and with the Mid-West Outboard Association

In the 1930s, when Midget racing became the rage, Ramer became one of the first to own a Midget in the Omaha area. With Ken Beckley driving his Harley-Davidson powered car, he won many races throughout the Midwest in 1935 and 1936.

Following World War II, Ramer purchased an Offenhauser powered Midget which he raced at Playland Park in Council Bluffs, Olympic Stadium in Kansas City, and Sportsman’s Park in Sioux City, as well as numerous state and county fair race tracks. Among drivers who won races in the Ramer “Offy” were Jay Booth, Buzz Barton, David Thompson, Charley Taggert, Ben Harleman, Rex Easton, George Smith, Der Markley, Bernie Shires, Wayne “Bromo” Selser, Bobby Parker, and Larry Wheeler. Selser, Parker and Wheeler terrorized Midwest race tracks throughout much of the 1950s in the Ramer number-38 “Offy.”.

After Midget racing died out in the Midwest, Ramer began building racing engines for local stock car racers and also built and maintained Jaguar sports car racing vehicles for Omahan Loyal Katskee. In a car prepared by Ramer, Katskee finished third in the 1955 Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance, one of the most grueling races in the world. In the late 1950s, he and Katskee built a car for the Indianapolis 500, but unfortunately they were unable to get the car up to speed for the race.

Ramer, who was known as a meticulous stickler for detail, passed away on August 14, 1968 while working at his lathe preparing a crankshaft for a local racer.

Gordon “Gordie” Shuck


Gordon “Gordie” Shuck was born and raised in Edgar, Nebraska and developed an interest in racing as a teenager. In 1947 he and a group of friends built a race car and when the assigned driver backed out, Shuck began a very successful 11-year racing career.

Shuck began racing the creation in the summer of 1948 at county fair races. Shortly thereafter, the Nebraska Hot Rod Racing Association (NHRRA) was formed with Shuck immediately becoming the circuit’s most dominant driver. After winning the organization’s inaugural championship in 1949, Shuck captured his second NHRRA championship a year later.

Prior to the 1951 season, Shuck sold his original car and began picking up rides in both Hot Rods and Big Cars. Driving for Jim Gessford and “Chick” Byrnes, Shuck fell just short of his third consecutive NHRRA title, losing by just a handful of points to “Andy” Anderson.

In 1952, Shuck split his time between driving Gessford’s “Deuce” in the NHRRA series and Byrnes’ Big Car with the United Motor Contest Association (UMCA) and the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA). He finished second in NHRRA points and ninth in the final IMCA standings.

When the NHRRA and UMCA merged in 1953, Shuck promptly drove Byrnes’ GMC-powered Big Car to the UMCA title scoring a number of victories including his biggest win of the year at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson.

Shuck piloted Byrnes’ car to a fifth place finish in UMCA points in 1954 but then turned his attention to Modified Stock Cars and raced weekly at Capital Beach in Lincoln and Central Nebraska Raceway in Hastings. He won back-to-back titles at Central Nebraska Raceway In 1955 and 1956, and also won numerous events at Capital Beach, Beatrice and other race tracks throughout the state.

Having a desire to spend more time with family, Shuck climbed into the cockpit of a race car for the last time on September 28, 1958 at Sunset Speedway in Omaha. He started 33rd in the Modified Stock Car feature race and roared through the entire field to capture his final and possibly most memorable win.

Of the many accomplishments over the course of his career, Shuck considered winning the UMCA Sportsmanship Award in 1953 during the same year he won the series championship, as his most cherished.

Shuck spent his entire life as a resident of Edgar and passed away in 2001.

Chester “Chet” Wilson


Chester “Chet” Wilson was born in Lincoln and at age 12 built his first motorized car out of junk parts he gathered from around the neighborhood.

At the urging of a high school friend, Wilson watched his first racing event when the two of them peered over the fence to watch the Midgets run on the new race track at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds. Wilson intently studied every car in detail and the event marked the beginning of his life-long love affair with auto racing. Almost immediately, fabrication began on his first Midget race car.

Wilson moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1940 and his career as a car owner began in earnest following World War II. From 1946 to 1954, his Midgets were fielded successfully by Lloyd Ruby, Leonard “Cotton” Musick, Bernie Shires, Corky Benson, “Mac” McHenry, Jay Booth, and “Texas West” Weitzler.

While building a successful motor building business, Wilson continued to build race cars. When the popularity of Midgets began to wane, he purchased a new Midget in 1954 and “stretched” it so it could run with the Sprinters. He pulled the V8 Ford engine from his former number-5 Midget, made a number of unique modifications to it, and with Musick in the cockpit, won the 1955 United Motor Contest Association (UMCA) championship.

In 1957, Wilson fabricated a brand new Sprint Car using a powerful Chevrolet V8 engine. With Harold Leep at the wheel, the legend of the Chet Wilson “Offy Killer” was born! The team of Wilson and Leep won hundreds of races, set numerous track records, and scored three additional UMCA championships in a seven year span from 1957 to 1963. Prior to the “Offy Killer” being officially retired in the mid 1970s, Jud Larson, Gordon Wooley and Grady Wade also piloted Wilson’s number-25 machine.

In 1973, in a team-effort with his son Jerry, “Chet” Wilson masterminded the first “Wilson V4” Chevrolet engine for Midget racing. The strong 196 cubic inch V4 eventually powered Jerry Stone to the championship at the Midget Nationals at the Kingdome in Seattle.

Over the years, Wilson built customized racing engines for many types of racing machines including Midgets, Sprint Cars, Stock Cars, Modifieds, and Drag and Funny Cars. He passed away from inoperable brain cancer in 1977, at the young age of 59.

Wilson was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2000.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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