Class of 2001

Frank Brennfoerder


Frank Brennfoerder was born in Ruskin, Nebraska and developed an interest in automobiles at an early age. He started his racing career in August of 1949 driving in a Hot Rod race at the Nuckolls County Fairgrounds in Nelson. Brennfoerder won the race and his career was underway.

Brennfoerder raced with the Nebraska Hot Road Racing Association (NHRRA) until his career was interrupted by a stint in the military. In 1951, while stationed at Scott Field Air Force Base near St. Louis, he was able to drive on weekends in Belleville and Mt. Vernon, Illinois and Valley Park, Missouri. While on furlough, he also drove a few races at both Fairbury and York, Nebraska.

After returning from the service, Brennfoerder drove a number of different cars throughout the Midwest from 1954 through 1963 including Roadsters, Coupes, and Sprints. In 1955 and 1956, he shared seat time driving the Jack Skinner Roadster with the United Motor Contest Association (UMCA) and a 1932 Ford Coupe for Jack Slocum at local race tracks in Kansas and Missouri.

In the early 1960s, as the Modified Stock Cars gave way to the Super Modifieds, Brennfoerder began building his own machines. He campaigned Supers at tracks in Eastern Nebraska and eventually transitioned to Sprint Cars when they began to appear in the state in the late 1960s. During that period, not only did Brennfoerder pilot his own machines, he on occasion, had others sit behind the wheel of his creations. Drivers who drove for Brennfoerder included Joe Saldana, Keith Hightshoe, Lonnie Jensen, Cliff Sealock, Edd French, and Leon Lahodnhy.

Brennfoerder’s final ride was for the Grand Island-based team of Bob Rosso, Ron Alexander and Mike Phillips. He drove for the team in 1972 and 1973 at Hastings Raceway and Mid-Continent Raceway near Doniphan.

Over his 25 year driving career, Brennfoerder raced at over 30 tracks in Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Oklahoma. He won countless feature events and a number of track championships.

After hanging up his driver’s suit and helmet in 1974, Brennfoerder stayed active in the sport, working as a “corner man” at Knoxville Raceway for a number of years. In 1980 and 1981, he built engines for LaVerne Nance which were placed into the Nance house car driven by Sammy Swindell.

Brennfoerder’s laid-back demeanor made him a popular driver among fans, fellow competitors and race officials.

Gerald “Boog” Bruggeman


Gerald Bruggeman was born on a farm near Carroll, Nebraska but spent most of his life in the rural Hoskins area.

Bruggeman, or “Boog” as he was affectionately called, began his racing career in 1951 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds and he won the first race he entered. In 1957, Bruggeman suffered a severe shoulder injury at Kings Speedway in Norfolk and sat on the sidelines for the next four years.

In 1962, fellow racer Gene Brudigan invited Bruggeman to go with him to the races at South Sioux City and “Boog” was again bitten by the racing bug. Almost immediately he began working on a new car and subsequently started racing Modifieds at Raceway Park in South Sioux City. When Riviera Raceway in Norfok opened a couple of years later, Bruggeman began racing there and won the first race ever run at the facility.

In 1968, Bruggeman sold his Modified and began driving for R.D. “Biz” Bisping of Norfolk. The pair made a trip to Franklin and purchased the former Willie Hecke driven “Mighty Mouse” Coupe from John Davisson. Over the next few years they won championships at Boone County Raceway in Albion, Clearwater Speedway in Clearwater, and Platte Valley Speedway in Columbus, as well as race tracks in LeMars, Iowa and Yankton, Scotland, and North Sioux City, South Dakota. During that period, Bruggeman won 32 of the 65 feature races in the car.

In 1972, Bruggeman raced a Roger Beck Sprinter for Bisping at Eagle Raceway near Lincoln and Knoxville Raceway in Iowa before returning as an owner-driver the following season, competing at Norfolk, Columbus and Doniphan. He won the track championship at Riviera Raceway in Norfolk In 1974.

Due to a new tire rule at his home track in Norfolk, Bruggeman elected to race at historic Husets Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota in 1976. Armed with a Don Maxwell Sprint Car, “Boog” made a shambles of the competition at Husets winning consecutive point championships in 1977, 1978 and 1979, the first driver to ever “three-peat” at Husets. At one point during the 1977 season, he won six consecutive feature races at Husets.

"Boog" retired from racing in 1980 and was inducted into the Husets Speedway Hall of Fame in 2000. He passed away in 2010.

Ralph Foster


Ralph Foster was born in Red Oak, Iowa, but after a couple of family moves, spent most of his childhood in Hastings. He grew up at the race track in north Hastings and worked odd jobs there including warming up race cars on the track for various car owners.

In the early 1930s while living in Grand Island, he began his racing career driving a personally hand-crafted Roadster at a number of Nebraska venues including Grand Island, Hastings, Franklin, Clay Center, Fairbury, Beatrice and Neligh.

While racing in Clay Center in 1935, the engine in Foster’s car let go and “Pop” Harding of Doniphan asked him to drive his Duesenberg powered racer. The pair ended up racing together for three years and won consistently in Nebraska and Kansas.

Foster raced Roadsters for both Harding and John Mellon of Omaha until late 1938, when he purchased a Midget from the Marchese family in Milwaukee. Foster raced his Ford-powered Midget in the Central States Racing Association (CSRA) in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Oklahoma scoring numerous feature race wins.

In 1940, Foster began racing for Oliver Jennings of Kansas City and the pair formed a nearly unbeatable combination together. That year, Foster won 69 feature races and also captured the Kansas Midget Championship. The two raced together for three seasons including on the winter Midget circuit where Foster raced for Jennings at indoor facilities in Salina, Kansas City, Wichita and Tulsa.

After a four year interruption during World War II, Foster resumed his driving career in late 1945 at Olympic Stadium in Kansas City. During his first time back in the driver’s seat, he set fast time at the Kansas City event in Ben Harleman’s V8-powered Midget.

Shortly after his discharge from the service, Foster moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he opened a successful speed shop and helped design and build Albuquerque’s Speedway Park. In 1952, he moved to the Los Angeles area and purchased an Offenhauser-powered Drake Midget which he raced at Ascot Park, Balboa Stadium and other California tracks, continuing his winning ways racing against the likes of Johnny Parsons and Bill Vukovich. He drove his final race in 1975 at Ascot.

Foster was also an accomplished pilot and flew for the United States Forestry Service fighting forest fires and also as a consultant to the Ecuadorian Air Force.

Foster passed away in 2007.

Art Jacobson


Art Jacobson was born and raised in Duncombe, Iowa. As a youngster he worked on the family farm until he moved to Kansas City to attend trade school.

In 1936, while in Kansas City, Jacobson began his racing career driving his own home-built Midget before turning the driving duties over to others. Early drivers who wheeled his car included brothers Dick and Johnny Hobel and “Red” Taylor.

Jacobson and his family moved to North Platte, Nebraska in 1942 and following World War II, he began racing with the Midwest Midget Auto Racing Association (MMARA). At the time, the MMARA was running approximately 80 events per year mainly in Iowa and Illinois.

In 1946, Johnny Hobel secured Jacobson his first championship, a track title at CE-MAR Acres in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A few years later, in 1949, Jacobson won the Owner’s Championship at Mississippi Valley Raceway in Davenport and his two drivers, Dick Ritchie, in Jacobson’s number-33, and “Red” Hoyle, in the number-44, finished one-and-two in the final MMARA point standings. Jacobson won a second MMARA championship in 1951 with Hoyle at the controls.

In the late 1960s, Jacobson teamed up with Bobby Parker. During a two-year period, the pair won every feature race at Frontier Park (later known as Playland Park) in Council Bluffs, Iowa except for two events. They also raced at Sioux City, Iowa, Neligh, Nebraska, Topeka, Kansas and throughout the Kansas City area, as well as in the state of Minnesota with the Northwest Midget Racing Association (NMRA).

Following Parker’s tenure behind the wheel, John Stewart of Fremont and Jim McVay of Kansas City chauffeured the number-33 Jacobson Midget. McVay won the final IMCA Compact Sprint (Midget) championship for Jacobson in 1970.

Other prominent drivers to sit in the cockpit of a Jacobson-owned race car included Harold Leep, Der Merkley, and Kenny Crabb.

Jacobson was always known as an under-funded car owner who typically built his own machines. In spite of that, his cars scored hundreds of main event victories during his 46 year career.

Jacobson’s final year as a car owner was 1980. He passed away in 1985.

Howard Johansen


Howard Johansen was born and raised on a farm near Shelby, Nebraska. Although his formal education ended with the eighth grade, he demonstrated his mechanical ability at an early age by keeping equipment on the family farm operating smoothly.

Johansen moved to Los Angeles in 1941. Following the war, he raced Roadsters for a short period of time with the California Roadster Association (CRA) but soon realized he had the unique ability to create and build racing components that could help other racers make their cars more competitive.

He began modifying engine camshafts and when racers began relying on him to provide cams that would win races, he opened a business which would become known as Howard’s Cams. In addition to building his first cam grinding equipment, Johansen also created a variety of engine components including fuel injection systems, aluminum heads, forged aluminum connecting rods, and aluminum flywheels.

Johansen developed a love for speed runs and in the late 1940s fielded cars at Muroc Dry Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats. By the mid 1950s, his drag race cars were winning consistently at National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) events all over the country and in 1955, he drove to the first-ever NHRA C/Gas national title in Great Bend, Kansas.

In 1957, Johansen campaigned two stock cars on the NASCAR circuit which were driven by Marshall Sargent and Rex White. Those cars finished seventh and ninth place respectively in the NASCAR point standings that season.

A year later, in 1958, Johansen debuted the crowning achievement of his career, “The Twin Bears Digger” a rail dragster featuring side-by-side blown Chevrolet engines. From 1958 through 1960, Johansen raced the car around the West Coast with Glen Ward in the cockpit. In 1961, with Jack Chrisman at the controls, the car won the first NHRA Winternationals and later that season Chrisman set the NHRA Top Eliminator (Top Gas) elapsed time record on board the machine, clocking an 8.78 second run. At the end of the 1961 season, Chrisman and “Twin Bears,” were recognized as the NHRA World Champions.

Over the years, Johansen’s company, Howard’s Cams, owned and sponsored numerous well-known drag cars including “The Rattler” driven by Larry Dixon to a Top Fuel Eliminator win at the Hot Rod Magazine Championships in 1968 and the NHRA Winternationals in 1969.

Respected as a true racing innovator, Johansen passed away at his home in 1988.

Loyal Katskee


Loyal Katskee was born and raised in Omaha and during his teen years developed a love for fast cars.

After racing Roadsters and Midgets for a few years, Katskee became one of the founders of the Nebraska Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) in 1953. He was instrumental in managing an SCCA National event at Offutt Air Force Base that year which drew a crowd of 55,000 fans, the largest crowd ever in Nebraska racing history.

Katskee also drove in his first SCCA race in 1953 and over the next nine years raced Jaguars, Ferraris, Porsches, Lotuses and Maseratis all over the Midwest and to faraway places like The Bahamas and Havana, Cuba.

Katskee scored his first major victory in 1954 in the 50-mile Cornhusker Cup at Offutt Air Force Base and later that year won the SAC Trophy Race at Offutt.

In 1955, Katskee raced at the 12 Hours of Sebring with co-driver Roger Wing and later that year won a 30-lap event at Wisconsin State Fair Park. In 1956, Katskee again competed at Sebring, and won SCCA events at Dodge City, Kansas; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Smart Field, Missouri; and Coffeyville, Kansas. He also competed that year at Nassau, Bahamas and at the Road America Championships at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. In 1957, Katskee drove a Ferrari to a major win at the Chicago International Grand Prix.

In 1958, Katskee ran a number of International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) Stock Car races, as for a three year period, the organization allowed Sports Cars to compete on the circuit. He won the IMCA event at Sedalia, Missouri and scored top five finishes at Belleville, Kansas and Des Moines, Iowa.

Back on the SCCA circuit in 1959, Katskee secured another major win at the Los Angeles Grand Prix behind the wheel of a Ferrari and also was first in class at the new Daytona International Speedway in his Ferrari Spyder. He finished out the 1959 season at the Speed Week Trophy Race in Nassau, Bahamas in a new Maserati.

A highlight of Katskee’s Sports Car racing career was competing at the Gran Premio de Libertad in Havana, Cuba in 1960. The event took place during the reign of Fidel Castro.

Following his retirement from racing, Katskee’s love of foreign cars prompted him to open a foreign car dealership called Loyal’s British. He passed away in 1985.

Dean Ward


Dean Ward was raised on a farm near Sargent, Nebraska and began his racing career in 1959 driving Jalopies at Sargent, Ord and Broken Bow. He won his first feature race on his hometown track in Sargent in 1961.

From 1962 through 1966, Ward raced in numerous cars before meeting Mel Earnest of Wood River in 1967, a meeting which ushered in a lifelong friendship for the pair.

Earnest put Ward in the seat of a new 1932 Ford Coupe with a Chevrolet V-8 engine and on the first two nights out Ward won feature races at Kearney, Nebraska and Osborne, Kansas. The next season, the pair finished in the top ten at Kearney, Hastings and Columbus.

Ward’s career took off in 1971 when Earnest formed a partnership with Grand Island automobile dealer Don Wilson. The pair put together a specially-designed Laverne Nance Sprint Car powered by an American Motors engine and that year Ward roared to 26 feature race wins while capturing the track championship at Hastings Raceway. The trio put together three successful seasons as a race team with Ward winning the title at Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan in 1973 after a narrow miss the previous season.

Ward shifted gears in 1975 and began driving Late Models for Larry Stromer and the team of Terry Klatt and Ron Schwabauer. He won a points championship for Stromer in 1976 at Mid-Continent Raceway and captured his second Mid-Continent Late Model championship in 1980 for Klatt and Schwabauer.

Returning to open-wheeled race cars, Ward drove for the Sprint Car team of Fred Garbers and Moon Dickenson in 1981, finishing third at the Jackson (Minnesota) Nationals that summer.

Ward spent the remainder of his career in the cockpit of Midgets owned by Klatt and Schwabauer. He won the Inaugural Open Wheel Classic at Colorado National Speedway in Erie, Colorado in 1983, scored top five finishes at the Belleville Midget Nationals in 1985 and 1987, and recorded an eighth place finish in the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa in 1989.

Standing in Victory Lane after winning both nights of the Open Wheel Classic at Rocky Mountain Speedway in Denver in 1980, Ward announced he was ending his 31 year career in motorsports.

Ward was inducted into the Belleville Highbanks Hall of Fame in 2014. He passed away in 2015.

Don Wolfe


A native of Lexington, Don Wolfe followed in his father’s footsteps and began his racing career in 1950 at the age of 20. During the early years he raced at Lexington, North Platte, Broken Bow and Holdrege, but soon branched out to race tracks in Ord, Hastings, Chappell, Kearney and Sydney, Nebraska, Sterling and Julesburg, Colorado, and even Rapid City, South Dakota.

By 1953, Wolfe was achieving great success behind the wheel of Roadsters winning the Mid-Season Championship at Lexington in 1953 and Mid-Season titles at both Lexington and North Platte in 1954. He sat a one-lap record at Dawson County Speedway in Lexington in 1954 which held up until the track was converted from a half-mile to 3/8 mile in the early 1960s.

Wolfe began competing with the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) and the United Motor Contest Association (UMCA) in the mid 1950s, racing Roadsters and later Big Cars. Juggling his regional circuit racing with local racing, he won the Republican Valley Racing Association championship in 1956 racing at tracks in Oxford, Beaver City, Franklin, McCook, Stockville, Trenton, and Culbertson.

Wolfe raced a 1957 Chevrolet on the Championship Auto Racing (CAR) circuit in 1957, but returned to open-wheeled cars in 1958, driving Sprint Cars with IMCA, the Big Car Racing Association (BCRA), and the Mid-States Racing Association (MSRA). In 1958, he raced most of the fair races in Nebraska and Kansas and also competed at Aztec Speedway in Gallup, New Mexico and Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix against the likes of Al Unser, Parnelli Jones and Jim Hurtubise. He campaigned Sprinters until 1964 when he drove his final race at Lexington, the same track where he had begun his career 14 years earlier.

During his career, Wolfe raced Roadsters, Stock Cars, Supermodifieds, Midgets and Sprint Cars against some of the top drivers in the sport. He sat behind the wheel of 29 different race cars and drove for 27 different owners, most notably “Pop” Harding, Merle Miller and Moe Beardmore. He won countless feature events while racing in 51 cities and towns in nearly a dozen states throughout the Midwest and Southwest.

Following his car racing career, Wolfe tried his hand at racing motorcycles on the AMA circuit until a crash in 1968 forced him to hang up his helmet for good.

Wolfe passed away in 1998.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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