Class of 2004

John Bagley


John Bagley was born in Omaha. He started his racing career riding motorcycles in 1919 and very shortly was racing two-wheelers all over the Midwest.

In 1925, Bagley built his first race car, a bob-tail dirt car with a Fronty-Ford engine. The following year, at a county fair race in South Dakota, he soundly defeated dirt track legend Gus Schrader and shortly thereafter, was winning regularly against the likes of Schrader, Johnny Gerber, Sam Hoffman, and Pat Cunningham.

In 1929, Bagley opted to cut back on his time in the cockpit and started hiring other drivers to pilot his car. His first “hired gun” was “Little” Pat Cunningham and the duo quickly became nearly unbeatable. After an accident near the end of the 1929 season hospitalized Cunningham, Bagley hired Bert Ficken and the Denver driver picked up where his predecessor had left off, winning all over the Midwest for the next two years.

In 1931, Sam Hoffman was hired to chauffeur Bagley’s open-wheeler. The pair scored big wins together at both the Wisconsin State Fair at the Iowa State Fair. A year later, Hoffman drove Bagley’s car to a second place finish on the American Auto Association (AAA) Midwestern Circuit.

By 1934, Bagley’s reputation for fielding top-notch equipment was gaining national attention and he decided to travel east with the AAA. After “Speed” Haskell was killed in Bagley’s machine at Winchester, Indiana, he hired Floyd Davis and later “Doc” MacKenzie to do the wheel turning. In 1935, MacKenzie, took the AAA Eastern Circuit by storm, winning 19 feature races and the circuit’s championship. They also won the Hankinson Circuit Championship that year making MacKenzie the first driver to win both titles during the same year.

Unfortunately, MacKenzie’s success was short-lived however, as the young prodigy was killed in a racing accident in Milwaukee in 1936. The following year, Bagley returned, fielding a two-car team featuring drivers Frankie Beeder and Tony Willman. Beeder won both the AAA Eastern Circuit title and the Hankinson Championship in 1937, giving Bagley the distinction of being the only car owner to ever win both titles in the same season on two different occasions. Still grief-stricken over the death of MacKenzie however, Bagley called it quits following the 1937 season.

After his racing career was over, Bagley moved to Minnesota where he passed away in 1990. He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2002.

Gale "Curly" Doggett


Gale “Curly” Doggett was born in York, Nebraska but as a teenager moved to Sunol, Nebraska to live with his aunt and uncle.

After moving to Sidney in 1948, Doggett competed in his first race in nearby Chappell, where he finished second, and his 16-year racing career was underway. He raced with the Devil’s Motor Club throughout Western Nebraska and portions of Colorado from 1951 through 1953 and quickly became known for his number-5 purple and white 1936 Ford Coupe while winning many feature events.

In the mid 1950s, Doggett ran with Ed O’Boyle’s fledgling National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Sportsman circuit, winning numerous events including an invitational race held in Rapid City, South Dakota where he set a track record during qualifying. In 1954, he traveled to Langhorne, Pennsylvania to race in the annual NASCAR Sportsman Century race, but pulled out with engine problems on the 20th lap of the grueling event.

Doggett’s first experience in a Sprint Car was in 1958, when he and Dr. Neil Bentley of Oxford drove to Kansas City, purchased a used Kurtis Sprint Car, pulled it to Riverside Stadium, and promptly swept the program.

He was severely burned in a fuel fire in August of 1958 during hot laps in WaKeeney, Kansas and spent four and a half months in the hospital recovering. As a result, Bentley decided to discontinue his involvement in auto racing. Doggett subsequently purchased Bentley’s Circle-5 Sprinter and began touring with the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) and the Big Car Racing Association (BCRA). In 1959, he won BCRA events at Englewood, Colorado and twice at Pueblo to finish second in series points. He finished third in BCRA points in 1960 with another win at Pueblo.

One of Doggett’s biggest open-wheel wins was in 1960 when he and New Mexico car owner “Pappy” Noe journeyed to Juarez, Mexico where they swept the show and the event’s $185.00 top prize.

In 1961, Doggett raced with the United States Auto Club (USAC) before driving for Walt James on the California Racing Association (CRA) circuit. He eventually returned to Nebraska and drove his final race in Greeley, Colorado in 1965.

Doggett was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 2006. He passed away in 2012 while living in Anchorage, Alaska.

Loren "Lou" Downing


Loren “Lou” Downing was born in Kearney and developed an interest in anything that had an engine at an early age. He began his drag racing career in 1959 driving at the airport drag strip near Grand Island.

In 1964, Downing and his cousins, Doug and Richard Beshore, purchased a 1964 “Hemi” powered Dodge which they raced in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) SS/A Class. The following year, they purchased a Plymouth and raced it to the NHRA Division 5 Street Eliminator championship.

In 1968, Downing was approached by Kearney American Motors Corporation automobile dealer Gene “Pete” Peterson about forming a club for high school boys who had an interest in cars. Together, with Bill Merryman, Peterson and Downing formed the group and they ordered a 1968 AMX for the youngsters to hone their skills and learn about drag racing. The car was painted red, white and blue and named “Pete’s Patriot” after Peterson.

With Downing at the controls, the club raced the car at all NHRA Division 5 races in 1968 and even ran as far away as Indianapolis for the NHRA U.S. Nationals.

In 1969, American Motors made an all-out commitment to drag racing and Peterson purchased one of 52 highly-modified AMX cars built by the company specifically for NHRA’s Super Stock class. Downing drove the car to the Division 5 Super Stock championship and set a track record at one of the three national meets they competed in.

The team’s success attracted the attention of AMC’s racing executives and “Pete’s Patriot” became a factory-supported car for the 1970 and 1971 seasons. In 1970, Downing drove the car to the Division 5 Super Stock championship, set one national record, and was runner-up in the Super Stock Eliminator class at the Nationals in Indianapolis. The car also raced into the semi-finals at the World Finals in Dallas, Texas. In 1971, the car made it to the semi-finals at both the Nationals and the World Finals.

At the end of the 1971 season, factory sponsorship ceased and Peterson ended up selling the car bringing Downing’s career as a driver to a close.

Downing eventually helped his son Rob get involved in drag racing. Rob Downing became Crew Chief for KB Racing based in North Carolina and helped the team win six NHRA national championships.

Downing was inducted into the NHRA Division 5 Hall of Fame in 2004.

General Curtis LeMay


Curtis LeMay was born in Columbus, Ohio and following a distinguished combat career during World War II was put in charge of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), headquartered in Bellevue, Nebraska. One of his most daunting tasks was to increase morale at the facility.

Having been a sports car enthusiast for some time, LeMay contacted Fred Wacker, who was president of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), regarding the possibility of holding races and timed events on the runways of the SAC air bases. The first race at a SAC air base occurred on October 26, 1952 at Turner Air Force Base in Albany, Georgia. Over the next few years, events were being held at bases in California, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida, as well as at Offutt.

Since LeMay was headquartered at Offutt, he placed special emphasis on the events held there. The first race, the SCCA National Sports Car Championship, was held on July 5, 1953 with events scheduled for 50, 75, 100, and 200 miles. A crowd of 55,000 racing enthusiasts was on hand to watch a field of drivers which included 2001 Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee Loyal Katskee, Texans Caroll Shelby and Jim Hall, Masten Gregory of Kansas City, Jack McAfee of Los Angeles, and Jim Kimberly of Chicago. The crowd remains the largest crowd to ever witness an auto racing event in the state of Nebraska.

The next year’s event at Offutt, held on July 4, 1954, attracted another large crowd of over 25,000 sport car fans. Unfortunately, with more than a million dollars invested in SAC facilities and as a result of the SAC races being held around the country, Congressional scrutiny began and eventually the races were discontinued.

As a result of LeMay’s efforts, however, the SCCA, which had been struggling and near extinction, saw a rebirth in interest with numerous new road courses being built around the country, making the organization once again a major player in automobile racing. Having been credited with saving the organization, LeMay was presented the SCCA’s highest award, the Woolf Bernato Award in 1954. He was inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2007.

LeMay passed away in 1990 and is buried at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

George Roseland


George Roseland was born in Eagle Grove, Iowa but spent most of his life in Omaha.

Roseland’s motorsports career began in 1952 when he raced a home-built Oldsmobile-powered 1939 Ford Coupe at area drag strips. For two consecutive years, the car was unbeaten in the B/Gas Class at Scribner Raceway. In 1955, he built a 1929 Roadster and over the next three years won seven Top Eliminator awards and set numerous track records while never losing a race in his class. He competed in the first U.S. Nationals in Great Bend, Kansas in 1956 in the car.

Three years later, Roseland built a “sling-shot” Dragster and continued winning, scoring many AA/Dragster and Top Eliminator victories and setting numerous track records in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. He also competed in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals in Oklahoma City in the car.

One of the highlights of Roseland’s racing career was serving on Bobby Unser’s crew at the Indianapolis 500 in 1972 and 1973. Another highlight was racing in the Frontier 500 Baja Desert race in Las Vegas in 1985.

Over the years, Roseland helped his sons, Mark and Greg, get involved in racing, and later helped his grandson Chris develop a love for the sport through Soap Box Derby competition. In 1987, Chris won the national points championship and competed in the 50th annual National Soap Box Derby event in Akron, Ohio.

Subsequently, Roseland became heavily involved in the Nebraska Soap Box Derby Association. Through his fund raising efforts, over $150,000 was raised allowing Omaha to build and maintain one of the premier tracks in the country. In 1993, the Association dedicated the track in the names of Roseland and Jerry Van Waart.

In 1996, Roseland helped his grandson Chris build a Modified Midget race car. Chris won a track championship and the regional title that season and also finished in the top-ten in national points.

As though Roseland hadn’t already accomplished enough in the sport, in 2012, at the young age of 81, Roseland and a group of Omaha area racing enthusiasts took a 1941 Studebaker to the Bonneville Salt Flats where he achieved a personal dream by driving the car to a top speed of 201 miles per hour.

Over the years, Roseland has organized a number of nostalgia drag racing events and has also helped numerous young people get their start in various types of racing.

Joe and Louie Turco


Joseph “Joe” and Louis “Louie” Turco were born in Omaha and at an early age, developed an interest in automobiles.

The two brothers built their first race car in 1928. A few years later, in 1935, Joe traveled to California and with Howard Cox behind the wheel, successfully raced a Turco-built Big Car from San Jose to Los Angeles against the best cars and drivers the state had to offer.

In the mid 1930s, the brothers spent a few years working on cars that were raced at the Indianapolis 500. In 1935, they helped “Doc” McKenzie race to a ninth place finish in the 500 and later assisted with the Charlie Volker-owned V-12 Indy Car.

Upon returning to Omaha, the brothers sat up shop building both Midgets and Big Cars. They built successful Midgets for Otto “Pappy” Ramer and Carl “Boo-Boo” Badami and Big Cars driven by John Bagley.

During the 1937 racing season, Joe went on the road with Lynton Musick of Dallas with the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA). Musick finished runner-up in points in the IMCA Southwest Division that year.

In 1939, popular Kansas City area chauffeur Ralph Pratt wheeled to numerous wins in a Turco-built machine. Pratt’s first Midget victory came at Olympic Stadium in Kansas City in a Turco Midget and he won the Kansas City Midget Auto Racing Association (KCMARA) indoor title in 1939-1940 in a Turco car. During the 1940 summer season, “Boo-Boo” Baldami wheeled a Louie Turco Midget to his final career win as a driver at Olympic Stadium. In the mid 1940s, Iowan Charley Taggert raced to numerous KCMARA wins in a Turco Midget.

For most of the decade of the 1940s, Louie continued to build and maintain Midgets and, for a few years, worked in Milwaukee for the racing Marchese Brothers. Joe returned to Omaha in 1945 and did maintenance work on a number of race cars, most notably on a Midget owned by Frank Dashner of Glenwood, Iowa.

Both brothers eventually found their way into Sports Car racing with Joe maintaining cars driven by Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame Inductee General Curtis LeMay. Louie worked with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) at a number of venues including Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Watkins Glen, New York, and the Studebaker Proving Grounds in South Bend, Indiana.

Joe passed away in 1984 and Louie died in 1992.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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