Class of 2005

John & Laura Beecham


John and Laura (Golden) Beecham were both raised Palmyra and became interested in auto racing by walking two distinct paths. As a teenager, John began working on pit crews for teams that raced at Capital Beach, while Laura’s exposure came through her brother, Jim Golden, who raced Sprint Cars in the 1970s.

After their marriage in 1966 and prior to a diving accident in 1981 which left John a quadriplegic, they were involved in the local Corvette Club, participating in racing and other club events.

In 1984, John’s brother Marty approached him regarding promoting a World of Outlaws Sprint Car event at Eagle Raceway. The overall conditions at Eagle at the Wime made it impossible to host the event without major renovations. When the owners showed reluctance to invest in the improvements, John, Laura, and Marty purchased the facility.

Over the next few years, new bleachers were installed, the concession stands were remodeled, a new sound system was installed, and other major infrastructure improvements were made to the facility. In 1990, the Beecham’s installed the first Musco SportsCluster lighting system in the United States, clearing the way for television coverage of World of Outlaws events by Diamond P Sports, Inc.

Continued improvements turned Eagle into one of the top dirt track venues in the nation and the track soon became a hotbed of major racing events in Eastern Nebraska. In 1984, the World of Outlaws Eagle Nationals, one of the premier Sprint Car shows in the country, was established. In 1986, Eagle became the first Nebraska race track to include IMCA (International Motor Contest Association) Modifieds on their weekly schedule. A few years later, Eagle became a member track of the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Winston Racing Series.

In 1990, the Beechams were finalists for the prestigious RPM (Racing Promotion Monthly) National Promoter of the Year award and in both 1995 and 1996, they received the Race Promotion of the Year citation from the United States Auto Club (USAC) for Eagle’s Pepsi USAC Midget Classic.

The Beecham family sold Eagle Raceway in 1997.

John Beecham was an original board member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. He also served on the Board of Directors for IMCA and as a member of the Advisory Council for R.J. Reynolds Motorsports.

John and Laura Beecham both passed away in 2003, approximately eight months apart.

Stan Cisar Sr.


Stanley “Stan” Cisar, Sr. was born and raised in South Omaha and, as a youngster, had a keen interest in all types of sports including baseball, basketball, gymnastics, bowling, golf, and of course, automobile racing.

In the late 1940s, Cisar was recruited to be the flagman at Grandview Speed Bowl in Bellevue by his nephew, Walt Honick, who was a judge at the track, and scorer Frank Remar. He flagged races there until a number of high-profile accidents, including a spectator fatality, eventually closed the facility in 1953.

Over a period of twenty-plus, years, Cisar served as the starter at Playland Park Speedway in Council Bluffs, Shelby County Speedway in Harlan, Iowa, Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, as well as at legendary Sunset Speedway in Omaha. He also waved flags for Midget races in Sioux City, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Kansas City Missouri, Three-Quarter Midget races at both Ralston and Omaha, and Stock Car races at the historic Valley County Fairgrounds race track in Ord. As was typical at the time, throughout much of his career, he flagged the action from the infield, on the race track itself.

Cisar put his flags away for the final time in the late 1960s but remained active at both Sunset Speedway and Playland Park Speedway as both a pitgate steward and a corner flagman. When the Kelley family purchased Sunset in 1978, Cisar was put in charge of the facility’s new VIP booth atop the main grandstand. His tenure at Sunset Speedway totaled over 30 years.

Not only was Cisar well respected in the racing community, he was also a highly-regarded baseball and softball umpire. He called balls and strikes for the Omaha Royals minor league baseball team and served as the Omaha Softball Association’s chief umpire for eight years. He was inducted into the Omaha Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1972.

Cisar’s racing legacy was eventually down passed through his son, Stan, Jr. and his grandson Stan III (Buddy). Stan, Jr., served for many years as track announcer at a number of eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa dirt tracks and currently is the owner of a successful Sprint Car team. Grandson Stan III turned his interest to road racing where he has numerous regional and national wins in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition.

Cisar passed away in 1989.

Carl Forberg


Carl Forberg was born and raised in Omaha. In 1928, at the age of 17, he began racing motorcycles and over the next seven years, won races in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Forberg eventually developed an interest in auto racing, and became one of the original group of racers who brought Midget racing to Omaha in the mid 1930s. He quickly established himself as a force when he won the second race run at Omaha’s Western League Park in 1935 and a year later, won the championship at Riverview Speedway in Sioux City.

Seeking to compete against the best, Forberg moved east and, while being headquartered at the famous Patterson, New Jersey Gasoline Alley, raced five times a week at the area’s most competitive venues including the high-banked board track in Nutley, New Jersey.

In 1939, Forberg moved to Michigan and successfully competed in both Michigan and Ohio until racing was temporarily halted during World War II. Following the war, he put together an Offenhauser-powered Midget and resumed his career racing throughout the Upper Midwest. In 1947 he won 29 feature events and a year later, won the Motor City Speedway (Detroit) Championship and scored 37 feature race wins including seven in a row at various race tracks.

Forberg attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions, from 1950 through 1952. In 1951, sitting behind the wheel of the Auto Shippers Special, he qualified 24th in the starting field and finished seventh in the race.

Forberg retired as a driver following a serious back injury suffered in a Midget race late in the 1952 season, but remained active in the sport as a car owner. He scored numerous impressive victories as a car owner including the 1954 AAA (American Automobile Association) Midwest Midget Championship with Rex Easton at the wheel and the prestigious “Hut Hundred” in Terre Haute, Indiana, also in 1954, with Ronnie Duman in the cockpit. Other drivers who successfully drove for Forgerg during his three decade ownership career included Ralph Ligouri, Johnny Parsons, Jr., Lee Kunzman, and Pancho Carter.

Carter, who went on to become one of the greatest Sprint Car drivers of all time, married Forberg’s daughter, Carla Joy, and their sons, Cole and Dane, became third generation race car drivers.

Forberg was inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. He passed away in 2000.

Wayne House


Wayne House was born and raised in Lincoln. His interest in racing began while he was stationed at Roswell Air Force Base in New Mexico where, as an off duty aircraft technician, he began racing motorcycles and Modified race cars.

A few years after his discharge, House settled in Ashland, but returned to Lincoln in 1966 where he eventually began working as a mechanic for Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee Larry Swanson. House worked with Swanson through 1970 on cars driven by Chuck Kidwell, Keith Hightshoe, Lloyd Beckman, and Lonnie Jensen. With Beckman wheeling Swanson’s Wayne House-powered Super Modified, the team established a one-lap record at the Belleville Highbanks in 1968, and won track championships at Eagle Raceway in both 1968 and 1969.

In 1970, House decided to make racing a full-time endeavor and opened House of Horsepower in Lincoln. The following year, he began a 10-year relationship with John Ricke and brothers Tom and Stan Hill of Williams, Iowa establishing one of the most potent Sprint Car operations in the Midwest. The R&H Farms Sprint Car, with a Wayne House power plant, stormed throughout the country winning races every where they went.

In 1973, the team won the IMCA Sprint Car championship with Thad Dosher behind the wheel. In 1975, with Eddie Leavitt in the cockpit, they won the prestigious Knoxville Nationals, and in 1977 with Ronnie Shuman at the controls, captured the Western World at Manzanita Speedway in Arizona and the Pacific Coast Championship at Ascot Park in California.

A highlight of House’s career came in 1980 when he was called upon by Roger Rager to build a Chevrolet power plant for his Indy Car. Rager qualified 10th for the Indianapolis 500 and eventually finished 23rd after crashing while trying to avoid a spinning car. That engine was the last normally-aspirated stock block engine to qualify at Indy.

House cut back on his travel and crew duties to focus his attention on engine building in 1980. Over the years he built countless 360 and 410 cubic inch Sprint Car engines for teams in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Texas. In addition, he also built engines for USAC Silver Crown Cars, Midgets, Stock Cars, and Tractor Pullers.

House was inducted into the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame in 1979. He passed away in 2019.

Lonnie Jensen


Lonnie Jensen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the late 1950s, while living in North Platte, he watched his first NASCAR Sportsman race at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds and, a few years later, began his driving career at Capital Beach in Lincoln.

Although Jensen won the B Feature during his first night of competition in a Super Modified, he struggled early on until local car owner Keith Barker put him into substantial equipment. In short order, Jensen was running with the leaders.

In 1965, Jensen was awarded his first Sprint Car ride aboard the Brock & Philip Chevrolet and later drove the famous Pop Goodrich-owned Belle of Belleville.

In 1969, he captured two main event wins at Eagle Raceway near Lincoln and finished third in the championship point standings with the Big Car Racing Association (BCRA).

Jensen’s career moved into high gear in 1970, when he was hired by Larry Swanson to pilot his new Chevrolet-powered Sprint Car. That year, the team of Swanson and Jensen won the Big Car Racing Association championship, the Nebraska Modified Racing Association (NMRA) title, and the track championship at Beatrice Speedway.

After a successful season in 1971, when Jensen scored his first feature race win at Knoxville Raceway, the team rolled out a brand new CAE Sprint Car in 1972 and Jensen dominated everywhere he went. He captured his second BCRA title and won track titles at both Beatrice Speedway and Knoxville Raceway. He qualified for the Championship A Main at the prestigious Knoxville Nationals and finished third.

In 1973, driving for Ed Smith, Jensen won the track championship at Eagle Raceway, and a year later, after reuniting with Swanson, picked up his second Knoxville track title.

In 1981, when Midwest Speedway ushered in the Limited Sprint Car class, which ultimately became known as the 360 class, Jensen captured the initial track title at the speedway. In 1984, he shared the Modified Sprint National Championship with Joe Saldana and secured his final track title in 1985 at Eagle Raceway.

During his career, Jensen qualified for the A Main at the Knoxville Nationals on six different occasions, with his highest finish being his third place run in 1972. He is the only Nebraska driver to qualify for the Championship Main at the Nationals five years in a row, securing a starting position in successive years from 1970 to 1974.

Jensen was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 2008. He is retired and lives in Lincoln.

Terry Klatt


Terry Klatt was born and raised in Hastings and began building and racing Soap Box Derby cars as a 10 year old youngster. By age 16, he was racing his “souped up” 1940 Ford at drag strips in Kearney, Grand Island and Lincoln.

After spending two years at Kearney State College, Klatt returned home and eventually he and a group high school classmates purchased a 1937 Chevrolet and converted it into a Stock Car. With Wayne Huntley at the controls, Klatt’s Coupes, full-bodied Stock Cars and Late Models won over 100 feature races and captured seven local track championships. After Huntley’s retirement at the conclusion of the 1973 season, Dean Ward assumed the driving chores and the team’s success continued with Ward eventually capturing a Late Model track championship at Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan in 1980.

Klatt purchased his first Midget race car in 1981 with Ward, an experienced open-wheel racer, staying on as the driver. The team concentrated its efforts with the Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association (RMMRA) with Ward scoring numerous major wins including both The Open Wheel Classic and The Mile High Classic in Denver in 1990. Following Ward’s retirement, Dave Strickland, Jr. came on board in 1991, with the team winning the RMMRA points championship in both 1992 and 1998.

In 2002, Klatt hired a pair of up-and-coming young drivers, Ryan Durst of Lincoln and Bobby East of Indianapolis, to wheel his powerful race cars. Durst won the United States Auto Club (USAC) Midget Rookie-of-the-Year in 2003 and East scored numerous USAC victories for Klatt including the Tom Knowles Memorial in Canton, Ohio in 2003.

Klatt added a USAC Silver Crown car to his arsenal in 2004 and since that time, Klatt-owned Midgets, Sprint Cars, and Silver Crown cars have scored numerous prestigious victories including both The Night Before The 500 at Clermont, Indiana and the Copper Classic in Phoenix in 2008, the Milwaukee 100 in 2011, and The Little 500 in Anderson, Indiana in 2017. With Kyle Hamilton and Brady Bacon sharing the driving duties, Klatt won the USAC Silver Crown Owner’s Championship in 2019.

Over the years, Klatt’s cars have scored numerous podium finishes at both the Belleville (Kansas) Midget Nationals and the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Klatt was inducted into the Belleville High Banks Hall of Fame in 2005. His career, which continues to this day, has spanned portions of seven decades.

Roger Rager


Roger Rager was born and raised in Lincoln and grew up around racing watching his father race “Jalopies” in eastern Nebraska.

He began racing Super Modifieds in 1967 and before long was competing throughout the Midwest and eventually across the country. During his career, he competed at some of the most prestigious Sprint Car venues in the country including Knoxville Raceway in Iowa, Manzanita Speedway in Arizona, West Memphis Speedway in Arkansas, and Volusia County Speedway in Florida.

Rager was the team captain of a Sprint Car team that competed in South Africa in 1973 and upon returning home, roared to the point championship at Knoxville Raceway in 1975 and that same year finished second in the Knoxville Nationals.

Rager had many accomplishments in a Sprint Car but changed his focus to the Indy Car series in 1976. He made his first qualifying attempt at Indianapolis in 1977 but crashed during the attempt at over 190 miles per hour. After narrowly missing qualifying in 1979, he made the field in 1980 with the tenth fastest qualifying time.

Rager became a “media darling” at Indy in 1980, pulling through the gates for qualifying in an open Sprint Car trailer and little money in his pocket. When asked about the engine in his race car, Rager quipped that they had pulled the engine out of an old school bus in a junk yard. To everyone’s surprise, he ran with the leaders early in the race and actually led two laps before crashing into the infield wall trying to avoid a spinning Jim McElreath. He was scored in 23rd position and pocketed $26,500 for his efforts.

Rager made two more attempts to qualify at Indy, in 1981 and 1982, before returning to his dirt track roots where he enjoyed further success before his retirement from motor racing in 2009.

He is the only driver to win feature races at Knoxville Raceway in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. He won a WISSOTA Sprint Car championship in 1999 and won the Midwest Sprint Series championship in 2000 and 2001. He is a three-time winner of the 360 cubic inch Knoxville Masters championship, winning the event in 1999, 2001, and 2005.

Rager was inducted into the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame in 1990 and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2009. He currently makes his home in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.

Rager passed away in 2022.

Gary Swenson


Gary Swenson was born in Lincoln. His interest in auto racing began in the mid 1950s watching from tree tops, sitting on fence posts and then helping his brother Earl with his race cars at Capital Beach and Beatrice Speedway.

In 1959, Swenson convinced his future father-in-law, Charlie Williams, to buy a race car and go racing. Together they built a car and the team became known as Swenson/Williams Racing. The pair was able to hire some of the top drivers in the Midwest to pilot their machines including original driver Arnie Hesser, as well as Cliff Sealock, Lloyd Beckman, John Wilkinson, Ralph Blackett, Jay Woodside, “Lil” Joe Saldana, and Ray Lee Goodwin.

In 1963, with Sealock at the wheel, the team won the track championship at Beatrice Speedway. They captured back-to-back titles at Midwest Speedway in Lincoln in 1965 and 1966 with Wilkinson and Beckman, respectively, at the controls. And, following a second place finish by Beckman in 1966, the team captured the coveted Knoxville Nationals championship trophy in 1968 with Goodwin sitting in the cockpit. Goodwin also captured the IMCA (International Motor Contest Association) championship for Swenson and Williams in 1972, and won track titles for the team at Eagle Raceway in 1970, Knoxville Raceway in 1971, and Midwest Speedway in 1972.

Swenson and Williams raced together as a team until 1973 when Williams retired from racing.

Beginning in 1975, Swenson found himself wrenching full-time for “Speedy” Bill Smith and the Speedway Motors 4X race team. In 1978, Doug Wolfgang captured Swenson’s second Knoxville Nationals title in the car.

When the Limited Sprint class emerged in the early 1980s, John Gerloff drove a Swenson-owned machine to the track championship at Midwest Speedway in 1987 and six titles at Eagle Raceway from 1987 through 1995. Gerloff also won the Short Track Nationals in Little Rock, Arkansas for Swenson in 1993.

Other Swenson track championships were won by Bruce Divis at Eagle Raceway in 1996 and 1997 and Don Droud, Jr. at Butler County Speedway in Rising City in 2004.

During his 47 year career as an owner, co-owner, or mechanic, Swenson worked with 47 different drivers. Swenson also promoted races at three different tracks; Midwest Speedway, Crawford County Speedway in Denison, Iowa, and Nebraska State Fair Park in Lincoln.

He was inducted into the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame in 1995.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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