Class of 2009

Clarence “Speed” Haskell


Clarence “Speed” Haskell was born in Lincoln and began building and racing motorcycles and cars while he was in high school.

In 1929, Haskell received his big break in racing when he was tabbed to drive Chelse Johnson’s “Antelope Park Garage Special.” The pair raced at Ak-Sar-Ben Speedway in Omaha, at the Nebraska State Fair, as well as in neighboring states through the conclusion of the 1933 season.

In 1929, Haskell picked up a win for Johnson at Hutchinson, Kansas and in 1931, in front of 5,000 fans at an American Automobile Association (AAA) event at Ak-Sar-Ben, finished second to legendary Emory Collins in his heat race, the Handicap, and the 20-mile Midwest Free For All. A few weeks later, he became the first Nebraska driver to capture a Sweepstakes (feature) race win at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln.

Haskell capped off a successful 1932 season by winning a 100-mile race at Milwaukee in John Bagley’s “Messer Special.” It was in 1932, because of a number of track records set by Haskell, that he acquired the nickname “Speed.”

After sweeping all three races in Harlan, Iowa in August of 1933, Haskell returned to the Nebraska State Fair and, on the first of two days of racing, set fast time and placed second in the Helmet Dash; but following engine problems, was unable to participate in the Sweepstakes race. A few days later, Haskell once again hopped aboard John Bagley’s well-prepared ride and scored a win in the Sweepstakes race, his second in two years in Lincoln. In a rare State Fairgrounds race in October, Haskell won another feature race in Bagley’s machine, after setting fast time and winning his heat race.

During the winter of 1933, Haskell raced in Phoenix, Arizona and Southern California. While on the West Coast, he won numerous races and set several track records. In the Spring, he headed to Indiana where he qualified as a relief driver for the Indianapolis 500. A few days prior to the 500, Haskell won an event at Funk’s Motor Speedway in Winchester, Indiana, outdistancing speedsters such as Rex Mays, Mauri Rose, and George “Doc” McKenzie.

On July 29, 1934, while practicing and testing a new engine prior to time trials for another meet at Funk’s Motor Speedway, Haskell hit the turn one wall and flipped over the embankment to the ground 50 feet below. He was killed instantly.

Chuck Kidwell


Chuck Kidwell was born and raised in Wisner and built his first race car, a Soap Box Derby racer, as a nine-year old youngster in the late 1940s.

He began his competitive racing career in 1959, racing at Columbus, Norfolk, and South Sioux City. After racing at Eagle Raceway and Midwest Speedway in Lincoln in the early to mid 1960s, Kidwell was called on to chauffeur the famed “Belle of Belleville” for Kansas car owner Pop Goodrich in 1967. He finished second in the Big Car Racing Association (BCRA) championship standings that year and finished fourth in the BCRA standings in 1969.

After moving to Harvard in 1971, Kidwell began racing at both Hastings and Kearney. Driving a hand-crafted Sprint Car, Kidwell competed against the strong Central Nebraska competition until 1972 when a bad crash resulted in head injuries, forcing him to the sidelines for the next two seasons. After receiving medical clearance from his doctor, Kidwell resumed his driving career, racing a Late Model at Doniphan and Red Cloud.

During the late 1970s, Kidwell began building and racing Micro-Midgets. He became active in the National Modified Midget Association (NMMA) and was eventually elected President of the organization.

In 1989, Kidwell designed and built the first Go-Kart with a roll cage for the International Karting Federation (IKF). Following approval of the design, he built over 400 carts for the organization’s new Caged Kart class. Kidwell also designed and built the first Junior Sprint for the NMMA, eventually producing over 200 of the machines in a ten year period.

Kidwell has a long history of involvement at the Indianapolis 500. He helped prepare Chuck Hulse’s seventh-place finishing car in 1967, and also helped with the efforts of Lyn St. James, Jimmy Kite, Scott Harrington, Memo Gidley, and Phil Giebler at the Brickyard. In 1999, he became Crew Chief on the Ricky Nix-owned USAC (United States Auto Club) Silver Crown car which was driven by Johnny Parsons, Jr. until the driver’s retirement in 2008.

Over the last few decades, Kidwell has dedicated his life to mentoring young, aspiring drivers and ensuring the safety of cars and equipment for young racers. He also has continued as a driver and celebrated his 75th birthday in 2016 with a Mini Sprint victory in Florida.

Kidwell’s career in racing has spanned portions of seven decades. He was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 2013.

John MacKichan


John MacKichan was born in Charleston, West Virginia and moved with his family numerous times as a youngster. His foray into automobile racing began with home-built hot rods which he raced on the drag strip in Jacksonville, Florida.

MacKichan moved to Nebraska in 1965, where he received his Machine Tool Technology Certificate from Southeast Community College in Milford, and later, his Bachelor’s Degree in Vocational Education from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. After receiving his degree, he became Plant Engineer at Square D Corporation in Lincoln and in his spare time, began working on projects related to his life’s passion, automobile racing.

MacKichan assisted with some of the fabrication of “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ Swamp Rat 33 Bonneville Streamliner in 1988. Garlits and Don Kehr drove the machine to several land speed records.

From that experience, MacKichan went to work on his own car, with the help of Tim Schultz. MacKichan designed, engineered, and fabricated much of the MacKichan/Schultz Bonneville Streamliner including the front independent suspension and steering, the front aluminum wheels, chute release linkage, rear end, tail stabilizer, driver controls, and canopy hinges, as well as the long hydraulic floating-bed trailer to haul the Streamliner The pair debuted the car at Bonneville in August of 1989. With a small block Chevrolet engine on board, and Schulz behind the wheel, the car achieved a speed of 328 miles per hour in the C/BGS class in 2000, their fastest run at Bonneville. The pair raced the Streamliner at the Salt Flats for 22 years, through the completion of the 2010 season. It is now on display at the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln.

MacKichan also provided fabrication assistance with Carson Smith’s Indy car and machined the rear outer hubs and built aluminum panels and fiberglass for Smith’s 1998 Pike’s Peak Hill Climb car. MacKichan continues to network with the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association, Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb members, and with other automotive organizations on various technical and safety-related issues.

Following his retirement in 2004, MacKichan became Curator at Bill Smith’s Museum of American Speed in Lincoln. He retired from the museum in 2017 but continues to be involved through special projects.

MacKichan is an avid vintage car enthusiast and over the years has restoredt a 1931 Model A Roadster, a 1932 Ford Roadster, and a 1934 Ford Sedan.

Charley & Rose Sesemann


Charley and Rose (Havenridge) Sesemann were both born in Omaha and met at a school dance as teenagers. They were married in 1958.

Both Charley and Rose became drag racers in the 1950s. Although Rose raced for only a few years, Charley raced until the close of Cornhusker Raceway Park near Millard in 1973. He raced his Fiat Toplino, dubbed “The Mad Rat,” at both Cornhusker Raceway and Flightland Drag Strip at the Blair airport.

Charley’s first experience in the speed business was at Bill Barbour’s Speed Shop in Omaha and when Barbour sold the business and retired to Florida, Sesemann moved to Raceland Speedshop, another Omaha racing operation. In 1967, Charley and Rose decided to open their own speed business in Omaha, which they named Charley’s Speed and Machine. The business moved to Blair in 1976.

Charley’s Speed and Machine became known throughout eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa as specialists in all types of racing engine work. From complete engine builds, to machine work, to dyno-tuning, the company was relied upon by some of the most successful drag racers and circle track drivers in the area.

Omaha drag racer Howdy Williams, one of the region’s top quarter-mile racers in the 1960s won numerous local, regional, and national events and set countless track records assisted by Charley’s Speed and Machine, as did fellow drag racer, Gene Bichlmeier. Legendary circle track racers Jim Wyman, Sr. and Glenn Robey both were customers of the Sesemanns and scored numerous track championships with a Charley’s Speed and Machine power plant under the hood. Local racers such as Keith Leithoff, Mike Collins, and Tom Culbertson also were assisted by Charley and Rose Sesemann.

Not only did Charley’s Speed and Machine assist with drag racers and dirt track racers, numerous tractor pullers and other racing enthusiasts came to rely on the company as well. In the 1970s, the company also became known for their work on engines for the imported Ford Pantera.

Over the years, Charley and Rose cherished their relationship with Linda Vaughn, the original “Miss Hurst.” The Sesman’s first met her in 1967 and remained friends throughout the years.

Known as a quiet individual, Charley Sesemann was recognizable by his blue bib overalls and his glasses perched atop his head. He passed away in 2000. The company, which has been in operation over five decades is no being operated by sons, Kevin and Todd.

Larry Swanson


Larry Swanson was raised in Lincoln and began his racing career as a driver in the late 1950s racing at Lincoln Speedway at Capitol Beach.

Although he competed favorably against the tough competition at Capitol Beach, most of his career was spent as a successful car owner. In 1967, Swanson hired Keith Hightshoe as his driver and Wayne House as his Chief Mechanic. The team won races at both Midwest Speedway and at the Belleville (Kansas) Highbanks.

The following season, Lloyd Beckman came on board as the driver and the team won the Nebraska Modified Racing Association (NMRA) championship. Beckman also set a new track record at Belleville that year, becoming the first driver in the 50 year history of the lightning fast high-banked half-mile to achieve a sub 20-second lap.

In 1969, Swanson and Beckman raced in California with the California Racing Association (CRA) during the spring, before returning to Nebraska where they scored ten feature race wins at Eagle Raceway and won the track championship.

Prior to the 1970 season, Beckman stepped away and Lonnie Jensen took over the controls. The team won the track title at Beatrice Speedway and captured both the Big Car Racing Association (BCRA) championship and the NMRA title. In 1971, Jensen finished second in the NMRA championship chase and third on the BCRA circuit. Swanson however, won his second consecutive BCRA owner’s championship that year.

1972 proved to be a huge year for Swanson and Jensen as the pair teamed up to win the Knoxville Raceway point title, as well as championships with both the BCRA and NMRA. Swanson won his third consecutive BCRA owner’s championship that season and Jensen powered the Swanson-owned car to a third place finish at the Knoxville Nationals.

Roger Rager and Don Maxwell filled the seat for Swanson in 1973, but Jensen returned in 1974 and won yet another track title at Knoxville. In 1976, Swanson’s final year as a car owner, Dick Sutcliffe piloted his machine to a seventh place finish at the Knoxville Nationals.

In addition to Jensen, Beckman, Hightshoe, Rager, Maxwell, and Sutcliffe, other talented drivers who strapped into Swanson’s number-14 Chevrolet-powered Sprint Car during his nine year ownership career included Dick Morris, Jan Opperman, “Lil Joe” Saldana, Ron Shuman, and Gordon Woolley.

Swanson was inducted into the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame in 2000 and the BCRA Hall of Fame in 2009.

Dick Wells


Dick Wells was born in Lincoln and developed a love for automobiles at a very early age.

Wells’ first job was at an auto parts store in Lincoln and during that time the store developed a large following of hot rodders as customers. Soon the store became a gathering place of hot rod enthusiasts who eventually persuaded Wells to organize a club for Lincoln’s hot rodders. The “Rebels” car club, which is still in existence today, was established in 1955.

In 1960, Wells relocated to Southern California, where his full-time career in the speed business began to take shape. Desiring to secure a job with a major speed equipment manufacturer, Wells instead landed a full-time job with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) as the editor of a new publication called “National Dragster.”

After three years with “National Dragster,” Wells was offered a position with Petersen Publishing Company as Managing Editor of “Hot Rod” magazine, and later became Executive Editor of “Motor Trend” magazine. In his positions with Petersen, Wells also became involved with the production of a number of company-promoted events and eventually moved to Petersen’s Special Events Division. He was instrumental in producing a trade show at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 1967 that eventually became known as SEMA (Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association).

Several years later, Wells took a position with the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) and later became the organization’s President. He was responsible for the establishment of the Street Rod Nationals, which remains the country’s largest nationwide street rodding event, attracting over 12,000 automobiles annually.

Wells eventually rejoined SEMA and became Special Projects Coordinator for then-SEMA President Leo Kagan. In his position, Wells was responsible for relocating the rapidly-growing SEMA show from California to Las Vegas and also took charge of the organization’s newsletter. Wells transformed that small newsletter into the “Performance Automotive Magazine.” He later became SEMA’s Communication’s Director and eventually the organization’s Vice President of Corporate Projects. He retired from SEMA in 2007.

Respected as an industry pioneer, Wells was named SEMA Person of the Year in 1977 and was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 1993. He also received the International Specialty Car Association (ISCA) Founder’s Award in 1994 and was honored with the NHRA’s Pioneer Award in 2001. He is a former member of NHRA’s Board of Directors.

Wells passed away in 2010 following heart surgery.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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