Class of 2011

Fred Anderson


A native Nebraskan, Fred Anderson was born and raised in Omaha. He got the “racing bug” as a teenager and began competing at the Scribner Airbase as an 18-year old.

Anderson’s first drag car was a 1940 Ford Coupe which housed an Oldsmobile engine. He purchased the car from Omaha drag racing pioneer Gene Stanley.

In the mid 1960s, Anderson drove Don Stephenson’s 1957 Chevrolet “Tension” car, setting numerous national records in the machine. The original “Tension” car was wrecked in a freak pit road accident when a wheel-standing Roadster collided with it. Stephenson built a second version of the car and the team continued to be one of the top drag teams in the Midwest.

Using parts from the original “Tension,” Anderson built a sister drag car which he named “Good In-Tension.” He had equal success in “Good In-Tension,” winning numerous events in the car.

Later, the Patrick Brothers Team of Don and Ken Patrick and Blackie Nelson built a 1957 Chevrolet drag car and named it “in-Bomber,” which was supposedly a play on words combining “Injected” and “embalmer.” With Anderson at the controls, the car was unveiled at an NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) event at Great Bend, Kansas in 1966 with great success. In 1968, the team hauled the car to the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California where Anderson piloted the car to the H/Stock championship with an elapsed time of 13.23 seconds and was also runner-up in Stock Eliminator. His best overall time in the car that year was a 12.85 second run.

Anderson was victorious in the NHRA Division V meet in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1968 and was also the runner-up at the NHRA Spring Nationals in Dallas, Texas that year. During its five-year run from 1966 to 1970, Anderson drove the “In-Bomber” Chevrolet to a number of track and national records and captured numerous NHRA King-of-the-Hill events. The car was featured in the 1969 issue of “1001 Custom and Rod Ideas.”

Anderson competed in the first NHRA U.S. Nationals held in Great Bend, Kansas in 1955 and raced at the prestigious national event for 53 consecutive years. Over the years, he raced to 12 U.S. Nationals class victories at Indianaopolis.

During Anderson’s long career, he criss-crossed the country while driving over 30 drag racing machines at NHRA-sanctioned events. He drove those cars to countless class wins and set over 20 national records.

Keith Chambers


Keith Chambers was born in Bartlett, Iowa but grew up in Council Bluffs before attending college at Omaha University. He got his start in racing in the late 1940s as a photographer for the Omaha World Herald where he covered both hard news and sporting events.

A portion of Chambers’ duties at the World Herald was to shoot Midget races at Playland Park Speedway in Council Bluffs. From 1946 to 1949, he captured images of the top Midget talent in the country including George Binnie, Ben Harleman, Der Merkley, and Bob Slater. The World Herald published many of Chambers’ photographs, making the newspaper a prime source for racing information in the area.

In 1950, Chambers began racing Stock Cars at Playland Park, Sioux City, and a number of fairgrounds race tracks in the area. Soon, he was promoting as well. His first attempt at promoting was at the Nemaha County Fair in Auburn, which created a unique challenge as there was no race track on the fairgrounds at the time. Chambers simply measured out a track, graded it, printed hand-bills, and held a very successful county fair race.

The Korean War interrupted Chambers’ blossoming career as a promoter, but as soon as he returned from oversees, he took a job working as General Manager at Playland Park for 2006 Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Abe Slusky, who was Stadium Manager at the facility. One of his most innovative promotions at Playland was a marathon “Team Race” which was held there for the first time in 1958. The idea was to have two-driver teams compete in a 300-lap race on the quarter-mile paved oval. Bud Burdick and Bud Aitkenhead paired up to win the initial event in front of a crowd of over 4,200 fans. The Playland 300 was held two additional times while Chambers was at Playland, in 1959 and 1960, also with large crowds in attendance.

In 1962, Chambers went to work at Omaha Dragway, handling public relations for the popular drag strip. During his time at Omaha Dragway, Chambers was recognized three times as the nation’s top drag racing reporter by National Dragster Magazine. He handled all aspects of publicity for the drag strip including writing press releases, taking photographs, and creating radio and television commercials. During the same time period, he also handled publicity for Sunset Speedway in north Omaha.

Chambers passed away in 2011.

Don Droud Sr.


A native of Lincoln, Don Droud, Sr. began his racing career competing on motorcycles in 1957. He raced motorcycles in six states, including Oklahoma where he won a National Championship. Droud also competed in the prestigious Daytona 200 Championship on four different occasions.

While continuing to race motorcycles, Droud decided to try his hand at racing on four wheels in 1964. He competed in both a Super Modified and on a motorcycle for several years before retiring from two-wheeled competition in 1970. Droud qualified for the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals for the first time in 1971 and raced in the prestigious event three more times. Although he never qualified for the Championship A Main, he did make it as far as the B-Feature in 1972. Droud also set a track record at the Belleville (Kansas) High Banks and finished in the top ten in the Big Car Racing Association (BCRA) standings twice.

As the popularity of Sprint Car racing was beginning to dwindle in the mid 1970s, Droud turned his attention to Late Model racing. Competing in both Nebraska and Iowa against Hall of Famers Bob Kosiski, Dean Ward and Kent Tucker, Droud had a successful six year career behind the wheel of a Late Model, winning the track championship at Midwest Speedway in Lincoln in 1978.

In 1981, Droud was one of a group of four individuals responsible for starting the first 360 cubic inch Sprint Car class in the country at Midwest Speedway. The class is now the most popular class of Sprint Cars in the country. Droud also returned to open-wheel racing that year and over the next seven seasons, finished in the top-five in the point standings at Midwest five times. He won the track championship at Midwest Speedway for car owner Pete Liekam in 1984 and retired as a driver in 1988.

In the 1980s, Droud helped his two sons, Rodney and Don, Jr. begin their careers in Sprint Cars. Both sons achieved great success locally and regionally in his cars.

In the early 1990s, Droud teamed up with promoter, John Beecham, to help start both the Thunder Truck division and the Dwarf Car class at Eagle Raceway. Droud fielded a Dwarf Car which won the State Championship at the Nebraska State Fair in 1995 with Rik Gropp behind the wheel.

Droud’s involvement in racing has covered a period of over 40 years.

The Kelley Family


Lifelong residents of the Omaha area, Larry and Sharon Kelley purchased northwest Omaha’s Sunset Speedway from previous owners Lyle Kline and Gaylen Brotherson in 1976. The speed plant was built in 1957 by the Albert Haden family.

Immediately upon purchasing the facility, Larry Kelly, along with his wife and two sons, Craig and Mike, began upgrading the venue, erecting new grandstands and renovating all of the buildings and ticket offices. Over the next 25 years, Sunset became “The Only Place To Be On Sunday Night” and was widely recognized as one of the premier racing facilities in the Midwest.

Under the direction of the Kelleys, Sunset Speedway quickly gained respect for its many innovations including the use of “track-packers” to prepare the racing surface, point-average inversions to facilitate more exciting heat race and feature race competition, and a trend-setting safety crew allowing the facility to be regarded as one of the safest dirt track venues in the country.

In 1984, Sunset became one of the first tracks in the nation to join the new NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Weekly Racing Series. The Kelleys worked tirelessly to recruit other top-notch venues in the Midwest to join the NASCAR family in order to provide common rules in all classes throughout the region. As a member of NASCAR, Sunset became the highest paying dirt track in the area and attracted the most talented drivers in the Midwest for both weekly shows and special events.

In the late 1990s, Sunset began losing the battle with Omaha suburban expansion and closed its gates for the final time at the conclusion of the 2000 race season. The track’s illustrious history spanned portions of six decades, 25 of those years under the masterful direction of the Kelley family. Along the way, the Kelleys and Sunset Speedway garnered four nominations for the national Auto Racing Promoter of the Year (ARPY) award and were among the top ten tracks in the nation in weekly show attendance from 1979 through 2000.

Larry Kelley retired from involvement in Sunset Speedway in 1990 and both Sharon and the younger of the two sons, Mike, retired from race promotion with the closing of the race track in 2000. Craig Kelley continued on, assuming the position of General Manager at the new Nebraska Raceway Park near Greenwood from 2001 through 2003 before also retiring from the promotion business.

Eddie Kracek


Eddie Kracek was raised in Omaha and developed an interest in speed at an early age. He competed in his first race in 1929 at just 18 years old.

In 1930, Kracek’s career began to take off when he won his first two major events, both at Ak-Sar-Ben Field in Omaha, defeating a field of drivers that included Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductees Lawrence “Hughie” Hughes and Bert Ficken.

In 1935, Kracek dominated the Midget races at the newly opened Western League Park in South Omaha winning all seven feature events behind the wheel of the Cliff Carlson Harley-Davidson powered Midget. In 1936 and 1937, he was a front-runner at Riverview Park near Sioux City, Iowa winning several features there in 1937. During the winter season, he raced as far away as Mexico City.

In the late 1930s, Kracek raced at several tracks in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota and also ventured as far away as Englewood, Colorado; Kansas City, Missouri; San Antonio, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Detroit, Michigan.

In 1940, Kracek scored the biggest win of his career when he captured the 75-lap Great Northern Midget Championship against a field of over 50 drivers at legendary Olympic Stadium in Kansas City. The previous week, Kracek tuned up for the event by leading 42 of 50 laps of the Western States Championship at Olympic before pulling out with car problems.

In 1941, Kracek raced throughout the Midwest at tracks in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. He won back-to-back events in Taylorsville, Illinois and returned to Nebraska to capture two wins in the Otto Ramer Offy at Creigton Stadium in Omaha.

Kracek continued to campaign Midgets through July of 1942 when he was severly injured during a race at Olympic Stadium. Kracek was paralyzed from the waist down and died a short time later. Although his racing history at Olympic was characterized by bad luck, Kracek went to Victory Lane six times at the historic facility.

Racing during the “Golden Age of Midget Racing,” Kracek competed against and beat the best in the business including Tony Bettenhausen, Vito Calia, “Pee Wee” Distarce, Sam Hoffman, Ronney Householder, Carl Forberg, Harry McQuinn, Ben Musick, “Cowboy” O’Rourke, Otto Ramer, Ray Richards, and Johnny Russo.

While his life was cut short by a fatal accident, Kracek proved to be one of the best Midget pilots in the Midwest during his 14 year career.

Wayne Mason


Wayne Mason grew up around Omaha and having developed a need for speed at an early age, began his racing career in 1962 when he raced a home-built car at Onawa, Iowa.

In 1964, Mason teamed up with Nebraska Auto Hall of Fame inductee Bud Burdick and the newly formed team met with immediate success. Burdick won numerous feature races over the next few years and captured the track championship at Sunset Speedway in Omaha in 1970.

Mason hired Ed Morris to drive his car in 1973 and the following season, Morris captured titles for Mason at both Harlan and Corning, Iowa. At one stretch during the 1974 season, Morris won eight consecutive feature races. Bob Kosiski came on as the wheel man in 1976 and responded with track championships at Sunset in 1977 and 1979 and at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas in 1978.

Mason spent 19 seasons as a car owner before giving up the role in 1981. During that time he built all of his own cars and engines and his cars scored feature race wins in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Minnesota.

In 1981, Mason shifted gears and became Crew Chief for Hall of Fame driver, Steve Kosiski. That year, with Mason turning the wrenches, Kosiski finished either first or second in 26 of the 39 races he competed in. Their biggest win was at Metrolina Speedway in North Carolina and they also finished seventh in the Dirt Track World Championship in Pennsboro, West Virginia.

The team of Mason and Kosiski proved to be an unbeatable combination from 1981 to 2002. Together they won 17 track championships and seven NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Busch All-Star Tour titles, captured five Yankee Dirt Track Classic (Farley, Iowa) wins, three Gopher 50 (Owatonna, Minnesota) wins, and two Cornhusker Classic (Omaha, Nebraska) victories. They also won the Topless Outlaw Racing Association (TORA) championship twice and scored two runner-up finishes at races sanctioned by the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA).

During his career as either a car owner or a Crew Chief, Mason’s cars won over 200 feature events. Not only have Mason owned or maintained cars raced successfully with the NASCAR and TORA, other organizations they have competed with include the WDRL (WORLD Dirt Racing League), MLRA (Midwest LateModel Racing Association), NCRA (National Championship Racing Association), and IMCA (International Motor Contest Association).

Jim Wyman


Jim Wyman was raised in Fremont and caught the racing bug as a teenager. In 1954, at age 19, he made his racing debut on the fairgrounds race track in Arlington, Nebraska.

Wyman’s success came quickly and in a short amount of time, he began winning feature races at Arlington. When Sunset Speedway opened in 1958, he made the new north Omaha venue his regular Sunday night track and captured his first track championship there in 1963. Racing against legendary drivers Bob and Bud Burdick, Dave Chase, Bob Kosiski, and Glenn Robey, Wyman won additional track titles at Sunset in 1964, 1965 and 1968 and captured 58 career feature race wins, second on the now-closed facility’s all-time feature win list.

Wyman was the track champion at Playland Park Speedway in Council Bluffs in 1963 and was also a consistent winner at the now-closed I29 Speedway in Sydney, Iowa. He also is a former track titlist at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa and is a three-time champion at Shelby County Speedway in Harlan, Iowa, winning consecutive titles there in 1971, 1972 and 1973.

Because of business obligations, Wyman quit racing in 1973. After his son Mark began racing, he decided to jump back into the cockpit in 1994. Instead of using his signature number-14 however, he chose to go with number-59 which was his age at the time. In spite of the layoff, Wyman picked up where he left off, proving once again he could still get a Late Model race car around a race track.

Wyman’s return to the sport was cut short in 1997 however, when he was involved in a terrible crash at Denison, Iowa. Wyman’s car barrel-rolled eight times before going over the concrete wall and into the catch fence near the end of the front straightaway. Following the accident, at the urging of his family, Wyman decided to hang up his helmet for good.

During his driving days, Wyman was known as “Gentleman Jim” because of his gentle demeanor and on-track sportsmanship. During his career he won nearly 200 feature races and captured ten track championships.

One of Wyman’s major victories came in 1964 when he won the Omaha-Columbus Challenge Cup, a two-race series pitting the drivers from Sunset Speedway against the best drivers from Skylark Speedway in Columbus. Wyman also scored a major race win in the Riverside 300 held at Riviera Raceway in Norfolk. Wyman passed away in 2021.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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