Class of 2014

Marty Bassett


Marty Bassett was born in Tacoma, Washington, but later moved to Lincoln where he went to work for “Speedy” Bill Smith at Speedway Motors in 1959. Smith put Bassett through welding school and one of his early projects was welding on a 1932 Ford Sedan Modified which Smith campaigned with great success.

During the 1960 and 1961 seasons, with Lloyd Beckman handling the driving chores and Bassett turning the wrenches, the car won 16 feature races in a row at Capital Beach Speedway in Lincoln. The team captured a total of 14 main event wins in 1961 and won the Tri-State Championship at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa for the second consecutive year.

In 1962, Bassett, Smith and Beckman won 11 times on the NMRA (Nebraska Modified Racing Association) circuit. Beckman was injured late in the season in a racing accident so Gordon Woolley took over and won the final two feature races of the year at Capitol Beach, as well as the team’s third consecutive Tri-State Championship at Spencer. The team scored 15 NMRA feature wins in 1963 with Beckman back behind the wheel.

When the NMRA rules were changed to allow Super Modifieds, Bassett built a new car for Speedway Motors. The car was raced to 12 NMRA wins to wrap up its third championship in four years. In 1965, Smith purchased a new Edmonds Sprint Car and hired “Lil” Joe Saldana who scored wins at Midwest Speedway in Lincoln, Eagle Raceway, and the Belleville (Kansas) Highbanks.

After working with Roger Rager and Roger Abbott in the late 1960s, Basset was hired by car owner Larry Swanson in 1971. With Lonnie Jensen doing the driving, the team won the 1971 and 1972 BCRA (Big Car Racing Association) owner’s championship, and in 1973, Jensen won the BCRA driver’s championship. The team dominated the Belleville High Banks for three consecutive years.

Bassett turned wrenches for legendary Jan Opperman in the mid 1970s on several cars including the famous Luke Bogar Chevrolet. He also co-owned a USAC (United States Auto Club) Silver Crown car.

Over the years, Bassett played a part in the success of numerous prominent Sprint Car drivers including Beckman, Bob Coulter, Keith Hightshoe, Jensen, Opperman, Gary Patterson, Rager, and Grady Wade.

Bassett worked for Speedway Motors for over 30 years. He was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 2013.

Randy Hunt


Randy Hunt grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and went to school with Jay Opperman, the younger brother of legendary Sprint Car driver Jan Opperman. In the mid 1960s, while the elder Opperman was driving an airplane-powered Sprint Car for Hank Hanestead, the car continually was experiencing frame breaks, so Jay recommended Hunt to his older brother as “a guy who can really weld.” Soon, Hunt was on the Sprint Car circuit with Opperman, running up and down the west coast at such venues as Calistoga, Chico, and Ascot.

Hunt moved to Nebraska with Opperman in 1968, helping him on several cars including the Bob Trostle-owned “Hay and Cobwebs” car. In 1971, Opperman put together a deal with Ken and Larry Cahill for an assault on the Central Pennsylvania circuit and brought Hunt along with him. The team scored 25 main event wins that year, including the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals.

Hunt returned to Lincoln in 1972 where he was hired by Don Maxwell to assist with his new chassis building business. Soon Hunt found his niche in racing, building racing seats. There were few companies building racing seats at the time and drivers found themselves struggling to find a seat that felt comfortable, yet could hold up in the event of a hard crash. Before long, some of the most talented drivers in the business were trusting Hunt to keep them safe in their race cars including Bobby Allen, Lou Blaney, Edd French, Danny Lasoski, Sammy Swindell, and Doug Wolfgang.

Eventually, Hunt came up with what became known as the “double-wrap” seat design, which was a tremendous leap in racing safety. Recognizing that in a crash, the driver’s momentum could throw him to the left and then back to the right with a great deal of force, Hunt discovered that a properly built seat could keep his body contained, reducing potentially deadly inertia.

Hunt was also the first seat builder to put a headrest on a Sprint Car seat in response to a Wolfgang crash where the Hall of Fame driver suffered damage to his shoulder blade.

At one point, Hunt was building over 400 seats a month and fighting to keep up with demand. Today, prominent seat-builders like Kirkey and Butlerbuilt still incorporate many of the innovations pioneered by Hunt. His company, Hunt’s Championship Seats, continues to build seats for race cars, sports cars, hot rods and motorcycles.

G.O. "Buck" Huston


G. O. “Buck” Huston was born in Guthrie Center, Iowa but moved with his family to Colorado as a youngster.

His driving career began as a teenager when he was working with a traveling carnival throughout the Midwest. Midget race car drivers followed the same circuit and their races were the main attraction at the fairs. One evening, one of the drivers showed up intoxicated and the car owner asked for a volunteer to drive. Huston stepped up and fared so well, the regular driver never returned to the cockpit.

In 1941, while living in Denver, Huston went to work for Miles Spickler building Midgets and began racing at nearby Lakeside Speedway. Huston competed successfully on the fifth-mile paved oval, but when racing was shut down by World War II, he put his career on hold and joined the Army. At the conclusion of the war, Huston moved his family to Scottsbluff and immediately began racing Midgets at tracks in Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming.

In 1949, Huston drove in the inaugural race at Scottsbluff Speedway with such legendary racers as Lyle Burry, Leonard Cook, Bill Burger, Eddie Fay Clark, John Davey, Howdy Frye, Al Herman, Chuck Klutz, Herman Knaus, Leo Knaus, Fred Proctor, and Ken Sutherland. Two years later, in 1951, he raced to 12 main event victories, seven second-place finishes and 12 third-place finishes at the airport speedway.

When Scottsbluff switched from Midgets to Stock Cars in 1953, Huston comfortably made the transition, wheeling a 1933 Ford Coupe. He and “Buck” Olson became the drivers to beat and the pair dominated Scottsbluff Speedway through 1956.

In 1957, as Sprint Cars began to emerge, Huston began racing the open-wheel machines at various tracks throughout western Wyoming. He raced a drag car for one season in 1958 and then retired as a driver.

Following the death of his wife, Huston found his interest in the sport reawakened in 2001. He purchased a Midget race car and began racing with the Colorado Vintage Oval Racers and the Kansas Antique Racers at tracks in Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas. He raced Vintage Cars for five years.

Huston’s racing career spanned 69 years, from 1937 through 2006. During that time he drove Midgets, Stock Cars, Sprint Cars, and Dragsters. His last turn around a track was at the Cornhusker Vintage Nationals in Columbus at the age of 84.

Huston passed away in 2010.

Steve Kosiski


A native of Omaha, Steve Kosiski was born into a racing family. The son of Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee Bob Kosiski and the grandson of Hall of Famer Joe Kosiske, he grew up around racing and began his driving career in 1978.

Kosiski rarely raced for track championships, choosing instead do “series” racing or race selected high-paying events around the country. During his career, he raced successfully with the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Busch All-Star Tour (later known as the O’Reilly Auto Parts All-Star Series), the National Dirt Racing Association (NDRA), World of Outlaws Late Model Series, the Midwest Latemodel Racing Association (MLRA), the National Championship Racing Association (NCRA), the WORLD Dirt Racing League (WDRL), and the Topless Outlaw Racing Association (TORA).

Kosiski was the winningest driver in the 17 year history of the NASCAR All-Star Series, winning 51 main events and capturing seven series championships. He was also a two-time champion of the Topless Outlaw Racing Association and a former NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Regional Champion.

He is the only driver to win Iowa’s prestigious Yankee Dirt Classic five times and is also a three time winner of the Gopher 50 in Owatonna, Minnesota. Other major wins include Alta, Iowa’s Race Days, the Spring Spectacular at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, the Western Shootout in Dodge City, Kansas, the Pepsi 100 in Burlington, Iowa, the Alphabet Soup Race at I80 Speedway in Greenwood, and multiple Cornhusker Classics. In 1999, behind the wheel of a Charlie Clark-owned Modified, he bested more than 240 competitors to win the $30,000-to-win Longhorn Cup at Royse City, Texas.

Kosiski raced in ten ARCA (Auto Racing Club of America) events, capturing two second-place finishes and also ran a NASCAR Winston West race at Phoenix (Arizona) International Speedway.

During his 27-year career as a driver, Kosiski raced at 225 tracks in 30 states and scored more than 325 career feature race victories prior to retiring in 2006.

In 2004, Kosiski and his family purchased I80 Speedway in Greenwood and have turned the facility into one of the premier racing venues in the country. Each year, the track hosts one of the nation’s “marquee” Late Model events, The Silver Dollar Nationals. Kosiski is also the co-promoter of the Super Late Model Racing (SLMR) series.

He was inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2010.

Jim "J.J." Riggins


Jim “J.J.” Riggins grew up in Lincoln and became a track star and an All-State fullback at Lincoln High School. His first exposure to racing came as a teenager attending weekly races at Capitol Beach in Lincoln as well as the races during the Nebraska State Fair.

Beginning his racing career on a limited budget, Riggins progressed through the years, patiently climbing rung-after-rung on the ladder to eventual success. In 1966, he was black-flagged in a heat race at Lincoln’s Midwest Speedway for driving too slow, but when the speedway closed its doors in 1987, he held the track records for one lap, six laps, ten laps, and 25 laps.

In 1970, Riggins and his low-budget race team qualified for the C Feature at the prestigious Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals and the following year, finished second in the C Feature to earn him a starting position in the B Main, where he finished a respectable 13th.

By the late 1970s, Riggins’ accomplishments continued to accumulate. In 1977, he finished fifth in the final point standings at Knoxville and was awarded the track’s Most Improved Driver Award. His breakthrough came in 1981 when he was hired to drive a Sprint Car owned by John Tucker. Riggins achieved a new level of success in Tucker’s machine and in 1982, won the first ever 360 cubic inch Sprint Car feature race at Knoxville, a win which helped lead in the development of the now popular class.

From 1983 to 1991, Riggins drove for four different car owners, Tucker, John Larson, Rex Hendrickson, and Tony Porter, winning each of the owners their only track championships. During that time, he won 29 feature races and earned three point championships at Eagle Raceway and captured back-to-back wins in Eagle’s Nebraska Cup. He also raced to 18 feature wins at Midwest Speedway, second most all-time at the now-closed facility.

During his career, Riggins competed against some of the top open-wheel pilots in the sport and raced at some of the most prestigious Sprint Car venues in the country including not only Knoxville Raceway, but also Hartford Speedway and Husets Speedway both in South Dakota, the Belleville (Kansas) Highbanks, the Topeka (Kansas) Fairgrounds, Jackson VFW Speedway in Minnesota, and Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas.

He last drove a Sprint Car in 1992 when, while filling in for an injured driver, he won a feature event at Eagle Raceway.

Bob Westphal


Bob Westphal was born and raised in Fremont and became fascinated with the inner workings of an engine during his childhood. As a youngster, he disassembled and reassembled lawn mowers, mini-bikes, automobile engines and any other thing he could get his hands on.

In 1968, Westphal moved to Burbank, California and shortly thereafter was hired by Ed Pink Racing Engines where he was promoted to Shop Forman in 1970. Westphal built engines at the Pink shop for drag racing stars such as Larry Dixon, Sr., Ed “The Ace” McCulloch, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Dale Pulde, Don Schumacher, Gene Snow, Barry Stetzer, and many others. Westphal was employed by Ed Pink from 1969 to 1977 and his engines won numerous NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) national events and championships during that time.

After moving back to Fremont for a short period of time, where he opened Precision Engine and Machine, Westphal was hired by drag racer Raymond Beadle in 1978 to manage his newly formed machine shop in Dallas, Texas. The shop housed Beadle’s “Blue Max” Funny Car team. With Westphal building and maintaining Beadle’s Funny Car engines, the Blue Max team won the NHRA Funny Car championship in 1979, 1980 and 1981.

In 1983, when Beadle formed a Sprint Car team, Westphal began to concentrate on building dirt track motors. With Westphal building the power plants and legendary driver Sammy Swindell turning the wheel, the Beadle-owned Old Milwaukee team won the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals in 1983 and continued winning national events through 1986.

While working for Beadle, Westphal also built engines for successful NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) drivers Bobby Hamilton and Morgan Shepard.

In 1986, Westphal formed a partnership with Phil Ditmars and started Wesmar Racing Engines in Bixby, Oklahoma. Since its inception, Wesmar engines have won countless races and championships all over the country. Wesmar-powered Sprinters have won 12 American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) championships and nine Knoxville 360 Nationals titles.

Over the years, Wesmar engines have competed successfully in NHRA, NASCAR, ASCS, and the World of Outlaws, as well as ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America), ASA (American Speed Association , various Late Model racing series and even at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Well respected in both Drag Racing and Sprint Car circles, Westphal was involved in motorsports for over 45 years. He passed away in 2013.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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