Class of 2015

Bill Barbour


Bill Barbour was raised in Omaha and began his driving career racing Midgets throughout the Midwest prior to World War II. In the tough Midwest circuit, Barbour raced successfully in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri, winning numerous races.

Barbour’s career as a driver ended in 1946 when he was critically injured while racing his Midget at CeeJay Speedway in Wichita, Kansas. His car flipped several times and he sustained numerous injuries including a broken back which left him paralyzed from the chest down.

In 1949, following the accident, he opened Barbour’s Speed Shop in Omaha, a business that remained open until the early 1960s. He also continued to field a Midget race car and campaigned the car on the Midwest Midget Auto Racing Association (MMARA) circuit with Cliff Albaugh of Council Bluffs doing the driving. The team had success together racing against such notable drivers as Bobby Parker of Omaha, Iowans Dick Ritchie and Red Hoyle, Red Boscher and Jerry Draper of Illinois, and Wisconsin Midget star Tony Russo.

In the late 1950s, Barbour developed an interest in drag racing and built and co-owned the Barbour and Stanley “Slingshot” Dragster which was driven by Gene Stanley. Stanley scored numerous victories in the rocket-shaped dragster, while setting class records at Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa, and Kansas City, Missouri. Later, Barbour owned his own Dragster and hired 2009 Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Charley Sesemann as his driver. Barbour and Sesemann won many races throughout the Midwest including events in Grand Island, Omaha and Scribner, Nebraska, as well as Des Moines, Sioux City and Kansas City. Remaining good friends, Barbour eventually helped Sesemann and his wife Rose start their own Omaha-based racing business, Charley’s Speed and Machine.

In the early 1960s, Barbour resurrected his Midget racing operation and hired Bud Aikenhead as his driver. The pair raced regularly at Playland Park Speedway in Council Bluffs, winning several feature races there. They also raced successfully at numerous other Midget events throughout the Midwest.

Barbour was active in a number of drag racing organizations over the years and was made a lifetime member of the Missouri Valley Timing Association in 1964 in recognition of his efforts to promote the sport.

Barbour was involved in Midget and Drag Racing for over 30 years. He eventually retired to Florida and passed away in 1994.

Phil Durst


Phil Durst was raised in Lincoln and developed a love for racing in the late 1950s when his parents would take him to the races at Capitol Beach in Lincoln, where his father was an official and later a car owner.

In 1968, Durst began his personal venture into racing when he partnered with Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee Jim Schuman on a Stock Car, with Schuman doing the driving. In 1969, he became the sole owner of the car and hired Joe Wade as his driver. The pair raced successfully in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas, with the highlight being a victory at the Nebraska State Fair in 1973 against the tough IMCA (International Motor Contest Association) competition.

Durst began his involvement in Sprint Car racing in the late 1970s when he became a sponsor of a car driven by Jim Riggins. A few years later, he put together his own team and in 1986 hired Randy Smith as his driver. In 1988, Smith won over 30 feature races for Durst and captured track titles at Knoxville, Iowa and Jefferson, South Dakota. Jack Hewitt was hired to pilot the Durst Sprint Car in 1990 and scored major victories at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio and at the Jayhawk Nationals in Topeka, Kansas. In 1992, Durst partnered with Max Rogers on a car driven by Doug Wolfgang. The team won three of the first six World of Outlaws (WoO) races before Wolfgang was severely injured in a crash at Lakeside Speedway near Kansas City.

In 1993, Durst entered into a sponsorship agreement with team owner Karl Kinser on a Sprint Car driven by Mark Kinser. The team won WoO titles in 1996 and 1999 and captured the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals in 1996, 1999 and 2000. Future NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) star, Kasey Kahne, drove a Durst Sprinter to major victories in both Florida and Knoxville in 2001 and won the Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway in Washington in 2002.

Durst began racing with his son Ryan in the early 2000s. After a few successful seasons in a Mini-Sprint, the team moved into the Midget ranks in 2004, with Ryan winning USAC (United States Auto Club) Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

Durst has remained active in sport, sponsoring major open-wheel events throughout the Midwest and across the country. His involvement in racing has spanned portions of five decades.

Scott Fernyhough


A native of Washington, Scott Fernyhough started his racing career almost before he could walk. His dad, A.J., owned a race car and “Scotty,” as he was known as a kid, was quick to learn the ins and outs of racing at his father’s side.

After graduating from high school, Fernyhough was invited by Jerry Day to help with his Sprint Car operation. He spent three years on the West Coast with Day, with their biggest win coming in 1975 when Jan Opperman wheeled their machine to a victory at the Dirt Cup in Skaget, Washington. In 1976, at an event in West Sacramento, an up-and-coming Midwestern driver mentioned to Day that he was looking for someone “with a strong back and an open mind” to assist with his operation. Day pointed to Fernyhough and with that, “Butch” Bahr hired him and he relocated to Grand Island, Nebraska to prepare for the 1977 season.

A twist of fate gave Fernyhough his big break in Sprint Car racing. When Bahr decided to head to Washington for the Dirt Cup that year, because of financial considerations, Fernyhough was left behind in Nebraska. Legendary car builder Bob Trostle asked Fernyhough to travel with he and his driver, Doug Wolfgang, and the pair developed a relationship that provided immediate stature to his racing resume. Fernyhough worked for Trostle for four seasons wrenching for Wolfgang, Tim Green and Shane Carson. With Carson at the controls, the team won the Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway track championship in 1978 and won the NSCA (National Sprint Car Association) title in 1978 and 1979.

Fernyhough moved to Lincoln in 1986, where he got involved in Mini-Sprint racing. Wins at the 1988 Nationals in Charleston, Illinois, with Bob Mays at the controls, and at the 1993 Central States Championship in Waverly, Nebraska, with Clint Edgerton on board were team highlights. Mays also won the 1989 Midwest Indoor Championship for Fernyhough.

In the 2000s, Fernyhough turned wrenches on Midgets, Sprint Cars, and USAC (United States Auto Club) Silver Crown cars. Drivers whom Fernyhough assisted included Brady Bacon, Kyle Larson, Johnny Parsons, and Kevin Swindell.

In 2008, Fernyhough took on a new challenge when he was hired by Bill Smith to head up engine restoration at Lincoln’s Museum of American Speed. Much due to Ferynhough’s efforts, the museum now houses the largest group of antique race and one-off engines in the world.

Tom Lathen


Having not been brought up in a racing family, Tom Lathen attended his first dirt track race as a teenager when a next door neighbor purchased a Stock Car and began racing at Hastings Raceway in Hastings. Over the next few years, the Grand Island native became a devoted race fan, rarely missing a weekend event at tracks in Hastings and Kearney.

Lathen’s first experience as a race announcer came in 1976 when he was hired to work behind the microphone at The Speed Bowl in Red Cloud. A few years later, his radio career moved him to Spencer, Iowa where he was hired as Track Announcer by respected Iowa race promoter Dick Simpson at Buena Vista County Raceway in Alta, Iowa.

Lathen’s radio career eventually led him back to Nebraska and, in the late 1980s, he was hired as Track Announcer at Mid-Continent Race Track in Doniphan. During that time, Mid-Continent took on a NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) sanction, and he became the NASCAR Central Region feature writer for FasTrack magazine, based in Gastonia, North Carolina.

While working at Doniphan, Lathen was also hired as Track Announcer at both Platte Valley Speedway in Lexington and The Speed Bowl in Red Cloud, his second stint at the south central Nebraska speed plant. He kept up his rigorous three-night a week announcing schedule until his career path took him back to Iowa in the late 1990s.

Upon returning to Iowa, Lathen served as Track Announcer for Howard Mellinger at Echo Valley Speedway in West Union, Butler County Speedway in Allison and Crawford County Speedway in Denison.

In 2000, he was hired as the first and only Series Announcer for the NASCAR All-Star Series, and later, when the WORLD Dirt Racing League (WDRL) began operation, served as Series Announcer and Marketing and Media Coordinator for the popular regional Late Model series. He served in that capacity through the 2007 racing season.

Over his 30-plus year race announcing career, Lathen has announced Late Model races at over 75 race tracks in a dozen Midwestern states. He has had numerous feature articles published in Dirt Late Model magazine, as well as Behind The Wheel, Late Model America, and National Speed Sport News. Other media credits include television work as a show host with Short Track Network (VSEN TV) and radio work as a pit reporter with the American Dirt Network.

Pat Di Natale


Pat di Natale was born and raised in North Platte and got involved with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) in 1973. He had a successful run as a competitor throughout the region and has served as an SCCA official locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

di Natale began competing in Sports Car races in 1975 and during his 17 year career as a driver competed in over 200 events. In 1975 he received the Nebraska Outstanding Driver Award from the SCCA and in 1984 was selected as one of the original drivers for the BF Goodrich Team TA “pilots program,” which won the Midwest Division SCCA title. His last year of competition was in 1992.

Following his long run as a competitor, di Natale served as both a Steward and Chief Steward at SCCA events and eventually was named Chief Steward for the SCCA Runoffs, a position he held from 1996 to 1999. Following his stint with the SCCA Runoffs, di Natale began his professional career as Chief Steward for the SCCA Trans-Am Championship, America’s longest continuously running sports car racing series.

In 2004, di Natale was invited to Japan to work with the Japan GT Series. He served as Chief Steward for the North American Round held in California.

di Natale was credited with developing the flag system, known as United Flagging, now used by most professional sports car sanctioning bodies. He was one of the three founders of Pro Solo, SCCA’s professional auto cross program.

Over the years, di Natale has received numerous prestigious awards including the England-Stripe Award for outstanding long-term service to the sport. In 1975 and 1976, he received the SCCA Midwest Division Governor’s Cup of Service and, in 1996, the Kansas City Region awarded him the Vic Sadler Award. He served two terms as Nebraska SCCA Regional Executive and has also served on the Board of Directors for both the Nebraska Region and the Kansas City Region of SCCA. He also is a former Vice Chairman and Chairman of the SCCA Midwest Division Executive Council and a past Midwest Division Executive Steward.

Since 2000, di Natale has been SCCA Pro Racing Chief Steward and also serves as Chief Steward for the SPEED World Challenge Championships, North America’s premier production road racing series. In 2017 he was named Clerk of the Course at Circuit of the Americas in Del Valle, Texas.

Clayton Petersen Jr.


Growing up in St. Paul, Nebraska, Clayton Petersen, Jr. began his racing career at age 14, competing in motorcycle racing events in central Nebraska.

At age 21, Petersen converted his street car, an Austin-Healy Sprite, into a Class F Production Sports Car and began racing with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). In 1972, he finished fourth in the Midwest Division SCCA standings and a year later, finished second in the Midwest Division and qualified for the American Road Race of Champions in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1974, tiring of the grind of driving across the country to find races, Petersen teamed up with Grand Island natives George Medbery and Steve Yenny to pilot their Late Model Stock Car at dirt tracks throughout central Nebraska. During his rookie season, Petersen finished second in the point standings at Platte Valley Speedway in Lexington. Later that fall, 98 Racing Enterprises was formed, and over the next two seasons, Peterson scored over 40 feature race victories, winning nearly half of the events he competed in.

In 1977, Petersen established a track record while qualifying for the prestigious Western World Late Model Championship at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, AZ. He finished second at the Western World Championship on two different occasions. Petersen won the Challenge Cup at Colorado National Speedway in Erie, Colorado in 1978 and the All-Star 100 at Erie in 1980.

The “crown jewel” in Petersen’s career came in February of 1977 when he drove the Petersen Racing Enterprises Camaro to an impressive third place finish at the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) National Modified Championship at Daytona International Speedway. It was his first attempt at racing on an asphalt oval.

Not only was Petersen a successful driver, his company, Petersen Racing Enterprises, was one of the most successful dirt track chassis builders during the late 1970s, producing and selling over 200 Late Model frames during a five year period. Many of the most successful drivers during that period were behind the wheel of Petersen-built race cars including National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee, “Racin’” John Mason of Millersburg, Ohio.

At the height of his success, Petersen retired from the sport following the 1980 season. During his career, the popular driver won over 100 feature races and secured track championships at The Speed Bowl in Red Cloud, Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan and Platte Valley Speedway in Lexington.

Don Weyhrich


A native of Norfolk, Don Weyrich grew up with a passion for speed. He began his racing career as a drag racer, setting records in a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro at tracks in Nebraska, as well as Thunder Valley Dragway in Marion, South Dakota.

After racing down quarter-mile drag strips for two years, Weyhrich took the wheel of a 6-cylinder Modified owned by Lyle Parker in late 1969 and immediately decided to purchase a car of his own, a 1932 Ford Sedan Modified Stock Car. Because the previous owner had used the unique $1.98 as the car’s number, Weyhrich chose to retain the number and his iconic “Buck-98” was born.

In a short period of time, Weyhrich was challenging the “big hitters” at race tracks in Albion, Columbus, and Creighton, as well as his home track, Riviera Raceway in Norfolk.

After a successful year in his Modified, Weyrich purchased a LaVerne Nance chassis and by the early 1970s was branching out to tracks in Hastings and Doniphan, as well as LeMars, Iowa. He won point championships at Riviera Raceway in 1972 and 1975 and captured track titles at Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan, Nebraska in 1976 and 1978. He also is a former Modified track champion at Hastings Raceway.

In 1976, “Dandy Don” as he had become known, began racing at legendary Husets Speedway in South Dakota and a year later, when longtime friend and supporter Wayne Ellis purchased a Bob Trostle Sprint Car chassis (ironically, Trostle’s chassis number 198), he began racing at Midwest Speedway in Lincoln, as well as Jackson VFW Speedway in Minnesota and Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.

During his Sprint Car career, Weyhrich scored numerous major victories including the inaugural Modified World Championship in Doniphan in 1975 and the Nebraska Triple Crown at Sunset Speedway in Omaha in 1977.

In the early 1980s, following a serious racing accident, Weyhrich abandoned Sprint Cars and turned his attention to Late Models. He won Late Model track titles at both Norfolk and Albion and scored the biggest win of his Late Model career in 1984 when he won the Nebraska Cup at Eagle.

Weyhrich drove his own equipment through 1985 and for the next five seasons drove cars for other owners. During his over twenty-year racing career, he raced at numerous tracks throughout the Midwest, winning hundreds of feature races and more than a dozen track championships.

Larry White


A native Lincolnite, Larry White has been perched atop flag stands at race tracks throughout the Midwest since 1976, when he began waving flags for race events at Eagle Raceway. Since that time he has been serving as a race starter for nearly 45 years.

White’s first job in dirt track racing was offered to him by Larry Swanson, who was promoting 410 Sprint Car races at Eagle Raceway near Lincoln in the mid 1970s. White worked at Eagle for two years before the track eventually went dormant. When Eagle was purchased and reopened by the Beacham family in 1984, White was again on the stand and continued waving the bunting there for over 30 years.

In 1986, White added Omaha’s Sunset Speedway to his weekly flagging duties. He was at Sunset until the facility closed following the 2001 racing season, and followed Promoter Craig Kelley to I80 Speedway in Greenwood the following season. He has also flagged events at both Beatrice Speedway and State Fair Park Speedway in Nebraska, Park Jefferson Speedway in South Dakota, and the Belleville Highbanks in Kansas.

Over the years, White has started events for numerous prominent Sprint Car racing series including The World of Outlaws (WoO), the All-Star Circuit of Champions, ASCS (American Sprint Car Series), NCRA (National Championship Racing Association), ASCA (Arizona Sprint Car Association), and SCRA (Sprint Car Racing Association). Late Model series White has waved flags for include the World of Outlaws, the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Busch/O’Reilly All-Star Series, the WORLD Dirt Racing League (WDRL), NCRA, MLRA (Midwest Latemodel Racing Association), and IMCA (International Motor Contest Association). He has also served as a starter for Midget races for USAC (United States Auto Club), MARA (Midwest Auto Racing Association), and the Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association (NMMRA).

White’s racing travels have placed him atop flag stands at dozens of race tracks in numerous Midwestern states. He has flagged virtually every type of dirt track racer from weekly IMCA Sport Compacts to powerful 410 Outlaw Sprint Cars and everything in between. He was the official starter for the Nebraska State Championship races held at the Nebraska State Fair for many years.

Now retired from the sport, White has helped both his son, Larry, Jr. and his nephew Russell, get their starts as racing Flagmen.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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