Class of 2018

Don Droud Jr.


Following in the footsteps of his father, Nebraska Hall of Fame Inductee Don Droud, Sr., Don Droud, Jr. began his racing career as a 16-year old youngster driving Street Stocks and then Late Models, before jumping into a Sprint Car in his early twenties.

In the 1980s, Droud, Jr. performed successfully at his hometown track, Midwest Speedway in Lincoln, winning eight Sprint Car feature races there, and later achieved success in a Sprinter at nearby Eagle Raceway.

Droud turned his attention to regional racing in the mid 1990s, and during his first full season of racing at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway, in 1997, finished second in the final point standings. He repeated that runner-up finish at Knoxville in 1998. That same year, he also became the first driver to break the 15-second barrier at Knoxville, and his single lap record of 14.934 seconds stood for seven years at the “Sprint Car Capitol of the World.”

During his 15 years of competition at Knoxville, Droud secured 11 top ten point finishes and six top five point finishes. In addition to 1997 and 1998, he also captured runner-up finishes there in 2001 and 2010.

nullDroud, Jr. etched his name into the Knoxville Raceway record book when he won the inaugural 1200-pound Nationals there in 2001. Nearly 100 of the top Sprint Car drivers in the country were entered in the event.

Still an active driver, Droud’s career accomplishments include qualifying for the A-main at the prestigious Knoxville Nationals five different times. His best finish at the Nationals was a ninth place run in 2006. That same year, he became the only driver ever to qualify for the A-Main at the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma (finishing 22nd), the Belleville (Kansas) Midget Nationals (finishing 9th), and the Knoxville Nationals in the same year.

Droud won the National Championship Racing Association (NCRA) Sprint Car title in 2016 scoring main event wins at Dodge City, Salina, and Wichita, Kansas. He finished second in the series standings in 2018.

In 2020, Droud, Jr. won the Lucas Oil Poweri/WAR Sprint League Ultimate Challenge in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

During his career, Droud has raced not only with the NCRA, but also with the World of Outlaws (WoO), and the Nebraska 360 Sprint Car Series. He has piloted Sprint cars for some of the top owners in the business including Mark Burch, Craig Cormack, the Ochs Brothers, and Troy Renfro.

Larry Gregg


A native of Doniphan, Larry Gregg got his baptism into auto racing in 1970, when he and a group of friends purchased a 1957 Ford and began competing at Hastings Raceway and at the fairgrounds track in Smith Center, Kansas. In 1971, his second season behind the wheel, he finished 13th in the competitive Stock Division point standings at Hastings, a class which regularly attracted over 40 participants.

In 1972, Gregg began racing at the newly-opened Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan and in 1975, his final season as a driver, finished 9th in the final point standings, his highest finish at the facility.

While racing at Doniphan, Gregg served on the Board of Directors at Mid-Continent Raceway, and he remained a member of the Board through the 1981 season. During his tenure on the Board, Gregg was instrumental, along with Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Chuck Bosselman, in the promotion of the Nebraska Pepsi Late Model Championship, which later became known as the Nebraska Late Model Nationals. At its zenith, the Late Model Nationals was one of the premier dirt Late Model races in the country.

Gregg was also instrumental in the World Modified Championships, which attracted the top Modified Sprint Car drivers to Central Nebraska during its three-year run from 1975 through 1977 at Mid-Continent. On August 16, 1979, he again assisted Bosselman in the promotion of the first World of Outlaws Sprint Car race held in the state of Nebraska, also at Mid-Continent.

During the winter of 1981, Larry and his wife Karen purchased Mid-Continent Raceway and renamed the facility Mid-Continent Race Track. The crown jewel of Gregg’s tenure as the Owner and Promoter of Mid-Continent was the acquisition of a coveted sanction to become a member of the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Weekly Racing Series, prior to the 1989 season. During the NASCAR years, Gregg brought NASCAR’s only dirt track regional touring series, the Busch All-Star Tour, to Mid-Continent.

The Greggs sold the popular 3/8 mile facility following the 1995 race season, ending a very successful 14-year run as the owners of Central Nebraska’s premier dirt track speed plant. As Gregg’s father, Lawrence, was one of the original partners in Mid-Continent when the race track opened in 1972, the sale ended a two and a half decade involvement in the facility by the Gregg family.

Gregg passed away in 2014.

Chelsie Johnson


Chelsie Johnson was born in Harvard, Nebraska, and later moved to Fairbury before eventually settling in Lincoln. He became interested in automobiles at an early age and pursued a career in auto mechanics prior to opening Antelope Park Garage, an auto repair business in Lincoln, in 1921.

Johnson got his start in auto racing as a car owner in the early 1920s, teaming up with driver Morris Talvinsky, with the duo quickly becoming a force at local county fair race tracks in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

Johnson next teamed with Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Clarence “Speed” Haskell, in 1929, with Haskell driving Johnson’s “Antelope Park Garage Special” to numerous wins at Ak-Sar-Ben Speedway in Omaha and throughout the Midwest. In 1939, Haskell won the Nebraska State Fair race in Johnson’s machine, becoming the first native Nebraskan to win an IMCA-(International Motor Contest Association) sanctioned event at the State Fair in Lincoln. Haskell scored another major win for Johnson that year at a AAA (American Automobile Association) event in Hutchinson, Kansas. The pair successfully raced together through the conclusion of the 1933 racing season.

Johnson hired successful Texas driver Ben Musick, who at the time was racing under the name Bill Morris, to pilot his Big Car in 1934. Musick wheeled Johnson's number-4 machine to numerous victories throughout the region including events at Belleville, Hutchinson, Topeka, and Winfield, Kansas; Lincoln, Nebraska; Muskogee, Oklahoma; Dallas, Texas; and Sharon, Ohio, while competing against notable IMCA legends Emery Collins, Bert Ficken, Arch Powell, Gus Schrader and Emory Collins.

Other successful drivers to wheel Johnson-owned race cars included Sam Hoffman and Johnny McDowell. Hoffman scored major wins for Johnson in Lincoln, as well as at Des Moines, Iowa; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Belleville, Kansas.

Although multi-car teams were very rare during the time period, Johnson typically arrived at events with as many as four cars ready for competition. On numerous occasions, Johnson-owned and maintained machines swept the top three podium positions at major national events.

Over the years, Johnson worked with several engines in his powerful machines including Frontenacs, McDowells, Millers, and Cragers.

After moving to Indianapolis, Johnson passed away in July of 1942, at the age of 45, following a brief illness.

Chuck Spanel


A native of Merna, Chuck Spanel begin his career in racing in 1977 when he went to work for Larson Balancing in Lincoln. After purchasing a number of pieces of shop equipment in 1983, he started his own engine building business, Spanel Engines, Inc., working out of his house garage in north Lincoln.

During his early years as an engine builder, he spent a lot of time racing with his customer and long-time friend Tom Svoboda of David City. The pair raced three and four nights a week at a number of race tracks including Columbus, David City, Beatrice, Doniphan, Rising City, Sunset Speedway in Omaha, and Park Jefferson in South Dakota, as well as I-70 Speedway in Odessa Missouri and Lakeside Speedway near Kansas City. Svoboda’s Spanel-powered machines won a dozen track championships and scored over 125 feature race wins throughout the Midwest.

During that period, he was also building motors for numerous other customers, including the Jerry Safranek family of Merna. His relationship with the Safraneks spanned three generations of racers and a period of over 20 years. He also built motors for Late Model driver Kyle Berck for nearly ten years, beginning in the late 1980s.

Spanel also began building Sprint Car motors in the late 1980s. His engines won numerous Sprint Car point championships at Eagle Raceway between 1987 and 2002 for drivers including Bruce Divis, John Gerloff, Mike Boston and Billy Alley.

In the early 1990s, he teamed up with Carson Smith and Speedway Motors, building motors for the American Indy Car Series car driven by Robby Unser. Later, in the mid ‘90s, he again teamed with Smith, building motors for a car that competed at Pike’s Peak in Colorado. The team set multiple track records and won numerous events while competing there.

Not only specializing in circle track motors throughout the years, he also has built drag race engines, tractor pull motors, street car motors, Bonneville Salt Flat motors, as well as airplane engines. In 1997 he built a 620 cubic inch big block Chevrolet airplane motor that was featured in Sport Aviation Magazine.

When his son, Tom, began racing go-karts in 1999, he turned his attention to go-kart engines. The team won numerous go-kart regional and national championships through 2013 when Tom moved to South Carolina.

Spanel continues to build race engines in his 6300 square foot building in Cheney.

Stan White


Stan White grew up in Palmyra, Nebraska, and as a young boy in the early 1960s, watched the local high school kids compete with their hot rods on what was known as the “Salt Flats,” south of the community.

In 1969, White purchased a 1959 Chevrolet, a car that was an NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Stock Class record holder. He raced the car at area drag strips for the next three seasons before NHRA changed the class rules, making the car “obsolete” for its class.

In 1973, White purchased a 1973 Nova Super Sport which he raced in the Stock L Automatic Class. He drove the car to a points title in NHRA Division V, which included 11 upper Midwestern states, plus Manitoba, Canada.

He picked up a World Champion Series (WCS) win in 1976 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and later won Super Stock championship events in Pomona, California, Denver, Colorado, Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Indianapolis, Indiana and scored a runner-up finish at Scribner Raceway in Nebraska.

White’s most successful season as a drag racer came in 1978 when, as an unheralded underdog, he won the biggest NHRA event on the schedule, the US Nationals in Indianapolis, and two weeks later won the Denver WCS event, qualifying him for the World Finals in Ontario, California. He advanced to the quarterfinals at Ontario before finally getting beat. Following those events, his car was featured in both Super Chevy Magazine and Hot Rod Magazine.

Other big wins on his resume include a Super Stock victory in the WCS event in Pueblo, Colorado in 1979, a National Open win at Fargo, North Dakota that same summer, and a nationally-televised Super Stock championship win at the Summer Nationals in Scribner, Nebraska in 1986. He set the SS/LA national record at Denver in 1979.

White has raced for portions of six decades, powering Chevrolets down the quarter-mile at some of the most prominent NHRA drag racing venues in the United States and Canada including Denver, Indianapolis and Pomona, as well as Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. During his career, he won numerous class trophies and set many track records.

White still maintains his Chevrolet Nova, which he continues to race competitively on occasion.

Ron Williams


Ron Williams’ interest in and passion for automobile racing began at an early age when he began riding his bicycle to the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in his hometown of North Platte to watch drivers Don Ostendorf, the Wolfe Brothers, Leroy “Punch” Pounder and others sling their powerful machines around the West Central Nebraska fairgrounds oval.

During his teenage years, Williams hopped into a dragster for the first time and began competing at a number of quarter-mile venues in Nebraska and Colorado. In 1965, Williams and good friend Marty Thomsen built a Stock Car, which was driven by Don Ostendorf. After Ostendorf crashed the car on the first night out, Williams began building a new Modified Stock Car, which he raced at tracks in Kearney and North Platte, Nebraska and Norton and Oberlin, Kansas.

Williams’ success behind the wheel of a race car came quickly, and in 1970 he and his partner, Jim Ellett, won the track championship at his hometown track in North Platte, a feat he followed-up the following season. In 1973, he grabbed the track championship at Hastings Raceway and won back-to-back titles at Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan in 1973 and 1974. Williams won the coveted World Modified Championship at Doniphan in convincing fashion in 1976, and came back to win the third and final World Modified Championship in 1977. Williams won two more Sprint Car titles at North Platte in 1985 and 1986.

The highlight of Williams’ career came in 1979, when he outdueled two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Jr. and a stellar field of drivers to capture an RPM (Racing Promotion Management) event in Erie, Colorado. He ran the last seven laps without brakes and passed Unser for the win four laps from the checkers.

Williams hung up his fire suit and helmet following the 1986 season, after nearly three decades of success behind the wheel. During that period, Williams raced at 36 tracks in a five state area, racking up countless feature race wins, as well as nine track championships and numerous special event victories. He competed in the prestigious Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals on four different occasions.

Following his retirement as a driver, Williams put his son Tommy Lee into the cockpit of the number-29 Sprinter and the race team continued its success, with the younger Williams winning three additional track championships at North Platte and one at Lexington.

Williams passed away in 2014.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame

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