2003 was the first year I was President of the Central Auto Racing Boosters. After the success of the First 50 Years of the Central Auto Racing Boosters book, the obvious next step was accomplish what Lee Fagala had envisioned in 1969, a local Hall of Fame. The first step as President was to form a committee and appoint a chairman. I asked Steve Mitchell to be the Chairman of this committee and we accepted volunteers as the February 2003 general membership meeting. Joan Ellis, Debbie Bergman, Adrienne Malinowski, Bob Libbey, and Steve made up the first committee. As president I would attend the meetings and provide guidance. Remember none of us had ever done anything like this before but we were pushing the gas pedal and making it happen.
The first order of business was to name the Hall of Fame and this was instantly a battle. The Chairman wanted a name of Kansas City, those from C.A.R.B. were there to ensure the name included C.A.R.B., after all, the organization was providing the funding. Once we got past this point then we tackled the nominating process, which for the last 12 years with some minor variations has remained the same. Complete the nomination form and be a C.A.R.B. Member then submit it by December 1. December by tradition has been the month for the selection committee to meet and vote, thus giving the organization time to prepare for the March event. Of course in 2003 we set a date of March 6, 2004 for the annual Pot Luck and reserved a room with Finnigan’s Hall. This event was scheduled in conjunction with the annual Pot Luck dinner, which had its roots dating to the C.A.R.B. box lunch of the 1960s.
Then came the selection process, we had nominations and since we were starting the Hall of Fame it was decided to select 15 the first year, then 10 then 8 and ultimately end up at 5 per year. The number to induct each year has been contentious for the entire 12 years. Also contentious was the selection process. Originally, we had not given this any thought, so as President I appointed five members to serve as the selection committee. Those original five were Jim Penney, local historian, Dean Merriman, former racer, Diana Green, C.A.R.B representative, then Vice President Vicki Davis, and Racinboy Scott Traylor, we wanted coverage of this event and he knew the history. Over the years the five person committee expanded to seven, then nine, then to the conglomeration we have today. Looking back the five person committee actually worked the best, but again it was a contention from the first day. Almost every year the organization seems to be trying to change it.
Adrienne Malinowski and Claudine Penney were heading up the planning of the event. They coordinated with Scott and Kirk to get the inductees interviewed, they wrote the programs, they determined the order of events, they ordered the plaques, and they completed the decorations. They had help from several members of the committee but the way things are done today stems from their efforts in the beginning.
So on March 6, 2004 the 1969 idea became reality. On that day we inducted Virginia Nelson, the founder of C.A.R.B., Jon Backlund, Terry Bivins, Vito Calia, Virgil Chapman, Bill Crane, Clyde Ellis, Bud Hunnicut, Junior Hower, Larry Kaster, Bill Roberts, Charlie Kraft, Jud Larson, Dick Sutcliffe, and Taylor “Pappy” Weld into the initial class of the Hall of Fame.
Mission accomplished except…….. the contentious items have never gone away. To this day the success of the Hall of Fame is overshadowed by the behind the scenes politics. Watch as it continues to play out even today!
As this is a series of who split the local racing community, is there anything we can take away from these events – not necessarily one person but we can already see the contentious items smoldering, could they be what had led to the split, time will tell!