The First 50 Years of the Central Auto Racing Boosters Book was published in March 2003 and was available for the Annual C.A.R.B. March Pot Luck Dinner. Thank you, Clyde and Joan Ellis, for bankrolling the publishing of the book. The Book was the prelude to the Hall of Fame. The annual Pot Luck Dinner was started in the 1960s as a box lunch gathering which transformed into the Pot Luck Dinner, a gathering of the racing community before the racing season started. In March 2004, the Pot Luck Dinner became the first Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
I wonder how many of the current C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame and Museum Officers and Board of Directors realize the history of this event and how we got here. After all it is in their bylaws they are responsible for preserving the history, which is a part of the verbiage utilized to obtain the 501c3 status.
The creation of the Hall of Fame was years in the making. I had asked about starting a Hall of Fame when I first got involved with C.A.R.B. and in the writing of the book we discovered former President Lee Fagala had made the suggestion in 1969. In January 2003 I become president of the Central Auto Racing Boosters and this became a mission, after the writing of the book the next step was obviously take the momentum and create a Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame.
One of the responsibilities of being a President is to appoint committees. A president is a part of all committees, oversees all meetings, but can only vote on decisions when there is a tie. By 2003 C.A.R.B. had become heavily involved in the racing community so numerous committees were required to accomplish all our goals. Committees included the Bowlathon, the Snake Saturday Race On, the Elm Grove School Day, Golf Tournament, the Banquet, the Roster and Yellow Pages, Membership, Newsletter, Constitution, and in 2003 a new committee, the Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame committee. We would ask for volunteers at the joint Board meeting of the outgoing and incoming Officers and Board of Directors held between the December and January general membership meetings. Then at the first meeting of the year in January, the new officers and board of directors are installed in office and at this meeting we would ask for volunteers to join the committees.
So as the C.A.R.B. President in 2003, I appointed a committee to begin the process of creating the Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame. The following people volunteered to be a part of this committee Steve Mitchell, who served as Chairman, Joan Ellis, Kent Crane, Bob Libbey, Julia Deckman, Lee Fagala, Ken Fowler, Debbie Bergman, Bud and Keat Hunnicutt, Leon Bottemuler, and Adrienne Malinowski.
Those individuals above took the time out of their lives to meet and discuss and form the plans which became the Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame. The car was rolling but as we discovered at the first committee meeting someone forgot to put air in the tires. We had excitement, we had a deadline date of March 6, 2004 as that was the date for the Pot Luck Dinner, but boy did we have disagreements, individuals were set in their minds on what they wanted the Hall of Fame to be, and quite honestly, we spent two to three meetings in discussion over the name of the Hall of Fame. There was a contingent which did not want the Central Auto Racing Boosters name in the Hall of Fame, yet, the Central Auto Racing Boosters were bankrolling this event and if not for C.A.R.B. it would not have ever been created. Sound familiar, here we are 14 years later, and the current C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame and Museum Officers and Board of Directors are attempting to remove it from the C.A.R.B. membership!
The final name selected by this initial committee was Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame of Kansas City. In all these articles I am intentionally including the names of those who got us here. Other than Debbie Bergman and Bud Hunnicutt, none of the current C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame and Museum Officers and Board of Directors were involved in starting this Hall of Fame.
The nomination form created quite the discussion itself. Fortunately, Adrienne Malinowski stepped forward and created the trifold nomination form. To date the criteria and qualifications, which was a coordination effort between Adrienne and Steve Mitchell, has existed untouched to this day. However, with that said it is one of the current proposals from the current C.A.R.B Hall of Fame and Museum Officers and Board of Directors they want to REMOVE “Former or Current Member of the Central Auto Racing Boosters” from the qualifications.
As a committee we were making progress. We were able to get the trifold nomination forms out and receive back several nominees. With the deadline of March 6, 2004 looming we set a deadline of January 1, 2004 for the nominations to be submitted for inclusion into the first C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame class. We received 30 nominations but not before we had to extend the nominating deadline. The next two paragraphs are from the March 2004 C.A.R.B. Newsletter.
The original deadline of January 1, 2004 was extended until January 15, 2004. All nominees were deserving, and we are sure all will eventually be selected into the Hall of Fame. We want to congratulate those 30 nominees.
The nominees were: Jay Lyle, Junior Hower, Terry Bivins, Bud Hunnicutt, Charlie Heritage, Greg Weld, Howard House, Ray Lee Goodwin, Jud Larson, Virginia Nelson, J. O. “Pop” Hartman, Clyde Ellis, Lee Nevels, Larry Phillips, Tom Wilson, Bill Roberts, Sr., Larry Kaster, Bill Crane, Jon Backlund, LeRoy Holler, Harold LeRoy Holler, Sr., Ralph Suman, Vito Calia, Bill Chennault, Virgil Chapman, Luther Brewer, Taylor “Pappy” Weld, Lee Fagala, Dick Sutcliffe, and Charlie Kraft.
Then came the next issue, one we had somehow missed in the committee meetings, who was going to do the selections. As President I had to make an executive decision and appoint a selection committee. The first selection committee consisted of Chairwoman Vicki Davis, Diana Green, Scott Traylor, Jim Penney, and Dean Merryman. These five individuals met to determine the first 15 members of the Hall of Fame. The selection committee’s task was not envied by many because narrowing that formidable group of 30, many of which have since been inducted, was not easy.
One question came out of the selection process, what about those not selected? It was determined to be nominated was an honor and their nominations would automatically carryover. This has since been changed by the current Officers and Board of Directors to eliminate nominees that have not been inducted after 5 years. Interesting they eliminated individuals last year and yet the official 501c3 designation was only approved by the Internal Revenue Service on December 27, 2012.
The Hall of Fame Committee still had work to do before the first inductee was presented. It was determined the first year there would be 15 inductees, the second year 10 inductees, the third year 8 inductees and then 5 inductees each year thereafter. We also had to secure an emcee(s) for the ceremony. Fortunately, the Racinboys, Scott Traylor and Kirk Elliott, agreed to take on these duties. The also had interviews on their Saturday morning Track Talk radio show leading up to the induction ceremony.
Part of the process of starting a Hall of Fame involved changing the March Potluck dinner to the Hall of Fame Appreciation Dinner. The first event began at 5:00 P.M. in the Waterford Room of Finnigan’s Hall in North Kansas City, MO. C.A.R.B. supplied the meat, (brisket and ham smoked by Mark and Susan Silvey, and turkey prepared by the Hawkins family), a liquid refreshment, and dinnerware.
Programs, in honor of the inductees, were also on sale for $2.00 each that night. The proceeds benefitted the continuation of the Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame. A huge thank you to Adrienne Malinowski for taking the time to interview the inductees and prepare the program for printing by Don’s Printing.
That night the very first induction ceremony was a night to remember, March 6, 2004, all the hours behind the scenes, all the work, all the planning, all the disagreements ironed out culminated in the following 15 people becoming the first inductees into the Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame: Junior Hower, Terry Bivins, Bud Hunnicutt, Clyde Ellis, Jud Larson, Vito Calia, Virginia Nelson, Bill Roberts, Sr., Jon Backlund, Larry Kaster, Bill Crane, Virgil Chapman, Taylor “Pappy” Weld, Dick Sutcliffe, and Charlie Kraft.
The original Hall of Fame Committee, Steve Mitchell, Joan Ellis, Kent Crane, Bob Libbey, Julia Deckman, Lee Fagala, Ken Fowler, Debbie Bergman, Bud and Keat Hunnicutt, Leon Bottemuler, and Adrienne Malinowski, had the car rolling out of the shop and it seemed we were hitting on all cylinders.