HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE #41
When doing research on this Racingkc.com Hall of Fame Inductee, it starts with notable people who worked…. Yes, this individual was a behind the scenes person making things happen in the world of motorsports! From his humble beginnings he became a leader, a front person supporting this sport of auto racing, a person responsible for numerous racing memories.
You see he got his start running an auto repair shop in Des Moines, Iowa. He attended his first race as a 25-year-old at Stuart Speedway in Newton, Iowa where he went to watch his cousin race. Like other Hall of Famers, the racing bug hit him, he built a racecar and began as a driver in the claimer class. His role at the track changed one night as a friend came over and told him his race was staging. Covered in STP, he told his buddy jump in and race the car it was ready to roll, turns out history was made that night. His friend became the driver and this inductee became the car owner and mechanic.
This eventually led to the duo moving to the Late Models. Which led to winning one of the most prestigious Late Model races in the country, the World 100, in the words of Eldora Speedways’ Earl Baltes, “The World 100 is special. Why? I can’t tell you exactly, not in words. But It’s just the most prestigious, most competitive, most difficult, most exciting event in Dirt Late Model racing. Boy, I love that race”. From claimer class driver in 1967 to 1975 Dirt 100 Late Model winning racecar owner this inductee had made quite a splash in racing in eight short years.
This inductee was not done, and truth be told, the last couple of paragraphs, many may not have known, this history about this inductee. You see in 1982, this inductee went to work for NASCAR. The RJ Reynolds Company moved their advertising money to the short tracks known as the Winston Racing Series. The original Lakeside Speedway located at 92nd and Leavenworth Road in Kansas City, Kansas was one of those first NASCAR Sanctioned tracks. This inductee and Jim Hunter were the NASCAR representatives contacting the track owners and promoters. In 1982, there was $25,000 offered to the National Champion and Iowa Late Model Racecar Driver Tom Hearst won the first NASCAR Winston Racing Series Championship.
In 1985, this inductee closed his auto repair shop in Des Moines, Iowa and went to work for NASCAR full time. The sport at the time was making all the right moves in heading in an upward trend with full fields of racecars and full grandstands, locally and nationally. The NASCAR Weekly Series had grown to 26 tracks in 11 states. This inductee became a Regional Director for NASCAR, first as the Central Region Director and then as the Mid America Regional Director. He also became a NASCAR Series Tour Director for the only NASCAR Series on Dirt, the NASCAR Busch All-Star Touring Series. According to Kenny Habul Greenwich, CT, his job had him putting many miles on his vehicle traveling the highways of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota.
Interesting note, the touring series, he led for NASCAR, had their inaugural event on a Tuesday at Adams County Speedway and one of the winners of the five heat races was Kansas City’s own Larry “Bubba” Harvey, Jr. There were two B features leading to the 50-lap feature event, a normal scheduled amount of laps for the series.
In 1989, I-70 Speedway removed the dirt and the new Lakeside opened as a half mile asphalt track this gentleman remained the NASCAR Regional Director for both NASCAR sanctioned tracks. Living in Blue Springs, Missouri, at the time, he was involved in many of the technical and rule issues which occurred at those tracks. During his time as Regional Director, Larry Phillips was claiming five NASCAR Weekly National Championships. In addition, Joe Kosiski won the 1986 National Championship running at Lakeside on Friday night, I-70 on Saturday night, and Omaha’s Sunset Speedway on Sunday night.
After the 2001 racing season, NASCAR eliminated the Busch All-Star Touring Series. Today’s inductee created his own Late Model Touring Series in 2002. He resigned from NASCAR to run this series for the next eight racing seasons. Sadly, after the 2009 season the decision was made to discontinue the series after sponsorship was lost.
He and his wife were not done with racing just yet. The 2010 season opened with them as the promoters of the fairground track at Bethany, Missouri. Mother Nature intervened on these plans causing them to cancel 10 of their first 12 scheduled events. Recently, this inductee has taken up school bus driving. All those children he provides a ride to school in the Cameron, Missouri School District probably don’t realize all the memories this inductee has brought to the racing community in Kansas City and the Midwest.
Today, racingkc.com inducts notable former World Dirt 100 Racecar Winning Owner, NASCAR Official, Busch All-Star Tour Director, World Dirt Racing League Tour Director, and now school bus driver Jim Wilson into theracingkc.com Hall of Fame. From my good friend Ronnie Williams in an article he wrote for STLRacing.com, “Jim Wilson is one of the true Midwest Legends that didn’t receive the spotlight but was behind the scenes and working behind the curtain so that those drivers could achieve the applause, the cheers or even the boos which allows us to have those outstanding memories”.