This inductee into the RacingKC.com Hall of Fame is long time behind the scenes worker supporting the local racing community in several various roles. Many of us have watched him grow in the sport from working on the firecrew at I-70 and Lakeside Speedways to his current role of Flagman at I-35 Speedway. However, that is not all this inductee has done, since 1983 he has been an active supporting member of the Central Auto Racing Boosters. In 1983 he served on the Board of Directors, the next two years he was the Blood Bank Chairman, and since 1986 he has been the membership secretary. Thirty-One (31) years he has held the position as membership secretary, 31 annual elections, 31 years in this one position. Today we induct Bob Reber into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.
Bob is not even aware of this induction yet! Saturday night I asked Bob how he got started in racing, he stated through Chet Ames he started on Hall of Famer Butch Smeltzer’s fire crew at I-70 Speedway. Butch was short a fireman one night at Lakeside Speedway on 92nd and Leavenworth Road and asked Bob to come help. Then due to another vacancy Lakeside Speedway was short a scale man one night and another Hall of Famer Al Burke Senior asked Bob if he would work the scales for them. Should we say the rest is history!
One of the most exciting scale stories Bob was involved in was when another Hall of Famer Super Joe Wallace was disqualified at the scales. It seems a crewman was adding a little extra weight on the side of the scales away from the scale man. Bob caught this rule ingenuity in action and subsequently Super Joe was disqualified.
Through the years Bob has served in the Central Auto Racing Boosters (C.A.R.B) and at the track as an official. In my 25 plus years of track work he has been a pleasure to work with, if something needed done Bob was there to do it, he was also great at reminding me of things which needed to be accomplished, sometimes I had remembered and sometimes I had forgotten. It never hurts to have a team player like Bob keeping everything in order. I have had the pleasure to watch Bob grow from doing the scales, to being the official in charge of the lineup, to being an official in the turn or on the back straight, to being the front straight official at I-70 Speedway, to the night he and Rodney Hawkins started as flagmen.
On this night, we had a special race at I-70 Speedway, both the regular flagman Terry Wantland and myself needed to be in a meeting when hot laps started. Therefore, we put both Bob and Rodney in the flag stand, one to wave the flags and one to run the lights. For first time flag men this can be a challenge and the size of I-70 Speedway combined with the speeds, we wanted to ensure the safety for the racers. From this act both developed into flagman at tracks around the area, primarily Rodney at Valley Speedway and Bob at I-35 Speedway. Bob has also served as a backup flagman when needed at various tracks around the region.
One my favorite and personal stories is the night Bob out ran a racecar. Yes, you read that correctly! Bob was working the back straight at I-70 Speedway and a car spun 180 degrees and was headed towards Bob, who stood inside the guard rail on the back straight. Bob took off running thankfully, but if Bob zigged left the driver and racecar zigged left, when Bob zigged right the racecar did the same, and even though this took only seconds, myself and several other officials found ourselves holding our breath……….until Bob had out run the racecar and the racecar came to a stop! See even as a track worker adrenaline can kick in and super human feats can be accomplished.
Bob and his family can always be found at a race track locally. If one of the tracks Bob works is not racing and there is another track in the area that is racing you can find Bob and his family at that track. There are many more stories about Bob, but there is no one more deserving of this honor than Hall of Famer Bob Reber. Share your Bob stories in the comments.