In the late 1970s the Kansas City area had graduated a driver in Terry Bivins to the top of the sport when he was racing NASCAR. Another young driver was bursting on the scene at the time Hall of Famer Bivins had moved on to NASCAR racing was today’s inductee Rick Beebe. A regular at Lakeside Speedway, located at 92nd and Leavenworth Road, Beebe was a driver who could wheel his number 7 dirt late model to the front competing with the likes of Gene Claxton, Joe Kosiski, Steve Kosiski, Steve Fraise, Ferris Collier, and some of the greatest late model dirt drivers of the time. As a 16-year old he was the 1977 Rookie of the Year at Lakeside Speedway in the Late Model class, which at that time was considered young for the sport.
When 1989 hit and the racing surface for Kansas City racing changed from dirt to asphalt (the new Lakeside Speedway opened and I-70 Speedway began weekly racing), Beebe made the change, eventually becoming a regular on the ARTGO racing series and later the ASA racing series. Many will remember the ARTGO series headed by John McKarns, as the series which brought us the white line rule to new Lakeside Speedway. The ARTGO Series was to asphalt racing what the USMTS Series is currently to dirt racing. Asphalt Late Model racing on numerous tracks in the Midwest, led to Beebe regularly competing against drivers like Matt Kenseth, Larry Phillips, Steve Carlson, Joe Shear, Tony Roper, and Kevin Cywinski. Rick was always a driver favored to win any of these races, usually qualifying in the top 10 positions.
Rick became the Kansas City Racing fan favorite competing in these races, many which were televised and would have us glued to our televisions watching and cheering on the hometown driver or in the early days of VCRs, at the very least we were recording them, while attending local races. When the ASA races were at I-70 Speedway, most of the hometown crowd was pulling for Rick Beebe to win the race. During the decade of the 1990s Rick Beebe was the Kansas City driver everyone recognized nationally.
Competing at I-70 Speedway also led to Beebe competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and eventually the NASCAR Xfinity (was Busch) Series. In the ASA Series Rick was respected enough as a racer he became the series mentor for the rookies, which include Seven Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and last year’s Champion Kyle Busch.
As the asphalt racing scene faded away from the Kansas City area and even more so as the ARTGO and ASA series died, asphalt racing has died nationally. Rick Beebe made the change back to dirt, his roots. Instead of Late Models though he returned to the dirt Modifieds. He competed again at the highest levels of modified racing in the USMTS series.
Rick has always been a supporter of local racing, supporting the Central Auto Racing Boosters in 2005 by selling them his show car trailer to utilize as traveling museum for their Hall of Fame. Local racing has been fortunate to have Rick Beebe be an ambassador for Kansas City area drivers. From a national level Rick was the recognized Kansas City driver between two local nationally recognized NASCAR drivers, Terry Bivins to Clint Bowyer. Today Racingkc inducts Rick Beebe into our Hall of Fame.