This week I want to say a huge Thank You to my mom, Betty Green. Racing has not been her favorite even when my Dad’s brother, Uncle Lyle, raced in southern Missouri. However, she did not stand in the way when as a child, Dad would take me to the races, in fact, she encouraged it. With that said, a couple of months ago, I inducted the Hartford family into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame. One of the best memories for Carol Hartford was the racers who would call her Mom Hartford. There are mothers in racing who have been behind the scenes supporting their son, brother, husband, boyfriend, etc. in racing for several years.
So, this week we are going to do something special induct five mothers into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame who I believe have influenced local racing in the Kansas City area. At least their influence has been felt for the last 30 to 40 plus years. I am also going to give credence to the Central Auto Racing Boosters because all five of these ladies have played a role in promoting this organization over the years.
I had planned to interview each of these mothers and in fact tried contacting a couple of them. In one instance, I was turned down and in the other our schedules just never met up, but I can ensure you all have played an important role in moving our sport forward.
The first lady could be called the First Lady of Kansas City racing, she could also be known as the God Mother. Without her working with her husband it is quite likely there would not be a Lakeside Speedway today! Without her the Central Auto Racing Boosters would have long ago folded. Without her every Kansas City area track would not have the family company listed as a sponsor! She was a racer’s wife at first until an accident cost her husband the use of his arm. They could have walked away from racing but instead they immersed themselves in racing. In the early days of weekly racing at Lakeside Speedway her husband had the car painted as moving billboard, wherever she drove the car she was the advertising agent for the racetrack. As a couple, they became involved in the Central Auto Racing Boosters with her serving as the Parliamentarian for 33 years. She raised five children while being involved in racing. In fact, the family helped install the bucket seats at the former I-70 Speedway before its’ original opening in 1969. In 2001/2002 she, along with another of today’s Mother inductees, was instrumental in the writing and publishing of the First 50 Years of the Central Auto Racing Boosters Book. By now you should have figured the Mother I have talking about is Clyde Ellis’ super wife Joan. She was inducted into the eighth class of the C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame. Today we induct Joan Ellis into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.
Our second mother is also a racer’s wife. Along the way of pushing him in all his successes, they raised three daughters together. At one point in time we were not sure we might end up in-laws. Speaking of all his successes, there was a time their home contained over 300 trophies. She too has been involved over the years with the Central Auto Racing Boosters. It was her idea at board meeting to start what has become an annual winter time event, the Bowlathon. She even served a couple of years as its Chairwoman. In the days, when NASCAR was the premier sanctioning body in the Kansas City area she was well known to the powers to be of that sanction body. In fact, I was talking with then NASCAR Competition Director Jerry Cook and out of the blue he asked me if the question was coming from her, calling her by name. The answer was yes and while some took offense to her rule questions I found her to be challenging but in a good way. All racers want consistency and she was the Mom who would challenge officials on what the rules said and how they read. I learned if you can’t beat her have her join you and in the process discovered she is one of the best scorers in this area. With her years of experience of supporting her husband and her family she is a wealth of racing knowledge. From times gone by when fun was had by pulling down someone’s shorts to today’s complicated fast paced world, she continues to work on improving our sport. She supports her husband but will let him know when he was wrong (for that matter she does it with all the racers). She is also the one lady who all racers wives want to be compared to in the Kansas City area. Today we induct Wilma Claxton, Gene Claxton’s super wife, into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.
The third Mother we are inducting is also a racer’s wife. Her husband has over 300 plus wins and has stated this is his last year to actively compete on the track. She much prefers to be in the background but will stand up for her husband, her son, and now her grandson. I first met her in 1987 at the original Lakeside Speedway while helping Paul Wright. Every time we went Paul had to park next to this racer and his wife. Her and her husband were involved with C.A.R.B. in the 1980s, but in the background, they have been active in the organization for 30 plus years. There is an award given at the annual banquet she does most of the research on the recipient. She worked outside the home to support the family racing. She was never afraid to give an official or another racer her opinion in support of her racing family. I ended up on the receiving end of some her ire over the years, but I always knew it was her passion in support of her family and that is something I respect. Today we induct Dee Charles, wife of Tom, Mother of Dan, and Grandmother of Austin into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.
The fourth lady we are inducting today is like Joan, an inductee into the C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame. She in her role as the wife was instrumental in the creation of the C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame, but more on that later. Along with being a racer’s wife she became an active racer herself. She raised two sons and is now grandmother to five grandsons and a soon to be born granddaughter. She worked as an Office Manager at a local track for almost 20 years and continues to work as the Office Manager at I-35 Speedway. In 1991, she was the driving force in getting people to vote her husband to the True Value Gold Wrench Award for the NASCAR Mid America Region. She worked as an official after quitting active driving and became the head scorer at Lakeside and I-70 Speedways. She along with Joan above were the leaders in creating the First 50 Years of the Central Auto Racing Boosters book. She served eight years as the President of C.A.R.B. In January 2004 when her husband was ready to throw in the towel on the Hall of Fame she was the one who gave him the pep talk to forge ahead and create the C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame. She, like all the wives, has supported her husband in his endeavors in racing. Today she can lay claim to being inducted into a second Hall of Fame, she has been an inspiration to many and continues to be an inspiration via Facebook to many in and out of racing. Today we honor my better half, my wife, the love of my life, Diana Green as an inductee into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.
The fifth and final Mother is being inducted because over the last several years I have been able to observe her resolve in this sport. She is the youngest of the Mother inductees, she works a 40 hour a week job for the U.S. Government and still supports her husband and sons in racing. She too was active in the Central Auto Racing Boosters and was the Banquet Chairman for the event held at the Briarcliff Courtyard by Marriott. She has supported her husband in racing as a racecar driver, then as a car owner, now as a track owner, and supports her sons in their racing. She is one of the hardest working women in the sport today and has been part owner of I-35 Speedway for 10 years. She will get home from work, prepare her husband his dinner, and then hit the office doing the paperwork for the track into the wee hours of the morning sometimes and then her day starts all over between 4:30 and 5 in the morning. Her hard work has not gone unnoticed, today we induct Kyle Johnson into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame.
These five women have been instrumental in the successes of local racing. Most times these women are working in the background and we don’t even recognize what they have accomplished. Where would we all be without our Mothers. Thank you, Joan, Wilma, Dee, Diana, and Kyle for all you have done to support our sport of auto racing! To all the mothers in racing, Happy Mother’s Day, may it be a blessed and wonderful day for you and your family.