In 2003, my first year as President of the Central Auto Racing Boosters, we embarked on creating what has become the Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame. It has been well documented that this idea was first broached in 1969 by then C.A.R.B. President Lee Fagala. The First 50 Years of the Central Auto Racing Boosters book started by Diana Green and Joan Ellis spearheaded the need for the Hall of Fame. As a person who has been described as a “make it happen” person, we made it happen. As President of C.A.R.B. I appointed a committee to start the process of creating the Hall of Fame. Along the way tough decisions had to be made and they were made. This included keeping and protecting the C.A.R.B. organization from those who desired a “one night stand” with C.A.R.B. concerning the Hall of Fame. They wanted to thank us for getting the Hall of Fame started but wanted no part of the name of the group starting it.
Thirteen years later the Hall of Fame is still in existence but along the way have we forgotten our way? In January of 2004, I came home from a Hall of Fame committee meeting and Diana asked what was wrong. I explained there is too much selfishness in starting this Hall of Fame, people were upset on who was selected to the first class and how the first selection committee consisting of Diana, Scott Traylor, Dean Merryman, Vicki Davis, and Jim Penney was chosen. I was ready to throw in the towel. Diana told me to push through. As we all know on March 6, 2004, the C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame was off and running with our first 15 inductees. These 15 inductees all had a place in Kansas City Racing history, in the Central Auto Racing Boosters place in history.
Since that time we have strayed from what an inductee has meant to the Kansas City Racing and/or C.A.R.B.’s history, instead it has expanded to more of a Midwest racing history and in some instances for selfish reasons. Look no further than who was the registered agent when the 501c3 organization was created and who is now the registered agent. People on selection committees have been upset when their nominee was not selected. Nominations have been made for selfish reasons. It was hoped when we created the Hall of Fame it would tie the older past racing generation with the new younger racing generation, but again that did not occur instead it created two C.A.R.B. organizations.
Yesterday, as I was traveling from a North Kansas City Swift Mile committee meeting it hit me, Racing KC will start its’ own Hall of Fame. This thought occurred as I was passing the old Riverside Stadium area and I saw a sign for E. H. Young. Mr. Young owned Riverside Stadium and the Red X. He should be in a Hall of Fame because after all he is part of Kansas City Racing history. Then I thought about Jim “Hoss” Harkness another person who had a part in Kansas City Racing history. He was the last promoter of Riverside Stadium but even more so he was the track announcer and if you are old enough to remember the television show “Bonanza” then you know where the term Hoss originated. In talking with Jim Penney, we have forgotten some of our Kansas City racers from that time period, Ernie Shirley, Phil Witherow, are two who come to mind. And let’s not forget some of the people behind the scenes, the wives of some of the racers, the officials behind the scenes, the race track owners and promoters, all these people who have a place in our Kansas City racing history.
So with that thought, Racing KC, will be starting a Hall of Fame. It will be on paper, or more appropriately this website, there will be no plaques, no ceremony, it will be to remember the “good old days of racing”. Will I need some help with this project, you betcha, I will need to pick the brains of the old timers, I will need other peoples notes, pictures, scrap books. There will be no voting, no nominations, no inductee limits, this site may induct four or five people in one day, it may take a break for a few weeks while research is being done, time is the only factor stopping someone from being inducted into the Racing KC Hall of Fame. Will it overlap the C.A.R.B. Hall of Fame, yes, obviously some people deserve to be in every Kansas City based Hall of Fame. There will no rhyme or reason on the selection process, some will come from the archives on this computer, some will come from the days when I wrote for All Speed Racing News, some will come from my own personal observations, some will come from you the readers and your suggestions. The best thing we can do is remember those who got us to where we are today in Kansas City racing and get it captured and published!