8-14 Knoxville Nationals Championship

A field of sprint cars paces around the track during the 60th Annual NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Caseys Championship Night at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.

KNOXVILLE — The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the names of its eight inductees for 2022. Those that will be inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 4, during the 32nd annual ceremonies in Knoxville, Iowa, are:

Drivers

Bob Frey – Few sprint car drivers in the 1970’s and 1980’s had anything for Bob on the pavement. The five-time winner of the “Little 500” racked up wins from Sandusky to southern Florida on a regular basis. Driving the Ensign No. 37, the Durnwald No. 92 and finally Glen Niebel’s potent V6, Bob stormed to victory with USAC and several other series. Bob’s most impressive win in Anderson was probably in 1989, when he came from seven laps down to take it all.

Eric Gordon – Eric has an all-time record nine “Little 500” wins in his 22 career starts. His 30-year sprint car career was prolific and successful. He finished second in the USAC National Sprint Car standings in 1989, just his third year behind the wheel. His battles with fellow inductee Robbie Stanley were epic the next two years as he finished second those seasons as well. Among his many wins were 13 in USAC competition.

Terry Gray – Terry followed his father Elmer’s success into the sprint cars. By 1980, he won his first World of Outlaws event at his hometown Riverside Speedway. By the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Terry was a consistent winner with the NCRA, USA and WoO series. In 1995, he was the first ASCS National champion, and he followed that with three more!  In those four seasons, he amassed 43 wins. In 2001, he started what has been an outstanding driving career with the USCS series. He has amassed 13 championships to date, and is the all-time leading feature winner.

Tim Green – In less than twenty years behind the wheel of a sprint car, Tim amassed well over 200 feature wins. The Californian struck at venues across both the United States and Australia. Tim was a Knoxville Raceway champion twice, was the 1979 Western World champion at Manzanita, won three Skagit Dirt Cup events, and was a two-time NARC and Golden State titlist. His 1992 trip to Australia with owner bob Trostle netted 11 wins in 17 starts.

Tony Stewart – Tony was voted in the “Drivers” category, but could effectively have been nominated in several categories. He was the first driver to win the USAC Triple Crown in a single season, and has also recorded wins with the World of Outlaws, All Stars and several other series. As an owner, he has accumulated well over 300 wins with the World of Outlaws, nine WoO titles, 11 Knoxville Nationals wins and five King’s Royal wins. He also has 37 wins as an owner with the All Stars, and 71 with the USAC National Sprint Car Series. Among Tony’s purchases have been Eldora Speedway, one of the premier dirt tracks in the world, and he is credited with the salvation of the All Star Circuit of Champions with his purchase of that series in 2015.

Owners-Mechanics-Builders-Manufacturers-Car Builders

Ralph Heintzelman Sr. – A native of Beaver Springs, Pennsylvania, Ralph was arguably the biggest manufacturer/mechanic in Pennsylvania in the 1970’s. He was hired by Luke “Dick” Bogar to wrench for Jan Opperman. The result was a stunning 44-win season in 1972. The pair won a Selinsgrove track title the following year. When Jan left for USAC, Ralph kept going with driver, Lynn Paxton. The wins kept coming as did a championship at Port Royal, a win at the Florida Winter Nationals and at Port’s Tuscarora 50. Before a devastating garage fire in 1980, Ralph was building chassis that were going out and winning across the country.

Walter T. Ross – The iconic owner of the famous No. 56 in California would also later become president of the Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC). Born in Ireland, Walt grew up in New Jersey as a racing fan. He settled in California after military service and by 1958, had built a racecar that he drove successfully. He settled on owning sprint cars in the early 1970’s, and success followed for drivers like Mike Andreetta, Hank Butcher, Lem Tolliver and Aussie, Garry Rush. His most success would come in his time with “original outlaw” Gary Patterson. Track records and wins ensued. Others who graced the wheel of the No. 56 were Rendy Boldrini, Dave Bradway Jr. and LeRoy Van Connett to name just a few.

Dennis Roth – In 1983 Dennis Roth would acquire the family owned “Beef Packers” meat processing plant and took it to great success. By 1993, he was a sprint car owner, and in 1994 a champion in the Rebel 360 Series. The next year, he was on the World of Outlaws tour. By 1998, he was a Knoxville Nationals champion with Danny Lasoski. His cars have won three Skagit Dirt Cups (Randy Hannagan, Kasey Kahne, Brandon Wimmer), and multiple King of the West championships. He won the Williams Grove National Open with David Gravel in 2014, and his many wins have come with the WoO, All Stars and assorted other series.

Promoters-Officials-Media Members-Event/Series Sponsors

John Gibson – From selling programs to becoming “The Voice of the World of Outlaws,” Johnny Gibson has worked more than 2,000 consecutive World of Outlaws races. That’s more than 25 years of events without missing a day since 1995. Behind the scenes, John has been an instrumental part of the growth of the World of Outlaws series for the last 25 years.

Jack Kromer – Jack has long been revered in the racing photography world. From taking shots in the stands in the 1970’s, he slowly developed his craft over the years. A devastating injury in the infield at Flemington Speedway in 1978, only slowed him for a time. Dick Berggren recognized his talent. Jack would score 26 covers on Open Wheel Magazine, the most by any photographer. He holds more than 30 first-place awards from the Eastern Motorsports Press Association and the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters for racing imagery, and is a two-time winner of the Ace Lane Memorial Award, EMPA’s highest honor. In addition to Stock Car and Open Wheel, Jack has published photos in Area Auto Racing News, Program Dynamics Incorporated, Sprint Car & Midget and Popular Mechanics.

Robin Miller – Robin’s journalistic talents were known across racing genres. He spent early days in garages, and raced for several years in midgets. He’s best known for his stories and as a writer for the Indianapolis Star from 1968 to 2001. He also wrote and worked for Autoweek, Car and Driver, ESPN and Speed. Robin never forgot his first love: dirt car racing. He talked as much about Foyt, Rutherford, Andretti, Hurtubise, Bettenhausen, etc. in sprint cars as anything. His latest television works were for NBC at Indy.

Pre-1945

Walter “Slim” Rutherford – Slim was one of the leading builders and fabricators in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Whiting, Indiana native had many innovations in his garage, and supplied cars and motors for many other drivers. He innovated such things as creating a cam shaft out of a train box car axle for his “Slim Rutherford Specials.” Rutherford won races across the Midwest and was the epitome of a “Big Car” racer and builder in his time.

According to National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum Foundation executive director Bob Baker, “This year’s inductee group is another testament to the hard work put in by our 72-member National Induction Committee! We are really looking forward to our 32nd induction banquet on the Marion County Fairgrounds in Knoxville, Iowa on Saturday, June 4!”

Tickets for the induction banquet will be available starting the first week in February.

Trending Video

Recommended for you