USAC Announces 2023 Hall of Fame Class
Series News Release - USAC Media
Speedway, Indiana (July 25, 2023) - The newest class of USAC Hall of Fame inductees was revealed during last Thursday’s running of the Rich Vogler Classic USAC Silver Crown event at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway.
USAC’s 11th hall of fame class includes champion driver Bobby East; safety innovator Ted Halibrand; champion driver Tracy Hines; television producer Terry Lingner; vice president/general manager/editor/media/general manager Bill Marvel; and team owners and contributors, The Wilke Family.
The official 2023 USAC Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Friday afternoon, September 29, during Driven2SaveLives BC39 weekend for the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Championship at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. More details will be made available in the coming weeks.
MEET THE NEW USAC HALL OF FAME CLASS:
Born in Torrance, Calif., but made his home in Brownsburg, Ind., Bobby East captured 56 career USAC-sanctioned feature victories, 48 of them in national divisions.
East racked up three USAC National driving titles – in 2004 with the Midgets and twice with the Silver Crown series in 2012 and 2013.
Bobby was an immediate success with USAC, becoming, at the time, the youngest winner in National Midget history at age 16 in 2001 at Illiana Motor Speedway en route to being named Rookie of the Year.
Bobby totaled 22 USAC National Midget feature wins, the majority of which came in Steve Lewis’ famed “Nine Cars” which were built by his father. He was a winner of the Hut 100, the Belleville Nationals, the Turkey Night Grand Prix, the Night Before the 500 and the Copper World Classic.
He also tacked on 11 USAC Silver Crown wins and 15 USAC National Sprint Car triumphs, and he’s one of only nine drivers in USAC history to win on dirt and pavement tracks in all three USAC National divisions.
Bobby becomes the fourth second generation USAC Hall of Fame inductee following Tony & Gary Bettenhausen, Duane & Pancho Carter and Doug & Jimmy Caruthers.
As sportswriter Shav Glick of the L.A. Times so aptly wrote, “Thanks to Halibrand, drivers can get old.”
Ted Halibrand was a pioneer in many facets of racing, first as the designer of magnesium wheels and disc brakes. Working behind the scenes, Halibrand was tireless in revolutionizing numerous safety aspects throughout the sport.
A Paterson, New Jersey native, and later a resident of southern California, Halibrand long served as the Chairman of USAC's safety committee where he introduced many regulations in terms of car design and racetrack construction that remain in use to this day and have been adopted by racing organizations throughout the world. His ideas were ultimately illustrated in a series of Halibrand Engineering manuals.
When Pat Clancy’s six-wheeled machine arrived at Indianapolis in 1948, it was outfitted with Halibrand magnesium wheels. In 1951, Lee Wallard won the 500 with Halibrand mag wheels, and his disc brakes were aboard Bill Vukovich’s 1953 winner.
In fact, Halibrand quick-change rear-end assemblies, steering gears and suspension components were on every Indianapolis 500 winner from 1951 until 1965. With the advent of the rear-engine car, Halibrand had begun building complete chassis, named the Shrike, which were outfitted with an innovative fuel cell.
When it comes to USAC racing, Tracy Hines is one of the most recognizable names in the history of the organization and also one of the most accomplished.
The New Castle, Indiana native grew up in a racing family with father, Jim, and brother, Ted, being highly successful midget racing champions in their own right. Eventually, Tracy made a name for himself by spending the majority of a quarter-century competing full-time in USAC’s three national divisions.
In 1996, he burst onto the national scene following a fiery incident. In his first race back from injury, he scored his first career USAC National Midget victory at Indiana’s Winchester Speedway, which propelled him to the series’ Most Improved Driver Award.
Hines captured his first USAC title in 2000 with the Silver Crown series, and in 2002, added a National Sprint title. After announcing his retirement midseason in 2015, he finished the year by completing the Triple Crown as Midget champ.
Hines owns 91 USAC National wins across its three divisions, 47 of which have come in Sprint Cars, 35 in Midgets and nine with the Silver Crown series, and won at least one USAC National feature in 19 straight years between 1996-2014.
Terry Lingner was among the greatest creative forces behind USAC’s national revival during the 1980s and 1990s as the brainchild of USAC’s Thursday and Saturday Night Thunder programs on ESPN.
“Thunder” galvanized multiple generations of race fans and turned grassroots racers into household names. The names are golden, with the likes of Rich Vogler, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kenny Irwin Jr., Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and more all finding their initial fame in front of a national audience on “Thunder.”
The Indianapolis, Indiana-born Lingner was hired as ESPN’s second ever employee in the production department in 1980 following a stint as Associate Producer for ABC Sports in the late 1970s, working alongside Jim McKay.
Lingner choreographed numerous auto racing programs for ESPN during the 1980s, including Speedweek and Speedworld, for which he was honored as the recipient of numerous Emmy and Cable Ace awards. In 1989, he formed his own business – Lingner Group Productions – which continued to produce USAC’s Thunder series until the final episode in 2002.
In 1989, Lingner received the prestigious USAC President's Award from Dick King, and in 1993, was instrumental in the creation of the memorable Fast Masters Championship held at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Bill Marvel’s contributions to the sports world are incomparable. As a charter member of USAC, he was present in victory lane during the first event at Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Memorial Coliseum in 1956, presenting winner Gene Hartley a Hoosier Auto Racing Fans jacket, of which he was the president of at the time.
He served as USAC Corporate Advisor from 1978-1982 and as the Vice President/Corporate Affairs from 1983-1997 and as the Executive Director of the USAC Benevolent Foundation. In 1997, Marvel was presented the Ross Hadley Achievement Award, and in 2014, was the recipient of the Roger McCluskey Award.
Marvel was the News Media Liaison Officer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1953-1967, then served as General Manager & Director of Public Relations at Pocono Raceway, Texas World Speedway, Trenton Speedway, the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Winchester Speedway.
He was Editor & Publisher of Charger Auto Racing News, and in the media, he was a reporter for WIBC and a Color Commentator for Indianapolis 500 activities on WISH-TV in Indianapolis.
He also had his hand in the film industry as a consultant for the 1969 movie, "Winning,” and organized the first USAC indoor dirt midget race at Houston Astrodome.
THE WILKE FAMILY
The Wisconsin-based Wilke family has been integrally involved with USAC since the series’ foundation in 1956, spanning four generations in the sport that continues to this very day.
Family patriarch Bob Wilke fielded entries in USAC’s National Championship, Sprint, Midget and Road Racing divisions, taking Leader Card Racers to six USAC National entrant championships in 1959-60-62-64-67-68 and has amassed a total of 136 USAC National feature victories, which ranks fifth all-time.
Among the victories were three Indianapolis 500 triumphs with Rodger Ward in 1959 and 1962 and once again with Bobby Unser in 1968.
Bob’s son, Ralph Wilke, carried the torch as a car owner, winning 16 USAC National Midget features, plus USAC Dirt Car Championships in 1971 with George Snider and in 1979 with Bobby Olivero.
Ralph’s USAC Midgets were driven by the era’s greatest with Don Branson, Chuck Weyant, Rodger Ward, Parnelli Jones, Bobby Marshman, Bob Tattersall, Bob Wente and Johnny White all winning for the team, while Mike Mosley scored victories for the team’s Indy Car operation in the 1970s.
Ralph’s sons, Mark and Greg, became involved in car ownership during the 1980s, winning in Silver Crown competition with Rich Vogler and Stevie Reeves. As Wilke Racers, USAC National Midget championships were earned in 1984, 1987, 2005 and 2007 with drivers such as Rich Vogler, Kevin Olson, Tracy Hines and Jerry Coons Jr. at the helm.
A fourth generation Wilke, Greg’s son Chris, joined the team as a mechanic and fabricator in the 21st century, and also served as the promoter of Angell Park Speedway. Nikki Klepper (Wilke), Greg’s daughter, has worked in the front office of USAC for several years in charge of licensing, and recently, has taken on the role as head of USAC’s Benevolent Foundation – USAC RaceAid.
USAC HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES:
2012: J.C. Agajanian, Mario Andretti, Gary Bettenhausen, Tom Binford, Jimmy Bryan, Duane Carter, A.J. Foyt, Tony Hulman, Parnelli Jones, Mel Kenyon, Roger McCluskey & Rich Vogler
2013: Earl Baltes, Henry Banks, Tony Bettenhausen, Tom Bigelow, Pancho Carter, Jack Hewitt, Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, A.J. Watson, Don White & Bob Wilke
2014: Rollie Beale, George Bignotti, Don Branson, Larry Dickson, Gus Hoffman, Jud Larson, Norm Nelson, Eddie Sachs, Don Smith, Bob Stroud, Rodger Ward & Bob Wente
2015: Clint Brawner, Jimmy Caruthers, Butch Hartman, Lindsey Hopkins, Jim Hurtubise, Don Kenyon, Sheldon Kinser, Fred Lorenzen, Roger Penske, Larry Rice, Shorty Templeman & Sleepy Tripp
2016: Steve Butler, Russ Clendenen, Jimmy Davies, Willie Davis, Bob Higman, Tommy Hinnershitz, Dick King, Rick Mears, Pat O’Connor, Kevin Olson, Tony Stewart & Bob Tattersall
2017: Donald Davidson, Frankie DelRoy, Bob East, Chuck Gurney, Gene Hartley, Steve Lewis, Howard Linne, Lloyd Ruby, Ken Schrader, Robbie Stanley, Steve Stapp & Johnny Thomson
2018: Mike Devin, Tony Elliott, Paul Goldsmith, Jason Leffler, Bill Lipkey, Troy Ruttman, Bob/Gene Shannon & Jimmy Sills
2019: Bryan Clauson, Johnny Capels, Dick Jordan & Dave Steele
2022: Doug Caruthers, Jay Drake, Galen Fox, Jeff Gordon, Dan Gurney, Ray Nichels, Johnny Vance & Joe Shaheen
2023: Bobby East, Ted Halibrand, Tracy Hines, Terry Lingner, Bill Marvel & The Wilke Family