Twenty Iowa motorsports legends were inducted into the Iowa Hall of Fame and Racing Museum, Inc. Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 12, 2022 in Webster City.  The inductees represent a virtual “who’s who” among Iowa legends in automotive sports.  This list includes many living Iowa legends in various areas of the motorsports industry in Iowa, regarded by many as the nation’s “racingest” state.  For years Iowa led the nation with the number of tracks holding weekly races in a per-capita basis.  Congratulations to the 2022 Hall of Fame Class!


Bill Beckman

Bill began racing at Hawkeye Downs in a 1954 Ford 239 with a two-barrel carb.  As a rookie driver, Beckman was very successful in late model racing winning the Dubuque Season Championship, Tri-State Champion at Davenport and fast qualifier in Davenport's National Dirt Track Championship.  Bill won season championships at both Tipton and Cedar Rapids and won races at Hawkeye Downs, Maquoketa, Vinton, Tri-States and Farley.  He won nine races in a row at West Liberty, Freeport, Eldon and Davenport.

John Connolly

John raced from 1958-1981.  1969 would be Connolly's best year ever!  He raced an average of five nights a week and traveled to special events all over the Midwest.  His career including winning two invitationals at Eau Claire, WI, second place in Illinois State Championship, winning two invitationals at Burlington, and a second place in the Tri-State Championship at Davenport and winning the Corn Belt 100 in Sterling.  Over the years, John drove for Joe Lehman, G & H Racing, Chuck Thompson, Keith Simmons, Bob Schulte, Gary Crawford, and others.

Dale DeFrance

Dale and his brother, Larry, would watch the races and when they decided to start racing, they realized that they didn't see any yellow cars on the track so they decided that the #44 car would be yellow!  Dale started racing stock cars in 1963, super stocks in 1964 and in 1967, Dale was racing late models and won at Knoxville Speedway in 1969.  He was the late model track champion at the Marshalltown Speedway in '76.  He won his last race in '90 at Marshalltown for the Legends 25th Anniversary Night.

Ron Jackson

Ron started racing jalopies in 1961 and in 1966 moved to open-wheeled semi-super modifieds and sprint cars until the early 1970s.  He raced IMCA Late Models for the next 25 years.  Ron raced at ten different tracks in Iowa and many tracks in Illinois and Missouri.  His 37-year racing career brought him over 500 heat and feature wins.  Jackson finished his racing career by winning his final feature race in 1997 at the age of 56 at 34 Raceway, his hometown track.

Les Wildin

Wildin made his name racing midgets across the Midwest.  After winning a race at Blue Earth, Joie Chitwood asked him to drive in his thrill show but Les declined knowing he would soon be serving in the military.  Few have rivaled his accomplishments racing stocks and modifieds in the '60's.  Les won many, many races including four consecutive track titles at Algona from 1962-1965.  Les, one of Iowa's best kept secrets, lists wins at the Clay County Fair and Kossuth County Fair championships as his favorite victories.

Gary Crawford

Gary started racing in '72 driving for Ed Sanger at the Independence Motor Speedway where he won Rookie of the Year.  In 1979, Gary won 34 features and he has 46 weekly wins at IMS.  Crawford has a total of over 300 feature wins and 13 track championships.  He held the fast time in Webster City for a very long time.  Gary has been featured in two Stockcar Racing magazines and also in Speedway Illustrated in September, 2014.  Today, Gary is known as the Ambassador at IMS!

John Logue

John became interested in racing while watching the races as a child at the Boone Speedway.  His first race in 1986 was at the very same track!  It rained hard and he sat in the car while it rained.  He started in the hobby stocks, went to stock cars then to modifieds then up to the late models.  John won races in all the classes but had the most success in the modified class.  He competed in over 500 races, won 268 features and won the Boone Super Nationals five times...1995, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2003.

Terry McCarl

In 1985, with a nine-year-old car, Terry began racing sprint cars.  His second week out at Knoxville, he won his first heat race.  McCarl finished his first season ninth in points and was named Rookie of the Year.  He made the feature every night and during the Nationals made the A-main on qualifying night and the B-main for the Saturday night show.  Terry has won seven Knoxville track championships.  Entering the 2022 season, Terry had 300+ wins at 70 tracks in 23 states with 20 different sanctions.

Joe Merryfield

Joe was one of Iowa's winningest drivers in the 1970's.  He had 11 straight wins at Stuart in '70 with a bounty on him!  Joe won the Grand Nationals at Boone in 1971 and 1972.  In '75 and driving Jim Wilson's car, Joe was Iowa's third World 100 winner and lead 56 laps.  He was a fan favorite at tracks in Des Moines, Oskaloosa, Cedar Rapids, Mason City, Harlan, Webster City, Newton, Stuart, Boone and Corning racing street stocks, sportsman, and late models.  Joe is a 2017 inductee into the National Dirt Track Hall of Fame.

Ken Walton

Ken was a street racer turned drag racer turned championship dirt stock car racer.  He started racing in 1969 with a Yenko Camaro, winning his class in both '69 and '70 at the World Series of Drag Racing in Cordova, Illinois.  Ken made a name for himself in the late 1970s and 1980's.  He began racing sportsmans and in 1973 moved up to late models.  In 1978, Ken won the World 100 at Eldora.  In '84 he won the Boone Grand Nationals and was also the NASCAR National Winston Racing Series Champion.

Bill Zwanziger

Bill is probably best known for his long 50-year racing career.  His first race was at the Tunis Speedway in Waterloo at the age of 17.  Bill had a record 60 wins at Tunis and won at least one track championship at every track he raced at full time.  For 20 years, Bill raced from Arizona to Florida and everywhere in between, including Canada.  He raced stock cars, late models, sprint cars and midgets winning around 100 features.  Bill served as the Director of Competition for IMCA from 1980-1997.

Owner | Builder | Car Sponsor

Dean Sylvester

Dean built his first race car in 1951 in one week in Hedrick, Iowa.  In 1957, he was the Knoxville Track Champion.  Two times that year Dean won every event...quick time, trophy dash, heat, Australian pursuit and the feature.  He won a total of 17 features at Knoxville.  After Dean quit driving, he still owned cars and his primary driver was Earl Wagner.  They went on to win the '61 Track Championship and were third at the very first Knoxville Nationals.  The next week they added a wing and set four new track records.

Promoter | Offical | Media

Robert Lawton

Lawty, as most know him, began his career as owner and head mechanic on many sprint and stock cars.  He went one step further and purchased National Speedway and was involved with the World of Outlaws.  Promoting stock cars, sprint cars, and late models, Lawty traveled to many states.  At one time, Lawton was promoter of five different race tracks - Iowa State Fair track, Marshalltown, Jefferson, Mason City, and the Boone Speedway where he is still the promoter.  Lawton has been promoting races for over 50 years.

Jim Wilson

Jim built his first race car and ran in the claimer class in 1967.  In 1975, as a late model owner, he went to Eldora Speedway and won the World 100 with Joe Merryfield as driver.  In '82, Jim took a job with NASCAR contacting track owners and promoters.  In 1985 he served as Regional Director and then as Mid America Regional Director.  Jim became the NASCAR Tour Director for the Busch All-Star Series.  In 2002, Jim created his own regional touring dirt late model series, the World Dirt Racing League.


Justin Brayton

Justin is an accomplished American Professional Supercross Racing and BMX rider and has always been a fan favorite.  In 2009, he was riding for Joe Gibbs Racing.  Brayton has won two Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450 Championships.  He has won the Lilly-Bercy Championship and has also won the SX1 title twice in Australia Supercross racing in 2018 and 2019.  In 2018 and racing for the MotoConcepts Team, Brayton won his first 450 Supercross Daytona Championship...the oldest rider to do so at age 34.

Figure 8

Orval Kinne

Orval started racing go-karts just out of school and he went on to race Figure 8's, stock cars and in demolition derbies with well over 100 features in the three divisions.  Orval's first Figure 8 race was in Rockwell City...he just remembers that it was the late '60's and he was nervous about the intersection.  The intersection didn't bother him for long!  His favorite Figure 8 tracks were Rockwell City and Fort Dodge.  Orval and fellow racer, Marty Pringle, built the Fort Dodge track and promoted it for five years.

Tim Nelson

Tim raced Figure 8's for most of his career and played a part in advancing the game in this sport.  He took his Harris chassis IMCA modified and turned it into an Open Class Figure 8 car.  Nothing compared at the time!  Nelson started racing at age 16 in the street stock class at the Stuart track.  Tim didn't limit his racing to Figure 8's.  He also raced IMCA modifieds at ISF and other tracks, trucks at several tracks, sportsmans, stock cars, drag racing, demolition derbies and Tough Truck racing.

Drag Racing

David Wells

David's passion for speed took him from his first alcohol dragster with a blown alcohol motor in 1990 to winning the final in 2002, racing against Rick Santos, five-time National Champion.  2004 was a good year when we won a final round against John Force's daughter, Ashley.  Wells and his crew had a lot of round wins and number one qualifiers.  They were in the Top 10 point earners in the USA for nine consecutive years.  In all, they won 15 NHRA divisional events, seven national events and four divisional championships.


Larry Sommerfelt

Larry actually invented the IMCA modified division!  Racing a heavy Lincoln against much lighter cars in the hobby stock class at Independence, he decided his "tank" had too much front-end weight.  He built a Chevy Vega body on a 112 in. Ford frame with the engine set back.  Larry took his re-designed car to the track at Vinton.  Keith Knaack and two others had just bought IMCA and the trio took over promotion of the Vinton track.  The promoters announced that they would be running the new "IMCA Modified".

Racing Family

The Killen Family - John Killen

John "Big John" Killen introduced the Killen Family to dirt track racing.  John made his car dance around the track at the old Pioneer Speedway and he set the pace for the rest of the family.  The Killen name in IMCA stock car and modified divisions is a name that many fans and drivers know well.

The Killen Family - Vern Killen

John's son, Vern "Buck" Killen, jumped into a car and raced at Vandalia Speedway and for many years at tracks all over the United States util he retired in the mid-2000's.  The Killen name in IMCA stock car and modified divisions is a name that many fans and drivers know well.

The Killen Family - Don Killen

Following suit in the racing family was Don "Heavy Duty" Killen, champion at many tracks around Iowa with the Des Moines Speedway being his home track.  His driving style and his passion for racing was a style all his own.  He took the Killen name to a whole new level when it came to dirt track racing.  He was looked up to by many drivers due to his immense knowledge and guidance.  He was very competitive at many tracks around the United States.  The Killen name in IMCA stock car and modified divisions is a name that many fans and drivers know well.

The Killen Family - Tom Killen

Shortly after the start of Don's career, came Tom "Terrific Tom" Killen whose passion and drive for racing early in his career never seemed to fade.  He earned multiple wins and track championships throughout Iowa.  He always figured out a way to bring his car from the back.  His driving style was one of his own, being able to compete in multiple classes and in any car, always earning top five finishes.  The Killen name in IMCA stock car and modified divisions is a name that many fans and drivers know well.

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