By Brian Liskai
The Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame will induct 20 people in a special ceremony Saturday, June 5 prior to the night’s racing activities which celebrate Fremont Speedway’s 70th anniversary. The ceremony includes the Class of 2020 which had to be postponed due to the pandemic, and the Class of 2021.
Gates will open at 1 p.m. with the ceremony to begin at 2:30 p.m. in the historic covered grandstands (rain or shine). Those being inducted are asked to be in the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame building for a group photo by 1:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for general admission and includes not only the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame ceremony but racing on Vision Quest/ NAPA of Northern Ohio Night. Senior citizen tickets are $13, students ages 11-16 $10 with kids under 10 admitted for free. Pit passes are $30.
Following the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame ceremonies, racing will begin at 7 p.m. featuring the Fort Ball Pizza Palace 410 Sprints, Fremont Federal Credit Union 305 Sprints and the Burmeister Trophy Dirt Trucks. The vintage race cars will also be on display and race. It is an All Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads/Kistler Racing Products 410 Attica Fremont Championship Series (AFCS) Presented by the Baumann Auto Group point night as well as a NAPA of Bryan 305 AFCS Presented by Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales point night.
Following are the inductees:
Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame
Class of 2020
Dave Hoover – Dave started racing in 1964 in the hobby stock division at Fremont Speedway. He drove sprint cars from 1968-70, driving for Gary Willey and Dick “Soup” Sabo. Dave drove a Buick powered race car and his first sprint win was Fremont Speedway’s mid-season championship night in 1969. Dave scored four feature wins during his career at Fremont Speedway.
Al Hager – Al drove sprint cars for 20 years from 1976-1996, traveling all over the United States. He posted two career wins at Fremont and drove his own cars most of the time but did sit behind the wheel for owners like Donny Clapper, Ray Smith (dirt champ car), the DePalma family, Bob Hampshire, Harold Kemenah and the Coats family. All got interested in racing through his friendships with hall of famers George Gillespie and Eric Phillips.
Frank Kerr – Frank, a four time champion of the All Start Circuit of Champions, posted 10 career sprint car wins at Fremont Speedway, seven of them being All Star victories, placing him fourth on the all-time All Star win list at Fremont. In fact, Frank’s last All Star win came at Fremont Speedway during Ohio Sprint Speedweek in 2000 as he would retire from driving the next day. Frank posted 2 career World of Outlaw wins during his career, one of them coming at Fremont. Kerr has been a crew chief in NASCAR for 14 years.
Bob Dorr – Bob worked on race cars from 1963-1973, with cars he worked on winning many features and championships at Fremont Speedway. Having worked at Century Die with hall of famer Al Franks, Bob developed the racing bug early on. When Neil Keckler decided to build a car for Franks to drive, Bob became a racing mechanic. Bob worked alongside hall of fame mechanic Tom Schemmer on race cars driven by Franks and hall of famers Darl Harrison and Harold McGilton. Bob’s car won the 1969 IMCA championship with Harrison at the wheel. Harrison also drove a Bob Dorr prepared car to one of his three Little 500 victories.
Floyd Heft – Floyd built cars along side hall of famer Earl Lowe. One of Floyd’s creations was driven by hall of famer Harry Kresser. Floyd started building race cars in 1954 and he even drove some of his creations, mainly on asphalt. Floyd’s favorite creation was a super modified he built in 1965.
George Gillespie – Innovator is the best word to describe George. A drag racer, hall of famer Rick Ferkel got Gillespie to attend a sprint car race and he was hooked. Gillespie helped innovate better sprint car engines. George also was one of the people responsible for bringing the “drag tire” to Ohio. George soon turned his attention to the suspension of sprint cars. He teamed up Laverne Nance and started designing sprint car chassis. George became very active in the racing shock absorber business, designing shocks and shock dynos. He established ProShocks, which is still around though he sold the business.
Chub Minier – One of the only ….if not THE only…car owners to bring three race cars to Fremont Speedway every week. Minier owned cars in the 1960s through the 1970s – those being the #R3. #R3sr. and #R3jr. with drivers George Pridemore, Mike Bogart and Jack Minier. The “R” in the numbers came from Red’s Place, a trucking business in Clyde. Minier’s cars were all equipped with Ford power under the hoods.
Chuck Miller – In high school Chuck’s interest in automotive mechanics began and it turned into a lifelong passion. From his little shop in Tiffin, Ohio Chuck built and owned sprint cars for nearly 20 years. Chuck devoted his work earnings and all his personal time to his race cars. Miller’s #22 sprint cars carried drivers such as Fred Steinhouser and for 16 years (1979-1995) Larry Helms.
Sam and Joyce Reed – The husband and wife owned sprint cars driven by their son, Byron, beginning in 1989. The #5 sprint cars still compete at Fremont Speedway with Byron behind the wheel. The Reeds have recorded 36 feature wins at Fremont and seven sprint car championships – 2003, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. The Reed family team also scored 3 Fremont Attica Sprint Title (FAST) championships in 2010, 2014 and 2015.
Jerry Gabel – Jerry helped get the word out about the racing at Fremont Speedway, writing a weekly column for the local newspaper called “Around the Oval.” He and his wife kept all the statistics for Fremont Speedway for many years. Jerry even raced a car once.
Christina Roepke – Christina and her husband Jim “Smiley” Roepke began coming to Fremont Speedway shortly after the track opened in 1951. Jim was the track’s 1956 super modified champion and is in the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame. The Roepke’s little garage in rural Gibsonburg held race cars for many years; not only their own but other drivers used their shop from time to time. Christina played host to many after-race parties and Sunday morning coffee sessions to discuss the previous night’s racing. Christina and Jim owned cars driven by many local drivers like Don Miller, Joe Keegan, Jimmy Leaser, Al Liskai, Jerry Nemire just to name a few. When Christina’s brother-in-law Jim Ford reopened Fremont Speedway in 2000, Christina went to work running and organizing the track concession stands. Christina can still be found today working the “Country Kitchen” concession in the track’s pits.
Ted Foster – Ted’s support of Fremont Speedway began when he was just 13 years old, riding in the wrecker with his dad to the track. By the time Ted turned 16, he was running the family-owned wrecker weekly at the track. Ted and his father helped build Fremont Speedway, putting the poles in for the track guardrails. Ted helped out on the track’s ambulance crew, drove the track’s pace car and even helped work the pit area for a couple of years. The Foster wrecker from Foster’s Auto Body called Fremont Speedway home for nearly 30 years.
CLASS OF 2021
Scott Miller – Miller posted nine career wins at Fremont Speedway, all coming in the 305 sprint division though he competed in 410 sprints for many years. Miller jokes he would have had many 410 sprint wins at Fremont if it “weren’t for Mark Keegan.” Miller was the track’s 305 rookie of the year and raced from the 1990s through the early 2000s. Miller won the Fremont Speedway 305 Invitational in 2003.
Al Beale Sr. – Al was a dominant figure on the local racing scene who won more than 200 races in his career, including four career wins at Fremont Speedway. Soon after graduating from high school in 1953, Beale turned his first car, a 1952 Ford coupe, into a racing car. In 1960, he won the first race at Toledo Speedway, and also won the first track championship held here. In the 1950s, he and his brother, hall of fame driver Rollie won many championships. Al also won races on tracks in Wauseon, Sandusky, Mansfield, Adrian, and Jackson, Mich. Al also served as a race official with ARCA.
Dennis Filliater – Dennis was Fremont Speedway’s 1995 street stock champion and posted five career wins at Fremont Speedway. Filliater raced from 1986 through 2001 and was also Attica Raceway Park’s 1995 street stock champion. When the street stock division transitioned to the limited late models Dennis also ran in that division for several years.
Tom Kistler – Tom’s love for racing began when he was just 12 years old, working at Fremont Speedway. His work on race cars began in the 1970s when he helped on Jim Keegan’s cars. Over the years Tom worked on cars for hall of famers Earl Lowe, Tim Sabo and for 15 years for driver Roy Sheets. Tom and his brother Paul owned late models driven by Jack Hewitt and later Tom worked on sprint cars driven by Butch Schroeder and hall of famer Mark Keegan. Tom said he worked on late models for 20 years and sprint cars for 10 years. During his career cars Tom worked on won numerous track championships and recorded many feature wins.
Joe West – Joe West owned and worked on race cars/trucks that competed at Fremont Speedway for 50 years. He worked on cars driven by hall of famers Wally Hemminger, Jim Fleming, Dale Hasselbach, and Lynn Potter. Later, when the dirt truck division was created Joe owned and worked on trucks driven by Dustin Keegan and Dana Fry. Race cars Joe worked on won many features over the years.
Dwight Reidling – Dwight began his career in sprint cars in 1965 after being introduced to the sport by his brother. He was a mechanic for a friend and later purchased his own car. After more than 10 years as an owner and chief mechanic he put his tools away to help raise his family. In 1991 with his children grown, Dwight returned owning and campaigning a car with his brother, Raymond and friends, Ronald Antoszewski, Howard Stone and Frank Cherry until 2002. Dwight helped the driving careers of Phil Gressman, Tim Shaffer and a host of other drivers. Dwight designed and built a machine for making gutters and began working out of his home, later created and owned Metal Pro Manufacturing in the early 1980s, running his successful business for nearly 30 years.
Sam Stites – Sam’s beautiful sprint cars began racing in the 1970s with hall of famer Harold McGilton behind the wheel. The iconic yellow and purple #81 visited victory lane on many occasions and won several track championships. Sam’s Stites Tank and Bridge sprint car won the 1975 Little 500 with hall of famer Daryl Harrison behind the wheel. Stites also sponsored a late model driven by hall of famer Roy Sheets.
Howard Halbeisen – Howard was an avid racing enthusiast that loved being at the track. Howard worked as a pit steward for around 27 years, starting when the Stelter’s were running the speedway in the mid 1950s. He was the runner, taking race line ups from the scoring tower back to the pits to place on the line up board. As time progressed and things modernized Howard eventually worked out of the pit tower setting up the race lineups after receiving word from the scoring tower. Howard also would help line up cars for each race and provide fuel to racers as needed. His love of Fremont Speedway was passed on to all seven of his children. His son, Terry, is very active in the Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame and North Coast Vintage Racers. The rest of the family to this day stays involved in racing by helping with 50/50 drawings or going to and supporting racing at Fremont Speedway.