The Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held Saturday afternoon, June 22, with the Hall welcoming four new members.
Inductees included Perry Bell, Doug Brown, Jake Peters and Gary “Wally” Price. Each was presented with a commemorative plaque in front of a crowd gathered at Dyer-Hudson Hall, following a luncheon.
Bell is the sports editor of the Knoxville Journal-Express and Pella Chronicle. He has been covering the track for 38 years. As a hometown Knoxville boy and Central College graduate, he started in the pits in 1980 or 81. Though he was unsure of the year, Bell shared a humorous story of an early meeting with Alan Ver Steeg, who told Bell that his future interview subject, Leonard McCarl, liked to have fun.
Bell shared that Ver Steeg was right, as McCarl offered the young reporter a beer. Never a drinker, but one who wanted to make a good impression on McCarl, Bell accepted the can.
“That was the only three sips of beer I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Bell said.
Bell thanked several people, including co-workers past and present, the numerous photographers, drivers, owners, etc., who have all helped him craft the Hall of Fame career he has built. He shared that one way he knew he had made it was when he was contacted by drivers Daryn Pittman, Danny Lasoski and Kraig Kinser all in the same day.
Finally, he dedicated his honor to his late sister, Kathy Bell, who passed away in March. Perry and Kathy were a fixture together at the Knoxville Raceway for many years. Bell also dedicated the award to his wife, Lisa, and his grandchildren.
Brown got involved with Jocko’s Auto Parts in Des Moines and Newton in the early 1980s. He sold parts to local drivers and his business evolved into Jocko’s Sprint Parts. From there, he became a car owner and the parts he sells are still found in the pits today.
He shared the story of how he got involved with Knoxville Raceway. To this day, he remains amazed at what the generations of Knoxville fans and residents have done with the track.
“I really thank everybody from Knoxville,” Brown said. “This is a great honor and I’m humbled by it.”
Peters is a three-time 360 Champion and has won ten 360 features. He also won multiple track championships at Huset’s Speedway, and has accumulated over 100 sprint car wins over 20 years in seven states.
“I want to thank the Hall of Fame Board for thinking enough of us to put us on here,” Peters said. He credited some of his success to the knowledge he gained from fellow drivers. The camaraderie he shared seemed to provide a good backdrop to his racing career.
Price began attending races as a fan in the early 1970s, until he was asked to drive a pace vehicle one night in 1978. On that fateful evening, Price drove his personal 1972 Chevelle at the request of Gary Johnson.
For the next 42 years, Price has been behind the wheel of a pace vehicle on Knoxville Raceway race nights.
His duties also include assigning pits to the drivers. He told the crowd that drivers like to be parked in the same place, and when they are with the knowledge they will have the same spot the following week, they tend to be better housekeepers.
Price thanked the many fans to whom he has given a ride in the pace vehicle, the fair board and the many friends he has made at the track over the years.
The families of the inductees were on hand for the luncheon. Inductees were expected to be recognized at the races Saturday evening as well.
This was the 41st year for the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame inductions. Including today’s inductees, there are now 202 members of the Hall.