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Eldora Speedway

Kraft, Frye, Gill lead Hall of Fame's '13 class

September 8, 2012, 4:54 pm
From staff reports

ROSSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 8) — USAC’s final Late Model champion, a two-time UMP champion and a five-time MARS DIRTcar Series champion headline the Class of 2013 for the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame announced Saturday at Eldora Speedway preceding the 42nd annual World 100.

Willy Kraft of Lakefield, Minn., John Gill of Mitchell, Ind., Bill Frye of Greenbrier, Ark. will join late Iowa standout Darrell Dake of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Eddie Carrier Sr. of Burgin, Ky., as part of the 12th Hall of Fame class.

The Hall of Fame will also enshrine long-time touring official and announcer Bret Emrick, GRT Race Cars co-founder Joe Garrison and late Georgia team owner and sponsor Jack Starrette as Contributors to the Sport. The 2013 Sportsman Award will go to Don O’Neal, the winningest driver on 2012’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Induction ceremonies will be held next August at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky., the home of the Hall of Fame. A closer look at inductees:


Eddie Carrier Sr.: The speedy eastern Kentucky driver piled up more than 250 career feature victories during a career that wrapped up early in the century as he dominated several central Kentucky tracks. Among his victories was the Skoal Bandit Special at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky. (1984), a Florida Speedweeks special at Lake City (Fla.) Speedway (1991), the Spring Sizzler at Mountain Motor Speedway in Isom, Ky. (1990) and the Coors Extra Dirt Track Championship at Southern Ohio Speedway. After his retirement from driving for car owners including Donnie House and Bob Miller, Carrier has served as crew chief for his son Eddie Carrier Jr., a standout driver in his own right.

Darrell Dake: The late Iowan whose career began in IMCA stock cars in the 1950s competed in early NASCAR events as well as Dirt Late Model events, racking up more than 20 track championship and 400 feature victories in a five-decade career. Dake competed in a handful of events in NASCAR’s highest level at Daytona International Speedway, but he made his name on Iowa dirt tracks, capturing the National Late Model Modified Championship at Hawkeye Downs Raceway in his hometown (1965) and the National Dirt Track Championships at Davenport Speedway (1975). Among out-of-state victories was the Florida Dirt Track Championship in Deland, Fla. (1971). Dake, who competed until the 1990s, died Aug 6, 2007.

Bill Frye: A Missouri native who skipped from motocross to drag racing and finally to dirt racing, he rose to fame as driver of the GRT Race Cars house car and the quick-witted Frye moved to Arkansas and became one of the state’s most successful drivers. He was among the top drivers during the glory years of the national Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series, winning 10 races including Dixie Speedway’s Hav-A-Tampa Shootout in 1994. He also captured the historic Hillbilly 100 in ’94 at Pennsboro, W.Va. Frye later scaled back to regional racing but didn’t scale back his winning, racing to five MARS titles and 35 series victories, second on the all-time list. Now semi-tired, Frye also won 1996’s Topless 100 at Batesville (Ark.) Speedway and eight UMP DIRTcar Summernationals events.

John Gill: One of UMP’s early stars and a long-time favorite at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway, the semi-retired “Modern Day Cowboy” is as recognizable for his cowboy boots as his fast cars during a career that saw his best seasons in the mid-1980s through the late ‘90s. Among Gill’s popular rides were the famed Indiana-1 car and the black No. 75 MasterSbilt house car which carried him to much of his success. His UMP weekly titles came in 1986-87, while his biggest victories came in the 1990s at Florence (Ky.) Speedway’s North-South 100 (’93 and ’95) and Brownstown’s Jackson 100 (1994-96). He also won the National Clay Track Championship 200 at Santa Fe (Ill.) Speedway in ’93 and scored a Hav-A-Tampa Super Nationals victory at West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway in ’95.

Willy Kraft: One of the upper Midwest’s most far-flung dirt racers, the retired Minnesota driver scored more than 350 career feature victories, mostly in the 1980s and ‘90s while piloting his popular No. 83 nationwide. He was a three-time winner at the Gopher 50 at the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna, Minn. (1984, ’87 and ’94), won the 1985 NDRA Super Nationals at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo., and captured the ’92 U.S. Dirt Nationals at on the mile track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. In 1988, he captured the championship in the final season for the USAC Late Model circuit, winning the first three races and a series-leading six overall, half in Iowa and half in Missouri. Kraft's racing success stretched from South Dakota to South Carolina and Pennsylvania to Arizona.

Contributors to the sport

Bret Emrick: A long-time official and announcer whose booming voice has crackled through speakers and at hundreds of drivers’ meetings, the Ohioan has served in several significant roles in a long career in Dirt Late Model racing. Emrick, whose work in racing began as a track steward and announcer at Lakeville (Ohio) Speedway in 1980, served a long stint as race director for the Short Track Auto Racing Stars (STARS) circuit, and has spent the last eight seasons in the same role with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Joe Garrison: Starting in a two-car garage next to Garrison’s home, GRT Race Cars grew into one of Dirt Late Model racing’s most successful brands over the past 25 years. Garrison’s cars, with standout drivers including Frye, Freddy Smith, Dale McDowell and Wendell Wallace, have won most of the sport’s biggest events and been manufacturer of the year on several tours, including the Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series and Southern All Stars. Garrison also co-authored a book titled Dirt Late Model Chassis Technology.

Jack Starrette: The Augusta, Ga., resident was one of the sport's most prolific sponsors and his Starrette Trucking decals typically adorned one or more cars in high-profile races in the Southeast for 20 years, including the cars of series champions Jeff Smith, Ricky Weeks, Casey Roberts and Ronnie Johnson. A self-made man who enjoyed supporting dirt racing, drivers raved of his generosity that helped teams find big-time success or simply make it to the next race. Among other drivers who enjoyed Starrette Trucking sponsorship are Hall of Famer Mike Duvall, Doug Sanders, Anthony Sanders, John Henderson, Ricky Elliott, Scott Autry, Ed Basey, Steve Phillips, Jeremy Clements, Buckshot Miles and Benji Cole. Starrette died in 2010 after being injured in a fall.

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