This year’s inductees include Bill Barthelmes, Merle and Evy Gardemann, Walt and Judy Hickey, Al Miller, Ed Otten, John Schlemmer, Keith Siefken and Bill Stepanek.
Bill Barthelmes, from Central City, was a successful driver who competed in the Late Model division at Hawkeye Downs from 1968 to 1981. Always a top-10 competitor, he raced weekly against Wall of Fame inductees that include Ed Sanger, Curt Hansen and Bill Zwanziger.
The late Merle and Evy Gardemann of Shellsburg will be honored as the first race fans inducted into the “Wall”. They were lifetime race fans at Hawkeye Downs and could be seen weekly during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s.
Walt Hickey raced in the Novice division at Hawkeye Downs in 1963 and continued to compete in Modifieds well into the late 1970’s. Judy competed in demolition derbies in the late 60’s and was one of the first women to take part in the Women on Wheels division in the early 70’s.
Al Miller, now living in Flushing, MI. covered Hawkeye Downs Speedway and area racing for the Cedar Rapids Gazette starting in 1963. His racing column, “Al Miller on Racing” would be a weekly staple in the paper until 1975.
Ed Otten of Coralville became a race official at Hawkeye Downs in 1974 and became the full-time flagman in 1979 when Hawkeye Downs became the first official NASCAR-sanctioned track in the Midwest. In 1983 he became the chief pit steward.
John Schlemmer of Grundy Center started his career at Hawkeye Downs in the Modified class in 1956 and would graduate to the IMCA Stock Car division in 1960 racing weekly against Wall of Fame inductees such as Verlin Eaker, Darrell Dake and Red Droste until 1971.
Keith Siefken of Cedar Rapids started racing at Hawkeye Downs in the Modified division in 1991. He would later compete in the Late Model class with great success, ending his career back in the Modifieds in 2005. He would also promote the “Modified Challenge” in 1992 and 1993.
Bill Stepanek started at Hawkeye Downs as a sponsor (Northtowne Fitness and Cycling) of Gerald Seger-built race cars in 1989 and eventually got behind the wheel of a Modified in 1990, competing until 1994 with great success. Continuing to sponsor race cars after hanging up the helmet, he would sponsor Dave Naylor’s championship season in the Modified division in 1997.
The gates open at 6 pm, with hot laps at 6:35 pm and racing to follow at 7:30 pm. Wall of Fame Inductions will be made during intermission.