Congratulations to Midwest Racing Archives' Lee Ackerman, who'll be inducted into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame today. - Joe Orth Photo
by Kyle Ealy
Papillion, Neb. - Lee Ackerman’s passion for racing started at a young age, first going to the races at the Hamilton County Fair in Aurora and later on, making the one-day journey with his father to watch the IMCA big cars at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln.
It was at the annual races at the Nebraska State Fair that his love for auto racing really took hold. The capacity crowds at the State Fair Races, the whine of the Offenhauser engines and the Hector Honore Offenhauser driven by Bobby Grim and later by Pete Folse left a permanent image.
Later, after moving to Kearney, they started holding auto races at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds and that whet his appetite to attend races in other Central Nebraska tracks such as Holdrege, Lexington, Hastings, Oxford, and Skylark Raceway in Columbus.
In 1964 Lee became a partner in a race car with Kearney’s Don Steinmark. That year they experienced a fair amount of bad luck and because he was working a lot, Lee gave up his part-ownership the next year and wouldn’t you know it, Don Steinmark won track championships at Kearney the next two years.
After a four plus year tour of duty the United States Marines and four years attending the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Lee and his wife Sandy moved to Omaha in 1974. Gradually the auto racing bug got to Lee again and before long he was attending races at Sunset Speedway in Omaha and other area tracks.
In the early 2000’s, he started writing columns and stories for various publications, including Speedway Illustrated and Late Model Illustrated. In 2005 he started writing for Dirt Late Model magazine which eventually included his monthly stories of racing history called “Blast from the Past.” In 2006 he started writing an auto racing column for the Omaha World Herald, a job that lasted for 12 years. In 2007, he became a columnist for Hawkeye Racing News and contributed stories to magazines such as Flatout, Dirt Modified, and then later Dirt Monthly when all three of the publications were rolled into one. In 2009, he started writing articles for the online website, Midwest Racing Archives, which he still does to this day.
During these same years he wrote historical stories for programs for Knoxville Raceway, Lucas Oil Speedway, and various other racetracks as well as bios for the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. For several years, working alongside national racing historian Robert Markos, they held panels and presentations at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame during the Knoxville Late Model Nationals.
In 2011, Lee started working in public relations for the Kosiski family at I-80 Speedway, writing press releases, stories for the program and helping out with the weekly races and special events. This led to Lee becoming involved in the Malvern Bank (SLMR) Series and later the Hoker Trucking Series and the Nebraska 360 Sprint Car Series.
Nowadays, Lee continues preserving the history of Nebraska auto racing, writing articles that highlight the drivers, mechanics, promoters, racing series, and tracks that have left not only an impact on the Cornhusker state but the nation.