OWENSBORO, KY (March 11) - - As part of the recent 2016 Kentucky Motorsports Summit held in Owensboro, the board members of the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame held their selection meeting for voting of the inductees for the 2016 Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame.
After preliminary ballots were recorded and discussion of the voting results, 11 individuals met the criteria selected and have been established as the 9th group of individuals that will be enshrined on November 5th, 2016 in a ceremony at the Speedzeum in downtown Owensboro.
The class of 2016 varies from a motion picture stuntman who raced in the Indy 500 and won three Madison, Indiana Hydroplane regattas to a man with three sons who went on to NASCAR fame and furthered the connections of Owensboro to the NASCAR world, to a racer who since his death has become the country’s most memorialized racer in the history of motorsports.
The Kentucky born inductees for 2016 are: Bill Cantrell of West Point; Sacramento’s Wayne Coakley; David Lee Green of Owensboro; Cooper Hayden also of Owensboro; Brooks’ Patrick Keating; Butch Shay of Fairdale; Shelbyville’s Willmoth Conway Witten Jr. and a three member Lexington drag racing team consisting of Gary Eldridge, Jackie Lawson and Billy Adams. The 11th inductee will be announced at a later date.
The Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame’s intention is to publically acknowledge and commemorate the individuals, family or team of Kentucky born contributors to the motorsports community on a local, state or national level that set a high standard of tradition and reputation that withstands the test of time and honors Kentucky roots.
Based in the Owensboro Science and History Museum’s Speedzeum, the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame houses plagues and memories of the inductees in addition to numerous exhibits of the various forms of Kentucky Motorsports.
Wild Bill Cantrell may be the most varied inductee in the 9 year of inductions to the Hall of Fame. Noted for winning four times in the Madison, Indiana Hydroplane race, Cantrell also was a three time starter in the Indy 500, won the 1949 Gold Cup in Hydroplanes and even was a stunt driver in the movies, To Please a Lady and The Big Wheel. Cantrell has previously been recognized in Madison with a historical plague riverside and is an inductee in to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America that recently moved from Detroit to Daytona Beach.
Wayne Coakley’s induction recognizes a tradition in the motorsports community that distinguishes itself apart from stick and ball sports. Unlike other sports that retire numbers of milestone players, the motorsports highest praise typically takes the form of Memorial Races for passed legends at their home track they established their dominance at. For Coakley, that has taken the form of not just one track but a long list of tracks laying claim to the success and hosting memorial racers for the dirt driving Stock Car Racing driver. Coakley’s track championships and wins established the former coal miner as the standard that many Kentucky stock car racers are compared to today. Killed in an accident with a drunk driver as he returned home from a race, Coakley will be posthumous inducted as is Cantrell, Green and Butch Shay.
Shay joins Coakley as a dirt track racing standout being inducted as a multi-track champion and winner. Shay’s 50 years of racing dirt cars seen him win races in 8 states and collect track championships at Richmond and Florence, KY dirt tracks.
Inductee Pat Keating’s path to the Hall of Fame comes on the tails of recently being inducted in to the National Custom Car Hall of Fame in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2015. Noted for outstanding builder of championship cars and custom cars, Keating’s work dates back to the 1959 and has been highlighted with numerous magazine covers of his detailed work.
Dating back to 1959 also, Cooper Hayden helped build the first drag strip in his hometown of Owensboro and turned that involvement in to a lifetime of being involved in the go fast form of sports. Hayden’s winning drag race entries took him from Owensboro to the California coast as he established himself as a leading contributor to the sport. Building race cars, travel and aging eventually led the Owensboro born back home to raise a family, but not leaving the impacting of the sport as he continues today in his 80’s to building and tinkering with hot rods.
For twenty years Willmoth Conway Witten Jr. was a winning drag racer, establishing some 30 records and winning 23 times including a national win in National Hot Rod Association competition before becoming one of today’s leading cylinder head specialist for NHRA Super Stock motors.
Inducted for their team effort, Gary Eldridge, Jackie Lawson and Billy Adams formed a drag racing team that took them to victory lane in some of the biggest drag races of the day. They won the NHRA Nationals at Indianapolis to gain the national stage spotlight. Two national wins highlight the team’s success as well as numerous class titles and numerous tracks.
The class of ’16 will also spotlight a Pioneer designated award winner as David L. Green has been selected for the marque induction for his supportive and exemplary support of his three sons, David, Mark and Jeff Green. Making their mark in NASCARs top level of competition, the Owensboro born family the senior Green used his racing and life knowledge to propel his son’s to their own success and contributions to representing their home state to a standard fitting of the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame.
The inductees will join family, friends and fans on Saturday November 5, 2016 in downtown Owensboro at the Speedzeum for a reception and a mid-afternoon induction ceremony on the second floor of the Owensboro Science and History Museum.
The Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame accepts nominees to the Hall of Fame year round via their website at KentuckyMotorsportsHallofFame.com and the museum is open during usual hours of the Owensboro Museum of Science and History.
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The Speedzeum in Owensboro, KY is the new home for the Kentucky Motorsports Hall Of Fame. Located in the Owensboro Museum of Science & History.
The Speedzeum is a gallery dedicated to motorsports, local racing history and the amazing successes from Kentucky's racing athletes.
The Owensboro Museum of Science and History is located in downtown Owensboro, Kentucky at 122 East 2nd Street, just 300 feet from the beautiful Ohio River. Free parking is available on the surrounding streets or in the parking garage, located just a ½ block north of the museum on Daviess Street. Special arrangements will be made for bus parking.
The museum building stretches an entire city block on Daviess Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Daviess Street is 3 blocks east of Frederica Street, Owensboro's main north-south thoroughfare. The main entrance for the museum is on Second Street.