Induction Class of 2019

Wayne Demonja

Wayne Demonja’s passion for racing began with motorcycles. He started by riding a minibike as a youngster, progressed to motorcycles he raced in Motocross and Desert events, and finally stepped into off-road cars and trucks to compete in national and international Desert Racing. Along the way, there was participation in Circle Track, Nascar Truck, Sprint car, and Hill climb competition, but off-road racing has remained in the center of his racing career.

Wayne’s father this took him to his first Desert Race, the famous Mint 400 in Las Vegas, in 1979. The hook was set, and a stellar career that has included multiple major event wins and six series championships followed. Wayne raced American Motorcycle Association/Sports Rider Association of Colorado 125 and 250 CC motorcycles in Motocross and Desert racing from 1971 to 1980. He graduated to a Class 5 VW Baja Bugs, racing in regional and national events from 1980 to 1986, and earning a SCORE World Championship in 1985. As he proceeded from mini trucks to full size trucks, his team was awarded multiple factory sponsorships, including Mazda of America, where he was American Team owner and driver.

In addition to his impressive record of off-road racing accomplishments, Wayne established C-FAB Chassis Fabrication in 1975, and his business has provided professional fabrication services for front-running competitors in off-track, oval track, and road racing for decades. His contributions to the sport have been immeasurable in this capacity, as he has supplied high-quality chassis and racing components for track and series champions throughout Colorado and the nation.

Looking back on a career as one Colorado’s most widely recognized and successful off-road racers, Wayne lists some of his best memories as finishing his first Baja 1000, winning the 1985 SCORE and 2006 BITD Championships, winning Vegas 400, Henderson 400, Riverside California races, as well as having wife Darlene co-drive/navigate in some of the Desert races. He will be remembered by his fellow competitors as a consistently competitive driver who was always willing to help other drivers and teams in their racing efforts.

In recognition of a remarkable racing career, Wayne Demonja was a 2019 inductee into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame!

 

Robert Prilika

Robert Prilika’s racing career has been marked by success as a driver, as well as a team owner, sponsor, and motorsports business owner. As a driver, Robert has competed in road racing, circle track, hill climbs and endurance events throughout the United States. He was a winner in major sports car racing events at Daytona and Watkins Glenn, and claimed a division championship at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in a ZR1 Corvette. He earned the 2003 championship in IMSA-Grand American Road Racing for Daytona Prototypes. Hewas also a four-time National Auto Sport Association champion in GT55 and Enduro classes, and an SCCA Champion in GT-1 competition in 2016 and 2018.
Robert has been involved behind the scenes as team owner,mentor, spotter, and strategist. He has been a coach for a long list of drivers that includes Sebastian Bourdais, Lucas Luhr, Rick Carelli, and Roberto Guerrero. He was an integral member of the Bradly Motorsports Indy Racing League team that featured Buzz Calkins as their driver, and teamed with Price Cobb to compete in the IRL and make several appearances at the Indianapolis 500. On a regional level, Robert was involved in the formation of the Porsche Club National Racing program in Colorado, which is used today by many drivers as a feeder system into professional racing series. His sponsorship of multiple regional circle track teams and drivers led to a 1995 NASCAR Sponsor of the Year award, and he claimed a 1998 NASCAR track championship as a team owner. In addition, his motorsports business ventures have been instrumental in providing racing chassis and components to teams throughout the region.

Robert Prilika’s has enjoyed success in a multi-faceted racing career that includes competing and winning in a remarkable array of classes, while contributing substantially to the careers of many fellow competitors and race teams as well. He was a member of the 2019 class of the Colorado Motorsport Hall of Fame!

 

Rick Smith

Rick Smith was born into a racing family, and spent much time in his early years traveling with his family to tracks around Western Nebraska & Eastern Wyoming. His dad and uncle were racers, as was his Grampa, who built a race track outside of Gering, Nebraska when Rick was six years old. The track, now known as Hiway 92 Raceway, is still in operation today, and Rick spent his summers making thousands of laps in his go kart on that track.

At 17, one of his racing uncles let him drive his hobby stock for a few races, and it led to a career on Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska short tracks. His new wife talked him into going to the races in 1981, like she had with her family before they met, and with in weeks they had their own Hobby Stock.They began racing mid-season and finished 6th in points.

Rick won several Championships and Sportsman of the Year awards at the Gering and Alliance Nebraska tracks before he began competing at Colorado National Speedway.After a few seasons of splitting time between tracks in two states, he ran full time at CNS after 1992, competing in the Super Stock division from 1993 – 1997 with multiple wins and quick times, along with the 1997 class Championship.Rick moved up to the ProTruck division, where he won Rookie of the Year honors before joining forces with Late Model owner Mike Warren in 2001 to run the full schedule in the Super Late Model class. With his dad as crew chief, Rick became one of the guys to beat as he become a regular visitor to the winner’s circle, earned a Sportsman of the Year award, andthe 2007 Super Late Model Championship.After fifteen years as front runner in the Super Late Model division, Rick stepped away from the car in 2016 to help his son race full time asa 4th generation racer.

Rick has said he would like to be remembered for being fair, honest, hard-working and doing the best he could with what he had, as well as helping his peers/competitors make their cars more competitive whenever he could.For his dedication to the sport and on-track accomplishments, Rick Smith was inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2019.

 

Ody Fellows

Ody Fellows has led a life dedicated to racing, and is still contributing to the sport at age 89.In a driving career that began at age 17 and spanned four decades, Ody was primarily involved in oval track competition, although he was active in motorcycle racing as well as various formula divisions in SCCA competition as well.

After getting his start at Lakeside Speedway in the early 1950’s, Odyraced his way through the 1960’s and 70’s as one of the Denver area’s most recognized drivers in sprint car, modified and midget divisions. Over the years, he drove for a multitude of owners that included some of the best in the business: John Roddy, Everitt Hogan, “Pop” Goodrich, Roger Mauro, Dean Dungan and Joe Giba (Gee-bah) in regional and national events. He is on record for finishing high in points order for many years at Englewood Speedway in both midget and modified divisions, as well as in national standings in USAC, BCRA, and IMCA competition.

Ody began his fabrication career in 1955 when he moved to California to work for Bill Devin, building fiberglass bodied sports cars with Roger Beck, Don Edmunds and Louis Unser, all of whom became well known race car builders. He was also introduced to Carrol Shelby and Phil Hill while driving for Devin in SCCA competition. As a master builder, he has since been recognized nationally for his skills in fabricating race cars for sprint car, midget, and road racing, including a complete Offenhauser-powered midget roadster for Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame member Sam Rodriquez.

Ody was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 2007, and the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Belleville, Kansas in 2014 in recognition of his driving record. In the racing community, Ody has continued to be the “go-to” guys for parts fabrication, race car repair or restoration. In celebration of a multitude of accomplishments accrued in a 70 year (and counting) racing career, Ody Fellows joined the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2019!

 

Mike Opperman

 

Mike Opperman grew up around race cars, as his dad was a competitor at Englewood Speedway in the Modified division. Young Mike was drawn to anything mechanical and wanted to figure out how things worked, including that race car in the garage. He be

came involved as a pit crew member for his dad when he was 12 years old, and took over as his crew chief in 1972. His driving career began in l974 at Englewood Speedway driving a home built Late Model. The 1976 season was a turning point for Mike, when he drove the modified for his injured dad while continuing in the late model division as well, finishing the season with main event wins in both cars. When he returned to driving late models full time, Mike was a front runner at Englewood Speedway, winning many main events and holding the track record for qualifying when the track closed in 1979. He and his crew traveled across the country to compete against the best drivers in the nation in some of the most prestigious races of the year before returning to weekly Colorado competition in the 1980’s. He claimed the Late Model Division championship at Colorado National Speedway in 1989, and consistently finished in the top five in points at the track from 1982 to 2002.

His career accomplishments include over 100 victories in trophy dash, heat race, and main events. Mike swept the 1978 Colorado Invitational Series at Englewood Speedway, won the Wisconsin State Fair Race of Champions and Las Vegas Open Championship in 1980, and won the most main events in one season in several years of regional competition. Throughout his career, Mike was a best bet to take home the trophy from the moment arrived at the track.

Looking back, Mike says he was most proud of his wins in the big end of year races that the Colorado tracks sponsored. These events featured the best local drivers, but also attracted top drivers from other states, like NASCAR Hall of Fame member Larry Phillips. The first time Mike beat Phillips in a race, the racing legend said to him: “No one passes me when my car is right. You’re an unknown superstar!” For these racing accomplishments, as well as countless contributions to the racing community made over decades of competition, Mike Opperman was welcomed into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame with the class of 2019.

 

John Bandimere, Jr.

 

John Bandimere Jr. has been around fast cars most of his life – as racer, high-performance auto parts dealer, and race track manager. He began drag racing while he was in high school, and the 1957 Chevy he acquired to race up Colorado’s famous Pikes Peak became one of the hottest drag cars in Denver. He stepped away from racing in the 1960’s when he and his brother, David, joined their father’s high performance auto parts business. After spending 16 years as general manager of Bandimere Auto Parts, John Jr. turned the business over to his brother and became the full time manager of Bandimere Speedway in 1975.

The track was the dream of John Bandimere Sr. and his wife, Frances. Bandimere Speedway began operating as a non-profit drag racing track in the late ’60’s as a place where young people could run their cars in a safe, supervised environment. John Jr. then began operating the track as a semi-commercial facility, dedicated to “providing a place where young people could race off the streets”.

The speedway became sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association in 1968, and held its first national event – the Mile-High Sports nationals, in 1977. The following year, professional categories were added to the event, and it became the renowned Mile-High Nationals. John oversaw a major renovation in 1988 that transformed the track to its current operating configuration as a world-class drag racing facility.

Over the next four decades, John Bandimere Jr., as owner and operator of Bandimere Speedway, developed the track to fulfill a variety of motorsports needs. It is still a place where the “little guy” can race, and as one of the most innovative drag strips in the country, hosts professional competition in virtually all classes of drag racing competition. Set in an ideal location in the beautiful Colorado foothills, the track provides a unique setting for spectators who attend nearly 130 events during its April through October racing season.

In 2018, Bandimere Speedway celebrated 60 years of speed, and it continues as a family-operated business that is now into its third generation of motorsports leadership. John Bandimere Jr. continues to be involved as Chair of the Board and, most recently, the facility’s CSO, which stands for Chief Spiritual Officer.

John has said: “Bandimere Speedway has been successful and has endured many challenges over the past 60 years because we truly believe that God has given us a unique platform and opportunity to not only share the Good News of Salvation to those we come in contact with, but also because we have always had our hearts with the beginner racer. We have built from the little guy to the professional.”

In recognition of a successful career in multiple aspects of drag racing, as well as his role in developing one of the most successful racing venues in the state, John Bandimere was inducted in to the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2019.

 

Dennis Durmas

Dennis Durmas states that he has been on a snowmobile his whole life. Since his parents owned a Moto-Ski dealership when he was young the statement rings true. On his 18th birthday, he bought a motorcycle to race. A few years later, a friend asked if he was interested in racing snowmobile in a cross country event in Wyoming, and the process of learning to race professionally began. Dennis set a goal of getting paid to do what he loved and made that happen in the years to come. He started snowmobile racing in any event Colorado had to offer, and then moved on to races in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana when work permitted, eventually competing in Minnesota and the surrounding states, where the best in the sport competed.

From 1993-1997 he led Ski-Doo factory supported race team, and from 1998-2010 was a Polaris Factory rider. In a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Dennis has competed in ice drags, snow drags, ice oval, snocross, cross country, hill-cross, and Hill-climb events. He compiled an outstanding competitive record with major wins and titles that include The Colorado Snocross championship in 1996 and 97, the King of Kings Jackson Hole Hillclimb Championship in 2001 and 2003, and becoming the first rider to sweep all three snocross classes at the Eagle River Grand Prix snocross championships in 2000.

He has scored over twenty class or series championships, as well as dozens of event victories and division titles against the best competitors in the field. He has competed in Snocross events in Sweden and the Winter X games, and has a favorite competition memory is of winning his first National Snocross at his favorite track, Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN, while hearing the crowd cheer as he took the lead and receiving a standing ovation after the victory.

He has said: “I enjoy motorsports of any kind. I give it my all, on and off the race track. I represent my sponsors well. As a competitor, I would like to be remembered as dedicated! I never give up, I ride it to the end. Life without racing is no life at all!” For this dedication, and in recognition of his outstanding racing career, Dennis Durmas is now a member of the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.

 

Charles Wilson

Charles Wilson’s career had humble beginnings on the tacky dirt of Lawton Speedway in Oklahoma, where a part-time job at a machine shop opened the door to a lifelong love of racing. By the 1986 season, he won a track championship as a rookie in the Street Stock division while picking up wins in 14 of the 18 main events. After moving to Penrose, Colorado 1987,the on-track success quickly resumed. He rattled off a runner-up finish and three straight track champions from 1993-96in the Modified division at Beacon Hill Speedway. Charles and his team were racing 16-17 times a season while winning with Mopar engines, something few others on Saturday night short track thought was possible.

The early years at Beacon Hill help spark a now 30-year sponsorship between Charles and Pueblo Dodge, introduced him to his eventual best friend and long-time crew chief, Gary Huffman. With Huffman’s help, Charles added a new wrinkle to his resume in 1997 when he began working on other people’s racecars and building race chassis as the owner of Circle Burner Racecars. Becoming a chassis builder presented new avenues to impact the lives of the fans and families who would frequent the business, and he became teacher, friend and ambassador for the sport to many in the Colorado auto racing community while building winning cars for many teams

All the while, the Plum Crazy Purple No. 59 cars were still making their way to Victory Lane as he drove his way to track championships in 2000 and 2008 in the Super Late Model division, and Modified championships in 2004 and 2012.His last championship to date came in 2012 at Sandia Motor Speedway, a flat half-mile track located on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The success down south brought Charles career totals up to over 100 main event wins and eight track championships, spanning across four decades and three different states.

In the years since that 2012 championship, Charles accepted the challenges of supporting the racing career of his son, CJ Wilson, and assuming a position as Race Director at I-25 Speedway from 2013-16.

The itch to climb back in the driver never went away as he re turned to the sport full time in 2018, running all eight nights of the Grand American Modified series at Colorado National Speedway and finishing third overall in the point standings.

For an outstanding career on the short tracks, we congratulate Charles Wilson was inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame with the class of 2019.

 

Butch Salter

Butch Salter’s “affair with the Automobile” began while he was in high school and he removed the top from his first car, a 1928 Ford, to make it a roadster. It became his first race car, powered by a four cylinder engine. In the quest for speed, he built a dragster from scratch for the four-banger engine and ran for a number of years at the Colorado area drag strips.

In 1962, a blown small block Chevy was added to the mix to create a car that was very competitive in the A/Dragster class in the Denver area. Butch continued his dragster racing career through 1972, and turned his attention to land speed racing on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in 1990. Over the next few years, Butch set four land speed records at Bonneville in the D/Blown Gas Roadster class.

In 2002, he achieved a career high of 225 mph driving the Dearth Brothers/Brissette Roadster. In 2006 a new roadster was started that became a two and three quarter year construction project. The “Rocky Mountain High Boy” achieved its top speed at Bonneville in 2014 at 193 mph.

From 2015 through the present, Butch has been involved in running his Rocky Mountain High-Boy roadster at the Colorado Mile at the Front Range Airport, achieving a 185 mph speed on the flying mile course. He is quoted as saying: “It’s been a good run! I never would have imagined this back in the 50’s when it all started. I had dreamed of driving an automobile at 200 mph and have achieved this goal”.

Butch is quick to acknowledge that he could not have reached this goal without the help of his friends, crew members and the support of my wife of 53 years, Carole Ann. For his career in the fast lane, as well as a life of dedication to the sport, Butch Salter was inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2019.

 

Bill Canty

Bill Canty moved to Colorado with his family in 1960. After finishing school, his early racing experience consisted of drag racing a pickup truck at Rocky Mountain and Mountain View Dragway. After a tour of Vietnam, Bill began his stock car racing career in 1971 when his mother in law made a $5.00 bet with him that he would never build a race car. Three weeks later, he took the green flag of his first race in a car he constructed. In the following years, Bill raced at practically every track in Colorado, and ventured to seven other states to compete in some of the big events of the era as well.

The highlight year of his career came in 1974, when Bill amassed enough wins to earn track championships at both Beacon Hill Speedway and Raceway Park, while also finishing in the top ten in points at Pikes Peak Speedway. After that season, Bill and his crew took to the road, racing throughout the western United States until 1985, when family health issues forced him to step away from getting behind the wheel for 13 years. In 1998, the racing fire was reignited after watching his niece and her husband compete in local drag racing events. Bill teamed with Larrimie Duncan to build the #4 late model and return to Beacon Hill competition. The team successfully completed three more years of racing, and were on the threshold of another track championship before selling the car to a competitor and retiring from racing in 2000.

 

In twenty years of stock car competition, Bill Canty was a perpetual front-runner who recorded dozens of quick times, dash and main event wins at numerous tracks. His competitors and fans could always recognize him at the track by the derby hat he would wear each week, and they knew he would have a barbeque going after the races, win, lose, or wreck. In recognition of his racing accomplishments as a first class competitor in southern Colorado and beyond, Bill Canty was inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2019.

 

Bob Harmsen 2019

Bob Harmsen will be inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame as one of this year’s Jerry Van Dyke award recipients. Born in 1943, Bob had an early passion for cars and racing, which turned into a lifelong involvement supporting motorsports through the Harmsen family-run Jolly Rancher Candy Company. During his lengthy career, Bob supported countless drivers, teams and organizations through Jolly Rancher sponsorship, with the list of drivers who realized substantial financial underwriting reading like a who’s who of racing. From Mark Martin and Elliot Forbes-Robinson competing in NASCAR events, to Mike Gregg winning multiple championships in Midget auto racing, Bob’s support through marketing and sponsorship changed the course of many racing careers. His presence in drag racing is legendary, with hall of fame caliber racers Don Garlits, Junior Kaiser, John Abbot, and prominently, Lori Johns and John Force all benefitting from John’s financial commitments and visionary approach to advertising and product visibility. Bob’s sponsorships did not end with individual competitors, as he supported the Roger Mauro Midget Racing Championship, the USAC National Midget Racing Series, and Pikes Peak Hill Climb, as well as individual regional and national racing events. Bob sponsored everything from local go-kart teams and regional tractor pull competitors to the most highly visible national race teams in the country.

Bob was well ahead of his time in recognizing the role of branding and logo placement. Whether it was choosing the side of a highly visible scoring tower for the Jolly Rancher logo in a1970’s NASCAR national TV race,or placing the Jolly Rancher brand prominently on a front running car, Bob’s skill in promoting brand awareness through racing sponsorship was legendary.

For all of the contributions made to successful driving careers he sponsored, Bob always preferred to remain behind the scenes and was quick to credit others for the good days. He rarely appeared in victory lane or other publicity photos, though he was often deserving of time in the spotlight. Bob was tireless in his support of racing in the many forms it takes. He often said “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life”, and Bob loved what he did.

Sadly, we lost Bob Harmsen in 2019. It must be noted that it was he and Jerry Van Dyke who led the effort to re-establish the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame after it was dormant for several years, and now it is most fitting that recognition given for individual contributions to Colorado Motorsports–the Jerry Van Dyke Award–is presented to Bob Harmsen.

John Pugh 2019

John Pugh has painted, lettered, and designed the visual presence of over 1000 race cars on a national level over the past 47 years. In addition to designing and executing some of the most instantly recognizable paint schemes in drag racing and oval track competition, he is also widely recognized for creating racing themed lithographic art and t-shirt designs.

2019 The Vickery Family

The Vickery family is this year’s recipient of the J.C. Agajanian Award, which is given in recognition of contributions to Colorado motorsports by a group or organization. Several family generations of the Vickery Racing Team have been involved in participating, promoting, and advancing motorcycle racing for over five decades, winning over 130 class championships in Motocross, Flat Track, Supercross, Road
Racing, and Enduro competition.