Eight new inductions for the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame include a pair of drivers, a car owner, four officials and a pair of brothers who were long-time sponsors, participants and supporters.
Alphabetically they are: Boots Archer, Tommy Hunt, Ed and Zeke Justice, Wendell Kelley, Roy Morrison, Jim Rieder, Randy Roberts and Bobby Unser. They will be officially inducted during ceremonies in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on January 15 during the week of the Chili Bowl Nationals Midget event.
Archer stepped forward in 1945 to assist the fledgling Bay Cities Racing Ass’n (BCRA) as its business manager. Through the years he was the “go-to” guy for stats and historical info and his dedication never wavered. He passed away in January of 1996, but he was a guiding force behind BCRA Midget racing for many years. Just before his death, he was instrumental in constructing the history for a book which was released covering the history of Oakland, California, racing.
Hunt, who was primarily responsible for the creation of the USAC HPD Midget Series, which has conducted races all across the country for the past 13 years, recently became the race organizer at the spectacular Calistoga (California) Speedway and now heads up HMC Promotions in northern California. Named in 1988 to the post of USAC Vice-President/Western Operations, he was formerly the president of Hunt Magnetos, the company founded by his late father. After a stint racing sprint cars and midgets, he ended up purchasing the family company in 1982. A past participant board member with CRA, Tommy became USAC’s Western States Supervisor in 1986, a post he held for two decades. His son Tony is one of only two drivers who owns at least 10 USAC driving titles, the other being A.J. Foyt.
The Justice Brothers (Ed and Zeke) were among the sport’s most ardent followers and supporters. Through their California company and the continuing dedication of Ed Justice, Jr., they have spread their support throughout the motorsports world.
Their involvement in the sport reached many levels and included significant participation in many of the famed Kurtis-Kraft racers which were so popular in the early years. In 2015, the Justice Brothers celebrated their 70th year of participation in the Indianapolis 500. As sponsors of the Petersen Motorsports Porsche, they claimed the 2003 and 2004 24 Hours of LeMans. Their collection of vintage racing vehicles stands as one of the finest in America. Justice Brothers continues to this day to service the racing fraternity through their line of car care products, fleet, farm and industrial lubricants and cleaners.
Morrison was instrumental in perfecting the art of timing and scoring and served numerous capacities as an official after a stint as a driver and car owner. Working with associations such as the SRA (Southern Racing Association), IVMA (Imperial Valley Midget Association) and the United Midget Association, he and his wife Ethel were heavily involved in the sport and in 1946 and ’47, he served as the president of the URA. He passed away in 1970, but was a driving force in organization and rules implementation.
Kelley, affectionately referred to as Mr. NEMA, served as an official for 37 years with the Northeastern Midget Association and worked tirelessly to promote and advance the organization. At the time of his untimely death in 1989, he had attended 655 of 659 NEMA events to that point.
As secretary, chief scorer and treasurer, he earned the respect of everyone with his diligent record-keeping and integrity. As a car owner, he fielded cars for two-time NEMA champion Al Pillion and others and, in 1959, was the Non-Offy owner champion. He and his brother Ray were the first recipients of the Bay State Old Timers Award for Dedication to the Preservation of New England Auto Racing. He was one of the initial inductees into the Dick Gallagher Memorial Hall of Fame. A group of life-long fans honored him with their Johnny Thomson Memorial Trophy and NEMA established the Wen Kelley Memorial Award after his untimely passing.
Rieder is one of the sport’s most accomplished car owners. With over 50 years of experience in auto racing, he has built cars and guided the careers of many of the sport’s top drivers. He captured a half-dozen championships and in 1986 alone his cars won 23 feature events. Among his 14 USAC victories were the 1985 and 1987 Night Before the 500s and the 1986 Hoosier Dome classic with Nick Fornoro Jr. and the 1972 Hut Hundred with Pancho Carter.
He also fielded the USAC Championship cars for 1976 Syracuse 100 and 1977 Hoosier Hundred winner Carter. Midget championships included USAC (1972), ARDC (1985 and 1986), ESMRA and SMRC (1985) and All-Star Outlaw (1986). In 1971, he served as the President of the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC).
Roberts was one of the most accomplished Midget racers in the history of central America. The kingpin of the Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Ass’n (RMMRA) headquartered in Colorado, he claimed championships in 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999.
He was the 1979 RMMRA Most Improved Driver and in 1985 and 1988, he was the series “Mechanic of the Year.” In 2001, he was inducted into the Belleville High Banks Hall of Fame and in 2006, he was inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.
A frequent competitor with the USAC National Midget series, his career was shortened when he was seriously injured in a highway crash in 2000. During his RMMRA career, he posted an all-time record of 80 victories.
Unser has driven most everything the sport has had to offer and his three Indianapolis 500 victories came in 1968, 1975 and 1981. The only driver in USAC history to post feature victories during five decades, Bobby won the first USAC race ever held in his native New Mexico, a 1963 Midget race at Speedway Park in Albuquerque.
Although he had an extensive career in Midgets, he never concentrated on Midget championships. A member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, Colorado Sports Car Hall of Fame and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, he won USAC’s “Fast Masters” championship in 1993, featuring the world’s greatest race drivers. In 1968 and 1974, he was USAC’s National Champion and 13 times he won championships at the prestigious Pikes Peak Hill Climb.