Darling: Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame and Their Search for a Home
Harrison Township, MI (Tuesday, November 16, 2021) - The University Comfort Inn Banquet Center in Mt. Pleasant, MI was the backdrop for the 2020/2021 Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame (MMSHoF ) induction ceremony on November 7th. Representatives from multiple forms of motorsports gathered to witness the two classes receive their honors. The MMSHoF was created by well known writer and historian Dick Lee in 1980 to showcase the commitment people put into their respective forms of motorsports.
Current President of the organization and former competitor at Mt. Clemens Speedway and Michigan Legends driver, Dave DeHem, commented on his tenure. “I joined the Hall of Fame Board in 2008 while I was serving on the Michigan Automobile Racing Fan Club board and I have been fortunate enough to serve as President here since June 2015. I am proud and humbled to be the President of this great organization and will always serve with the utmost respect to our inductees; past, present, and future.”
While the MMSHoF honors those who have made their mark in Michigan motorsports with the annual banquet, the group currently does not have a permanent residence. From 1994 through late November 2006, there was a public exhibit at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing.
“We had a modest exhibit with them, but as their collection grew, our space was required so we had to vacate the facility," DeHem elaborated. The group also had an exhibit at the Gilmore Museum but met with the same result. “With many organizations, like Gilmore, the displays changed and what we had was not part of the direction chosen by museum management at the time. We have had discussions with the Gilmore Museum but have not been able to formulate a plan moving forward,” stated DeHem.
A brick-and-mortar home for the Hall of Fame has not been given up on. When asked about the quest for a facility, Dave went on to state, “A permanent exhibit is still part of my agenda for the future and I am open to all conversations towards that end. To have a permanent display would be tremendous. We have access to many historic racing vehicles and artifacts and possess a number of priceless collections and bodies of work that aid us in our task.” Dehem went on to add, “Having a permanent home would allow us to showcase these things, rather than having them stored away in a few of our basements and a secure storage locker.”
Cost and location are two of the factors that are considered for the possibility of a home base for the Hall. “Any exhibit that we could come up with would need to be self-sufficient and self-supporting as well as centrally located,” stated DeHem. “Ideally it would be perfect to be included in an existing museum so that staff is already in place and we wouldn’t have to provide volunteers to open and close the facility.”
While the dream of having a dedicated facility continues, the MMSHoF will carry on its tradition of honoring Michigan motorsports contributors. “What I have observed from many of those that have been inducted is how much it means to them to be selected by their peers. No one sets out in motorsports with the goal of being inducted someday, and in nearly all cases, they are extremely humbled when selected. Not only that, but their family is humbled as well because they have been there for most of the journey and feel a part of it as well,” Dehem explained.
When it comes to preserving the history and heritage of the people that get inducted, DeHem and the Board take that task seriously. “We feel that it is of vital importance to preserve and honor the history of motorsports in Michigan as well as those that have excelled and contributed. These folks have sacrificed so much in the pursuit of success and it is important, provided that they have a career worthy of induction, to honor them."
In regards to the Board, DeHem stated “Michigan is rich in motorsports history and heritage and our Board of Directors takes their responsibility very seriously. Our Board is made up of a tremendous amount of experience and experiences in the racing world that include children and grandchildren of past inductees, past inductees, promoters, track owners, track officials, racers, historians, crew members, car owners, PR people, writers and fans. The combined knowledge of the group is incredible and not one of us knows everything, but together we know volumes.”
Horsepower Happenings salutes the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame and its 2020/2021 classes. The 2020 Class included in the “Other than Driver” category Scott Diehl and Rusty Daggett, Drag Racers John Bugenski and Arlen Fadely, “Other Motor Sports” Danny Kellermeyer and Dana Wiltse, “Oval Track Historical Era” Dick Crup and Chet Miller and Eldon Schrader, and the “Oval Track Modern Era” of Ron Allen and Brett Mann. 2021 inductees consisted of Doug Shepherd and Scott Harvey in the “Other Motor Sports” category, Angelo Giampetroni and Robert “ Poncho “ Rendon in the Drag Racing bracket, “Oval Track Modern Era” winners Chuck and Chris Silva as well as Billy Simmons, Joe Boyer Jr. and Ben Snider for the “Oval Track Historical Era” and in the “Other Than Driver” category Gary Howe and Horsepower Happenings' own “Big” Ed Inloes.
For more information on the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame, including bios and procedures for eligibility, visit www.mmshof.org.
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Story - Chuck Darling
Photos - Tom De Vette