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USAC Veterans Inducted Into Sprint Car HOF

Sprint Car HOF

USAC Veterans Inducted Into Sprint Car HOF

Sprint Car HOF

By: Richie Murray FloRacing

A total of eight inductees were recently announced as the class of 2020 for the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.  A number of the individuals in this year’s class have an established connection relating to USAC.

Paul Leffler served in the capacity as both a car owner and builder, turning the wrenches as crew chief on three USAC National Sprint Car championship teams: Greg Weld (1967), Tom Bigelow (1978) and for his son Greg Leffler in 1979.

A builder of over 60 open wheel race cars, Leffler scored 29 USAC National Sprint Car victories as a car owner between 1966 and 1976, 14 of which came teamed up with Dr. Ward Dunseth and eight with Ralph Hulsman as a fellow entrant.  Drivers who wheeled Leffler owned cars to victory lane with the series include Jud Larson, Al Smith, Weld, Bob Wente, Bruce Walkup, Sammy Sessions, Larry Dickson, Tom Bigelow and Gary Bettenhausen.

Thirty-four additional USAC National Sprint car victories came for Leffler as a crew chief between 1977-80 with car owner Sherman Armstrong Tom Bigelow, Johnny Parsons, Bubby Jones, Chuck Gurney, Greg Leffler, Sheldon Kinser and Bettenhausen.  Bigelow’s 14-win season in 1977 still stands as the most victories by a driver in a single season with the series.

Jeff Swindell, who remains a successfully active wheelman in the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series, owns four career wins with the series, including the 1987 Hulman Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, the 1990 Ted Horn 100 at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds and the 1991 and 1993 Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  The Germantown, Tennessee racer picked up his, to date, only USAC National Sprint Car win in 1982 at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo.

Greg Hodnett made four career USAC National Sprint Car starts, the first three of which came during USAC’s wing era in the late 1980s, early 1990s.  His first start came in 1989, followed a by a pair in 1990 where he notched a career-best 8th at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill.  His final USAC Sprint start came sans the wing during the Mopar Thunder at Eldora Speedway in 2004 where he finished 11th.

Walt Dyer’s famed “Brickmobile” made a rare appearance without a wing during the USAC National Sprint Car visit to Williams Grove Speedway in 1996 where the No. 461 finished runner-up with driver Lance Dewease in the seat for his only career start with the series.

Don Lamberti, co-founder of Casey’s General Stores has had the Casey’s signage on numerous cars and events with USAC over the years.  Racing writer and historian L. Spencer Riggs has chronicled racing’s history from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the dirt tracks such as his book on Langhorne Speedway.

Although his racing exploits pre-date the formation of USAC, Bill Cummings was a standout on the AAA circuit, winning six times on the National Championship trail between 1930 and 1934 at Langhorne, Syracuse twice, Oakland, Detroit and culminating with a victory at the 1934 Indianapolis 500 en route to the AAA National title that very same year.

Those individuals along with wing sprint car standout Tim Shaffer will be inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 30, during the 31st annual ceremonies in Knoxville, Iowa.