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  .: 2016 Hall of Fame Inductees :.


2016 Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame Induction.  August 13, 2016.
From left; Troy Newman (Promoter), Rick Ellis (Driver), Don Cimfl (Driver), Dave Erickson (Driver), Ramona Cook (accepting for her husband George Cook) (Promoter), and Ralph Sirek (Promoter)

Rick Ellis
  The Ellis family name and involvement with the Rice Lake Speedway have been linked together for over sixty years now, ever since father Bud raced at the Rice Lake Speedway in its opening days back in 1961. Tonight, with the induction of Rick into the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame, the Ellis family sets another standard as they become the first family in Rice Lake Speedway history to have two generations of family members elected into the Hall of Fame.

While Bud was one of the path finders that helped the speedway get started, Rick's accomplishments both on and off the race track more than quality him for Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame status. With twenty three Rice Lake Speedway feature wins to his credit, Rick is in the upper echelon of all time winners at the track.

Rick started racing in 1979 at the age of fifteen in the Street Stock class in a car that his father bought from Al Hajdasz. Eventually he moved up to the Modifieds and then finished off his career racing Super Stocks.

His honors while racing were many. With twelve wins in the Modified class driving car #20 and eleven wins in the Super Stocks driving cars numbered #20, #E20 and 20E, Rick was accomplished behind the wheel of cars in both classes.

He earned point titles in 1990 and 1992 in the Modifieds and in 1999 in the Super Stocks. He also won season championships in the Modifieds in '90 and '92 as well as as mid-season championships in '90, '91 and '92.

He also won the Firecracker special in 1992 and the Hi-Riser award in '90 and '92. His car was also voted as the Best Appearing car in 1987.

In the Super Stocks, he won feature races in 1998, '99, 2001, 2003 and his last two feature wins came in 2004.

His success in 1992 may have constituted one of the best years ever by a driver at the track as not only did he win the triple crown(points, mid-season and season championships), he also won the Firecracker special and the Hi-Riser award.

Rick got started following the races when he used to get brought to the track by Ann Jones who worked the back gate at the club run track while husband Art pitted for Dean Harrington. In later years he would see the racing game from a different view point as he would serve as an officer for the Indianhead Stock Car Racing Association.

Rick drove the number #20 because that is his birth date and he stated that his most memorable race at the Rice Lake Speedway was when he won his first Modified feature, beating Hall of Famer Dave Zimmerman.

Dave Morgan and Dave Adams, two speedway Hall of Famers, were very helpful during Rick's racing career along with two long time sponsors, Meyers Electric and Ricci Tire.
Other Ellis family members who have raced include Rick's brother Bob as well as his nephews Zach and Colton. And let's not forget that while Rick no longer races, he probably spends as much time at the track and in the shop as he ever did as he mentors the budding career of his son Austin, as he makes his mark in the open wheel racing world with his own #20.

Rick was a 1981 graduate of Rice Lake High School where he made his mark as an All Conference tackle for the Rice Lake Warriors, a team that in 1980 finished as Division II state runner ups with a 10-2 record.

Rick is now an owner of H & E Ready Mix, a business that has supported the speedway and helped sponsor a number of cars since the late 80's when Bud bought it.
Rick and his wife Bobbi Jo live in Rice Lake.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Rick Ellis.
Don "Doc" Cimfl
  Don “Doc” Cimfl is the patriarch of a racing family whose roots run as deep in dirt track racing as the Rice Lake Speedway has been around and actually even before its existence. Doc is one of the few drivers left around that can say that he raced at the old track on the South side of Rice Lake before the Rice Lake Speed Pit was even started.
Don says he started racing at the track on the South side of town when he was around fifteen years old because he “liked speed and he liked to go fast.” His first race car was a 1940 Ford with a flat head motor that he believes he paid about $50 for.

Shortly after that, Doc was one of those that helped move the race track to its current location, hauling high line poles and driving construction equipment that helped form the track.

Don has had one of the more varied racing careers at Rice Lake, racing many classes of cars including Bombers, Street Stocks, RL Stocks, Super Stocks, Modifieds and Late Models.

Don also has one of the higher feature win totals at the Rice Lake Speedway, having won twenty six feature races over the course of his career. Included in that total are five wins driving RL Stocks and Super Stocks numbered #45, #53 and #935, seventeen Street Stock wins driving #86, three Modified features driving #45 and a lone Bomber win in #345.

Along with all those feature wins were special event wins and titles including the Street Stock point championship in 1980, Street Stock season championships in both 1979 and 1980, Mid season championships in 1971 in the RL Stocks and 1980 in the Streets, the Auqafest trophy race in 1986 and the Firecracker special in 1976.

He also won the first annual Punky Manor Memorial race in 1980 when he won ten feature races and won the Triple Crown at Rice Lake which included the MidSeason and Season Championships along with the points title.

Some of Don's favorite memories in racing include driving the Camaro Street Stock for Don “Poo Bear” Folz that they had great success with. Also, one of his favorite race cars was the six cylinder red Chevy sponsored by Erickson Auto Salvage that Don won a lot of feature races with.

Also, one of Doc's favorite race cars was the Corvette Late Model that he drove. The car is also the center piece of one of the most amazing race photos ever seen. The picture in question shows a Corvette street car towing a Corvette dirt Late Model on an open trailer and is one of the most amazing photos depicting local racing history ever.

Along with many others who felt the same way, Don says his idol in dirt track racing was local legend Russ Laursen, a Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer who Doc says” told me how to drive.” Another special person who helped him in his career is another speedway Hall of Famer, Milo Hegna and a special sponsor for him was Stroh's Beer when they were in Rice Lake.

Don says he's not retired yet ,although he hasn't been behind the wheel for some time now. However, there is still plenty going on at the track to command his attention. Eldest son Jim currently drives the #245 Super Stock, grandson Andy drives #86 in the Street Stocks and nephew John Erickson drives #145 in the Super Stocks. Also, son Don Jr. and grandson Cody have both raced recently too. Don has also owned a series of race cars that family members and others have driven in recent years.

A former over the road trucker, Don has also been employed as a welder, fabricator and in the construction industry but is now retired.

He and his wife Jan live in rural Rice Lake.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Don “Doc” Cimfl.
George Cook Jr.
  It could be said that George Cook grew up with the Rice Lake Speedway or that the Rice Lake Speedway grew up with George.

There weren't too many jobs at the speedway that George didn't do over the course of his forty three years of dedication to the Rice Lake Speedway.

He began his racing career as a driver in the Jalopy class at the speedway South of Rice Lake on Highway 53 in 1951 and then at the Rice Lake Speed Pit.

His car numbers of #1711 and #28 were in honor of his son Tim's birthday on the 17th of the month and his daughter Terry Folz's birthday on the 11th and the #28 was significant as his wife Ramona's birth date.

He also raced in the 1960's in partnership with his son Tim, tried ice racing on Moon Lake and raced in the winter during the 1950's at the Rice Lake Speed Pit.

During the 1970's, George provided track security on the spectator hill and in the pits riding his black and white pinto horse, “Toby.” Who could even conceive of security these days using a horse for transportation. He also parked cars in the spectator parking lots and helped in numerous other ways at the track.

He helped his daughter Terry run the concession stand on the hill in 1978-79, son Tim in 1980-81 and his wife Ramona when she ran the concession stand in 1982 and '83.
All the while, George watered the race track weekly, provided maintenance on the water truck and grader and picked many a pail of rocks from the track.

He was a big volunteer during the track's massive renovation and improvement years in the Spring of 1978, 1988-89 and 1992.

He rarely missed a Monday night track meeting of the association in forty three years, first at Mart's Bar and in later years at the track.

During the late 80's and through the mid 90's, George could be found almost every evening and all day Saturday grading and grooming the race track and he was the first to arrive on race days and one of the last to leave at the end of the show.

George graduated from Barron High School and lived almost exclusively in Rice Lake. He was a semi driver and heavy equipment operator and was last employed by H & E Ready Mix in Rice Lake for thirteen years until his retirement in 1991. Prior to that, he was employed for twenty years at Rice Lake Roller Mills(now known as Rice Lake Farmers Union).

George always had a pleasant demeanor and was recognizable for his quirk of wearing his ball cap just a little off center. He had a fondness for horses and was a good buddy when it came time for a cup of coffee too!

George passed away on January 29, 1995 at the age of sixty five.

Accepting the award for Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer is his wife Romona.
Troy Newman
s When it comes to the select art of building high performance racing engines, no one is better at his craft than Troy Newman. He is the first Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame member voted in exclusively for his expertise in the building of racing engines. Currently, Troy has engines he has built racing in all the states that WISSOTA operates in along with some of the Canadian provinces.

At the Rice Lake Speedway in 2016 he has motors he has built racing in all five of the divisions at the track along with multiple motors running in various classes at all the area tracks.

Troy grew up in St. Maries Idaho, a small town in northern Idaho and moved to Rice Lake as a seventeen year old in 1964. He then began working for Bill Morgan, laying bricks along with Bill's three sons, Art, Warren and Dave.

In 1973, Troy entered a local brick laying contest in Eau Claire and won and then he entered the state contest and won that as well.

But more importantly, it was while he was working for Morgan that he became the best of friends with Dave Morgan and thus was set in motion the course of events that would change his life. While hanging out with Dave, his interest in racing began and he became Dave's pit man for many years in what would be one of the most successful periods in racing for a local driver and his team ever at the Rice Lake Speedway and at tracks across the upper Midwest.

During this time period Morgan won a record number of feature wins at the Rice Lake Speedway, won many big races at other tracks and earned the nickname as “The King” of the Rice Lake Speedway.

Troy has been around the local racing scene at the Rice Lake Speedway since 1965 sponsoring drivers through advertising and building engines for drivers from both near and far. Some of the names that come to mind that use or used Troy's Shop Motors include Morgan, Butch Madsen, Jason Havel, Cory Crapser, Rod Hensel and Jason Forehand among the many too numerous to mention both in and out of state.

One of Troys most pleasant memories in the sport involves his part in the comeback of Madsen following a serious head injury Madsen suffered after Butch was struck with debris on July 4, 1997. A little more than a year after the accident, Rick Kurshinsky and Newman offered their support to assist Madsen's comeback as Troy built him a motor and Kurshinsky built him a new car.

Moving from the Super Stocks to the Street Stocks, the Madsen Racing Team enjoyed some of their most successful years after this, a tribute to the quality of equipment both men assembled.

Madsen, a Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer himself, now looks after the racing operation of his own grandson, Hunter VanGilder in the Street Stock class.

Who would guess that out of the rather innocuous looking building in the industrial area of Rice Lake's South side, Newman would continue to put out motors in demand by racers all across the country?

Troy continues to build racing engines for all classes of cars but states that retirement may be getting closer. Troy enjoys hunting and fishing and can hardly wait for September to roll around so he can do more of that.

Troy's Shop engines continues to do quality work with the motto that” I do the best I can in whatever I do.”

Troy is 69 years of age and resides in Rice Lake.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Troy Newman.
Dave Erickson
  Like many who race here at the Rice Lake Speedway and many who have been enshrined in the speedway hall of fame, the threads of racing and family are intermixed and run deep. Such is the case with Dave Erickson, who got his start in the sport because of a family tie and still is involved in the sport long after his retirement from racing due to family involvement.

Dave started racing in 1970 at the age of fifteen at the Rice Lake Speedway. His biggest influence that caused him to want to race himself was his brother-in-law, Don “Doc” Cimfl. Of course, Doc just got enshrined in the Hall of Fame himself just a few minutes ago.

Racing was simpler back then as Dave's first race car was a 1953 Chevrolet with a straight six cylinder motor and a three speed transmission, on the column. Dave figured the cost of the race ready Street Stock was somewhere between one hundred and a hundred and fifty dollars. Today that might buy a tire or two.

When asked how he settled on the #145 for his race car, a number he carried throughout his career, his response was that Doc was #45 so Dave went with #145. During the course of his career, he raced in the Street Stocks, Super Stocks and Modifieds.

Dave won fifteen feature races at Rice Lake over the course of his career including five in the Street Stock and Super Stocks driving cars numbered #145 and #53 and ten feature wins in the Modifieds, again with the #145 on the car.

Among his special wins and awards were the Season Championship in the Street Stocks in 1976 along with the Firecracker special that same year, the Mid Season Championship in the Modifieds in 1985 as well as the Aquafest trophy race and another Aquafest trophy race in 1989. His Miller Beer sponsored Modified was also voted Best Appearing Car in 1984.

Dave remembers as a particularly memorable race winning an invitational at Rice Lake in 1983. The following week he took his Modified to Superior for a “run what you brung” race with a Dave Adams Late Model motor in the car and he led every lap until on the white flag, an axle broke.

Dave retired from racing in 1994 at the age of thirty nine.

Among the many people that helped Dave during the course of his racing career were Chuck and Shirley Eytcheson, Jim and Dawn Viltz, and Tommy Johnson. Also, Woody and Patty Kurtzhals, Bruce Balog and his many great sponsors over the years including Miller Beer and Jack Links.

To say that Dave has relatives racing would be a giant understatement. Among those who have or are currently racing are nephews Jim, Andy and Cody Cimfl, Chase Kreier, and cousins Ryan and Tito Viltz along with distant relatives Buddy and Dave Mayala and Kevin and Dave Adams.

A 1973 graduate of Cameron High School where he played football, Dave is employed as a machine operator at Jenn-O and resides in Rice Lake.

Dave has been married to Karen for thirty years and they have two children, John and Staci along with eight grand kids.

And the #145 is far from done on the race track at Rice Lake. Watch the upcoming Super Stock feature for the yellow #145 of Dave's son John who is advancing his own racing career and one of these night's soon will earn his first feature win.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Dave Erickson.
Ralph Sirek
  Ralph Sirek is another one of those individuals nominated for the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame who's name might not immediately trigger a response of recognition from many of today's fans. He is one of many however, whose behind the scenes contributions have been recognized by the people who put on the races and by those who race the track every Saturday night as key to making the show what it was, is and hopefully, will be for decades to come.

Ralph was a man of “the dirt” and when we say that, we mean it in only the most positive way possible. Dirt track racing is a primal sport, conducting by fearless men and women in fire breathing machines on the most basic of surfaces, dirt. But in order to have great racing and in order to keep the fans entertained, that dirt racing surface must be groomed to perfection and that is where people like Ralph step in.

For twenty years Ralph rode the grader and dragged the roller around the Rice Lake Speedway. And not just on race nights, but all the other nights when unseen by the racers and fans, he worked alone at the track on non race nights to make sure that the track was in shape and ready for the Saturday night invasion.

This required not only the skill of an Operator but that of an amateur Meteorologist to read the weather, try to accurately predict how the humidity and potential rain during the week might affect the race surface and to try and prepare the dirt with all those contingencies to consider.

And let's not forget those surprise Saturday afternoon gushers, when the skies would cut loose without warning and the race officials would call on Ralph to perform a miracle and turn a slimy sea of mud into a decent race surface so that the show could go on as planned.

Track preparation is a “black science”, learned through trial and error by those rare individuals willing to show their moxie as they fight the wind and rain, heat and sun for hours at a time as they bounce around the track in their heavy equipment. And when all goes well and the track is smooth, fast and dust free, they often don't even get a thank you from all those who benefited from their endless hours of toil.

But let the track be bumpy or dusty and they would be the first ones to feel everyone's wrath. A hide as tough as leather would always be a good prerequisite for a track prep person.

Ralph and his wife Dorothy were race fans long before Ralph started doing the track prep though. He says they have been going to the races for fifty years now and they rarely miss a night of racing to this day.

Ralph has been a Rice Lake resident all of his life, having graduated from Rice Lake High School in 1948 where he played baseball and basketball.

For thirty years he was an Operating Engineer for Hoffman Construction and after that, he worked for Todd's Redi-Mix for sixteen years until he finally retired five years ago at the age of eighty.

One of Ralph's most important contributions to the track that he points out was the fact that himself, fellow Hall of Famer Buddy Mayala and Ralph's sons Scott and Terry did much of the dirt work when the Rice Lake Speedway was expanded to its present length as a third mile track.

The involvement with the track didn't stop with Ralph however. Both sons have honed out their own place in history at the Rice Lake Speedway. Scott was the flagman for the track for a number of years as well as being a car owner while Terry has raced in both the Street Stock and Midwest Modified class at the track. And all drivers that race at the track probably know Ralph's daughter Tammy better than they know any other track personal. Tammy is the person that takes care of the draw when the drivers sign in and she's the one that has been handing out the checks for the past twenty three years.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Famer, Ralph Sirek.


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