Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame founder Art “Fireball” Fehrman and Kenny Wallace at the group’s annual banquet Saturday evening at the Hoffman House Restaurant in Rockford, Ill. (Chris Goodaker Photo)

The 11th Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame Banquet Recap

ROCKFORD, Ill. —With some 175-plus guests in attendance, the annual Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame banquet was held Saturday at the Hoffman House Restaurant with five new inductees being honored.  

Former NASCAR racer, TV commentator and a contributor on social media regarding the state of racing, Kenny Wallace was the evening’s guest speaker as the Hall of Fame celebrated its 11th anniversary. 

Those inducted this year were Ricky Bilderback, Pat Echlin, Mike and Dorothy Allgaier and the late Larry Jackson.

The Inductees 

Bilderback began his racing career in the early 1980s at the Rockford Speedway in the track’s roadrunner division. He began racing late model stock cars at the Rockford quarter-mile banked paved oval in 1982 and won his first feature race that season. Bilderback won an incredible seven consecutive late model championships at the Rockford oval from 2001 through 2007. He was the 2001 NASCAR Regional Champion and the Hugh Deery Memorial Award recipient. Racing at various other Midwest paved ovals, Bilderback was the NASCAR Series Northern Division Champion four times.

Echlin was a four-time late model track champion at Blue Island’s Raceway Park. Echlin began his speed career in 1972 when he and a friend became partners in a $15.00 six-cylinder division car. Echlin competed in the six-cylinder ranks at Raceway Park through 1976 even testing his skills from time-to-time on several Midwest dirt tracks. Wheeling late model cars beginning in 1977, Echlin won his first late model championship at Raceway Park in 1984 and won again in 1991, 1992 and 1993. He ended up with 117 feature wins at the short quarter-mile paved oval. After his late model career, Echlin began competing with the Illinois Vintage Stock Car Series, winning a number of races at paved tracks.

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New hall of fame inductee Pat Echlin was a bit chilled after riding in the Lefthander Legend Parade. (Stan Kalwasinski Photo)

Mike and Dorothy Allgaier founded D&M Speed Shop in Springfield, Ill., in 1971, servicing racers from their rented apartment and providing parts at area race tracks and marketing the Gator Chassis “Nothing bites like a Gator” which were built by Rusty Wallace and Kevin Gundaker. Their operation developed into Hoosier Tire Midwest and growing their racing business even more with Performance Products and Allgaier Racing Shocks. Mike Allgaier briefly tried his hand at driving stock cars before becoming a parts supplier.  He and Dororthy were the 2008 ARCA championship car owners as their son, Justin Allgaier, won the ARCA title that season.  Today, Justin Allgaier is a top driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. 

Always seemingly among the top 10 in the points, Jackson was a three-time late model champion on the clay at Chicagoland’s Santa Fe Speedway, claiming the titles in 1967, 1975 and 1991.  He had a fast Buick Skylark in 1969 and won four feature races on Santa Fe’s half-mile oval and ended up second in the points that year.  Jackson won the Old Milwaukee 250 at Sycamore Speedway in 1974. Carrying the title “Lawrence from Lyons,” Jackson owned his own race cars but also drove for car owners John Papp, Seth Piper, Buck Roderick and Bob Novy. Jackson and Novy teamed up in 1985 and won Santa Fe’s annual National Clay Track Championship 200. Jackson passed away in 2012 at the age of 72.

The entertaining Kenny Wallace ended the evening, keeping the crowd laughing with stories about NASCAR and Midwest stock car racing, including his almost perfect imitation of Wisconsin racing legend Dick Trickle. Starting his racing career in the shop of his dad, Russ Wallace, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2015, Wallace would go on to compete in over 900 events in NASCAR’s three top-tier divisions that include Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series races. 

After his NASCAR racing was over, Wallace, the youngest brother among the three Wallace brothers including Rusty and Mike, became a commentator on TV for the Fox Network. Wallace continues to “push the throttle” campaigning his dirt modified at various tracks throughout the country in addition to be a highly acclaimed social media participant on racing.

The day began at the Historic Auto Attractions Museum in Roscoe, Ill., which is the home of the Illinois Stock Car Hall of Fame.  Family and friends of the new inductees were able to view the new members’ hall of fame displays with Wallace telling stories, signing autographs and participating in the Lefthander Legend Parade during the annual stock car festival.