This Frequently-Asked-Questions section has been added to our website on September 14, 2008 to provide thorough and detailed answers to questions most commonly posed to our Board of Directors members. We are also providing this section to dispel some myths and misconceptions about the MI Motorsports Hall of Fame that seem to persist amongst some individuals. This section may have other items of concern added to the content at future dates.
Who can attend the banquet and induction ceremonies?
To hopefully and permanently squash the biggest misconception and myth of all, the answer is, and has always been very simply, ANYONE.
Is the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame the racing Hall of Fame located off the expressway in Novi, MI?
NO! It is not now nor ever has been. A persistent misconception that we just cannot seem to totally eliminate. The motor racing Hall of Fame and museum that was in Novi, MI was The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. It is a great organization that is a national and international involved entity. They have since moved to Daytona Beach, FL. Their function is quite different from ours in that we are strictly involved with the state of Michigan. To better illustrate the difference in the scope of the two organizations, the Novi group typically elects and inducts racing personalities whom are always household names on a national or even international scale. Whereas, the MI Motorsports Hall of Fame, once again, only involved with Michigan, is also inducting racing personalities whom may be household names just within their particular geographic region of the state. Of the two organizations, we are the older.
Where is the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame located?
From 1994 through late-November 2006, the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame had a small, but very professional public exhibit located within the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in downtown Lansing, MI. After a great 12-year relationship, the R.E. Olds Museum’s circumstances changed, and available floor space had become a major and critical issue. Due to this situation, they had to ask us to vacate our display space. All of our memorabilia, signage, photos, and artifacts are currently in safe storage. We have had meetings with several venues to try and obtain a new home for the Hall of Fame where we can also have a larger exhibit area. We are still actively working towards this goal. The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum staff has continued to allow us to conduct our monthly board of directors meetings at the Lansing museum facility.
When and where was the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame started?
It was conceived and founded in the Grand Rapids area in 1980 and was legally incorporated with the State of Michigan in 1982 as a 501c3 non-profit. It remains headquartered and operated out of Comstock Park, MI, a northwest suburb of Grand Rapids.
Who started the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame?
It was conceived and started by a dedicated and all-volunteer group of racers, car owners, racing writers and historians, racing photographers, etc. They were people from varying areas of the state who just very simply realized the desire for such a Hall of Fame to exist. They were also visionary enough to realize from the beginning, that it would always be a stronger and more diverse organization to include and induct racing personalities from ALL types of legitimately recognized and sanctioned motorsports. Racing writer and historian Dick Lee of Grand Rapids is the Founder, and was the first President. He is retired from the operations of the Hall of Fame, Dick is the Executive Director, Emeritus.
Who are the current Board of Directors, and how many board members are allowed within the Hall of Fame by-laws?
Like the people who started the MMSHOF, the current board is made up of much the same. Racers, track owners/promoters, racing publication editors, car owners, series promoters, crew chiefs, track announcers, racing writers, flagmen, racing historians, engine builders/machinists, vintage racecar restorers, etc. Six of the current board members are past inductees themselves, and another is a current inductee-elect. Everyone on the board brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the meetings. As in the beginning and as it remains yet today, ALL board member positions are elected upon by the entire board, but are also on a VOLUNTEER-only basis and are totally uncompensated. The by-laws provide for 25 Board of Directors members, maximum. The current board is a dedicated and devoted group who understands that this is just very simply all about honoring inductees, and no one comes to the table with a self-serving personal agenda. They all “get the big picture” of what this Hall of Fame is supposed to represent, which is NOT “what’s in it for me? The ages vary in the current board of directors from members in their twenties, to those in their eighties. Several hail from the Jackson region, several more are from the Greater Lansing area, two are from the Grand Rapids region. Others individually are from Gaylord, Hastings, Freeport, Mt. Pleasant, Turner, and Harrison Township, MI.
Who are the eligible voters that are allowed to vote for nominated candidates?
Prior to approximately 1995, only the board of director members and some select historians were eligible to vote in the elections. Realizing at that time (1995), that an adequate number of past inductees now existed, then-newly elected President Dan Van Koevering, and longtime Treasurer Allan Brown made the motion for a board vote to allow voting rights to all past inductees. The motion was carried, and the voting system was changed. To summarize, the eligible voters are: 1. All past inductees. 2. All past and current board of directors members. The overwhelming majority of the eligible voters are the past inductees themselves. So in essence, new inductees are in the most part, chosen by the votes of their motorsports peers.
Do ALL eligible voters exercise their voting rights?
Sadly, NO. While we wish that all whom are eligible to vote would all chose to do so, we certainly cannot force the issue, as it is their clear prerogative to vote, or not. Does it alter the potential outcome of induction elections if voters abstain? Of course it does, as it would in any election. But, this is the USA. They have the right to abstain, or vote. Also on this subject, it has been our longtime policy that if an eligible voter requests a biography and ballot package to be sent to them on a routine yearly basis, and then DOES NOT return a marked ballot envelope for three consecutive years, they are subject to be dropped off the mailing lists. We will send them a postcard to have them reply to us as to their desire and intent to continue to vote, or not. If we hear nothing in return, they are dropped from the lists, as the bio/ballot packets are quite expensive to print and mail. If at a later time, those eligible persons express renewed interest to return to active voting, they are most certainly welcomed back.
Of the eligible voters who do chose to vote, do they ALL fully mark or check names in ALL of the voting categories on their ballot?
Again, sadly, NO. Does it affect the potential outcome of who gets elected in a given year? Certainly it does! But can we really do anything about that? No, other than continue to strongly encourage voters to fully complete their ballots. EVERY voter gets every biography to read that is on each year’s voting cycle, so they have all the information they need to make a decision regarding voting choice in every category. Some just choose not to, and that is that. For just one example, sometime ballots will only be marked in the oval track driver historic section, and in no other area of the ballot. We will see all different combinations of ballots not marked in certain categories. Also, and this is standard Roberts Rules of Order process, if a ballot category is over-marked, meaning more than the allowed number of names were checked in a category, then that particular section has to be disregarded on that ballot and not counted at all. Is ours a perfect, flawless system? NO. Is it more enhanced from at a time when only the board of directors voted for candidates? YES. Is our system of voting for political candidates even in the USA perfect and flawless? Yes, you might say? For just one example to the contrary, think back to the “hanging punch card chads” debacle in Florida in a presidential election of the recent past.
What are the various voting categories?
To some degree, this has been a work-in-progress over the years, but it has been fine-tuned at this point to have been stabilized for more than 10 years. The nomination categories are as follows:
1. “Other than driver”. This covers all persons who had a non-driver role in motorsports, which of course encompasses many aspects.
2. “Drag Racing” This covers any and all roles within drag racing.
3. “Other Motorsports” This covers all legitimate motorsports other than car oval track racing, and drag racing.
4. “Oval track driver—Legend era” This covers car oval track drivers who began their career 40 years or more prior to the current voting year.
5. “Oval track driver—Modern era” This covers car oval track drivers who began their career from 25 up to 39 years prior to the current voting year.
Note: As is specified in the Nominations section in this website under the Guidelines and Requirements, no one in any category can be nominated until reaching their twenty-fifth (25) year after the legitimate start of their racing career. Contrary to a myth that seems to persist, a candidate can still be actively competing or be otherwise involved while being nominated. The people who have cultivated this totally erroneous myth and have even repeated it to our board members, just very simply must have our policies mixed up with some other Hall of Fame’s rules. Period.
How many names are on each year’s ballot for voters to consider, and how many persons are typically elected in a given year?
Much like as mentioned above, this also has been a work-in-progress over the years, occasionally being fine-tuned due to the variables in the amount of new biographies we receive and also have on permanent file, as well as other factors. We have come to realize over time and long-accumulated experience that expecting our voters to read, process, and decide on any more than about 50 bios per voting cycle is just very simply out of the question. After all, there are generally no more than about four to six candidates to have to choose from in a national presidential election, when you add the candidates from the less-publicized parties. That gets us to the math where we strive to pare down our yearly Hall of Fame voting categories to no more than 10 names per each category, of which TWO are elected from each, making for 10 total inductees per year. ALL voting ties are carried, which will on occasion; create extra inductees in a given year.
After a bio is initially submitted, does it have to be resubmitted yearly until which time the voters may eventually elect the candidate for induction?
To correct yet another very common misconception, all submitted bios remain on permanent file, and are automatically resubmitted yearly for consideration.
How long can it take for a nominated candidate to be voted-in for induction?
There is just absolutely no predicting as to how the voting results will elect given candidates in a given year. Therefore, a candidate could be elected in their first year on the ballot, or it can and has taken up to ten years or more. The voters just very simply decide this.
When does the yearly voting take place, and how are the returned ballots processed and counted?
The voting packets are mailed out a few days after the May monthly board meeting. The voters are informed that they must return the marked ballots in the pre-addressed and postage-paid envelopes that are supplied by us to them. They are given a deadline date as to when we require the ballots to be returned and in our possession. They have nearly a month to mark and return their ballots. We most certainly make this process as voter-friendly as possible! On the day of the June board meeting, the PO Box in Comstock Park is checked one last time for ballots after the daily mail distribution. The total number of ballots that we have in our possession at that very moment is all that is counted. Any ballots returned late are NOT considered. Thankfully, that is never much of an issue. At the June meeting, one person sits at one end of the board meeting room table and opens the ballot envelopes with the envelopes in an address side-down position. The anonymous ballots are separated while still folded from the envelopes without comparing them. The empty envelopes are then used to only determine who voted by the return address. The ballot results are initially counted in groups of thirds, and then are recounted two more times by trading the counted groups off to different board members. This insures total accuracy and the comparability of the vote count. A press release announcing the new yearly inductee-elects is written and released ASAP after the June meeting’s conclusion.
“How come John or Jane Doe have never been nominated? (That as according to the opinion of the person posing the question.)
In most cases of presumed situations of potential candidates being “slighted”, as has been “suggested” to us by a small number of outside sources from time to time, nothing could be further from the truth, and we often have already “been there-done that” in trying to secure a bio for a potential candidate. The people out there making issue and passing judgment without knowing the full facts regarding some of these situations, would probably be totally surprised to know any or all the following:
2. In some situations, candidates whom have been considered for nomination will have a direct family member, other relative, close family friend, etc, who requests to be the one who authors and produces the bio. Sometimes, this is also requested as a surprise situation, unknown and not revealed to the prospective candidate. We certainly welcome all outside participation such as this, and we always have. However, there have been some past circumstances where we waited for a very long time for a person to complete a bio, years in one recalled instance, while they still continued to insist that it had to be done in their manner and time. So, we certainly try to be all-accommodating. However, as was the circumstance in a recent situation, we will just eventually take the bull by the horns and our board members will try to get it done and make it happen.
3. For those small number of particular people who have made issue with the situation that their favorite driver, etc, has not yet been nominated, and they have ridiculously and absurdly perceived this as a deliberate slighting on our part, heed the following: If those persons have possibly attended our banquets, talked to our board members, attended our meetings as guests, and have generally been, or certainly should have been aware of our longstanding policies, they just very simply have not been paying attention. It has been long stated in the Nominations section of this website, and has been very simply, longtime, well-publicized Common Knowledge, that ANYONE can submit a bio to us on a deserving candidate who has had a legitimately successful career. Even with all the experience within our current board, or even our board member rosters of the past, we cannot now, nor should we ever have been expected to know of every last single person who might be a legitimate candidate for consideration. That is exactly why we have ALWAYS had an open door policy for the public to help us fill in the gaps. End of story…
4. In some limited cases where either the board itself generated a name that was considered as a legitimate candidate, or agreed with an outside source’s suggestion regarding a named candidate, we sometimes have not been able to readily find the prospective candidate! People will have moved out of state, or even possibly out of the country, or they are not in common phone lists because they have only cell or satellite phones, sold their home and became full-time RV’ers, have sadly passed away without it being of general knowledge, and then we cannot always track down remaining family, or, the potential candidates have just otherwise done a great job of “falling off the grid”. Even with all the resources within the Internet, it can still be difficult to find them, “short of hiring a private detective”.
We WILL eventually find them or their relatives, but it can and has taken some time in certain situations.
5. In only the most rare of occasions, we have had biographies submitted to us by outside sources that we have initially rejected for reasons like the ones explained below:
a. Even though apparently written by well-meaning relatives, fans, etc, about a deceased potential candidate, the authors were more than a little fuzzy regarding the true and mathematically-likely facts, and most certainly had just “winged it”. Such was the case regarding a bio received some years ago, which stated that in a 20-year career, racing exclusively at only two oval tracks in his home region, the racer in consideration “had won in excess of 500 features”. Do the probable percentage math regarding a typical and realistic Michigan racing season. With rainouts, maybe even some unseasonable “snowouts”, bad windstorms, tornado warnings/sightings, track electrical/lighting failures, blown engines-transmissions-tires, car/driver-disabling crashes, and etcetera calculated in, well, you get the picture. That bio was sent back for “rethink”, but then we ultimately had to properly research it and correct it ourselves in order to finally submit it.
b. In recalling one other long past bio submittal of a candidate whom was also deceased, the author just very simply fabricated some facts regarding the suggested candidate’s racing career and subsequent accomplishments. The information in the bio did not ring as being particularly true with the available knowledge within our board members on staff at that time, and then the author finally admitted to having “greatly embellished” the facts, mainly because it came to light that he did not really know what the true facts were. That bio was rejected and returned to the author for proper research and corrections. Interestingly, it was never returned to us.
To the current year, (2013) what is the total number of inductions since the MMSHOF began inducting candidates in 1982?
Including the 2013 inductee-elects, there have been/will be a total of 344 inductions into the MI Motorsports Hall of Fame, as of the 2013 induction ceremony.
That represents an average of 10 inductions per year over the 31-year period.
Just for general information, what is the breakdown of where in the state of Michigan that the inductees hail from?
As per the biography information, using the traditionally regarded hometown that they were born in, or otherwise commonly known to be from during their career, the numerical breakdowns are as follows regarding Western MI, Central MI, Eastern MI, and the Upper Peninsula. This has occurred simply as the random results of all the past voting, has no other value or bearing, and the standard geographic separations are those as determined and used by the State of Michigan in separating the Lower Peninsula in thirds from north to south as geographically equal as possible. Of course, all of our inductees from all types of motorsports are included in these results:
Western MI – 84 inductees
Central MI – 107 inductees
Eastern MI – 149 inductees
Upper Peninsula – 2 inductees
*Indiana – 2 inductee2
*Ohio – 1 inductee
*(See allowances for certain qualified non-resident inductions in the “Requirements & Guidelines” document, located in the Nominations Section of this website. This is a LONGTIME and well-documented policy of the Hall of Fame.)
When does the annual MMSHOF Induction Banquet and Ceremony traditionally take place?
Since about 2000, it has been held on the first Sunday in November as a daytime event. It has generally always been held in early November, but in prior years, it was held on Saturday late-afternoons and on into the evening. The desire to no longer conflict with Saturday night racetrack banquets implemented the change, which has been a total success. It is NOT likely that we will ever go back to an evening event.
Where does the induction banquet take place?
Over the past years, it has been held in varying areas of the state. It was held twice in Clio, once in Flint. It has also been held in Lansing, Marshall, Jackson, Comstock Park, and Grand Rapids. Starting in 2000, we had found a yearly repeating home for the banquet in our quest to find a more centrally located, but yet suitable location in regards to the quality of the facility. We have found that in the University Comfort Inn Banquet Center in Mt. Pleasant, MI, and it is likely that our ceremony may continue to be held there for some years into the future. Note: In the earliest years of the Hall of Fame, there were no induction banquet ceremonies, as they simply had not been thought of and developed yet. Inductions took place at race tracks, inductees’ homes, etc.