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Hall of Fame

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Denny Freeman

2022 Inductee

Denny Freeman was a valuable member of Neohio. The following is a list of his acheivements.

  • Fire Rescue Cleveland Grand Prix
  • Chief of Fire Rescue at Nelson Ledges
  • Winner of the Martin Tanner Award in 2010 for unusual courage while exposed to danger
  • Divisional Administrator of Fire Rescue for Great Lakes
  • Neohio Trustee
  • Worked the Cleveland Auto Show
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Pat Prill

2022 Inductee

Pat Prill was a valuable member of Neohio. The following is a list of her many acheivements.

  • Neohio Trustee numerous times
  • Assistant RE/RE 1998
  • Leadership Role in Cleveland Grand Prix for 10 years
  • Chaired many races at Nelson
  • Registrar for Neohio races
  • Chaired Neohio Awards events
  • Co-Chaired Neohio 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2002
  • Matriarch of racing family
    • Supported husband Paul’s racing
    • Supports son Eric’s racing
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Mike Puskar

2022 Inductee

Mike Puskar was a driver at many Longest Day of Nelson Ledges races. Mike supports many races across the country with his company, Carbotech Performance Brakes. Mike has also been a consistant, valuable sponsor of many Neohio events throughout the years.

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Greg Lester

2020 Inductee

Greg joined Central New York Region in July of 1984, while still in engineering school. He quickly got hooked on rallying, under the mentorship of Frank Beyer (aka Dr. Devio).  He also started working corners at Watkins Glen.  After moving home to Ohio he transferred his SCCA membership to Neohio Region.

Greg rallied locally with Neohio, MG Car Club Lake Erie Centre, and Tuscarawas Valley Touring Club (TVTC). He continued to work corners at Nelson Ledges and Mid-Ohio for a few years.

He teamed with automotive journalist Chris Jensen to run the 1990 Alcan Winter Rally (Seattle, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska to Fort McPherson, NWT Canada and back – a total of approximately 6,300 miles) in a pre-production Eagle Talon Tsi AWD. They endured temperatures as low as -54˚ C on their way to a 5th place finish.

Greg returned to place first overall in the 1992 Alcan Winter Rally (Seattle, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska to Inuvik, NWT Canada and back), this time partnered with Ken Knight in a factory-backed Subaru Legacy Turbo Wagon.

Lester teamed with Dan Coughnour to win another Canadian winter marathon, the 1998 Rally of the Lost Patrol (Quesnel, BC to Inuvik NWT and back), again in a factory Subaru.  They went on to win Detroit Region’s infamous Press On Regardless Rally (POR) the same year.

Greg has been Neohio Rally Chairman for many years.  He has organized numerous SCCA Regional, Divisional and National rallies – most notably, the Johnny Appleseed Rally, and the Ohio Winter Rally (OWR).  He has shared OWR rallymaster duties with Ken Swarm for the last 25 years. He also did a stint as SCCA Central Division Rally steward.

Greg has won numerous SCCA Central/Great Lakes Division Rally Series Championships, as well as 3 SCCA National Rally Championships.

His name appears on the list of past Ohio Winter Rally winners more times than any other. His is also one of only two names that appear in both the driver and navigator columns.

He has crewed for several local SCCA Club racers, a couple of semi-pro endurance racing teams (IMSA FireHawk, SCCA Escort), and a local Lemons team comprised of Neohio members and friends.

Greg has volunteered at numerous American Rally Association (ARA, formerly Rally America and SCCA PRO Rally) stage rallies.  Most recently he and Ken Swarm have performed Car 00 (course-opening) duties at Sno-Drift in northern Michigan, and at Southern Ohio Forest Rally.

A quote on the late Steve McKelvie’s blog sums it up very nicely: “He (Greg) has done just about everything in rallying and is always competitive in any rally he is in.”

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Sam Oram

2019 Inductee

Sam Oram, a longstanding member of the Neohio Region, is perhaps best remembered in the flagging community. He began working at Nelson Ledges where his daughter Tara “Toe” Oram recalls staying with her mom in the camping area while dad was on the corner. Eventually Sam became Chief of Flagging for the region. He was also part of Lake Erie Communications providing services at Nelson Ledges and Mid-Ohio. After LEC leader Bill Benham passed away, Sam became its director in the late 1970’s and led the organization for nearly 20 years. Sam was partly responsible for keeping LEC intact when Les Griebling, owner of Mid-Ohio at the time, considered starting his own flagging group. Sam’s dedication to LEC was responsible for the long lasting run it has enjoyed following the passing of the original founders. Sam was also Neohio Trustee, a member of the Comp Board and ultimately RE in 1990 and 1991.

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Catherine (Kat) Kizer

2019 Inductee

As a Neohio  Region member since 1976, Kat Kizer is the only woman in the history of SCCA awarded the highest honor given to Club Racing drivers, the President’s Cup. Kat is proud to share this honor with the likes of Dave Weitzenhof, Al Beasley Sr., Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal, Paul Newman and a host of other big names. In 1979, her second year in national competition, Kat drove the #2 Red Roof Inns MG Midget to four HP wins in six starts to qualify for the Runoffs as the Central Division H Production Champion. Recognition along the way included being the first woman to win a race and set a class lap record at Mid-Ohio. The HP field included four drivers that cumulatively held six National Championships. Kat took the lead on lap 4 after starting eighth. She beat two-time champ Randy Canfield to the checker by 0.162 seconds to become the first woman to win a Runoffs Championship, an accomplishment subsequently equaled by only one other woman.  In 1980 she finished on the podium in third place. She shared a victory with the winning Fred Baker team at the 1981 Longest Day. She went on to be a factory driver for the Renault team where she contributed to them winning the championship in the IMSA RS Series. She also drove for Volkswagen in the IMSA RS Series.

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Gary Martz

2018 Inductee

Gary is a member of the Hall of Fame based on his contributions to Neohio Region and the workers, his racing accomplishments, and his representation of “the racing spirit”. He was an inspirational role model for our racing community. In the 1970’s Gary became a regular fixture working Lake Erie Communications at Nelson Ledges and Mid-Ohio, volunteering many weekends. Around 1990 he borrowed an ITA RX7 for Driver’s School. Gary then built a similar car. He moved up to EP and began a long string of Runoffs appearances. He did nearly all the mechanical work on his cars and his knowledge of what made them tick was profound. He was a great driver, but more than that he was always willing to lend a hand when another competitor needed help-often stretched out under some else’s car. His help for other competitors include being with Sam Halkias when he took his national championship at Road America. The term that would describe Gary would be “sportsman”. Gary was on the Neohio Board and maintained the Region’s website, winning an award for the website from the National Office. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and faced his illness just as he faced his racing; with courage, dedication, and striving to be a better person. Gary was a racer, volunteer, mentor and friend to many.

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Debbie LaFond

2018 Inductee

Debbie has made substantial contributions to Neohio, her racing accomplishments and the assistance she has offered other drivers as well. She has been very active in her 30 years as a Neohio member, serving a Regional Executive for 4 years, Assistant RE for 8 years, Comp Board Chair for over 15 years, Board of Trustees for 10 years, Competition Clinic Committee for 5 years, and Banquet Awards Chair for 20 years. She also organized Tech and Driver Physical Day for over 15 years and was a Steward at various events. She holds SCCA licenses as Steward, Tech, Registrar and F&C. Debbie has been a driver since 1986 driving cars prepared by her husband Maurice. She qualified for the Runoffs in 2007, and raced through 2014. She won twelve Neohio championships, and six Kryderacing championships. Debbie and Maurice have mentored many drivers and have offered assistance on and off the track to many more.

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Craig Chima

2018 Inductee

Craig began his SCCA racing career in1984. After karting and dirt bike racing as a youngster he bought a 1600 Datsun roadster from a friend and attended an SCCA driving school, during which he took three seconds off the previous owner’s best time. After racing the car for 2 seasons in Regional races, he decided to buy a well-prepared National level HP Sprite and raced it in his first Runoffs in 1988 and 1989. He then moved up to a 1275 F Production Midget and put it on the pole at the Runoffs. He entered the Runoffs In 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996, winning his first championship in 1994. Next came 2 seasons in Pro S2000 followed by the development of an ELVA Courier which he put on the Runoffs pole in 2002 and 2003, winning his second championship in 2002. Craig’s seventh Runoffs pole and his last SCCA race was in 2006 in an HP Midget. Craig’s racing credentials alone would be enough to justify his induction. But he was also named SCCA Mechanic of the year in 1996 and has become a nationally recognized constructor and restorer of British race cars, concentrating on Lotus Sevens, Elans and Europas; as well as Midgets, Ginettas, and even a Mallock.

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Ed Hughes

2017 Inductee

Ed began his interest in car competition in 1951 when he was in the US Marine Corps. He competed at a Heavy Equipment Salvage Lot in Barstow CA in a 1934 Ford 5 Window with #87 on the side. Through the Jalopy Association, he continued to compete at other locations. He had 2 crashes, the second resulting injuries which set him up for later multiple joint replacements. By 1953-54 he was a member of the Akron City Sports Car Club and the Rubber City SC Club. He also competed on the “inner track” at Nelson in a TR3 which wasn’t an SCCA event, but an open competition event.

In 1962, he attended a race at Mid-Ohio working corners under Bob Federman and Bill Benham. He continued to work races with Lake Erie Communications and then moved into assistant operating with a guy he termed the Silver Fox, Al Weaver. He joined SCCA in 1966 and has been a member ever since, making this past year his 50th Anniversary with Neohio. Ed has served on the Comp Board 12 years and to date has worked 405 races as a steward, gaining his Senior Steward license in 1993. He has worked Nelson, Mid-Ohio, Cumberland, IRP, Elkhart Lake, West Palm Beach and Mosport. He also volunteered with the Soap Box Derby from 1985-89. Ed prides himself as being a “drivers” Steward wanting to make sure a lot of people went home happy. He proudly keeps track of his stewarding indicating that he has been a Chief Steward at 69 events; Assistant Chief Steward 53 times; SOM 198 times of which 20 he acted as Chair and as Safety Steward at 66 events.

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Duane Harrington

2017 Inductee

Duane has made substantial contributions not only to Neohio Region, but to SCCA club racing over his 35 plus years as a member of SCCA. Duane started out in SCCA as a turn marshal with Lake Erie Communications in 1978 eventually becoming Chief of Flagging. Duane served as Regional Executive for Neohio in 1983, 1988–1989, 1992, 2001, 2009-2012. When not serving as RE, he has been Treasurer and Recording Secretary and many terms on the Board of Trustees. He remained on the Board of Trustees through 2015. He served the region in many other capacities and was always available to help organize the region’s major events including Competition Clinics and Banquets. He helped promote SCCA and the region at many Greater Cleveland Auto Shows. He helped guide the region through some tough financial challenges. His knowledge of electronics was very helpful. He has also supported SCCA as a Steward, including working in this capacity at several SCCA Runoffs. Duane has worked as Pit Steward for the Formula Atlantic Series, Pro2000 Series and Playboy Endurance Series.

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Charles Stoddard

2016 Inductee

Chuck was a racer, race car owner, Porsche collector, as well as the founder and owner Stoddard Imported Cars in Willoughby, an Alfa and Porsche dealership. He started racing around 1955 and raced extensively until 1965 when he retired from active racing. However, he continued racing in vintage races until 2000. His early racing was at Put in Bay and Akron Airport sports car races, and later competed in SCCA national races atMidwest and east coast tracks. He primarily raced Alfa Romeos and Porsches. Chuck Stoddard won an SCCA Central Division championship in 1964 and national championships in 1959, 1961 and 1965. Chuck also raced professionally in USRRC sports car endurance events such as the Road America 500, Sebring 12 Hour and the United States Road Racing Championship.

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Art Brow

2016 Inductee

Art joined NEOHIO in 1958 to race his Turner at the Akron Airport Races. He started racing cars on dirt tracks in 1946. Art started racing FV in the late 1960’s, primarily in a Caldwell D13. He did all his own engine work, and built engines for other competitors. Art was the NEOHIO Regional Champion in 1971, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1981, and 1983. He was awarded the Thomas Prescott Award in 1973 and 1980, and the Betty and Roxy Kincaid award in 1991. He served on the Competition Board and was licensing chairman. He was a driving instructor at many driver’s schools, and chief instructor for one school. He also competed in the 24 hour showroom stock races in 1985,1986,1987,1989, at Nelson Ledges and Mid-Ohio. Art stopped racing in 1992, but continued to build race engines and work on cars.

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Michael Cyphert

2015 Inductee

Mike currently races his #76 Toyota in GT3 and has been a member of NEOHIO Region since 1978. He won two national championships in GT 3 in 2000 and 2002, and has been on the runoffs podium 6 times. Mike has a career win record of 182. He was the Great Lakes/ Central Division GT3 champion 22 times and a NEOHIO Region champion 34 times. In 2002, Mike won the Triple Crown Championship, the only one to do so in GT3. He has set track race records at every track he raced at from 1985 – present. Mike is a three time national points champion in GT3 in 2010, 2011 & 2012; and the Northern Conference Majors GT3 champion in 2013 and 2014.

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Richard W. Gent

2015 Inductee

Dick Gent’s thirst for speed began shortly after World War II ended. He bought an Elto powered midget and had fun racing it on oval tracks at Sportsman’s Park in Bedford, Ohio and at the Cleveland Stadium until 1950. From midget racing on an oval track, he graduated to road racing with an 1100cc Bandini Siluro and found himself quite successful at Watkins Glen, taking 2nd place in 1951. It was that same year, 1951, that he and a few friends spearheaded the formation of the Cleveland Sports Car Club, which later proved to be instrumental in the development of the NEOHIO SCCA and was one of three signers of NEOHIO Region’s original charter. The 1950’s were very prolific for him in racing, maintaining a prosperous manufacturing company and sharing his love of racing with his wife and three children. A Mille, Miglia 202 Cisitalia became a much loved car that he raced at Watkins Glen, Elkart Lake, Bridgehampton, and Limerock. From 1953-1956, Dick had the most success racing a 1100cc Motto bodied Sport at Put-InBay, Watkins Glen, Bridgehampton, Lock Borne, and MacDill Airforce Bases. The final two races of his driving career were at the Akron Sports Car Races and he was successful at wining both of those races in the 1100cc Motto bodied sport. In 1957, he became partners in acquiring a 750cc Bandini and his future son-in-law, Mel Sachs, won the National championship for them that very year.

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Michael Galati

2015 Inductee

Born with racing in his blood, Michael Galati’s extraordinary winning career includes five national championships in Showroom Stock B and C between 1989 – 1997 and five World Challenge Championships, three in the Touring Car series, and two in the GT Class, and more than 100 race wins. Galati has piloted racing machines for several of the most respected nameplates in racing, including Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Acura, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes, Volvo and Kia, respectively, and has stood on top of the podium at many of North America’s legendary circuits, including: Mid-Ohio, Road America, Sebring, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, and Mosport, where he won the World Challenge race, with five different manufacturers, and the first win for Volvo and Kia. Michael was awarded the SCCA’s President’s Cup in 1994. Michael was also a winner in the Longest Day at Nelson Ledges.

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Charles F. Irish, Jr.

2015 Inductee

Charles Irish became involved in racing in the late 1940’s, crewing for his younger brother Dick in a Siata Gran Sport, in endurance races at Vero Beach and Sebring. After being seriously injured in the Korean War, he tried driving race cars but was limited by his loss of depth perception and his brain injury. He entered his Kieft-Norton Formula III in a few races including Brynfyn Tyddyn (in Pennsylvania) and the Akron Airport sports car race of 1954. He was one of the founders of the Cleveland Sport Car Club (CSCC), which pre-dated SCCA in Ohio by over a year. Dick Gent, Dick Irish & Charles Irish used the CSCC as a method of building membership to create NEOhio Region for SCCA. Charles F. Irish, Jr. was one of three signers of NEOHIO Region’s original charter.

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Ann McHugh

2015 Inductee

Ann McHugh’s contributions to SCCA and NEOhio have been in several areas: as Regional Executive and other leadership positions, driver, organizing NEOhio exhibits at the Cleveland Auto Show and Autorama, editing/printing/mailing the Blower, running the press room for the Runoffs at Road Atlanta and MidOhio for several years, and perhaps most memorably, chairing the Longest Day at Nelson Ledges from 1981 – 1996. The storied Longest Day is indelibly linked with Ann. She joined NEOhio in 1971 and got a novice permit to race her Datsun Roadster in 1973. Injuries from a street car accident stopped her racing, but she continued to take on many organizational jobs at the races and for NEOhio, including being press officer for Nelson Ledges and co-chairing the NEOhio Competition Clinic. She spearheaded the project to develop a reusable display for autoshows & mall shows. Ann was Regional Executive for four terms, increasing the membership from 600 to 1000, thanks to the Longest Day.

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Cleo (Ma) Beasley

2014 Inductee

NEOHIO RE, founder of the Competition Clinic; 1990 winner of SCCA’s Woolf Barnato award.

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Chuck Dietrich

2014 Inductee

Very successful driver in both club and professional racing; national champion.

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Bill Benham

2014 Inductee

NEOHIO RE; founder of Lake Erie Communications.

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Al Beasley, Sr.

2014 Inductee

CSR/DSR innovator; national champion; Presidents Cup winner.

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Fred Baker

2014 Inductee

Active driver; several time national champion; raced both club & professional series.

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