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Folks Of Interest "Speedy" Bill Smith RIP

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by divco13, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. [​IMG]
    "Speedy" Bill Smith

    Victory Lane fell silent this weekend as the performance automotive community lost a pioneering racer, hot rodder and entrepreneur. “Speedy” Bill Smith, founder and owner of Speedway Motors, died May 30 at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska just weeks before his 85th birthday. He is survived by four sons, their wives, ten grandchildren, and an extended family of Speedway Motors employees and thousands of loyal customers.

    A Lincoln, Nebraska native, Smith got hooked on cars early in life and began buying, fixing, and selling Model Ts for profit as a teen. Soon he was racing – first motorcycles, then cars – while attending classes at Nebraska Wesleyan University. After earning a degree in education, Smith followed his automotive passion and opened Speedway Motors in 1952, aided by a $300 loan from his wife Joyce.

    A combination of passion, tenacity and innovation allowed Smith to grow a small 20x20 storefront into a flourishing mail-order business and manufacturing empire. During its 62 years in business, Speedway Motors has grown to become one of the largest manufacturers, distributors and retailers in the performance aftermarket. Working side-by-side with his beloved wife and all four sons together they built what is recognized as America’s Oldest Speed Shop.

    Smith’s countless contributions to rodding and racing have been recognized by dozens of organizations, with Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement honors coming from the likes of SEMA, NSRA, Goodguys, IMCA and USAC. He actively supported organizations and sanctioning bodies that shared his mission to make rodding and racing safe, fun and affordable.

    Fiercely competitive, Smith fielded hundreds of racecars through the decades, ranging from dragsters and NASCAR stockers to modifieds and sprints. Tiny Lund, Johnny Beauchamp, Bob Burdick, Lloyd Beckman, Jan Opperman and Doug Wolfgang are just a few of the 98 different drivers Bill employed. Smith’s most memorable racing successes include Opperman’s victory at the 1976 Hulman Classic and Wolfgang winning the 1978 Knoxville Nationals.

    A desire to preserve racing history led “Speedy” Bill, wife Joyce and his sons to establish the Museum of American Speed in 1992. This world-class collection of racing engines and cars has allowed the Smith family to give back to the automotive community and to share their profound love of racing and rodding with future generations.

    After more than six decades of hot rodding, “Speedy” Bill’s spirit, work ethic and passion for the industry are sure to live on through his family, friends, employees and those that had the joy and honor of working with him.

    Anyone who would like to share thoughts, memories and condolences are invited to send them via email to
  2. ken1939
    Joined: Jul 5, 2008
    Posts: 1,558


    Just got an email from Speedway saying the same thing. Guess loosing his wife was more than he could handle.
    Together Forever.
  3. C-10 CST
    Joined: Jul 4, 2011
    Posts: 267

    C-10 CST
    from Indy

    No reason to be sad, he had a great life. Now is the time to celebrate the wonderful life he had. I have read about the museum & would love to go some day.
    Vintage48 and BONNEVILLE BOB 95 like this.
  4. well sad....but that thunder above.....or a race starting in the heavens ?
    BONNEVILLE BOB 95 likes this.

  5. primed34
    Joined: Feb 3, 2007
    Posts: 1,116


    Hate to hear this. Cool guy to talk to.
  6. Tell me it ain't so....may his legacy live on forever.
    condolences to his family and friends,
  7. 26 roadster
    Joined: Apr 21, 2008
    Posts: 2,015

    26 roadster

    Rest in Peace Bill, we got it
  8. rsluggoboy
    Joined: Nov 1, 2009
    Posts: 104

    from SALINAS CA

    Met him twice, Very nice guy.
  9. spooler41
    Joined: Feb 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,099


    RIP Bill, We'll all miss your presence, Gods speed and condolences to the family.

  10. I don't know much about the man, but that's a heck of a legacy. RIP Speedy Bill.
  11. rd martin
    Joined: Nov 14, 2006
    Posts: 2,446

    rd martin
    from indiana

    met him at louisville a few years back, we talked about dirt racing, it was great, he told me if your ever in town, stop in and see me. little did i know 3 weeks later i would be in lincoln. i went in, gave my name, speedy says come on in, we sat and talked for 1 1/2 hours, then a tour. quite a gentleman, great guy who new, and loved his racing. if you mentioned gene opperman, he would lite up! lots of storys of selling parts out of the trunk of his car back in the day. you will be missed bill, but you live on in the museum. r.i.p.
  12. rustyford40
    Joined: Nov 20, 2007
    Posts: 2,168

    from Mass Bay

    The end of an era, RIP Bill
  13. trammel
    Joined: Aug 3, 2007
    Posts: 102


    What a legecy he is leaving for all of us.
  14. 296ardun
    Joined: Feb 11, 2009
    Posts: 4,287


    I never knew him, but we all knew of him. He had one of the most impressive collection of rare engines anywhere. I forgot that Jan Opperman drove for him, for many of us, Op was one of the most colorful sprint car drivers ever. RIP (to both of them)
  15. sedan33
    Joined: Mar 27, 2009
    Posts: 100


    One of the good ones. RIP Bill.
  16. I am sure Bill Smith will be a big topic of conversation at the nationals in York this weekend. He will always be thought of among us HOTRODDERS! GOD SPEED SPEEDY! RIP.

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