Gateway Internationall/StLI HOF Inductees

I'm not certain how this hasn't made this to the board as of yet, but here they are.

Congrats to all involved. Personally, I would like to give kudos to Eileen Waters for her work around St. Louis for so many years. Congrats Eileen.

Here is the list.


2008 GIR/SLIR Drag Racing Hall of Fame Inductees
The following roster includes the first members of the Gateway International Raceway/St. Louis International Raceway Drag Racing Hall of Fame inducted on Sunday, June 1, 2008. Members are listed in alphabetical order.
The GIR/SLIR Drag Racing Hall of Fame recognizes, with gratitude, outstanding achievement and influence throughout the sport of those who have been integral to the history of the Gateway International Raceway motorsports facility in Madison, Illinois. Originally known as St. Louis International Raceway Park from its opening day on May 19th, 1967, the facility became St. Louis International Raceway in June, 1971, and was renamed Gateway International Raceway in February, 1987.
Digital images of all GIR/SLIR Drag Racing Hall of Fame inductees are available from Gateway International Raceway.

Jerry Bickel
Troy, Missouri
Category: Constructor
Originally gaining national racing notoriety with partner Ken Holthe through the 1970s, Jerry Bickel later earned global acclaim for his construction of drag racing vehicles. Acknowledged as one of the premier fabricators of Pro Stock machinery, the clientele of Jerry Bickel Race Cars includes virtually all National Hot Rod Association and International Hot Rod Association Pro Stock champions of the past two decades. His partnership with Virginian Jim Yates resulted in two consecutive NHRA Pro Stock World Championships in 1996 and 1997. Bickel’s massive facility in Moscow Mills, MO, not only produces dozens of race cars each season but serves as a training center for crew chiefs and race car builders from around the world. Bickel remains active with both national and local competitors and is a regular attendee of Gateway International Raceway events.

Jeff Burk
O’Fallon, Missouri
Category: Media
Beginning in the 1970s with his regional newspaper, Midwest Racer, Jeff Burk has held the editor post at many of drag racing’s most popular periodicals. Throughout his tenure at the helm of several national magazines, Burk remained a tireless supporter of bi-state area competitors to whom he offered generous publicity. In fact, Burk was responsible for the first national media attention of several other GIR/SLIR Hall of Fame inductees. An active advocate of stringent safety regulations, Burk has influenced rules revisions which have improved the sport’s safety record. A faithful supporter of GIR’s drag racing national events and weekly programs, Burk now supplies global coverage of GIR activities through his popular magazine-format website, Drag Racing

Don Garlits
Ocala, FL
Category: Professional Driver
Officially recognized as the greatest drag racing competitor of the twentieth century, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits earned entry into the GIR/SLIR Hall of Fame by way of his remarkable streak of thirty-three victories over a period of thirteen seasons. Competing in both National Event and match race competition, Garlits was unbeaten at St. Louis International Raceway between September, 1971 and June, 1984, while winning an unprecedented eight American Hot Rod Association Gateway Nationals titles. His string of six consecutive Gateway Nationals victories from 1978 through 1983 remains the longest win streak by any Top Fuel Dragster driver at any National Event facility.

Jerry Haas
Fenton, Missouri
Categories: Professional Driver/Constructor
One of the first contestants in the popular Pro Stock division in the early 1970s, Jerry Haas became the bi-state area’s first drag racing World Champion by winning the 1980 AHRA Pro Stock title. In the late 1970s, Haas began building race cars for local campaigners in a one-car garage. Jerry Haas Race Cars is now considered the sport’s most prolific fabrication center of drag racing passenger cars and has been the recipient of twelve Car Craft Magazine All-Star Drag Racing Team Pro Stock Chassis Builder Awards since 1986. His employees are acknowledged as some of the sport’s finest engineers and his clientele includes dozens of World Champions in a multitude of categories. A renowned innovator, Haas tests his newest creations at GIR before delivery to his global customer base.

Matt Johnson
St. Charles, Missouri
Categories: Team Owner/Sponsor
Another of the bi-state area’s Pro Stock pioneers, Matt Johnson teamed with driver Dave Paxton from the late 1960s through the late 1980s for a variety of successful race cars. He opened the Matt Johnson Performance Center in the late 1970s and became a primary sponsor for dozens of local sportsman drivers, many of whom later earned national acclaim. Johnson’s untiring support of St. Louis teams often allowed many racers to compete when lack of finances threatened their ability to continue. In 1990, Johnson teamed with young Moscow Mills, Missouri, driver Tim McAmis to race in the IHRA’s new Pro Modified Eliminator; the duo won that season’s World Championship, the first in what is now considered one the sport’s most popular divisions. Still operating his business, Johnson can be found weekly at GIR assisting his many customers.

Bret Kepner
Crestwood, Missouri
Category: Sportsman Driver/Media
From his first journalistic endeavor providing SLIR results to local newspapers, Bret Kepner eventually penned two thousand articles for fifty-nine different drag racing publication titles. After accepting a position as SLIR’s announcer in 1977, he took the same position for AHRA, IHRA, and NHRA National Events eventually leading to a career in the televised coverage of drag racing events in 1984. His tenure with ESPN and other broadcast networks now spans more than twenty-five seasons and includes more than one thousand TV shows. As a racer, Kepner earned two consecutive GIR track championships in 1994 and 1995, has held two NHRA National Records and has won ninety-seven eliminator titles. He still competes both locally and nationally. In 1996, Kepner opened the free GIR Drag Racing School which has since produced over three hundred fifty graduates, many of whom have earned GIR season championships and National Titles. Kepner is also active as GIR’s official track photographer. He will attend his three thousandth drag racing event in late 2008.

Jim Lockeby
St. Jacob, Illinois
Category: Facility Employee
Jim Lockeby was exposed to drag racing in southern California while working as a trick-shot pistol artist in western films during the early 1960s. Upon his return to the bi-state area, he was hired as the official starter at Pacific (MO) Raceway Park. When track owner Wayne Meinert closed the Pacific facility to build St. Louis International Raceway Park in 1966, Lockeby accepted a position as SLIRP’s first track manager. Through forty-two years of service while performing every conceivable duty at the facility, Lockeby remains a valued consultant and part-time employee at GIR. He is one of the few individuals who has witnessed the track’s growth from its first day of operation. On the day of his induction into the GIR/SLIR Hall of Fame, seventy-six year-old Lockeby celebrated by flag-starting race cars at GIR with the same flags he used at Pacific Raceway Park.

Allen Mollet
Highland, Illinois
Category: Sportsman Driver
Generally acknowledged as one of the greatest natural drag racing talents to compete on the GIR/SLIR property, Allen Mollet’s rise to success was quick and impressive. The son of bi-state area drag racing veteran Burnell Mollet, he was involved in the sport all his life and began driving in 1989. Within only three years, he won his first season championship and soon began competing in multiple machines. Mollet’s uncanny ability to win in any vehicle reached astonishing levels in 1994 when he earned season titles in two different categories driving two different cars. Even more incredible was his repeat of that feat in 1995. Mollet eventually won a total of seven track championships in five seasons of racing; his last title came in 1997 before his early retirement from the sport. During the GIR/SLIR induction ceremonies, Mollet confirmed rumors of his impending return to the sport.

Steve Pearson
St. Charles, Missouri
Category: Sportsman Driver
Steve Pearson’s drag racing success is matched only be his longevity. Although he attended his first event at Nashville, Illinois, in 1967, he became a regular attendee at SLIR in 1970. In 1974, he won the season‘s biggest race, the AHRA Gateway Nationals, and was immediately recognized as one of the area’s toughest competitors. Although he eventually earned four season championship titles, Pearson also continued his success at National Events held at SLIR and GIR; he remains one of the only finalists of AHRA, IHRA and NHRA events held at the facility. Pearson’s biggest victory came at the 2001 NHRA Division III Bracket Racing Finals at Indianapolis and his divisional championship earned him entry to the NHRA Finals in Pomona, California, where he finished third in the world. Pearson still competes weekly at GIR; he won the track’s 2008 NHRA National Open only weeks before his induction.

Eileen Waters
St. Louis, Missouri
Category: Media
As a veteran motorsports journalist and broadcaster within the bi-state racing community, Eileen Waters has ensured mainstream media coverage of St. Louis drivers and teams in all forms of competition. Given drag racing’s often limited scope of coverage, however, Waters often accomplishes more than the sport’s own press corps in gaining recognition for the achievements of GIR/SLIR competitors. Through her efforts on behalf of the St. Louis Auto Racing Fan Club, Waters annually showcases the best drivers of each drag racing season among those of all area motorsports facilities at the SLARFC Banquet of Champions. Her efforts to record and preserve the history of the SLIR/GIR complex make Waters one of the track’s most valued assets. Without the electronic and print media attention afforded by Waters, the achievements of GIR/SLIR drag racers might never be known outside the confines of the track itself.

Dave Wise (Inducted posthumously)
St. Louis, Missouri
Category: Team Owner/Sponsor
Although he assisted area competitors in a variety of motorsports, drag racing was the first love of Dave Wise. His family’s Wise Speed Shop was one of the first performance emporiums in St. Louis and was, for decades, one of the only major Midwest outlets of speed equipment. Teaming with driver Paul Radici, Wise campaigned a series of Funny Cars under the sponsorship of his own shop; maintaining a strong national presence, the duo eventually set the NHRA World Records for the division. With driver Dave Meredith, Wise won the Super Stock category at the 1984 NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, California. Through his efforts, Wise Speed Shop was not only a sponsor of the track and a myriad of vehicles but a meeting place of the area’s drag racing fraternity. Years after his passing, Wise Speed Shop team cars still proliferate the GIR pits. Wise’s induction was accepted by his longtime companion Gina Meredith who continued to operate Wise Speed Shop after his passing.

HOF inductee Bret Kepner needs to be recognized for putting these bios together. We are working on a static site at to further recognize these great people.


Well-Known Member
Congratulations to all - Nice to see Eileen Waters on that list she does an awflu lot around here. Glad to see everyone recognized for their accomplishments .