This class features seven drivers, two car owners, and the Sportsman Award winner, sponsor
Dirt Late Models have continued to grow in popularity across the country and rate as the most numerous-and many think the most exciting-of all racing machines. The sport has matured with dozens of series, a cadre of skilled car and engine builders, purses that allow many drivers to make a living at it, and a handful of high-paying classic races like the Dream 100 and Dirt Track World Championship.
But it didn't all magically happen. It evolved through the decades to reach this level. There have been a number of pioneers who set the course to get the sport where it is today.
The National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame at Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky, was established in 2001 to recognize those individuals. The 2008 class honors seven drivers, two car owners, and an annual winner of the Sportsman Award. The drivers are Danny Dean, Herman Goddard, Joe Kosiski, Chuck McWilliams, Gary Stuhler, Gary Webb, and Paul "Butterball" Wooldridge. The car owners are Morgan Chandler and Porter Lanigan, while the Sportsman Award recipient is Skip Arp.
Danny Dean of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, may not have made a big splash on the national dirt racing scene, but his impressive list of regional wins in the Buckeye State certainly qualify him as one of the more successful racers in the mid-Ohio Valley. With more than 500 feature wins to his credit, Dean carved out a name for himself against the likes of Jim Dunn, Jim Gentry, Blaine Aber, and Charlie Swartz.
Although not generally thought of as a travelling professional, Dean more than held his own when the recognized stars of the day came calling on his home turf. With wins in the 1980 Wayne County Speedway Invitational and the 1981 Great Lakes Classic in Fremont, Ohio, Dean quietly earned the reputation of a driver who could not only compete with higher profile interlopers but actually win against them. When he chose to stray from the friendly confines of his home state, Dean also tasted success with wins in the 1978 Mountain State Forest Festival at Elkins, West Virginia, and the 1980 Tri-City (Pennsylvania) Invitational.
Dean is perhaps best known for his success at venerable Pennsboro Speedway in West Virginia. The now defunct Ritchie County Fairgrounds oval was known as treacherous and unyielding to many racers, but Dean took a liking to the century-plus old horse racing surface and earned arguably the two most impressive wins of his long career with victories in both the 1971 and the 1979 Hillbilly 100. And even in the waning stages of his career when he opted to run Open Wheel Modifieds rather than Late Models, Dean used his knowledge of and fondness for the cantankerous dry, slick surface to score an AMRA win in 2003.
Dean also earned a reputation for helping aspiring young drivers. He played an instrumental role in teaching a young man from Frazeysburg, Ohio, how to set up and drive dirt cars and that young man has gone on to a phenomenal career. Now, Donnie Moran, one of the modern-day superstars of Dirt Late Model racing, will be joined in the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame by his friend and mentor, Mr. Danny Dean.
Goddard is the fifth Tennessee driver to reach the Hall.
Apparently 50-plus years in racing are not quite enough for Herman Goddard of Knoxville, Tennessee. The eldest of three brothers involved in racing, the nearly 70-year-old driver is still making his presence felt on the clay ovals of eastern Tennessee. Having already secured a spot in the Tennessee Racing Hall of Fame, Goddard now becomes a member of the elite group comprising the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame.
To be able to amass over 500 feature wins competing against the likes of Tootle Estes, Bill Morton, fellow Hall of Famer H. E. Vineyard, Bill Corum, and a host of other legendary drivers, speaks volumes to Goddard's talent behind the wheel, but to still have the desire to strap himself into a 750hp Dirt Late Model after so many campaigns says much about the man's determination and genuine love for the sport.