Remembering "Speedy" Bill Smith
"I have been honored to know and do business with Bill Smith and his great company. I know sadness accompanies a loss of such an amazing person but knowing Bill I don't think he would want us to dwell on that emotion for long. I will miss those great visits at the SEMA Show with Bill and Joyce. I always looked forward to those conversations and storytelling moments. Our employees always got a kick out of hearing him call me "Jimmie".
To Bill's sons and extended family, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers."
- Jim Hairston, Pertronix Performance Products
"We'd just like to offer our sympathy and condolence on the passing of Speedway Motors Founder, Speedy Bill Smith. We're happy to have been associated with him as a vendor."
- Denny Gross & Dave Wickham, 802 Solutions LLC
"We would like to extend our condolences to the Smith Family upon hearing the news about Bill. We feel fortunate to be a supplier to your business and feel Bill had a hand in that decision. We will continue to offer you the same quality products and service that he expected from us."
- Tim Guerra, Canton Racing Products
"Our Prayers and thoughts Go out to the Family"
- J.R. Spain's Hot Rods & Marshall County Street OutLaws
"It is never easy to find the words at a time like this. My condolences to the family and to all who were touched by Bill. I am sure he will be missed, but he will not be forgotten."
- Joseph F Miceli Jr, Omniscient Solutions
"Sincere condolences from the team here at American Speed Company. We all owe pioneers like him our sincere gratitude for his efforts and contributions to the industry, which have benefitted us all. We were present at the NSRA Nationals in Louisville a couple of years ago when he was honored for his on-going contributions to the hot rod industry. It was inspiring to see him up on stage and humbly accept his award.
While he will be greatly missed by all of his family and friends, as well as his extended family of business associates, we know that his legacy will live on through the organization he has built from the ground up over the years. It is sad to see the great ones pass on, but we all have a key role in making sure that their legacy lives on. We hope to be able to do our part in support of that effort."
- Mike Loewengruber, American Speed Company
"We are saddened to hear the news of Bill’s passing. I trust that all can find some comfort in the incredible memories of times spent with “Speedy” Bill. We offer each member of the Smith family our prayer during this very difficult time. Bills legacy is never ending and is a beacon of light for all of us in the automotive family to follow."
- Tim McCarthy, Hushmat
"All of us at USAC are truly saddened by the news of Bill's passing. Obviously the sport will deeply miss his passion and I personally will miss seeing him on those occasions where I could always count on seeing him. He was a gentleman and a friend and what more could you ask. I truly valued his friendship and will always remember the times we spent.
I particularly am proud to have presented the USAC "Grand Marshal" plaque at last year's Belleville Silver Crown race. We wore matching calico pink shirts."
- Dick Jordan, USAC VP/Communications
"Bell Racing would like to extend our condolences to the Smith family and the employees of Speedway Motors on the passing of ‘Speedy’ Bill Smith. Bill was an innovator and pioneer in the racing industry and his entrepreneurial spirit was a driving force in establishing and building the distribution market for racing parts and safety equipment. He was also passionate about preserving the history and heritage of racing and his collection housed in the Museum of American Speed is a treasure for all to enjoy. A few years ago on a visit to Lincoln, Bill took the time to give me a personal tour of the museum.
I will cherish the memories of him elaborating on his collection and sharing his insight into business and life. Bill and his wife Joyce will be deeply missed."
- Kyle Kietzmann, Bell Racing
"My favorite memory of Bill relates to his dry sense of humor. Not long after Speedway bought A-FAB, Jeff Scales and I were in a meeting that included Bill. Without so much as a smile, he looked under the table and said I just wanted to make sure you had shoes on. Obviously, in reference to Boonville’s proximity to Kentucky and the rest of the south in comparison to Lincoln.
We’ve had fun with that one ever since!"
- Ted M. Hemmelgarn, A-FAB, LLC
"Godspeed to two of the most wonderful assets the Hot Rod world has known. We were blessed to have them."
- The R2C performance family
"Bill "Speedy" will be missed greatly. The fond memories of so many will keep his legacy alive for generations to come. Thank you Bill for all the things you did in your life to enrich the lives of so many. You will be missed. Warm thoughts, prayers and condolences to his entire family and those he loved so much."
- Jonathan Saltman, International Aero Products
" I first met “Speedy” Bill Smith in 1974, after the purchase of my 1966 GT Mustang Convertible, I was 16 years old. My first time in his shop, he dismissed me as a punk kid with long, but well-kept hair. When I asked for a catalog he told me sure: “Value give for value received”, he wanted to charge me for the catalog because he thought I was not serious.
Soon enough he figured out I was serious about hot rodding and I earned his respect. Bill hooked me up with his engine builder John Larson. Within a short amount of time I had a balanced and blueprinted 400 horsepower high compression small block Ford engine. John did a good job on the dynamic over balancing. The car was extremely fast and very smooth. At the time it was one of the faster cars in Lincoln. I still have the car today with an even more powerful engine. The engine Bill helped me with is in special storage. The GT has been pictured in “Speedy” Bill’s catalogs several times.
My fondest memory of “Speedy” Bill was the time he and I met about my twin brother and my patented 3-wheel vehicle invention. We talked about the invention for an hour, and then he took me on a 3 hour personally guided tour of the museum. Bill beamed with pride as he talked about all the important articles in the museum and the personal milestones. I have never had a more interesting and comprehensive tour. I will miss “Speedy” Bill. He was a very accomplished hot rodder, racer, and businessman. I know everyone at Speedway will keep his legacy and memory alive and growing.
Make it a great day! "
- Dan Zichek
" Thanks to Bill we all had a chance to try and race with him and all his speed equipment he made available to us racers. Bill was a historian as well as racer. He loved the old equipment that ran in the old days and kept all of us wondering how he knew what to look for and what to collect. His treasures in the museum show how much passion he had for the sport and for the hobby , not to mention the racer in him. Bill sat with me and told of his past years racing. He told me second sucked. I only went racing TO WIN!!! I restore old Indy cars and when I need help to find old odd parts, Bill was there to help. We will miss him!!! "
- Jim Himmelsbach
" Rest in peace old friend! John Leverenz and I co-wrenched Bill's car in 1969 with Jan Opperman driving. John passed away in November. "
- Bill Chadbourne
" Our annual get together in the 70’s and 80’s was in Auburn, IN. for the annual auction when Bill, Joyce, Ray Udder and myself would take two golf carts and tour the grounds where I received my Masters degree in the history of the automobile. Speedy Bill and Ray (Ray’s Auction Record) were an endless stream of information, insight, reverence and sometimes disgust of design, engineering and innovation of the world’s passion for the automobile. At the end of our tour we’d each fib to the other about how little we had paid for our latest acquisition and continue the ruse as to why we couldn’t possibly accept ones inadequate offer for the newest treasure. Having such a diverse collection of “stuff”, I was always bewildered as to how Bill would always beat me to the latest undiscovered pile of Crosley treasures. But then, he was “Speedy” Bill! "
- Jim Cox
" I was attending a tour of the car museum about 8 years ago with the SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) group. There were tables set up and pizza was served and we were to hear from Bill Smith, who was to address the crowd of about 50. Well, being from New York City I had never heard nor seen Bill Smith and while eating some pizza an older man sat next to me wearing a wide brimmed black hat. He asked me how all was going, and I replied good, and we were waiting to hear from Bill Smith. He replied, "I hear that guy is a big bag of wind" and I just shook my shoulders. Well, low and behold someone from Speedway that was conducting the tour introduced Bill Smith and of course the man sitting next to me was in fact Mr. Smith. After he gave his short speech, he sat down again next to me , looked at me and gave a little giggle. I said, "That was entrapment" and he laughed. I then said if I had known it was him I could have asked him some questions, to which he replied "go ahead ask me anything." I thought about it for a moment and I don't know what possessed me to ask but I said, "In 50 years, what will you want people to remember you for?" He looked at me and admitted that no one have ever asked him that question before, thought about it for about 15 seconds and I will never forget his response. He replied, "What I want people most to say about me is what he did, he did good".
In six words he summed up his legacy. I thought I would share that with you. "
- John Zappulla
" There are few people we come across in this life where we stop and reflect and realize that we probably will never meet such a character ever again. A truly remarkable and genuine individual who you want to do nothing more than sit and talk, learn from and laugh with. Speedy Bill was one of those guys. Spending time with Speedy was worth a million bucks. He did everything his way (the right way), and his stories from back in the day of racing and championships and near death experiences were second to none. He was one of the hardest working, most honest, insightful and ethical guys in the business, a true inspiration for me, and someone I deeply admire and respect. I am very sorry to hear of his passing, and every day I’m thankful our paths crossed and we became friends. I couldn’t imagine a better mentor. He’ll be deeply missed. "
- Donnie Gould
" I live in a remote community British Columbia Canada. I have been a big fan of Bill for many years. He was an individual I had always hoped to meet I am saddened by the loss of him and his spirit which helped keep hot rodding alive during the lean years of the 70's and 80's. I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to his family. I did not know him but he played an important role in keeping people like me interested in my life long hobby. A couple of years ago I donated a small amount of money to a museum drive he was involved with. I received a personal phone call from him thanking me for my donation. We talked for quite a while about this and that and I was deeply impressed by his sincerity and the honesty he displayed to me during that conversation. I am saddened by his passing. I will always remember him."
- Brian Tremblay
" I have been an automotive journalist most of my life, even when I was in Latin America for 9 years. To me Bill has been an example on how American ingenuity and work ethic can lead to success regardless of where you started. Although I have only met him a SEMA Shows, he was always courteous and interested in what I said. Once he learned I was from the Midwest he opened up even more. There is no way my sadness can compare to yours, but I’m sure there are many thousands that will be saddened at his loss to America. He was an Icon, but more than that he was a driving force in the industry and we will all miss him in our own way. Thank you for this opportunity to express my feelings and I hope my short message falls on understanding ears and eyes."
- Matt Strong
" I was so sorry to hear about the passing of Bill Smith. While I met him only once personally, our business relationship continued for many years. I'm sure having his son's in the business was of great satisfaction to him. I've always remembered how organized he was and how proud he was of the business. I know he will be missed very much. "
- Roger Brackhan
" I had to chance to meet Bill and Joyce at the SEMA Show, Las Vegas several year's back... What a joy to speak to the both of them... Bill and Joyce's legacy of "Speedway Motor's" and their Museum will live long as a tribute to their hard work to better the Motorsport's world... GOD Bless them both..."
- Ron Muller
" I was very sad to hear about Bill Smith and his passing. I used to work in the summer time at Condon Auto Electric back a long time ago when Bill had the speed shop on N Street. Marty Bassett is a lifelong friend dating back to when we were 6 months old. Bill was a great person and will be missed but we all know he is a better place with Joyce by his side."
- Jim Jensen
" As we all know the great accomplishments Bill and Joyce Smith have achieved in their lifetime, these are my personal feelings and memories of Bill, Bill Smith was not only a pioneer in the motorsports industry but a visionary of life itself. As I remember the great one-on-one talks that Bill and I have shared in the past several years, each conversation was like a college course for me, as Bill shared his thoughts on what the future of both Motorsports and the economy were to be, he was 100% correct on his prophecies.
The personal tours that Bill had taken me through his great museum will be memories that I will cherish for a lifetime, as each car that we came to, Bill would sit and explain to me the history of that particular car, his memory was unparalleled. Bill is a hero to me, and what he is taught me will forever improve my life. Rest in peace my friend, and save me a pit stall in heaven. "
- Rex A. Merritt
" I had the honor and pleasure to meet Speedy Bill at a few of the PRI Shows. He was always warm and smiling, no matter how many hands he had shaken that day. His contribution to motorsports on the grassroots level will never be forgotten. Godspeed. "
- Bobby Courtwright
" Please accept our heartfelt condolences on your tragic loss. Words cannot describe feelings at a time like this but fond memories do a lot to help soften the sadness and I have only good memories of the limited time I was privileged to spend in his company. In one’s life one meets many people and every now and then, if one is fortunate enough, one will meet a truly exceptional human being and I count myself lucky to have met not one but two when I came in contact with Bill and his dearly loved wife, Joyce. Sad to say but it is fitting that they are now together for eternity. "
- Jim Price
" Absolute Legend. Speedy Bill and Joyce were at the Knoxville Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum for a program a few years ago at the same time we were loaning a car to the museum. Next morning while getting our coffee at the motel we noticed Bill and Joyce at a table near by. No others were in the room but four of us and them. My friend spoke to Bill and told him he had one of Speedway's pedal cars...I thought maybe the Smiths would prefer to be left alone, but to my surprise, Bill started telling stories and soon he had all of us around his table enthralled in real life racing tales about Jan Opperman, Doug Wolfgang and others. This lasted for an hour. What a memorable treat for us all. Thanks you Bill and Joyce and Godspeed. "
- Gary Gotschall
" Had the privilege of meeting Bill on our way home from our first time at the Salt Falts in 99. A nice gentleman that took the time to show two Army helicopter pilots his collection of cars...even though we could see that there was some physical effort on his part in doing so. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family in your time of loss and sorrow... "
- Brad Johnson
" I am so sorry to hear about Bill's passing. The memories of the 4X modified hotrod racing around the Clay County Fairgrounds back in the 60's is forever embedded in my brain. I'll never forget my late friend Terry Ellis and I hanging on the east end/turn one fence until we were chased out of the area- more than once. I loved the way that hotrod ran and drifted in the corners during hot laps. We loved to see it run. That was the only place we could see the 4X cuz we could walk to the racetrack from my Dad's house. We could hear the cars running at night and we loved the sound of them. Speedy Bill will be missed for sure. I have a 1931 Ford Model A that was started with TONS of parts from Speedway about 25+ years ago. I still have most of the parts on the car and some are no longer available, even though they have the Speedway name cast into them. Please pass my condolences to the family. He sure made my hotrodding life better with all of the great parts Speedway carries. Many "THANX!!! to Bill!!!" "
- Bruce Norgaard
" I was always surprised at the way Speedy Bill Smith treated me. Without a doubt he recognized me as a shoe string racer and one that would never make him rich. I bought from him from back from the small store on “O” Street there in Lincoln and continue now that I participate in vintage events. Whenever he saw me at a racetrack he treated me as a friend. Whenever I heard negative comments about him or Speedway Motors I always defended him and his ideas. I may not have always agreed with his thoughts but I never doubted he believed he was doing what was best for all involved. I feel my life has been enriched from his way of thinking. As I grow older I have realized this day would come and Joyce and Bill would not be at the next race I attend. I know in my heart if he was standing right beside me now that I would be encouraged to move on and keep doing what is best for the racing community. I feel I’ve been blessed to know his great man. He gives me hope. "
- Scotty Anderson
" To the Smith family my condolences are the loss of Speedy Bill as I've always known him. He was a special person and always treated me like I was one of his family. When I worked for him he always stood behind everything that we did and never questioned us. He only wanted to win races. In 1978 we won 18 races for him when I was the mechanic and Doug Wolfgang was the driver. It was an honor to work for him and I'll always remember when he took me on a personal tour of his museum. "
- Tommy Sanders
" Speedy Bill was an icon and will be truly missed.... all the dealings I have had with Speedway Motors have been top-notch due to his promotion of work ethic and honesty. The times i met him during the Americruise events he was the nicest, most amiable, friendly guy..... I'll keep his autographed picture in my shop forever.... The history he created with the museum and Speedway Motors will live on with God's blessing. Rest Well Speedy Bill- the rodding community will MISS YOU!!!! "
- Gary Bond
" There are very few folks who can be referred to as an “icon.” But “Speedy Bill” Smith clearly qualifies – no matter how you define the term. Icons are leaders, difference-makers, movers-and-shakers. And that’s precisely what Speedy Bill was … Think about it for a minute … he wasn’t some parts peddler. He was an inventor, an innovator, an advocate, a merchant, an idealist, a partner and a friend to all of us in the Hot Rod universe. He’s a gentleman who gave life meaning for many of us because he made our hobby possible. Icons, you see, make life better – much better – for a large population of folks. And that’s what Speedy Bill did for so many of us … Including for me …
For me, Speedy Bill helped make it possible for me to have a “special project.” And that project isn’t just a “Hot Rod.” It’s a project that allows me to think, to plan and, most important of all, to dream. This project helps me spend time with my Dad – the person I most admire on this earth – and with my best friend, a buddy I’ve known and run with since my sophomore year in high school … 35 years ago, and also with my son, a seven-year-old first grader who who has made fatherhood the greatest achievement of my life. Spending time with these three people on my hot rod has imbued my project with something so special that there isn’t a word for it. It’s just a feeling of joy.
Perhaps that’s the defining characteristic of an icon like Speedy Bill … creating a business that brings joy to so many people. That’s more than just a great epitaph …. It’s a great life achievement. And it’s something that I’m grateful for … Thank you, Bill … thank you so much. "
- Bill Patalon
" I was saddened to hear the news of Bill's passing. As a young boy only dreaming of driving a racecar, I always thumbed through the pages of the largest racing catalogue I had ever seen from this man and thinking he must be larger than life to have this many parts to offer all these drivers I called my heroes! Well I finally grew up, was able to order parts over the many years from this wonderful museum of parts, and eventually qualified for the IMCA Super Nationals In Boone and was able to shake Bill's hand on stage before the start of the race! I will never forget that moment as long as I live!!! "
- Dave Nutt
" I guess I met Bill for the first time back around 1974 when I hired on as president of B&M Racing & Performance. So that was 40 years ago. Since then I continued to do business with him and Speedway Motors as I moved from B&M to Russell Performance and from Russell Performance to Professional Products. It was always a pleasant surprise for the phone to ring and there would be Bill on the line. Not to talk business, but just to ask how I was doing. I am going to miss those calls.
I was actually thinking about him a couple of weeks ago and realized we hadn't spoken in a while and told myself I needed to call him. Now I will always regret having put it off and not having that last conversation with him. In 2000 I drove my 1933 Ford 3W coupe on the Americruise from Los Angeles to Lincoln. I not only got to party a bit with Bill and his family but also toured his museum which was a once in a lifetime experience. Bill was a terrific guy and will be sorely missed in this industry."
- Jim Davis
" I am very sorry to hear of your loss with the passing away of Mr. Bill Smith. He was a remarkable man in every sense of the word. He was the person who gave me my first break when I started my business in the US. He was fair, ethical and honest in his dealings. He once told me that " A deal is a good deal only when it is good for both parties" has stayed with me not because he said it but because he lived by it. Together with his wife, the late Mrs. Joyce Smith, he made us feel right at home whenever me and my colleagues had the opportunity of visiting them in Lincoln. The world is the poorer for his passing away but richer for having known him. May his soul rest in peace. Please accept my humble condolences at this difficult time. "
- Hardeep Ahluwalia
" I’d talked to Bill several times over the past 40-years or so and always found him to be an interesting and enthusiastic supporter of our life-style, as well as an astute businessman. My condolences to the surviving family and hope they can find happiness in Bill’s longevity and fulfilling life he shared with his beloved wife. Now they’re together for all eternity. God speed, Bill and may you be in heaven an hour before the devil knows you’ve passed. "
" We met Bill on our road tour with Jerry Dixey in 2009 on our way to the 40th NSRA NATS. He toured around with us and told many stories of collecting all of his life. What a guy!!! He was one of a kind and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. I have told all of my friends to make sure to visit his museum; no one has a better one in my opinion. "
- Joe McIntyre
" Our most sincere condolences to the Smith family during this difficult time. Although we did not know Bill personally, we did happen to see him a couple of times when picking up parts or touring the museum. On these occasions, he greeted us with a hello and a smile. You could tell that he genuinely appreciated his cutomers and their business."
- The Hovendick family
" Grew up in Lincoln during the ‘60's . Graduated from Southeast in ‘66 . Speedway and the Smith family were and still are the real deal. Went to school with Clark Wilcox who works there to this day. Lots of memories of Beckman and 4 X out at Eagle where my father-in-law was the track welder. Will miss his smile and black hat. Live in Arizona for almost 40 years and Speedy Bill still took the time to call me to thank me for placing an order, and that was just a couple of years ago. He and Joyce will be missed "
- Bill Hagen
" My deepest condolences to the family of "Famous Bill". My memory takes me back to the late fifties when I first met him. I was working on a 27Ford T & had some problems with the magneto. A friend steered me to Bill. I was in the USAF at the time & stationed at the base in Lincoln. Bill invited me to accompany him & 2 other enthusiast to scout the Beatrice area for any old T's & A's out in the fields. He was a joy to be with, taught me plenty & earned my respect. It was many years before I got back into the oldies but I went to Bill first for the many goodies I needed to help my grandson restore his 48 Ford F1. I remember asking for him about 7 years ago when I needed some engine parts & tools for the flathead. The gal that answered said he was pretty busy. I told her that we went way back to about 1957 and she said “wait a minute & let me see if he can take the call". He jumped right in when I reminded him that I was the AF guy that went with him & his buddies to Beatrice for oldies & we had to plow out the whole perimeter of a T roadster with the farmers plow with a blade on it, He remembered the time and personally helped me out with the order. His knowledge of making a flathead hotter than all get out was well established many years ago. He loved racing and was worth his salt there as well.
He will remain in my mind as a wonderful guy who would help anyone that asked him a question about engines, suspensions and the like but mostly how he helped this "Boston AF kid that always talked with a funny accent" solve my problems with my project. "
- Earl Rogers
" I have known Bill for over 50 years. He was a great man and will be dearly missed. "
- Steve DeVito
" I was privileged to meet Bill and had many conversations about T-buckets! He was a wonderful man. Sorry to hear of his passing. "
- Eddie Nelson
" My first memories of Bill were going out to the (then new campus) on VanDorn. As a child I always looked forward to seeing Sprinter, and Joyce would always take me into Bill’s office to see the fish tank. When I was 15 I had to sit across from the big desk and “interview” for a position in the museum, Bill seemed larger than life and I was scared out of my wits. Over the next several years I was able to see another side of Bill. When he would come to the Museum he always seemed at home, and being able to listen to his stories and see him not as the owner of large business, but as a racer, race fan and lover of speed was a great honor.
I will never forget one evening my dad and I returned to the old building late. Everyone was long gone and it had been snowing quite a bit. As we pulled in, there was Bill in his Lincoln pulling cookies in the parking lot, Joyce in the passenger seat. You could see his giant (they caught me) grin from a mile away. That is how I remember Bill and Joyce, not as entrepreneurs, but as two “kids” (in their 70’s) having fun in the snow. As I grew up and the museum grew larger I took great pride in the fact that I was helping bring Bill’s dream into reality. After I moved on from the Museum I have always felt like a part of the Speedway family, whenever I have been able to get back Bill always had time to talk to me and asked about my family.
The last time I sat across from the big desk and shot the bull with Bill, I noticed something that touched me. Sitting on his desk was a hot wheels version of the old 4x sedan that I had painted and gave to him shortly after I was hired. I grew to consider him a friend, and I will forever miss seeing his face light up as he would tell me about all the cool new stuff the museum had acquired since my last visit. "
- A.J. Schuman
" I started working for the Smith’s in 2006. When I first passed by Bill’s office and saw him sitting there in the big office with all those toys around him, wearing that big ol hat, I thought that I had probably just got my first glimpse at an industry legend. I was right, and even though I didn’t spend tons of time with Bill Smith, the few meetings I had with him, I was always amazed at his memory, and knowledge of the business he was engaged in. Most guys at his age were either in the rocking chair or out golfing, but not Bill. So, the lesson I learned was one of work ethic and passion. When you have a passion for what you do, and couple that with hard work, you end up with amazing fruition. So, as the old saying goes: “He, who saves one soul, saves the world entire.” What your mother and father have done is more than business; it is life to thousands of people. God bless Bill and Joyce Smith. "
- Brian L. Kelsay
" I met Bill quite a few times over the years in addition to our annual Great Plains Street Rodders's trek to the Speedway Museum during the winter. He was always a quiet pleasant man to reminisce with his soft spoken sincere voice about achievements that he helped others rise to in the racing world. Us coming from Sioux Falls, Bill always spoke and thought of Doug Wolfgang as a son, with all the drive and determination to walk again after being burned in a crash amazed Bill even after all these years, the respect is still there both ways. Bill seemed to always find the best people to help Speedway become what it is today who continue to push it into the future thru technology yet to be seen. Hopefully the insight that the business was started around never gets lost---old school ideas and people still count when they give all their life for a business as Bill did.. He will surely be missed. And maybe if we are lucky, might even catch a glimpse of him walking thru the museum tipping his hat as we walk by ."
- Bob Schmeichel
" Sorry to hear of Speedy Bill's passing. We always enjoyed visiting with him about the latest project, restoration, or collectable. His interests included our land speed racing and the museum was one of the "bucket list" items that just had to be seen to be believed. Thanks for sharing your passion with the rest of the hot rodding world."
- Tom Burkland
" I just wanted to say that Speedy Bill Smith has been a Lincoln racing icon for almost as long as I can remember. I am a 70 year old, female, gearhead. Just can’t seem to shake it. I can remember Speedy Bill racing at Nebraska State Fairgrounds, and sponsoring Lloyd Beckman at the race track near West O street, Midwest Speedway and on to Eagle Raceway in the later years. I was in the stands every Sunday night. I especially remember the night the plane crashed just west of the race track near West O. That was a scary night. Now that I own my third hot rod ‘57 Chevy, I have purchased many modified chrome parts and some essential car parts from Speedway Motors and I look thru their catalog everytime I receive it. I am always impressed what a huge operation that he and his loving wife built together. Proud that it is in Lincoln. Didn’t ever have to send away for my Chevy parts. During my 50th class reunion from Lincoln High School, one of our events was to tour Speedway Motors Museum.
Oh my goodness…………people had always told me that I needed to do that, but never had. I am so glad I did and I encourage others at car shows to go tour it if they haven’t. The memories of the offenhouser engines and the different carb set ups and all the vehicles that he collected over the years. I pray that the museum and Speedway Motors keeps going as I would miss it if I had to send away for my parts. While touring the museum I was able to talk with Bill and was so in awe of his presence. A true icon. Speedy Bill, you will be sorely missed by all of us gearheads! Thanks for the many memories in the racing circuit. Squeal those tires into heaven! The gearheads up there will love it! "
- Judy Glathar
" I've been buying parts from you guys for a long time now. Back in 2002 I was on my 2nd Hot Rod Power Tour. I drove an old flathead powered A roadster. I arrived way early for the event, and decided I wanted to check out your facilities. I pulled in early in the morning and noticed a big black car with a driver wearing a big black hat. I thought it might be speedy. I drove over by him as he was getting out of the car. He gave me a strange look. (my car was purposely built to look as if someone had just dragged it out of a barn, even covered with bird doo doo.) We talked for about a half hour. He couldn't believe I had driven it there from Michigan. As he turned to report for work I noticed his big smile as he was shaking his head. Glad I got to meet the man. Met him again as we toured the museum. Definitely had a load of knowledge. Sorry to hear of his passing. I'm sure that the family will keep up the good work. "
- Norm Cooper
" I admired speedy Bill he was like my uncle. He was a man of much wisdom. Little story when I was born my dad wanted to name me Napoleon instead I got my dads nickname "jesse james" that Bill always called him. I will miss Bill and Joyce I looked up to them, some of the best people I had the privilege to have in my life. To the family sorry for the loss but Bills legacy lives on though you. "
- Jesse Eberhardt
" My wife and I had the pleasure of having Bill take us on a personal tour of the museum a couple of weeks ago. His passion for sharing was evident and very much appreciated. He will be sorely missed by all whose lives he touched."
- Dennis Pierce
" We are so saddened to hear that Bill has gone on to be with Joyce. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to the entire family. I’ve known Bill casually since 1960. I have been privileged to be a docent, then employee, then again a docent at the museum for nine years. He was one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. Most of this community doesn’t know what his contributions have been. I am not even sure I do. But, I remember the days and evenings at the local race tracks. When that purple sedan was on the track, anyone who loved racing new magic was happening. I used to dream about it. He was at times a rascal, and always a fierce competitor. But he also had a soft side. He was generous to a fault and always acknowledged hard work. He expected everyone to work just as hard as he did. I know some didn’t understand but I always knew that if one gave their best, he would not chide you but would be complementary in his own unique way. May he rest in peace with Joyce and keep that long elusive racetrack in the sky the best it can be. "
- Steve and Elvira (Tootie) Witt
" A true pioneer and icon in my family, racing has lost a truly great individual. My father spoke of him highly through his 50 plus years of car racing and hobbies, I was honored he spoke to me one time when I had ordered and he was so kind and knowledgeable. I wish to send prayers to family. He will be missed by many Truly saddened "
- Brad Zeitler
" I'm so very grateful to have met Bill as we brought the Gyronaut motorcycle across country. Thanks for sharing the Tucker with us. It was the very same one we grew up with in our hometown of Highland Park, Illinois. It was always just a few miles from home for so long, and I seem to recall visiting with Alex Tremulis (my Uncle) when he would come to town to take a look at it in the Chicago Historical Museum. You'll always have a piece of our family in your collection, and thanks for sharing your family with us. The Tremulis' and Smiths will always be connected through these great machines... "
- Steve, Sandra and Ally Tremulis
" Memories of Bill go way back. I was in my teens and helping Loren Woodke and John Leverenz when we first ran up against that purple coach. It seemed that Bill's cars and Loren's were the competition when they met at some of those old fair tracks and Imca shows. He was a great competitor and earned our respect plus getting to know him influenced me. I hadn't seen him in years but ran into him a few years ago and he still knew me. There are a lot of memories there Including mutual friends. Many of which are because of him. "
- Richard Schulz
" Sorry for Your Loss! I’ll Remember Bill for Telling People that He taught me everything I Know! Stay Strong during this sad time. Your Parents both had an influence on My Life! Good People! "
- Ted Lindblad
" I grew up in Creston, Iowa. Each spring in 1955, 1956 and 1957 four or five of us would skip school (Spring Fever) and head for the speed shop on East "O". We'd spend as much as we could on assorted chrome goodies and an occasional genuine speed part! Then we cruise "O" one time, stop at a big drive-in on East "O" which seemed to be the largest hang out for the local rod & custom crowd, then head back to Creston. When I see the early black & white pictures of Bill & Joyce behind the counter it really brings back the memories!. If I'm not mistaken, that original location still stands. I last visited with Bill in 2011 when the Lincoln Early Ford V8 Club hosted the annual "Spring Fling". The entire "Museum of American Speed" was opened to all attendees for about four hours. Our lunch was served on site. I was fortunate to be seated at the table with Bill as he held our attention with great stories. What a tremendous history and legacy Bill and Joyce have left us. "
- Merrill Newman
" Had the pleasure to sit & chat with Bill & his wife @ an AACA Museum dinner several years ago @ start of Fall Hershey. He left a memorable impression on my mind. Bill will be missed by all who ever came in contact with him. Sorry to hear of Bill's passing."
- Stuart Hershoff
" Years ago we met Speedy Bill when cars were parked at Sonic at 48th St. and Hwy 2 on Friday nights. Bill was sitting next to his 1941 Lincoln (I believe). Rick remembers Bill explaining how his sons had this car restored for him as a surprise. You could hear the pride in his voice. At the time, Rick did not know who this man was, just remembered talking cars for awhile with the man wearing the black hat. If other people hadn't wanted to talk to Bill, I think those two would have talked all night! Later Rick figured out who Bill was and said he remembers seeing Speedway Motors stickers on race cars when Rick was racing stock cars in Arizona. We have enjoyed touring the museum many times over the years with car clubs. May the memories his family has give them peace and laughter. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. "
- Rick and Marlene Pyatt
" In order to understand my deep feelings about Bill and the depth of all of ours loss, one needs to understand who I am, and how Bill helped me. Google the Penalty Of Leadership, and read what he gave me, so I could understand the simple label put on me, genius. You see I'm one of those inventors you read about that got stopped for nearly half of my life because of my invention ( I created the ratchet and socket of shop equipment). Bill Smith brought me inside his heart. He taught me, things no other man could, because he is and was the NUMBER ONE speed and equipment manufacturing icon / innovator and humanitarian of American history i the motor sports world, who's work should stand through out time, next to Henry Ford. Joyce, was every bit as important to the man, their history, and their works.
They were / and are one. I will forever miss my friend, as he gave me in life, knowledge, to far exceed money. I'm sure he is with the angels, next to his bride, his best friend, and my friend, Joyce. Something I never got to ask him, having a deep line of Smiths in my family was, could your family tree be tracked back to the Mayflower, like ours. This would have made us related. Related, is how Bill treated me, through many many conversations, taking time out of his busy days to teach me. Just like my friend Big Daddy Don Garlits has. Bill comes from a time when men were defined as real American Men. Like my grandfather, Bill will always be remembered by me as simply an amazingly accomplished man who mastered one great day at a time to build a dyanasty. It will forever show in the "ONE'S" great works (Bill/Joyce) and the outstanding family they created. I've met the boys, but have a closer relationship with Jason.
For all of the family and my friend Jason I send my deepest condolences. I'll pray for the "ones" who would befriend a simple young inventor who had little, and ask the almighty to forgive their faults and allow them safe passage into his kingdom. I'm thankful for my time spent with these two special people. I'm thankful for the private, by invitation only tour of the museum before it was open to the public, twice. Thankful for the countless hours of one caring man's attempt at trying to help, and allow me the honor of the label "friend". "
- Joseph E. Adams Jr.
" The world has lost a “Great Legend” in the Motorsports Industry! My deepest sympathy to the Smith and the Speedway Motors families. I am proud to say that I had the pleasure of meeting Bill at many trade shows over the years. Wishing you peace and strength during this difficult time. "
- Pam Beckham
" Sorry to hear about the passing of Mr. Smith. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Street Rods Nationals a few years back while working our booth. He seemed like a pretty down to earth, guy that was a true hot rodder/racer at heart. He had my respect and admiration. "
- Charlie Mallory
" Just wanted to pass on my sincerest condolences, I am but a customer and never met Bill but can say that seeing his smiling face representing his company always made me feel like I was dealing one hotrodder to another, a personal touch not found in the other companies. I can only wish your family peace and fond memories as you go through this."
- Bob Morgan
" I wish to convey my deepest condolences on the recent death of Speedy Bill Smith. A well-known hot rodder who helped preserve the history of Hot Rodding. "
- Fred Struzer
" We hate to see them go, the last of the breed , old school hot rodders, Bill we will all miss you and your kind. Gods speed.. … Flathead Eddie… "
- Edward Spritzer
" God bless Bill, he was a great man, a true racer and a friend of all."
- Rick Coffey
" I would like to say on behalf of all Hot Rod enthusiasts, Bill was and will always be a Pioneer we all will miss him . RIP Bill, "
- Joseph Galindo
" I was at Brownstown, Indiana for the POWRI midgets when they announced Bill's passing. Everyone knew of and respected Bill and his contribution to racing and rodding. I've met his son at some of the trade shows and he's just the man to carry the name and business. We remain awed by Bill's accomplishments and will revel in his memory. We hope to get to the museum soon. God speed. "
- Dusty Kiser
" Even though I never met him, his reputation was well known. He will be missed by all. "
- Kourdt Howell
" I am very sorry to hear of Bills passing. A true pioneer, and a true gentleman, and the ambassador of motor sports. "
" Please accept my most sincere condolence on your great loss of '' Speedy Bill '', the father of hotrodding and dirt track racing. Bill has been the figure head of a great American company that has an amazing product range, with great prices and a world class customer service. As I understand Bill will not only be missed by his family and friends but also by his greater family, all the staff at Speedway Motors. Gee! planet earth would not have been what it is today had it not been for Bill's passion. Yours faithfully "
- John Morphett
" Thank You for everything you have done for so many Hot Rodders. God Bless You. "
- David Pokojni
" This is a tough time for the Smith family and close friends of Bill. Please remember how many people he touched and the friends he made during his long honorable career. The industry has truly lost a great man. "
- Bob Reinhardt
" He Catered to all, big and small. I for one of thousands who dealt with speedy am extremely grateful for his dedication and passion. His legacy will live on in every automotive endeavor from small backyard gearheads with big dreams to the professionals. May God speed. "
- Randy Brooks
" Each Generation has a few outstanding members that seem to blaze the way for the others to follow in lifes journey. Bill was one of the best for blazing new ground and raising the standard for marketing and innovation. He never lifted, foot down, pedal to the metal, always finding new products and markets. A winner always. Thank You Bill, Rest in Peace. "
- Reggie Ayres
" He will be missed but his vision lives on. "
- Robert Cogdill
" My condolences to you and the entire Speedway Motors family on the passing of a great automotive man, he will be missed. He was an innovator in the automotive world. "
- Drew Barney
" I’m so sorry to hear about Bill’s passing…….he was a great man…..one of a kind. He will be missed….. "
- Jim Ballard
" We cannot say and will not say that he is gone but just away. With a cheery smile and a wave of hand he has entered an unknown land. We think of him still as the same we say, he is not gone but just away. "
- Dwane Niemann
" Bill has been an inspiration to automotive and motorcycle fans for decades and I doubt his passing will diminish the impact his legacy, in the form of his family, his company and his museum will have on our passion for motorsports. We will all miss him very much!"
- Guy Ogan
" I never met Bill, but having grown up in this hobby since the '50's, I know how much he meant to us all. His business ethics and personal life were an inspiration and will not be soon forgotten. Thanks for carrying on the tradition he founded. "
- Denton C. Smith
" It is always sad to lose of the guys that pioneered the auto speed industry….Bill and all the others that have gone before him will be missed…..Hope that Speedway Motors continues his traditions….Rest in Peace Bill…you deserve it… "
" I would like to express my sincerest condolences at the passing of your beloved leader and mentor. I did not know Bill but his accomplishments have established a monument to his character. May joy be in your hearts for having known and associated with his great spirit."
- Mark Taft
" I never meet Speedy, but I did get to watch a special that was done on him and his wife shortly after opening their museum! Talk able a motor head...Wow!! He quickly became my hero! The automotive world is worst off without him. Very sad time...our condolence goes out to his wife and family."
- Russel and Shelley Ringler
" We will miss his smiling face as it became huge part of Speedway Motors."
- Al Jennings
" The world gas lost a great pioneer of the hot rodding community. Somewhere in heaven "speedy Bill" is laying down some smokey burn outs and making the clouds below turn grey. Rest in heavenly peace Bill."
- Eric Scholes
" My prayers and thoughts go out to the family on the passing of Bill, he will be greatly missed and we have lost a great icon to the motoring world. May he Rest In Peace."
" My Prayers go out the Family of Speedy Bill Smith on the loss of Speedy Bill. Over the decades he has had the Vision of the Speed Shop for the Masses and created one of the easiest to use Speed Shops for the average rodder and racer. My Prayers also go out to the greater Speedway Family in the loss of the founder of their company."
- Carl "Stretch" Roeger
" My sincere condolences on the passing of Speedy Bill Smith. I enjoyed being a customer based on the history & the innovation of how Bill & his family grew the business of hot rodding from a dream, to reality. We shouldn’t look at it like he is gone. But more like he has crossed the finish line. "
- E.J. Johnson
" Please accept my sincere condolences to the family and workers at Speedway Motors for the passing of a "Hot Rod" icon. Had it not been for Mr. Smith, my dream of building a hot rod may never have come true. I know the family and staff will truly miss him, but am sure he is looking down at us all and wishing us the best in our daily endeavors. May God bless all of you in this event."
- John D. Samek
" Though I never knew him, his name was synonymous with Hot Rods and mail order parts. I poured through catalogs as a Canadian teenager and ordered things from Speedway out of the many magazines I read. Bill did that for me. Now I'm older, a bit more money, but still have the old desire to build and drive. I still pour through my Speedway catalogs every night before turning in. Reading magazine articles about the originals, like Bill has kept the flame alive. At my age I can now appreciate how hard He and & Joyce worked to raise a family and run the business. He will be missed. "
- Fred Swayne
" While I never met or knew Bill, it was clear he had the honest work ethic of a generation famous for it. He built a company which has stood the test of time and deserves a big "Well done!" Men like Bill are growing fewer in number and the world is poorer for it. As Gen. Patton once said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” "
- The Triggs family
" I'm truly sorry to hear of everyone's loss in regards to Speedy Bill. I always enjoyed seeing him at Hershey. I will miss him. I always felt the integrity of Speedway was right on. "
- Mark Moriarty
" A legend has moved on, but what a mark he has left not only in America but worldwide, his memory will live on for evermore in his passion of Motor sport and his founding of Speedway Motors. Our thoughts are with you all at this sad time, reflect on the good the he has given to us all, thank you “ Speedy” Bill Smith. "
- Terry (John) Wellard,
" Please accept our deepest condolences following Bill’s death. I talked with him more than once at the Hot Rod and Restoration Trade Show in Indianapolis over the years and he was always a pleasure. I still hope to see his Museum before I die. Cling to the all the wonderful memories you must all have of him to get yourselves through. "
- Tom Joyce
" Very Sad to Hear The Passing Of Bill Smith He was a true Friend of the Racer, Our Hearts and Prayers are with the Family .It will be a huge loss to the Racing Family."
- Duane Kreilach
" I am Canadian I never met bill but I had spent a lot of time in the USA. I have to think that speedway is an extension of Bill and his wife, the service was always the best and everyone I dealt with over the years have been as courteous and as helpful as can be. This is a direct reflection of the management at the highest level, and I find prevalent within the street rod community. We are a band of brothers led by the generals of the hobby we have lost a commander in chief and a first lady "
- Duncan Barnett
" There are bad people in this world who when they die, the one's they hurt, cheated or otherwise harmed actually breathe a thankful sigh of relief. There are many good people who are missed and mourned. Then there is the rare person like Bill that made a difference in probably a million lives over the years; all for the good. These are the kind of people that sadden the world for they always did their best to be fair and courteous whether it be with a single friend or every customer of their business. I am just an individual who has purchased parts from Speedway Motors for years. I have always been happy with the products, service, and sales. Whenever I needed a part, or sometimes just information, Speedway's catalog was CONSISTENTLY my first port of call. I'm confident that Bill Smith is the overriding reason why these things have always been true. He said he read every email written to him and I've never doubted that statement. He was that kind of man and he made me feel like he was a personal friend to me. His constant smile and crazy hat will be missed. My deepest, sincerest heartfelt condolences go out to his family. This shocking, sad news has quite literally brought tears to my eyes. Yet, I will never fear a thunderstorm for I know it'll just be Bill testing out a new set of heavenly headers. "
- Ron Kaminski
" Am so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. He was one of the greats in the Hot Rod world. His ingenuity and love for the sport made it possible for people like me to become hot rodders. And for that we will always be grateful. My thanks and condolences to his family. I am truly sorry for your loss. "
- Bill Bland
" I am sorry to hear about the loss of one great pioneers of the racing legend. Thank you, Bill Smith for the man and the great knowledge and help you gave myself and so many others with racing or just getting the right parts and advice. Being there to shake hand and always smiling. "
- Paul Bergeron
" There are icons in any industry, hot rodding is one of those that has a few, but Bill "Speedy" is one those figures that helped shape the industry because the "was" the industry. "
- Mike Melton
" Just a note of greatest thanks to the man that did more for, and gave so very much to so many facets of American auto racing! It was a privilege to have known Bill. As joins his wife that easy smile will be on his face. "
- Kirk F. White
" When my brother and I visited with Speedy Bill in May 2012, we were very impressed with his graciousness and the quality of everything touched by his efforts. We were blessed to have met him, and give our thoughts and best wishes to his family."
- Dean and Jay Smith
" My heart is heavy hearing Speedy Bill has left us.This was a decent man that lived the American dream to it's fullest . A man who helped others along the way with their passion. He can now join his sweetheart who also recently left us. God bless you Bill Smith and thank you for sharing your dream. "
- Bob "Stormy" Byrd
" We met this Bill on our return from our Route 66 trip. He was so nice to us, and had a great sense of humor, our condolences to his family. "
- Jeff Yorke
" Mr and Mrs Smith embodied the very thing that makes this country so great . Hard work and honesty and an ethic that many business owners should strive to emulate. He will be missed by all who have traded with him over the years. I am confident he and his lovely wife are reunited at the gates of heaven and are reunited forever. God bless the family and all who were touched by him."
- Tim Cunningham
" Bill lived the American dream. When I was young I always wanted to own a speed shop. Not only did Bill own a speed shop, it was the very best! I got to go through the museum once what a joy. I felt like I knew Bill though I never met him. God Bless You Bill. Thanks for the ride. "
- Fred Leeds
" We are very sorry to hear of your loss. Bill was such a great and kindly person. His passion and contribution in American car traditional culture is admirable and worth of respect. He will live on in our memories forever."
Anyone who would like to share thoughts, memories and condolences are invited to send them via email to FourXBill@speedwaymotors.com