A letter from Dave Herber, son of 1970's sprint car stand out, Maurice Herber. These are his words.
. I'm not sure if
you're from Rapid City or not, but I grew up there, and eventually moved out here
to southern California in 1981. I think about the Black Hills Speedway a lot, as
our entire family was there every Friday or Saturday (if it rained out) night
watching the races. Mom would place the tear-offs on Dad's helmet on Thursday
nights, and my brothers and I would have the pleasure of watching the race car
"spring to life" during the week in front of our home. The neighbors were really
cool about the noise, and many would come over and talk about racing with Dad and
the pit crew.
My dad, Maurice Herber, raced at Black Hills Speedway from 1973 until 1978. I have
a lot of really fond memories of that track and race car drivers, as I was a small
boy growing up in Rapid City at that time. Dad bought Gary Richards "modified" in
1972 - repainted, and re-numbered it to number "19". He raced it for two seasons,
and sold it, I believe to Ed Reber. He then bought Ken Smith's modified number
"55" and re-badged it again to "19". This time though, it was a bright yellow car
with the white "19" outlined in black. The yellow paint would eventually spawn a
nickname for Dad "The Yellow Phantom". Jim Shaw nicknamed Dad that, as after the
end of the races on Friday night, the people walking over to Dad's car wouldn't
see him around. The truth was, he had to work the night shift, and had to leave
right after the races.
Dave Ewing of Ewing Signs would come over to the house to pinstripe and letter the
car, and he was a master at his craft. I raced go karts with his son Tony, as well
as Wayne Johnson (who would later race at the speedway), and Jim Embree (who would
also eventually race at BHSW). Randy Miller, who was a small boy at the time,
would run over to our house while the pit crew was working on the race car. He
told our family that this was what inspired him to eventually go on to become very
popular as a sprint car driver at the speedway.
The final race car that Dad raced, was actually purchased by Al Croyle Racing. Al
Croyle bought the BHSW from, I believe George Davis. Al fielded three cars - all
painted with identical colors, in 1977 and 1978, who were Junior Glover, Lynn
Franz, and Dad. Dad's car was engineered by Stanton Racing in Phoenix, and at that
time, was a competitor to Nance and Trossel non-winged sprints. Dad owned the
motor and other incidentals, and I remember many nights of the pit crew coming
over to push-start the car, and of the fumes from the fuel which would burn your
eyes in a second if you got a whiff, as it was methanol-alcohol.
My heros growing up at the track were Jim "Buckinghorse" Olson, Jack Comer (he was
extremely fast), Jerry Kreber, Leo Ray, Les "half throttle" Stadel (I later worked
for him at Johnson Machine for two years prior to going to college), and Butch
Murner ( a really nice guy). Dad and I had the pleasure of a tour at Ken Frieze's
shop in west Rapid City, when Ken owned Les Stadel, Butch Murner, and Leo Ray's
cars. It was like a tour (keep in mind I was fourteen years old) of the largest
fab shop and race shop in the entire western United States. It was a real treat to
see everyone fabricating frames, assembling motors, and the chance to see Dave
Miller, who was one of the best engine builders around.
Jim Shaw (current mayor in Rapid City) took over the responsibilities as race
announcer, I believe, in 1973, and was perfect in this position. He interjected
humor, and nicknamed many of the drivers eg. "Concrete John" (Slagle), Les "The
Legend" (Stadel), etc. His recall of drivers and history was remarkable. I had the
pleasure of meeting him a few years ago at his store "Prince and Pauper book
store", and we discussed racing events for over 45 minutes. I commented how much
our family has respected, and had great memories of the speedway while he
I have pictures from the weekend that "Little Al" Unser came to BHSW. He was
seventeen at the time, and had a specially modified sprint car with power
steering. I also remember Rick Ferkel who was running with the World of Outlaws,
when he raced at the speedway. We have a picture of him holding his little dog in
front of his sprint car.
Dad was killed in a trucking accident February 22, 1982, and I lost not only my
dad, but my hero and a great father who we respected and loved very dearly. We
always thought that he would return to racing, as it was his true passion in life.
You're lucky in life to find a hero. It's even more special if your hero is your