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» Racer Obituaries
This page was created to honor the memory of past racers who have touched the lives of racers, fans, and employees at GLD, both past and present.


RIP Jim Winters

Longtime bracket racer at GLD Jim Winter passed on April 13th, 2014. Jim was a very popular face to see at GLD, and was well respected & touched the lives of many. Jim will be missed by us at GLD greatly.


RIP Bob Salerno

 
Bob Salerno passed away 03/15/2011. He has raced at Great Lakes Dragway for over 30 years with his car, that used to be green with "Stairway to Heaven" on the side. A couple of years ago, Bob painted his car the dark blue car pictured here.
Bob enjoyed the track very much and we will miss him greatly.

Arrangement for Bob will be at:
Rago Brothers Funeral Home
7751 Irving Park Road
Chicago IL 60634
Friday, March 18th
From 11:00 am till 2:00 pm
Please keep Bob and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

RIP Philip “Firesuit” Phil” Pofahl


1940 – 2011

Philip “Firesuit” Pofahl, 70, of Kenosha, passed away Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, at Aurora Medical Center.
Born in Kenosha Dec. 28, 1940, the son of the late Ralph and Luella (Fincannon) Pofahl. A lifelong resident of Kenosha, educated in local schools. From 1963 until 1969 Phil was in the Air National Guard. Serving in the 128th Air Refueling Group.

On Jan. 19, 1963, in Kenosha, he married Barbara M. Eaves.

For 30 years he worked at American Motors/ Chrysler Corp, later he worked for ten years at Allen Bradley in Milwaukee until his retirement. A member of the Geezer Gassers, Mid Century Mercury Car Club, Midwest Ford Club, Midwest Street Machines, AMO/AMX Club. He was proud to have been inducted into the Great Lakes Dragway Hall of Fame, and the Kenosha Legends. His greatest passion was drag racing, as “Firesuit Phil” in his 1946 Ford Gasser. He was proud of his many trophies and awards. Phil had been featured in several magazines. Also a member of the American Legion and Masonic Lodge #47 F&AM. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. He spent many years fishing at his cabin in upper Michigan.

Surviving are his wife, Barbara of Kenosha; two sons, Paul Pofahl of Kenosha, Mark (Kim) Pofahl of Twin Lakes; one daughter, Linda Holly of Vermont; one brother, Richard (Joyce) Pofahl of Salem; mother-in-law, Catherine Eaves; brother-in-law, Joel (Sharon) Eaves; sister-in-law, Kathleen Eaves, all of Kenosha; four grandchildren, Andrew, Elizabeth, Samantha, Rachael; one great grandchild, Bronx and several nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, Feb. 24, from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at Proko Funeral Home. Masonic Lodge #47 F&AM will conduct a service at 1:30 p.m. followed by funeral services with Chaplain Dave Baugher. Interment to follow at Liberty Corners Cemetery. Memorials to Hospice Alliance would be appreciated by the family.

Funeral Home Information:
Proko Funeral Home & Crematory
5111 - 60th Street

RIP Dick Stolpa

Dick "Pops" Stolpa of Waterford, WI passed away at home surrounded by family Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 at the age of 60 years old. He was the beloved husband of Trudy Stolpa for over 40 years, proud father of John (Stacy) Stolpa and Derek (Charis) Stolpa, loving grandfather of Alex, Theresa, Emily Stolpa, and Ally and Alexis, fond brother-in-law of Anthony Walencik. He is also survived by the Rocket Racing and Performance extended family and friends.

Dick has been a fixture at Great Lakes Dragaway for well over 20 years helping his son John campaign one of the quickest and most recognizable Oldsmobile’s in the country. His legacy and contributions to the local racing community will live on through all of those he has touched.

Great Lakes Dragaway will be dedicating the upcoming Buick, Oldsmobile & Pontiac Day this June to the memory of Dick Stolpa.
Dick, we will all miss you.

A memorial visitation will take place on Monday January 24th 2011 from 6-7 at the funeral home. A Memorial Service will follow at 7PM. The family would like to thank all those who made it possible for Dick to live out his dream and share his knowledge and experience and who helped the family during the difficult times.

Heritage Funeral Homes
New Berlin Chapel 16880 W. National Ave.
262-901-1140
Guest Book & Directions at http://www.heritagefuneral.com
Dick Stolpa

Robert Elwood "Bob" Roosa

BURLINGTON - Robert Elwood 'Bob' Roosa, 56, of Burlington, passed away Saturday, October 16, 2010 at Memorial Hospital of Burlington. He was born November 21, 1953 in Burlington to Ellwood and Orva (nee Wachta) Roosa. Bob was a lifetime resident of Burlington and a graduate of Burlington High School, class of 1972. On April 12, 1975 at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Burlington, Bob was united in marriage to Bernice M. "Bernie" Wincek. Bob had previously worked at Hi-Liter Graphics, Motor Parts, Lynch Display Vans and most recently at Centaur Forge. He was a member of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church. He was a volunteer firefighter for the City of Burlington Fire Department for 35 years. His passion was racing and he had raced at Union Grove, Wilmot, Lake Geneva, Rockford IL, Martin MI, Cordova IL and Byron IL, as well as various other tracks. Bob was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame at Great Lakes Dragaway. Most of all Bob loved spending time with his friends and family.

Palmer Lazarus - January 4th, 2010

Palmer S. Lazarus, beloved husband of 63 years of Patricia; proud father of Stephen (Phyllene); cherished grandfather of Leah (Kevin) Kelley; dear brother of George; fond uncle of David.

Born April 5, 1925 in Chicago, he passed away Monday, January 4, 2010 at Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. He was 85 years old.

A resident of Wauconda for 38 years, Palmer was an Air Force Veteran of WWII. A mechanical engineer by trade, he owned his own engineering company and was a supplier to Caterpillar. Palmer was also inducted into the Great Lakes Dragaway Hall of Fame in 2007.

Visitation will be Thursday, January 7, 2009 from 9:00 AM until the time of the funeral service at 11:00 AM at Kisselburg-Wauconda Funeral Home 235 N. Main St., Wauconda. Interment will follow in Wauconda Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are appreciated to the Moody Bible Institute, www.moody.edu.

Mr. Lazarus is likely to have been at Great Lakes Dragaway on opening day, way back in 1955! If anyone can confirm this, or has any pictures of Palmer or him in action at GLD, please email Mike Angeli at mike@greatlakesdragaway.com. Regardless, Palmer had been coming to GLD since the very early days, and lived to see the dragstrip GLD has evolved into over the years!




Tom "The Bomber" Baum - October 27th, 2009

Tom Baum, a lifelong resident of Des Plaines and professional drag racer, died suddenly of a heart attack on Oct. 27, 2009. For many years, "The Bomber" ran "The Xecutioner," a blown alcohol dragster. Tom spent much time at GLD... calling GLD his home track, and was the 1988 champion of The Olympics of Drag Racing, a 4 day long event at GLD. A blog about his impressive career can be found here.

Thanks to Laura & Mark Bruederle for these pictures:
Email them at brued2@aol.com to buy copies, or get more info
       
       
       
Click any of these pictures to see a larger version.


Gary Nisleit - February 18th, 2010

Gary A. Nisleit, 66, of Newton, WI passed away suddenly on Thursday afternoon, February 18, 2010.
Gary was born September 14, 1943 in Sheboygan to Gerhardt and Lillian (Dahmer) Nisleit. His family moved to Lemon Grove, CA in 1949. He graduated from Helix High School in 1961. He also attended Lakeshore Technical College in Sheboygan.

Gary proudly served his country in the U.S. Army, stationed at Schweinfurt, Germany. Following his service in the Army, Gary re-enlisted and joined the US Air Force. He was stationed at Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA and then RAF Welford, England. During his time in the military, Gary enjoyed travel throughout Europe.

On January 28, 1965 Gary married Martha Pauline Elkins of Lemon Grove, CA. They have two children, Julie Anna (Nisleit) Mertz and Erik Clayton Nisleit. Gary and Martha were married for 10 years before divorcing. Gary remained very devoted to his children and played an active part in their lives and in the lives of his grandchildren.

After finishing his time in the Air Force, Gary and his family moved back to Sheboygan where he had spent his early childhood. Gary was a police officer with the Sheboygan Police Department in the 1970’s. He also worked at Gilson Brothers, Bemis Mfg, and J.L. Scheffler. He was a member of Teamsters Local 75. Gary was able to retire early and pursue his love of drag racing. He was a proud member of the Mid-West Gasser Association. He loved racing with fellow nostalgia racers at the Grove, and participated in bracket racing at Wisconsin International Raceway. He had a large racing family at both tracks. He enjoyed traveling to drag strips all over the United States. Gary also loved to fish and hunt. He had an incredible sense of humor and loved to tell jokes and laugh. His laughter was contagious.

He is survived by his daughter Julie Mertz (Tom) of Stillwater, OK and son, Erik Nisleit of Sheboygan. His beloved grandchildren, Corbin, Olivia & Mattea Mertz of Stillwater, OK and Nicole Pauline Nisleit of Sheboygan. He is also survived by his older brother, Randy Nisleit (Sharon) of Alpine, California; several nieces and nephews and many cousins and loyal friends. Gary was preceded in death by his father Gerhardt Julius Mathius Nisleit on March 6, 1992, and mother Lillian Marie Griffin on February 11, 2003 A memorial service was held 11:00 A.M. Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at Ballhorn Funeral Chapels. Rev. Dr. Steven J. Pedersen, Pastor of Zion Covenant Church, officiated.

Gary will be remembered for his love of his family, his love of hot rods and racing, his honesty and sense of humor.

If anyone has any stories, pictures or videos they would like to share, his daughter Julie Mertz would love to know. Email her at sheluvs2read@aol.com.

       
       
       
Click any of these pictures to see a larger version.

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