Hall of Fame News

Hall of Famer Spotlight: Wally Dallenbach Sr.

By Keaton Maisano

It’s the season of giving, so December’s Hall of Famer Spotlight shines a light on a generous and impactful figure born 86 years ago.

Born Dec. 12, 1936, Wally Dallenbach Sr., might appear to be a curious inclusion in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame as he is known for his time as an accomplished race car driver. However, Dallenbach’s passion for motorcycling and helping others manifested itself in the creation of the Colorado 500 — an invitational charity ride that annually explores Colorado’s best roads and trails.

With roots back to the ’70s, the Colorado 500 established its charity fund in 1981, and since then nearly $3 million has gone to helping others over the years. Today, the Charity Fund and Scholarship Fund continue to impact the community through their focus on supporting local schools, students, trails and more.

“The 500 is known not only to support everyone — the riders, kids and other needy organizations — but it changes people’s lives,” said Janet Lohman, president and executive director of the Colorado 500. “We just embrace people like our scholarship recipients as family. It just changes people.”

Prior to his positive impact on the people and trails around Colorado, Dallenbach carved out a successful racing career for himself.

At age 17, the New Jersey native began his drag racing career and accumulated 80 wins in five years. Dallenbach continued his winning ways after he began oval racing at various stock car tracks along the East Coast at age 21.

Dallenbach got a chance to participate in the 1965 Championship Car Racing event in Langhom, Pa., opening the door for a decade-and-a-half career in Champ car racing. Over that stretch, Dallenbach earned five wins and started in the Indianapolis 500 on 13 occasions.

In 1980, Championship Auto Racing teams (CART) hired Dallenbach as chief steward — a position he served in until 2005.

Due to his role in founding the Colorado 500, Dallenbach was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2006.

A painting of Wally Dallenbach Sr.