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Auto-pedestrian accident in Killeen leaves 1 injured, causes delays

An auto-pedestrian accident left traffic backed up along U.S. Highway 190/Interstate 14 near the Trimmier Road exit early Wednesday morning.

Police officers responded to the scene around 6:40 a.m. after a caller reported an accident. Killeen Police Department spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez said a man was reportedly hit by a Jeep while attempting to cross the highway after another car swerved to avoid him.

Rescue workers performed CPR on the victim at the scene.

The man’s condition was unknown as of 8:30 a.m. More information will be released as it is made available.

Miramontez said officers had closed off the Willow Springs/Fort Hood Street exit due to the accident, and that traffic was at a standstill from there to the Trimmier Road exit. Traffic is now flowing normally.

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Cops: Orland man dies after shooting at Alsip body shop; 2nd victim …

One of two men shot at an Alsip auto body shop Tuesday has died, police said Wednesday morning.

Mohamed Salhia, 76, of Orland Park, was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a news release from the Alsip Police Department. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

The second shooting victim, a 43-year-old man, remained at Advocate Christ, where his condition was stabilized, according to police.

The man who allegedly shot the two employees was taken into police custody after a brief pursuit Tuesday, police said.

O’Reilly Auto Parts: An Opportunistic Buy For Consistency And Growth

O’Reilly Automotive’s (NASDAQ:ORLY) sustainable and outperforming business model, valuation metrics pointing to an current undervalued market price, sheer brand power, and position in the American economy make this company a story, quantitatively and qualitatively, worth buying into. O’Reilly Auto Parts has pioneered and mastered their dual-market model strategy over the past two decades, and has become a household name within the auto-part’s world. Erected in 1957, O’Reilly’s first store quickly became a local favorite in Southwest Missouri, and its tremendous growth and commitment to its customers eventually enshrined the entire O’Reilly family as local legends. The company has since sprawled into a gargantuan store network, tallying 4,935 stores in 47 states, as well as one of the largest auto-parts distribution network in the nation. Drawing in and retaining customers with their immense brand power and loyalty, their unique business approach allows customers to tap the expertise of store employees, order their desired automobile or engine parts, and have next day delivery thanks to O’Reilly’s expansive and unparalleled distribution network. Their strength of their infrastructure via distribution centers and hub stores enables them to maintain quick delivery times that are difficult to match by their 3 major competitors. Additionally, O’Reilly has championed the dual market model, taking advantage of both DIY (do-it-yourself) and commercial markets. These elements combine to create a business model hard to match not only by their immediate peers, but also by large conglomerates trying to break into the auto parts market (e.g. Amazon (AMZN)). Their palpable success has filled the billfolds of investors who have continually trusted the leadership and longevity of the rags to riches O’Reilly story.

Historically, O’Reilly has seen immense and unprecedented growth. This has been reflected in their market price, clocking a mind-blowing average trailing total returns of 18.68% over the past 10 years. O’Reilly has never paid out dividends to shareholders, instead opting to enact share buy-back programs and high reinvestment rates which has pumped loads of cash directly back into their business operations. As recently as Friday, September 1st, the board of directors announced an additional and significant share buyback program of $1 billion worth of common stock. Perhaps this signals management’s perception of a current undervaluing of the company, and/or it is an attempt to boost the financial ratios that can have pivotal influence on investor sentiment. In the past, critics have scolded the buy-back moves, claiming that they were done far above their current fair market value. Nevertheless, these buy-back programs have allowed the stock to climb at a tearing pace since the global recession in 2007-2008. According to analyst valuations and expected future growth rates, the most recent buy-back announcement appears like a ripe time to buy, with most estimates undervaluing the stock by at least 15% – 20%.

Here is a look at growth comparisons between O’Reilly and their respective sub-sector. While O’Reilly has recorded average trailing total returns of 18.68% over the past 10 years, their respective sub-sector, specialty retail, has dragged behind at a still-impressive 14.37%.

Source: Morningstar

Here is an additional, longer-term comparison:

Source: Morningstar

Additionally, O’Reilly has eclipsed the SP 500 index for more than 10 years. As the chart below reveals, even the notoriously hot stocks that hog the headlines have had trouble keeping pace with the steadfast nature of O’Reilly (see Disney (DIS), Alphabet (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook (FB)); it’s growth and perseverance have been kept relatively quiet and out of the mainstream investing discussion for the majority of its lifetime.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Despite O’Reilly’s historical prowess, however, they have seen internal warning calls regarding sales, negative market sentiment, and institutional/insider sell-offs leech into their consistently strong market value. A mild 2016-2017 winter led to good conditions for drivers, and therefore bad conditions for the auto- parts industry. This year has presented a period of “soft demand” according to the Q2 earnings call. Yet the fundamentals that have driven O’Reilly’s growth in past years are still present, and are perhaps stronger than they have ever been before. There is strong evidence pointing to a recent bottoming out – after rock bottom at $169.43 during late-July, the stock has rallied and is now trending well above $200.

Source: Morningstar

Additional data suggests that O’Reilly has already taken the brunt of the blow; YTD O’Reilly is down 29.24% while specialty retail is up 37.19%. Within the last month, however, specialty retail has stalled, gaining only 1.78%. O’Reilly, on the other hand, has seen a convincing turnaround – they are trending higher, only down 5.73% over the course of August and following a generally positive earnings call. Its laggard-like traits as of late might suggest that O’Reilly is simply out of gas. This is hardly the case, given their efficient business model, solid fundamentals, valuations, and multiples, as well as their most recent growth relative to their sub-sector. O’Reilly is priced incredibly cheap relative to their historical multiples, and generally as compared to their respective industry.

Internal Success Industry Tailwinds

When we look at the aforementioned data regarding O’Reilly and specialty retail, we see that O’Reilly’s efficient management and sustainable competitive advantages has propelled them eons past their respective peers. And the reasoning behind the unprecedented performance is quite simple: for years now, O’Reilly has been the aggressor in the brick and mortar auto parts world, out-maneuvering its competitors with exceptional management and advantageous acquisitions. Despite sprawling internal growth, operating margins have held steady at an impressive 19.9% (NYSE:TTM), which has been on a steady rise from just 15% 6 years ago:

Operating cash flows have been just as or more steady for the past 4 years:

Their prioritized organic growth (further explained later) and timely distribution network strategies have granted high levels of return on invested capital, in spite of the capital-intensive nature of said strategies:

Current Chairman and CEO Greg Henslee has since stepped down from his presidential role after serving over a decade in the position, but remains CEO and holds a very active role in the company. Newly named co-presidents Jeff Shaw, 54, and Greg Johnson, 51, who have each been with the company for over 25 years, respectively, have taken over more of the day-to-day management and operations. During Henslee’s tenure, and the unique co-president structure, management has taken advantage of strong industry tailwinds, including economic recovery, average miles driven, and average vehicle age. According to NPR, total miles driven on U.S. roads was 3.22 trillion in 2016, which is the fifth consecutive increase since 2011. The average vehicle fleet is nearly 11.6 years old, creating a primed market for O’Reilly’s business model. Current management has relied on a hefty and bold amount of organic growth, opening the doors on 210 new stores 2016 alone. They expect to surpass the 5,000 store mark by year’s end 2017. The comparable store sales, which reflect sales in their newly opened facilities was 4.8% in 2016, a key growth metric of their internal organic growth efforts. Their secondary focus, acquisitions, handed them 48 stores in the Northeast region in 2016 with the acquisition of Bond Auto Parts. Management has articulated that they wish to use both of these strategies to consolidate a fragmented after-market auto parts industry, with the intent of further positioning themselves as a household name and a nationwide powerhouse.

To illustrate O’Reilly’s proven sustainable competitive advantages, here is a keen look at the outpacing O’Reilly has executed in recent years against its immediate competitors:

Source: Yahoo Finance

The fundamentals are just as telling:
This relative valuation points to obvious concerns which we will address later on. At first glance, however, the evidence is clear. O’Reilly has supreme margins and returns on assets, equity, and invested capital. Their ROIC in particular has grown from 20.8% in 2012 to 34.4% in 2016. They have maintained consistent cash flows in spite of their increasingly large debt to equity ratio, and have continued to capture the majority of the auto parts industry market share, now with a slice of pie the size of $25.9 billion. Multiples suggest they are still priced relatively cheap (especially compared to their 5 year average of 25.1 times earnings), and their historical performance is simply unmatched.


To begin, let’s look at a discounted cash flow analysis. Assumptions for the weighted average cost of capital include a trailing twelve month market risk premium of 4.54% (Damodoran), aggregate beta of 0.73 (mean of Google, Yahoo, Reuters, NASDAQ), and risk free rate of 2.02%, the current yield of the U.S 10 year treasury note. We use the 2016 corporate tax rate assessed to O’Reilly revenue, and have calculated cost of debt based on the after tax cost of interest from O’Reilly’s corporate bonds.

This calculation gives us a WACC just above 5% at 5.07%. In order to compute the most accurate cash flow analysis, and to air on the side of caution, we aggregated alternative WACC’s from Morningstar and Guru Focus, at 6.49% and 8.00%, respectively. Additionally, we assume 3 years of high growth and a 2% terminal growth rate (based on current Federal Reserve macroeconomic predictions). Here is our fleshed out DCF model:

Our growth rates are based on an aggregate of the 5-year growth forecast from Morningstar at 14.6%, and the return on invested capital multiplied by the TTM equity re-investment rate, yielding us a more conservative 11.23%. Seeing that O’Reilly has remarkably outpaced this aggregated rate of 12.9% throughout recent history, and given their strong, consistent cash flows, this is a very reasonable growth rate for the company. We also weight FCF at a lofty 90%, since we believe FCFE is highly overstated, as it does not account for enough of the debt O’Reilly’s has undertaken in recent years. This model gives us an upside of nearly 35%, at $283.41, making it an advantageous value play in a generally overpriced American market.


Due diligence suggests we need to add in some additional valuation methods to smooth out this seemingly aggressive and heightened DCF analysis. A P/E multiples approach shows a still affirmative report about the undervalued nature of O’Reilly. We can first take the TTM EPS of O’Reilly of $10.97. The 5Y average P/E multiple for O’Reilly is 25.1, and the forward P/E sits at 14.9. If we weight each at 50%, we get our P/E multiple of 20. This seems reasonable given recent slowing growth patterns in the entire auto parts industry and potential market share threats from online like Amazon and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), but concurrently aware of the historical performance and market pricing of O’Reilly.

If we conservatively weight each valuation method at 50%, this gives us a fair value estimate of $251.30, retaining a still impressive 20% upside on the stock.


Amazon has proven to be the new house status-quo skeptic, sending ripples of fear into every industry it even mentions entering into. While O’Reilly and its peers, without a doubt, have targets on their backs, it will be difficult for Amazon, eBay, and others to snatch any significant portion of the already existing market share. When it comes to after market auto-parts (DIY) and professional service provider customers, the demographic that O’Reilly, Advanced Auto Parts (AAP), and Autozone (AZO) serves has not proven to be overly price sensitive; their products are relatively inelastic. Adding to this, customers find that there is tremendous value in the expertise, superior customer service, parts availability, and convenient locations that O’Reilly offers. The efficiency and reliability O’Reilly has fostered and enhanced is second to none, and has formed exceptional intangible value to customers. While low-cost competition could find its way onto the playing field, these facets of O’Reilly’s business model will simply be hard to navigate and/or mirror by the supposed looming threats of Amazon and eBay.

Perhaps there is a larger threat from electric and natural gas-powered car manufacturers. Integrating new parts, knowledgeable staff, and geographically advantageous stores will prove difficult as O’Reilly, along with the entire global economy navigates this dramatic shift in automotive trends. Companies like Tesla (TSLA) have already proved capable at bypassing the age-old car dealership business model – what says they can’t do it with parts and service, too?

Another point of concern is one of O’Reilly’s key growth metrics: comp sales. While comp store sales were nearing 5% in 2016, second quarter results yielded a measly 1.7%, well below initial 3%-5% guidance. Management has also lowered their guidance for the remainder of the year to a more bleak 1% – 2%. They have also lowered their guidance for revenues and sales for the remainder of 2017, mostly due to overall auto-parts market headwinds.

Insider sell-offs are also a point of concern as of late. For years, the O’Reilly clan has commanded the reigns of the auto-parts store, holding a majority of insider shares. Within the last year, however, several of the long-time figureheads of the company have sold off massive amounts of shares:

Perhaps since this trend is seen amongst several family members and figureheads all at once, it signals a gradual exit process of the long-time company stalwarts. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed in greater detail, especially since these individuals have been apart of the company since its founding mid way through the 20th century. This will put the company in a place it has never been before as they plan to pass the torch on to the next generation, blood relatives or not.

With oil prices trending higher over the latter part of summer, reduced domestic capacity due to a relentless hurricane season in the Southern U.S., and OPEC meetings indicating potential further loosening of oil well spickets, gas prices could continue to rise and therefore discourage consumers from setting yet another record year of miles driven on U.S roads. O’Reilly and its respective industry would thus be disadvantaged by this very likely macroeconomic trend. However, with oil prices near or at $50 a barrel, fracking technology in the continental U.S. can enjoy comfortable margins not seen when oil was at rock-bottom prices. This factor could potentially offset the aforementioned upward pressures on oil, and thus decrease the potential threat to O’Reilly’s future growth.

As indicated by accounting ratios and steady, new developments in the balance sheet, liquidity and financial health is a serious point of concern with O’Reilly. Both debt to equity and leverage can be explained by aggressive growth strategies and additional share buybacks. Nevertheless, they still pose obvious concerns, at 3.00 and 8.45 in the latest quarter, respectively. No major debt is due until 2021, and management is well within their planned strategy and bounds. As indicated by the qualitative factors influencing the company, as well as an affirmative, forward-looking valuation, O’Reilly can overcome these looming threats with their simplistic approach and sustainably competitive business model that has worked for so many years.

Economic Outlook Recommendation

There are a few critical macroeconomic factors that ultimately will determine the overall success of the entire auto parts industry. Ultimately, every U.S. corporation will be affected by potential tax reform, but O’Reilly will stand to benefit more than the aggregate, given their small/mid-cap size and therefore notably high tax rate. The American economy, while perplexed with new and aged challenges alike, appears healthy and strong. This is an environment that O’Reilly in particular has shown great success in the past, and without a doubt will do so in the future, too.

O’Reilly’s aforementioned robust history, sustainable and outperforming business model, multiples relative to the industry, and position in the American economy make this company a story, quantitatively and qualitatively, worth buying into.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ORLY.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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US tipped to put brakes on auto sales as easy finance dries up

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Sale signs lie on vehicles at a General Motors Chevrolet dealership in Ferndale, Michigan.

Continued weakness in the sales of U.S. autos will keep a lid on the sector for up to 18 months according to Moody’s Investor Service.

In a report Tuesday, Moody’s claimed that U.S. auto sales will shrink 3.6 percent in 2017 and by 0.6 percent next year as low-cost lease deals prove harder to find.

“While steady global GDP growth will drive a bigger demand for cars in key markets like China, Japan, and India, we expect U.S. car sales to weaken and slow the speed of growth for the automakers sector globally to less than 2 percent into 2018, and so our sector outlook remains negative,” said Falk Frey, Senior Vice President at Moody’s.

According to Autodata Corporation, total vehicle sales in the United States decreased to 16.14 million in August from 16.77 million in July.

U.S. auto sales have been on a downward trajectory since December 2016.

The Moody’s report added used car prices should fall as large numbers of vehicles come off lease but noted that demand for new vehicles could be supported by the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

A customer checks a BYD e6 electric car at a dealership in Beijing, China.

China is also predicted to see a cooling of auto sales. Moody’s says Chinese auto sales will grow just 3 percent this year and 2 percent in 2018 as a tax cut on purchases of small engine passenger vehicles comes to an end.

However, the report noted that China’s low vehicle penetration rate and continued economic growth could return auto sales to high single-digit growth over the next five years.

In Europe, the transition away from diesel is expected to aid demand.

“Western European auto sales will grow 2 percent this year on the back of improving demand in Germany, where automakers such as BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler have been offering consumers incentives to trade in older diesel vehicles for less polluting ones,” added Frey.

Japan and India have healthier outlooks from the ratings agency with Japanese consumers expected to boost car sales by 5.7 percent in 2017 as Nissan offers a new range of small cars.

For India, car sales look set to grow a bumper 9 percent this year and 7 percent in 2018 as a new tax regime forced manufacturers to cut prices.

Comcast Business Drives Chapman Auto Stores Forward with Fiber Services

For over 50 years, Chapman Auto Stores has served the greater Philadelphia and tristate area with high-quality vehicles from ten different brands including Ford, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Nissan, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, RAM, Volkswagen and Mazda. The company has sales, service and body shops across ten locations and its business is heavily reliant upon dependable internet and network services for all of its operations, which include completing paperwork on new car purchases, servicing vehicles and providing superior customer service.

“If we cannot access the internet or connect to our data management system, our business grinds to a halt. Additionally, we are always looking to stay at the forefront of industry advancements and deliver the best for our customers. Our new network of advanced phone, internet and video enables consistent operations,” said Keane Storey, director of business development, Chapman Auto Stores. “The communications services from Comcast Business allow our employees to focus on delivering the high-quality customer experience that we pride ourselves on, and provide assurance that we’re ready and able to support growth as we continue to expand.”

Chapman Auto Stores implemented an Ethernet Network Service with 30 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) to each of its locations along with a 300 Mbps secure connection to the data center to handle its Microsoft Exchange and data management systems. The company’s headquarters in Horsham has a 25 Mbps Ethernet Dedicated Internet and each location is also serviced by a 150 Mbps Business Class Internet line that handles the majority of internet traffic from customers and staff. Additionally, each body shop, office and dealership is equipped with Comcast PRI phone service, Business Voice as well as Comcast Business TV for entertainment in the customer areas.

“Overall, we have had a substantial drop in the number of challenges with our network since implementing Comcast Business services. Our backup with Comcast Business Ethernet has been reliable. It has been a significant benefit to our business, especially our service department, which requires fast service to download programming updates for cars and repairs,” Storey continued.

“Customer-centric companies, such as Chapman Auto Stores, require dependable services to provide the best customer service, whether it be video options in a waiting area, fast internet service for personal entertainment or phone lines to reach the service or sales departments,” said David Dombroski, vice president for Comcast Business, Freedom Region. “Comcast Business’ suite of services provides Chapman Auto Stores with an enhanced network, resulting in a great experience for its customers.”

About Chapman Auto Stores
The Chapman Auto Stores has served the local community with high quality vehicle sales and service for over a half century and has sold tens of thousands of vehicles, about one vehicle every 10 minutes. With ten locations from Atlantic City to Lancaster County, The Chapman Auto Stores is one of the largest auto groups in the tristate area with the best selection of new vehicles – Ford, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Nissan, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, RAM, Volkswagen and Mazda – as well as certified pre-owned vehicles and experienced accessories departments to serve ALL accessory needs.

About Comcast Business
Comcast Business offers Ethernet, Internet, Wi-Fi, Voice, TV and Managed Enterprise Solutions to help organizations of all sizes transform their business. Powered by an advanced network, and backed by 24/7 customer support, Comcast Business is one of the largest contributors to the growth of Comcast Cable. Comcast Business is the nation’s largest cable provider to small and mid-size businesses and has emerged as a force in the enterprise market; recognized over the last two years by leading industry associations as one of the fastest growing providers of Ethernet services.

For more information, call 866-429-3085. Follow on Twitter @ComcastBusiness and on other social media networks at

About Comcast Cable
Comcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company. Visit for more information.

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Bel Air Auto Auction opens new Riverside facility

The Bel Air Auto Auction is in its new digs in Riverside, a 185-acre site off Philadelphia Road that gives company officials enough space to have their auction business and corporate headquarters in one location.

“We are thrilled to be on one site,” Michelle Nichols-Neff, vice president of parent company BSC America, said Monday. “It’s much more efficient, so we are really tickled to be here.”

The Nichols family has owned the Bel Air Auto Action, which was founded in 1947, since 1980. Raymond Nichols, the CEO of the BSC America Auction Group, purchased the business with his late wife, Elaine, and two business partners, according to Nichols-Neff.

She and her brother, R. Charles Nichols, became business partners with their father in 1993. Charles Nichols is the president of BSC America.

Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame to enshrine seven new inductees

The Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame will enshrine seven new inductees at the organization’s 20th annual Induction Ceremony on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, in Lincoln.

This year’s class of inductees includes Mechanic and Engine Builder Mike Barnett of Lincoln, Drag Racer Gene Bichlmeier of Norfolk, Road Racer Paul Brown of Omaha, Driver and Car Owner Lynn Grabill of Grand Island, Fire Crew Member and Safety Trainer Carroll “Speedy” Hill of Omaha, Historian and Author Ray Valasek of Lincoln, and Driver Joe Wade of Dorchester.

Mike Barnett
Mike Barnett’s involvement in racing in the Midwest began in the late 1960s. Over the years, Barnett turned wrenches and served as the Crew Chief on Sprint Cars driven by NARHoF inductees Don Droud, Sr. and Jim Riggins, as well as Rex Hendrickson and Ed Bowes. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Barnett-prepared Sprint Cars raced successfully in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Missouri. In 1971, Barnett was named Mechanic of the Year by the Nebraska Modified Racing Association and in 1984, a Barnett-prepared Sprinter won the season championship at Midwest Speedway in Lincoln, with Droud behind the wheel.

Gene Bichlmeier
Gene Bichlmeier’s career as a Drag Racer began in 1965, and over his fifty-plus year racing career, he has logged thousands of quarter-mile runs at hundreds of race tracks in 20 different states, while securing a total of 46 class wins. He won the points championship at Thunder Valley Dragway in Marion, South Dakota five times and won point titles at Scribner, Nebraska on three occasions. Bichlmeier’s national resume includes a win at the 1997 NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, California and a runner-up finish at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida in 2001.

Paul Brown
Paul Brown entered his first Road Race at the age of 16, and competed in hundreds of events across the country until his untimely death in 2012 at age 43. He was a 5-time SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) National Road Race champion and was the 2011 SCCA Pirelli World Challenge GTS champion. That year, he won the SCCA Driver’s Championship, while securing, for Ford, the SCCA Manufacturer’s Championship. Over the years, he held track records at numerous prestigious road courses including Mid Ohio Sports Car Course (Ohio), Road Atlanta (Georgia), Luguna Seca Raceway (California), Road America (Wisconsin), Mid-America Motorplex (Iowa), and Heartland Park Topeka (Kansas).

Lynn Grabill
Lynn Grabill’s involvement in racing, as either a driver or a car owner, spans portions of seven decades. He strapped himself into a dirt track race car for the first time as a 17-year old in the late 1950s and throughout his driving career, wheeled Coupes, Modifieds, Super Modifieds and Sprint Cars in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. After hanging up his helmet and fire suit, Grabill became a successful Modified Midget, Sprint Car and Micro Sprint Car owner, with his cars winning Modified Midget championships at Hastings and Waverly, Nebraska and Sprint Car titles at Osborn and Grain Valley, Missouri. With his son, Kerry, at the wheel, Grabill’s car finished second at the NMMA (National Modified Midget Association) Western Region Championship event in Lenmoore, California in 1997.

Carroll “Speedy” Hill
Speedy Hill began working in race track Fire Protection at Playland Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1961 and over the next 40-plus years provided safety protection for over a dozen race tracks in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri and Colorado. Following the fiery death of a driver in Denison, Iowa in 2000, he put together a training course on race track fire protection and toured the Midwest, training race track safety personnel on how to quickly and effectively extinguish fires associated with auto racing. He served on the Indianapolis 500 fire safety crew for 18 years, and was eventually elevated to the rank of Assistant Fire Chief at the famed Brickyard oval.

Ray Valasek
Ray Valasek has dedicated nearly 70 years of his life to the sport of auto racing as a driver, crew member, author and historian. His driving career began in 1950 when he first raced a stock car at South 13th Speedway in Omaha. He later raced in the NASCAR Sportsman Division, and in 1963, served as a crew member for Johnny White during his winning drive in the prestigious “Little 500” in Anderson, Indiana. Valasek was involved in the founding of the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1997, and served as the organization’s Secretary/Treasurer for numerous years. He co-authored, with Bob Mays, “Valley County Thunder, The History Of Racing In Ord, Nebraska,” which was published in 2004.

Joe Wade
Joe Wade’s racing career began as an eight year old youngster, when he began racing go-karts at tracks in and around Lincoln. Following a brief stint racing motorcycles, he began racing a stock car at Midwest Speedway in Lincoln in 1969 and over the next 17 years, successfully drove both Late Models and Sprint Cars at over two dozen tracks in seven Midwestern states. He won track championships at Beatrice, Lincoln, York and Nebraska City and at one time held one-lap records at eight different Nebraska race tracks, including Midwest Speedway in Lincoln, The Speed Bowl in Red Cloud, Eagle Raceway in Eagle, and Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan. Among his most prestigious career wins was the 1973 IMCA New Model Stock Car event at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln.

The Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame was established to perpetuate the memory of individuals who have brought lasting fame and positive recognition to the state of Nebraska through their achievements in the sport of auto racing. Over 125 Nebraskans have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since the induction of the first class in 1998.

This year’s 20th anniversary Induction Ceremony will be held at the Lincoln Firefighter’s Reception Hall, located at 241 Victory Lane in Lincoln, on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Doors will open at 5 p.m. with the ceremony beginning at 6:30. Tickets are $20 each. Contact Joe Orth 402-429-1812, Chad Dolan 308-325-1680, Tom Lathan 515-231-1873, Tony Glenn 402-310-0217 or message us here on facebook for tickets.



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4 plans considered to bring auto insurance rate relief to Michiganders






The Michigan Legislature is trying to tackle the thorny issue of no-fault auto insurance reform.

LANSING — Relief from the highest auto insurance rates in the nation took on a bigger sense of urgency last week.

From comments made by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette when he announced his run for governor to a plan offered by bipartisan group of lawmakers, calls to reform Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance rose to the top of the agenda.

Add the two newest entries to the insurance debate to efforts being made by Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt, who is working with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to come up with a way to reduce rates across Michigan and especially in Detroit, where drivers can pay up to $3,000 a year for insurance.

Read more:

No-fault fixes? How other states reined in auto insurance costs

Free Press report: Why does auto insurance in Detroit cost so much?






Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan talks about the need for reform in the state’s no fault auto insurance system.
Kathleen Gray/Detroit Free Press

Duggan has called astronomical auto insurance rates — Michigan is ranked highest in the nation — “the biggest scandal in the state.”

And Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, also rates insurance reform as a top priority, but has his own ideas on what shape that reform will take.

Lawmakers have been unsuccessful in their multiple attempts over the last several years to reform the state’s no-fault auto insurance system, which carries the highest costs in the nation, fueled in part by lifetime health benefits for people catastrophically injured in vehicle crashes.

And it’s not certain that they’ll be able to cross the finish line this year, despite a renewed push for reform.

“Change happens when good politics meets good policy,” said Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing-based public policy think tank. “We’re seeing momentum on the politics side and a desire for change. So that makes action more likely. But in the policy environment, I haven’t heard new ideas or proposals.”

The proposals

1. A rare show of bipartisanship on the issue emerged last week when 15 members of the House of Representatives —  both Republicans and Democrats — gathered at the Lansing Center to announce a package of bills to reduce auto insurance rates, including: a prohibition on auto insurance companies from using anything other than a person’s driving record — such as credit scores, ZIP codes or gender — to determine rates; a guaranteed reduction in rates of 20% to 30% without a loss of benefits; the creation of a fraud authority to root out abuses by both insurance providers and customers; and a fee schedule for both medical services and the amount paid to people who care for car crash victims.

“Insurance companies find excuses to charge people higher rates for their insurance even when they’re perfect drivers,” said state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit. “I’m not saying women are better drivers than others. I’m just saying it’s not fair to charge us more because of our pulchritude.”

The proposal gained some support from organizations that have been opposed in the past, such as the Brain Injury Association of Michigan.

“We’ve been working for the past few legislative cycles to come up with a comprehensive reform package that will improve Michigan’s auto insurance system that will protect the lifetime injury coverage that is so crucial to accident survivors while still reducing the cost for drivers,” said Thomas Constand, president of the association, who was at the announcement.  “Today, we have the makings of that lasting bipartisan solution.”

But the prohibition on non-driving factors to be used to set rates has been proposed before by Democrats, going back to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and have been shot down by the courts and Republicans.

And the current leadership in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate aren’t on board with the latest proposal.

“I have not had an opportunity to review this or even know what’s in the proposal,” Leonard said. “But I am very excited by the fact that other groups are finally coming to the table, or at least proposing solutions.”

2. Leonard and Duggan have been working for months on an auto insurance fix that is working toward reducing insurance rates by 25%-30%. While specific details haven’t been released yet, an option for customers to buy less expensive plans that would have a cap on medical coverage has been discussed.

Similar proposals have fizzled in the past and Meekhof has declared that any proposal that would mandate the rates insurance companies could charge amounts to “price fixing” that would be “dead, dead, dead” in the Senate.

But Duggan, a tenacious politician unaccustomed to defeat, has been working the Legislature hard, trying to drum up support for what he described in his State of the City address earlier this year as one of the major drags on the city’s comeback.

And Leonard said the momentum is on their side.

“Outside groups are scared and are finally coming to the table because they know that we’re very close to getting something together that will deliver real rate relief for the citizens of this state,” he said.

3. Meekhof said auto insurance reform doesn’t have to be all encompassing in order for customers to realize rate relief. There are three areas that could help, he said, including limits on what caregivers are paid; a fraud authority, and capping benefits for uninsured passengers or pedestrians who are injured in accidents.

“By the time you get the insurance industry and hospitals to agree on those three things, the immaculate conception has just happened,” he said, adding that he has no intention of considering a mandatory rollback in rates.

“When do Republicans get in between a private transaction between a business and customer and set what prices are?” he said. “Anything that interrupts the free market is dead.”

4. When Schuette officially announced his campaign for governor last week in Midland, he said putting money back into the pockets of Michiganders —through tax and auto insurance relief — topped his campaign agenda.

But specific plans haven’t been developed yet, said campaign spokeswoman Bridget Bush.

“Bill is closely watching the current legislative activity that is unfolding,” she said. “We know a key piece that has to be acted upon is fraud and frivolous lawsuits that drive up costs for good drivers and law-abiding citizens.”

Despite the lack of agreement on the proposals making the rounds in Lansing, state Rep. Ben Frederick, R-Owosso, said there is room for optimism.

“We all have certain points from which we start these negotiations,” he said. “What we’ve seen time and time again is a failure in the House to get something done. But everyone should give a little to get something big done.”

It’s hard, however, to balance the needs of severely injured accident victims, who travel to the Capitol to tell their stories whenever the issue comes up in Lansing, and the desire of Michiganders to lower exorbitant auto insurance bills.

“I have never in my life met a legislator who is so hard-hearted and has said those stories have no effect on them,” Williams said. “I use the discussions over repealing the Affordable Care Act as a comparison. Both of those discussions are talking about extreme financial risks on events that haven’t happened yet that have huge price tags for society. But where do you draw the line?”

No actual bills have been introduced yet, but are expected soon from lawmakers.

Contact Kathleen Gray: 313-223-4430, or on Twitter @michpoligal.

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Four-year deal ends Chicago-area auto mechanics strike – Chicago Sun

Declaring that new car dealers have “waved the white flag and capitulated to our demands,” union mechanics announced a new four-year deal Sunday has ended a nearly seven-week strike against roughly 130 Chicago-area dealerships.

The announcement follows recent predictions that the strike was nearing an end. The union had seen an influx of dealers looking to negotiate on their own. Sam Cicinelli, directing business representative for Automobile Mechanics Local 701, said late last week that half of the dealerships making up the New Car Dealer Committee had already signed interim deals.

On Sunday, Cicinelli told the union’s members the NCDC had tried — and failed — to break the union, according to a press release. Now nearly 2,000 mechanics who’ve been walking the picket line since early August are headed back to work Monday.

“They attempted every dirty trick in the book by trying to demoralize you on the line,” Cicinelli said. “They tried to fill you with uncertainty while blaming the union for what’s going on. They tried to divide you. But we divided them.”

NCDC spokesman Mark Bilek confirmed the deal but declined to comment on the union’s rhetoric. He also deferred to the union on the terms of the deal, noting simply that the dealers are “very happy that this has finally come to a resolution.”

The final agreement mirrors the offer agreed upon by the more than 70 individual dealerships that broke ranks and brokered interim deals, according to the union’s press release. The contract includes “a significant wage increase across the board and the mechanics’ No. 1 issue of increasing their base pay two additional hours over the term of the agreement,” the union said.

It also addresses the advancement of semi-skilled workers toward a career path, shortens the apprenticeship scale from 10 to five years, fixes a break in seniority for a longer period if workers get hurt on the job, offers a more family-friendly work schedule to senior-level journeymen technicians, maintains the employee contribution for health insurance and increases tool insurance to cover up to $100,000, according to the press release.

“We wrestled them down, defending each of their moves to where they finally tapped out,” Cicinelli said. “They waved the white flag and capitulated to our demands.”

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How Age Influences Auto Insurance Costs

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — has released a new blog post explaining how auto insurance prices are determined based on the applicant’s age.

Age can play a significant role in determining auto insurance rates for an applicant. Agencies usually associate age categories with risks. Someone who is young, for example, does not have enough experience to be considered a reliable driver. Statistics are also used to justify price differences, as teenagers lead when it comes to fatal accidents.

Senior citizens, on the other hand, may end up paying less for car insurance, provided that they have a clean driving record. Drivers in their 30s and 40s are also a preferred category, especially if they are married and have children.

Comparing online car insurance quotes can help any car owner find advantageous prices. It is possible to review different plans by simply visiting  To get a list of quotes, clients have to go through a simple process that only takes two steps and a few minutes:

  • Complete the ZIP code. Location is very important for determining auto insurance costs and prices can vary from one state to another. Someone’s ZIP code allows brokers to limit their search to a specific area.
  • Complete the online form. The questionnaire is available online and clients have to provide some details about their vehicles and driving experience. a senior client who drives a safe car and has a clean driving record, without any major traffic violations, can find advantageous coverage plans in just a few minutes.
  • “We can help you find advantageous car insurance regardless of your age,” said Russell Rabichev, Marketing Director of Internet Marketing Company. is an online provider of life, home, health, and auto insurance quotes. This website is unique because it does not simply stick to one kind of insurance provider, but brings the clients the best deals from many different online insurance carriers. In this way, clients have access to offers from multiple carriers all in one place: this website. On this site, customers have access to quotes for insurance plans from various agencies, such as local or nationwide agencies, brand names insurance companies, etc.

    For more information, please visit

    Media Contact:Russell Rabichev, Internet Marketing Company, 800.475.3410, rel=”nofollow”

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