|Roger “Bud” Ellis
Some of the Rice Lake Speedway’s Hall of Famers made their presence known by their accomplishments on the race track. Some, however, have made their mark behind the scene. Such is the case with Bud Ellis.
While Bud was a racer at the speedway, it was what he did for the speedway after he hung up his helmet that has qualified him for the lofty title of Hall of Famer.
Bud’s interest in racing began as a driver at the Rice Lake Speed Pit, as the track was originally called, in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. Bud was a competitive driver in the Stock class at that time, racing for the enjoyment of the sport. Bud also has the distinction of being one of the very few drivers that can claim that he raced at the unlighted, dusty speedway that was located on the south side of Rice Lake near where the Seventh Day Adventist church now stands on old highway 53. This track, which was the forerunner of the current speedway, only lasted for a year or so until it was shut down and Bud’s memory of the one time he raced there in the early 50’s was that he got hit pretty hard in the face by a rock, not an unusual hazard at that time.
However, it was after Bud gave up racing that his statue as a future Hall of Famer came about. It would be very difficult to measure the amount of money Bud has saved the Rice Lake Speedway over the years through the donations of time and money that he has given towards the best interests of the track. During the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, Bud helped the racers at the track and the track itself with his advertising, sponsoring special events and contributing to the purses paid the drivers. This was at a time when the speedway was owned and run by the Indianhead Stock Car Racing Association, a non profit club struggling to keep the track operational.
In 1986 Bud purchased H & E Ready Mix and soon after he lent to the track his trucks, heavy equipment, concrete and manpower to get the track ready each season, and for needed improvements both during the racing season and at its conclusion.
Bud came up with the idea of the high rise fan booths located directly behind the bleachers in the late 1980’s. He built the first one located directly in front of the rest rooms with his own money and then he and his wife Mary donated it to the track. He then paid a yearly fee to use the booth with all the high rise booths that now nearly surround the track set up with the same agreement.
Bud served as treasurer of the Rice Lake Speedway, through the Indianhead Stock Car Racing Association, in 1985, the year that the speedway joined the WISSOTA Promoters Association for its sanctioning in the Late Model and Modified classes.
Among Bud’s hobbies is his racing cards collection, which has evolved into a very elaborate collection.
Bud has retained his love of racing over these many years, a passion that has been transferred to other members of his family. Sons Rick and Bob were both accomplished racers themselves with many feature wins and titles between them. A third generation of racing Ellis’s has also hit the track with Bud and Mary’s Grandsons Zach, Colton and Austin either currently racing or having previous racing experience, all a part of one of the Rice Lake Speedway’s first families of racing.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hall of Famer in the Friends of the Speedway category, Bud Ellis.