Colo. Auto Hall of Fame induction

Lisa Schomp, Colorado Time Dealer in 2007, is on stage with CADA officials Steve Zeder, left, and Anthony Brownlee. (CADA photos)

More than 600 persons gathered beneath a large tent on an evening in mid-September 2021 on the grounds of the Elitch Gardens to celebrate the induction of the inaugural class for the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame.

The 12th annual Gala, sponsored by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), featured 50 former Time Dealer Award winners from Colorado as inductees, and many family members were in attendance. I, too, was included in the Hall of Fame honors for my many years of automotive coverage.

At the dinner’s conclusion, the gates into Elitch from its parking areas were opened for an early look at the 2021 Denver Auto Show.

“Dealers consistently and generously contribute to the lives of their communities,” said Tim Jackson, president and CEO of CADA, at the awards dinner, “and we’re very proud to honor these wonderful individuals who have made this industry a driving force in our state.”

Emcees were Ed Greene and Claudia Garofalo, of KUSA9, and presenting the awards were Steve Zeder, CADA chair, of Glenwood Springs, and Anthony Brownlee, auto show chair for the CADA.

Colorado’s 50 Time Dealer Award winners who were inducted into the Hall of Fame are:

Russel Lyons of Boulder,

Gene Markley of Fort Collins,

Richard Deane of Denver,

Vern Hagestad of Lakewood,

Charlie Williams of Colorado Springs,

Al O’Meara of Denver,

Ralph Schomp of Littleton,

Gene Wilcoxson of Pueblo, George McCaddon of Boulder,

Tony Fortino of Pueblo,

Dwight Ghent of Fort Collins,

Nate Burt of Denver,

Jack Maffeo of Arvada,

Don Doenges of Colorado Springs,

Florian Barth of Denver,

Hugh Tighe Jr. of Denver,

Richard Dellenbach of Fort Collins,

Joe Luby of Denver,

Harry Dowson of Denver,

Bob Fisher of Boulder,

Robert Markley of Greeley,

Doug McDonald of Denver,

Jim Suss Sr. of Denver,

Roland Purifoy of Fort Lupton,

Herrick Garnsey of Greeley,

Jim Reilly Sr. of  Colorado Springs,

Lloyd Chavez of Denver,

Fred Emich III of Denver,

Kent Stevinson of Lakewood,

Dean Dowson of Lakewood,

John Schenden of Northglenn,

Lee Payne of Golden,

Jim Morehart of Durango,

Jeff Carlson of Glenwood Springs,

Barbara Vidmar of Pueblo,

Lisa Schomp of Littleton,

Don Hicks of Aurora,

John Medved of Golden,

Jack TerHar of Broomfield,

Doug Moreland of Denver,

Mike Shaw of Denver,

Jay Cimino of Colorado Springs,

Bob Ghent of Greeley,

Scott Ehrlich of Greeley,

Bob Penkhus of Colorado Springs,

Bill Hellman of Delta,

Todd Maul of Denver,

Mary Pacifico-Valley of Denver,

Fletcher Flower of Montrose,

Christina Dawkins of Loveland.

John Medved, left, who has sold his Colorado dealerships, was Colorado Time Dealer in 2009; he received HOF congrats from Brownlee.
Bob Markley of Greeley, Colorado Time Dealer in 1990, is applauded by his son, Dave, Claudia Garofalo at left, Zeder and Brownlee, right.

Notes from Elitch: A short visit with Jay Cimino was enjoyable before the beginning of the awards ceremonies; he is president and CEO of Phil Long dealerships, and one of the oldest execs heading automotive groups. . . . . The younger generation is active, too. When Lisa Schomp complimented her son, Aaron Wallace, on his aggressive expansion of holdings by the Schomp group, I asked, “Is he 40 yet?” “No, he’s 38,” she said. . . . .A couple other notables among the successful auto dealers at the dinner were John Elway, Denver’s football favorite, and Jason Stein, who recently resigned as publisher of Automotive News  in Detroit in order to accept a position as president of global venture consultancy Motormindz and host his own SiriusXM show. . . . . Sharing a table with Jan and me at the dinner were Kim Parker, Kurt and Tammy Wells, Dale and Sandy Wells, Kathy and Bill Allen, Brent and Tina Wells. . . . .When Fred Brown gave me a wave from across a wide table at the Hall of Fame dinner, he was close enough that I could read the Garnsey & Wheeler script above a pocket. Brown, about 15 years ago, was general manager of longtime Garnsey & Wheeler Ford at Greeley; the dealership was purchased a short time later by Spradley Barr of Pueblo. . . . .A note of congratulations from a former classmate of mine at Wray, ended with: “I don’t even really do cars, but I do read your articles.”

From the CADA:

Bud began work at The Denver Post in 1968, after 11 years at the Sterling Journal-Advocate and a year at the Rocky Mountain News. At the Post, he attained the position of Page One Editor, then in the mid-1970s oversaw the creation of an automotive news section for the Post and soon became the paper’s auto columnist.

He is a native of Wray, where his father, Dale Wells, opened a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership in 1935 and added the Ford/Mercury franchise in 1939.

The Wells family at HOF dinner included, from left, Bill and Kathy Allen, Brent and Tina Wells, Sandy Wells, Kim Parker, Dale Wells, Bud and Jan Wells, Kurt and Tammy Wells. (Cheryl Burnside photo)

Bud in the 1980s operated a car sales business in Sterling, served as publications director for Curtis Publishing Co. history book division in Dallas, and was with the Pueblo Chieftain for 1½ years.

He rejoined the Rocky Mountain News in 1991, became editor of the Advertorial Department and wrote about cars. In 1996, Bud authored “The Colorado Car Book,” a look at the 100-year history of the automobile in this state. He returned to The Denver Post in 2000 and continued to write weekly automotive columns.

Bud retired from the paper in 2003, though continued his car columns and in 2021 is still writing about cars for The Post. Living in Greeley since 2005, Bud wrote weekly auto columns for The Greeley Tribune, in addition to The Post.

In 2009, Bud was honored when the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association named its board room after him for his “extensive commitment of time, energy and passionate reporting on all aspects of Colorado’s automotive industry.”

Bud has driven and reviewed nearly 2,500 new cars and trucks, including the Porsche Cayenne on the frozen lakes of Whitehorse in the Canadian Yukon. In 2012, he was presented the Lee Iacocca Award “for dedication to excellence in perpetuating an American automotive tradition.” In 2014, he worked with CADA President and CEO Tim Jackson in overseeing “The 100-Year Deal,” an automotive history including a reprint of The Colorado Car Book.

He is a member of the Denver Press Club, Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and United Methodist Church.

A close advisor and confidant has been his lovely wife of 65 years, Jan. They have five children, 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.