Introducing MPMC’s Hall of Fame Inductees
Dick Berggren’s storied career in journalism and his dedication to motorsports led to his induction into the MPMC Hall of Fame.
The Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) Hall of Fame immortalizes those who have made a significant contribution to the MPMC or to the motorsports parts manufacturing segment as a whole. Two MPMC Hall of Fame inductees were honored during an evening reception on Friday, December 11, at the Performance Racing Industry Show in the Indiana Convention Center.
When Dick Berggren was eight years old, his father took him to a stock car race, and it was love at first sight.
“It was like those stories where a guy meets a girl and knows immediately that they are destined to become a couple and spend the rest of their lives together,” he said in a 2012 interview with Car and Driver magazine. “It was exactly like that.”
After obtaining a PhD in 1970, Berggren worked as a psychology professor at Emmanuel College in Boston for nine years, at the same time racing modifieds and sprint cars at New England short tracks. He retired from driving in 1981 and began his long and storied career in journalism and broadcasting. Did he like it? At one point Dick was working for three different TV networks and editing two magazines, Stock Car Racing and Open Wheel.
“Those were the days of no sleep,” he recalled in the same interview.
In 1999, he started his own magazine, Speedway Illustrated, which he still runs to this day. Berggren retired from television in 2012 but is far from “retired.” Along with Speedway Illustrated, he is working on the North East Motor Sports Museum, which is set to open on the grounds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In addition to his motorsports accomplishments and contributions, Berggren was also an original member of the World Motorsports Society (WMS). Founded in 1994, the WMS was a lobbying group that was open to racers, sanctioning bodies, engine builders, parts suppliers and tracks. Its purpose was to address concerns and challenges to all of the stakeholders in worldwide motorsports. It very quickly transitioned to a SEMA council of parts manufacturers—the MPMC. As a non-manufacturer, Berggren was never a member of the MPMC, but his contribution to its foundation make him a deserving member of the MPMC Hall of Fame.
Ron Johnson chaired the MPMC from 2004 to 2006, served on the select committee prior to that and was instrumental in the development of council programs such as the Media Trade Conference.
Ron Johnson chaired the MPMC from 2004 to 2006, and he served on the select committee for four years prior to that. But those statistics hardly tell the story of Johnson’s influence on the council.
“I am always conscious of how I use my time,” he recalled in an interview after receiving the news of his Hall of Fame induction. “I was working at Moroso at that time and had about a 45-minute drive home. Being located in New England, I realized that SEMA staff and some of my fellow MPMC volunteers still had three hours of workday left on the West Coast. So almost every day, on my drive home, I was on the phone working on MPMC and SEMA stuff. I’m sure folks felt like I was badgering at times, but I’m certain it helped us move the needle on things like the Business Guidelines Manual and the Media Trade Conference.”
Contemporary MPMC select committee members verified that Johnson kept things moving, especially on the Media Trade Conference. He pushed to improve everything about the event, from media outreach to meeting schedules and even to the choice of menu items.
“Ron was around during the early years when MPMC was formed,” said former SEMA Chairman of the Board Scooter Brothers of COMP Performance Group. “He was instrumental in developing a vision that made MPMC a formidable council, which made and continues to make a difference. Ron never knew the meaning of ‘can’t do,’ and his leadership allowed MPMC to reach the prominence it enjoys today. Ron was a leader and a visionary in the early days of MPMC, and there’s no way MPMC would be what it is today without Ron’s efforts.”
Such accolades verify that Johnson is a deserving member of the MPMC Hall of Fame. Today, Johnson works in the industrial construction industry, but he keeps his hands in the automotive aftermarket through Next Speed Shop, an online retail business that he operates with his son.