Inductees Shannon began a career that spanned almost four decades in 1947 when he climbed into his first racing machine at Hoffers Death Valley track in Highway Village in East Peoria. He was 16 years old.
From that start would come local championships and success in such national racing organizations as USAC, ARCA and IMBA.
A long time employee of the City of Peoria, Shannon took part in several thousand races, spent a bit of time in various hospitals mending broken bones, and, especially, in USAC stock car ranks, raced against some of the biggest names in the sport.
Starting over 100 USAC stock car races, Shannon had his finest year in 1963 when he finished fifth nationally, trailing only such racing stars as Don White, A. J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and Norm Nelson. Behind him that year were Indy 500 veterans Rodger Ward, Joe Leonard, Lloyd Ruby, Jim Hurtubise and Bobby Unser. That same season he set a world record for a one-mile dirt track at the DuQuoin State Fair.
He was ninth in USAC in 1964 after ranking third before a highway mishap hospitalized him, and was seventh the following season.
He won his first Peoria Speedway championship in 1955 and two seasons later won 19 out of 26 features, still a track record. And as late as 1983 he was still going strong locally, winning nine out of 13 races here and winning the Busch Series championship.
In the last half-dozen years Shannon has been very active in several charitable motorsport events including the Peoria Grand Prix, winning recognition from Diabetes Research, Easter Seals and the Mental Health Association.
Shannon began a career that spanned almost four decades in 1947 when he climbed into his first racing machine at Hoffers Death Valley track in Highway Village in East Peoria. He was 16 years old.
After a successful early career coaching elementary school athletics in the Champaign-Urbana area, Merv entered the Peoria athletic scene in 1962 as football coach at Spalding High School. His first three teams had a combined 24-2-1 record. His 1965 squad went 9-0-1, and in 1967 he was 10-0 followed by an 8-1 year in 1968. His last five Irish teams, 1972-1976, went 35-11-3.