The Omaha Racers were an American minor league basketball team based in Omaha, Nebraska. The franchise played in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) from 1989 to 1997. The team's franchise liage started in 1982 as the Wisconsin Flyers. The franchise spent two seasons in Rochester, Minnesota before relocating to Omaha in 1989 to become the Racers. The team's home venue was Ak-Sar-Ben Arena. Throughout the entire history of the Racers, Mike Thibault served as the team's head coach and led Omaha to appearances in two CBA Finals. The team was victorious over the Grand Rapids Hoops during the 1993 CBA Finals.

Omaha Racers
Omaha Racers logo
LeaguesCBA
Founded1982
Folded1997
HistoryWisconsin Flyers
1982–87
Rochester Flyers
1987–89
Omaha Racers
1989–97
LocationOmaha, Nebraska
Team colorsnavy, magenta, white
              
Championships1 (1993)

Franchise historyEdit

Wisconsin Flyers (1982–87)Edit

Rochester Flyers (1987–89)Edit

The Rochester Flyers would finish 20-34[1] (fifth place in the Western Division) in the 1987–88 season, failing to qualify for the CBA playoffs. In 1988–89 the Flyers finished last in the West with a 16-38 record. Despite averaging approximately 2,600 fans per home game,[2] the team moved to Omaha, Nebraska after the season.

Omaha Racers (1989–1997)Edit

 
The first logo of the Omaha Racers used from 1989 to 1993.

Before the start of the Racers inaugural season, the CBA ruled that the team's ownership was not financially solvent and franchise would need to be put up for sale. Terren Peizer purchased the team on September 15, 1989 and announced he would keep the team in Omaha. Team president and general manager Mike Cole told Ray Waddell of Amusement Business, "We're very happy with how it has worked out [...] We pulled off something many people said we couldn't do."[3] Under head coach Mike Thibault, the Racers went 29-27 in 1989–90 and made the CBA playoffs in the National Conference, where they lost to the San Jose Jammers in the first round. It was the first post-season appearance for the franchise since Detroit swept them in the 1984–1985 Western Division final.

On February 4, 1990, Racers player Roland Gray set a franchise record for points scored in a game with 45 in a game against the San Jose Jammers.[4] The 1990–91 Racers would have the best record in franchise history (39-17), but lost to the Quad City Thunder in the American Conference finals. Tim Legler was named the team's most valuable player following the season.[5]

Moving back to the National Conference in 1991–92, Omaha finished second in the Northern Division (37-19) to the Rapid City Thrillers. After defeating the Oklahoma City Cavalry in the second round of the playoffs, the Racers lost to the Thrillers in the conference finals, 3 games to 2.

 
Mike Thibault served as the Omaha Racers head coach for their entire eight year history.

The 1992–93 Racers made it to the top, after finishing second in the Northern Division (28-28) again to Rapid City. Omaha beat the Wichita Falls Texans in the first round, then slipped past Rapid City in a five-game conference final. In the CBA championship, Omaha defeated the Grand Rapids Hoops in six games. A 106-98 win on May 1, 1993 in Grand Rapids would be the high-water mark of the franchise. In spite of their success, the attendance dropped during the 1992–93 season, which promoted team officials to announce that if they failed to sell 3,500 season tickets before the start of the next season the Racers would relocate. Omaha averaged 3,062 attendees per game during the 1992–93 season, which was down from 3,875 per game the season before.[6]

Rapid City finished ahead of Omaha (30-26) in the Northern Division for the third straight year in 1993–94. Omaha made it back to the CBA finals, after defeating the Tri-City Chinook in round one and Rapid City in the conference finals. The Quad City Thunder defeated Omaha in five games to win the league title.

Omaha (26-30) moved to the Southern Division in 1994–95 and finished second to Oklahoma City. They beat the Sioux Falls SkyForce in the first round, but fell to Oklahoma City in the second round. Thibault missed seven games as head coach, being replaced by Eric Chapman, as he coached the US in the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina.[7]

Omaha (28-28) moved back to the Northern Division of the National Conference in 1995–96, and finished second again, this time to Sioux Falls. The Florida Beachdogs swept the Racers out of the playoffs in round one.

With the CBA shrinking to 11 teams in 1996–97, Omaha was placed in the 5-team National Conference and finished in fourth place (22-34). In one of the biggest upsets in CBA playoff history, the Racers defeated Sioux Falls (47-9) in five games, winning the clincher in South Dakota, 98-92. Oklahoma City brought them back down to earth, winning the conference finals, 3 games to 1. During their final season, Kevin Kugler served as the Racers play-by-play announcer.[8]

With a record of 375-413, plus a 42-49 mark in the playoffs, and one CBA title (1992–93), the Wisconsin/Rochester/Omaha Racers franchise was declared inactive in the summer of 1997. At the time, there was some faint hope that the franchise may start up again in 1998–99. The two teams who had made the CBA finals in 1997, Oklahoma City and Florida, also folded.

In 2013, on the 20th anniversary of Omaha's 1993 CBA Championship win, 30 former Racers players, staff and executives gathered for a reunion event at Ralston Arena.[9][10]

Season-by-season standingsEdit

Season W L QW SPts. Division Place CBA Playoffs Head Coach
Wisconsin Flyers (Oshkosh, Wisconsin)
1982–83 14 30 78.0 120.0 Central Division 3rd
Dave Harshman
1983–84 27 17 101.0 182.0 Western Division 1st First round: Defeated Ohio Mixers 3–2 Bill Klucas
Second round: Lost to Wyoming Wildcatters 3–1
1984–85 21 27 91.0 154.0 Western Division 4th First round: Defeated Wyoming Wildcatters 3–2
Second round: Lost to Detroit Spirits 3–0
1985–86 16 32 79.5 127.5 Western Division 7th
Joe Merten
1986–87 22 26 87.5 153.5 Western Division 6th
Bill Klucas
Rochester Flyers (Rochester, Minnesota)
1987–88 20 34 104.5 164.5 Western Division 5th
Bill Klucas (16–32)
David Thirdkill (1–0)
Scott Carlin (3–2)
1988–89 16 38 88.0 136.0 Western Division 6th
Scott Carlin
Omaha Racers (Omaha, Nebraska)
1989–90 29 27 118.0 205.0 Midwest Division 2nd
Mike Thibault
1990–91 39 17 127.0 244.0 Midwest Division 1st First round: Defeated Rapid City Thrillers 3–2
Second round: Lost to Quad City Thunder 4–1
1991–92 37 19 127.0 238.0 Northern Division 2nd First round: Defeated Oklahoma City Cavalry 3–2
Second round: Lost to Rapid City Thrillers 3–2
1992–93 28 28 109.0 193.0 Midwest Division 2nd First round: Defeated Wichita Falls Texans 3–2
Second round: Defeated Rapid City Thrillers 3–2
CBA Finals: Defeated Grand Rapids Hoops 4–2
1993–94 30 26 113.5 203.5 Midwest Division 2nd First round: Defeated Tri-City Chinook 3–2
Second round: Defeated Rapid City Thrillers 3–2
CBA Finals: Lost to Quad City Thunder 4–1
1994–95 26 30 97.5 175.5 Southern Division 2nd First round: Defeated Sioux Falls Skyforce 2–1
Second round: Lost to Oklahoma City Cavalry 3–2
1995–96 28 28 106.5 190.5 Northern Division 2nd First round: Lost to Florida Beach Dogs 3–0
1996–97 22 34 97.5 163.5 National Conference 4th First round: Defeated Sioux Falls Skyforce 3–2
Second round: Lost to Oklahoma City Cavalry 3–1

Awards and accoladesEdit

  • 1993 CBA Champions
  • 1993 & 1994 National Conference Champions
  • 1990–91 All-CBA Team: Tim Legler
  • 1990–91 All-CBA Defense Team: Willie Simmons
  • 1990–91 All-CBA Rookie Team: Brian Howard
  • 1992–93 All-CBA First Team: Tim Legler
  • 1993 CBA Playoffs Most Valuable Player: Jim Thomas
  • Corey Gaines led the CBA with 11.6 assists per game during the 1989–1990 season

All-time rosterEdit

Sources[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "History of the Continental Basketball Association". APBR.org. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Rochester's revolving turnstile". Rochester Magazine. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  3. ^ Waddell, Ray (March 26, 1990). "CBA overall attendance up, but per game average turnout down". Amusement Business (102.12). Nielsen Business Media. p. 14.
  4. ^ "Gray leaves Omaha for Spain". United Press International. Omaha, Nebraska. March 15, 1990.
  5. ^ "Suns Lose Majerle With Shoulder Injury". United Press International. March 20, 1990.
  6. ^ Waddell, Ray (May 31, 1993). "CBA's fury takes lead in league attendance". Amusement Business (105.22). Nielsen Business Media. p. 20.
  7. ^ Knisley, Michael (April 3, 1995). "Argentine passion is a lesson for the U.S.". The Sporting News. Sporting News Publishing Company. p. 43.
  8. ^ "Kevin Kugler, '94, is a sportscaster in perpetual motion". newsroom.unl.edu. Nebraska Alumni Association. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  9. ^ Jernstrom, Ross (August 24, 2013). "Omaha Racers Reunite 20 Years After Winning CBA Title". WOWT News. Omaha, Nebraska: Gray Digital Media. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  10. ^ White, Rob (August 24, 2013). "They dreamed of the NBA, but savor their days as Racers". Omaha World-Herald. Omaha, Nebraska. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  11. ^ "1989-90 Omaha Racers Roster". statscrew.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  12. ^ "1990-91 Omaha Racers Roster". statscrew.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  13. ^ "1991-92 Omaha Racers Roster". statscrew.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  14. ^ "1992-93 Omaha Racers Roster". statscrew.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  15. ^ "1993-94 Omaha Racers Roster". statscrew.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  16. ^ "1994-95 Omaha Racers Roster". statscrew.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  17. ^ "1995-96 Omaha Racers Roster". statscrew.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  18. ^ "1996-97 Omaha Racers Roster". statscrew.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018.

External linksEdit