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*LEGENDS IN RACING *
Biographical sketches of the persons enshrined in the AARWBA Hall of Honor
as they appeared with the ballot on which the individual was elected
Editor's Note: These are the biographical sketches of the 134 members of the Hall of Honor, formerly the AARWBA Hall of Fame, as they appeared when they were enshrined. Some of the sketches have been updated for those members still active in the sport.
|Each of these members deserves, and in many cases has received, a fuller life's chronicle in a book written by an AARWBA member. Corrections and additions are welcome. Please send them to email@example.com and they'll be added to this page after verification. Please include your name in your email message to assist in verification.|
Agabashian was one of the winningest drivers during the postwar boom years of West Coast Midget racing. He began racing in 1936, winning an AAA Midget championship, was the Bay Cities Racing Association champion in 1947, ’48 and ’49, and also won the 1948 Aztec Championship, a special 15-race series between BCRA and Mexican drivers. During his run of championships he won between 27 and 56 races a year in seasons that often stretched to 150 nights against contemporaries that included Bill Vukovich, Johnnie Parsons and Bob Sweikert. He made 11 Indy appearances, and in 1952 became the only driver to qualify a diesel-powered machine on the pole (at 138.010 mph). After retiring as a driver, he became a spokesman for Champion Spark Plugs and was on the radio broadcast crew for the Indy 500 for many years.
J. C. AGAJANIAN
AA colorful race car owner and race promoter/official, "Aggie" made his fortune in pig farming and garbage collection in the Los Angeles area. His cars won the Indy 500 in 1952 with Troy Ruttman and in 1963 with Parnelli Jones. Also, the last car to go 500 miles at Indy without a pit stop was his (1949, with Johnny Mantz finishing 7th). Agajanian was a promoter of races at many California tracks, including Sacramento, Gardena and Ascot Park, where the Turkey Night Grand Prix USAC Midget race ran for many years. One of the original organizers of the Western Racing Association, in 1937, he was its president until 1947.
His 84 Grand National/Winston Cup victories have him third on the all-time list, a total exceed only by Richard Petty and David Pearson, who are already enshrined in AARWBA’s Legends in Racing. Fifty-two of his wins were on superspeedways. Despite all that, and after five runner-up seasons, he won his first and only Winston Cup championship in 1983. Earlier he was the NASCAR Modified-Special champion in 1963 and ’63; the NASCAR Modified champ in 1964 and ’65, and the IROC champion in 1980. Among his notable GN/WC victories are the Southern 500 four times, three each at the World 600, Winston 500, Firecracker 400 and Daytona 500. Suffering career-ending injuries in a 1988 race at Pocono, he was active in Winston Cup as a car owner.
Won Indy in 1969, Indy Rookie of the Year 1965, USAC National Champion 1965, 1966 and 1969, second in all-time point standings with over 26,000 achieved in 10 seasons, second in all-time Champcar wins with 32. Winner of 1967 Daytona 500. Winner 12 Hours of Sebring in 1967, 1970, 1972. Opened the 1971 Formula 1 season winning the South African Grand Prix, and later that month the Questor Grand Prix (non-points Formula 1/Formula 5000 race at Ontario Motor Speedway) driving a Ferrari before returning to the Champcar circuit.
AFTER INDUCTION: Andretti returned to Formula 1, driving for Lotus, to win the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix and then do the next two full seasons, winning four races in 1977 including the U.S. Grand Prix at Long Beach plus Spain, France and Italy; in 1978 he won six F1 races — Argentina, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands — to become World Champion. At that time his 12 wins stood him 10th in all-time Formula One victories and ranked him as the winningest American F1 driver. Returning to Indy cars, he won the 1974 and 1984 CART championships to be the only driver to be champion in three different decades. Andretti raced for 31 seasons, retiring after the 1994 season holding Indy car records for most career starts (407), pole positions (67), and laps led (7,587), and his 52 career wins stands second only to A.J. Foyt’s 67. One of three three-time winners of the Jerry Titus Award (1977, 1978, 1984) and one of two (with four-time winner John Force) to win it back-to-back.
Probably the fastest "race" ever held was the contest between Arfons and Craig Breedlove in the mid-'60s to break each others' Land Speed Records for the flying mile. Arfons' weapon was his homebuilt Green Monster, his 15th reincarnation under that name, built around a pair of J-79 jet engines. After Breedlove broke the 400 mph barrier, and two days after Tom Green raised the mark to 413, Arfons topped it on Oct. 5, 1964, at 434.02 mph. Ten days later Breedlove cracked 500 and Arfons came back on Oct. 27 to post 536.71 mph. The next year, Breedlove raised the mark, and on Nov. 7 Arfons pushed it to 576.553. Eight days later Breedlove reached 600 and Arfons was back again two days afterward, and had a 615 on the clock when a wheel failed on his return run and the car crashed. Miraculously, Arfons was unhurt. Earlier, drag racer Arfons was the first to break 150 mph in his Green Monster No. 6, and reached 180 in Green Monster No. 11 powered by a V12 Rolls-Royce airplane fighter engine. He devised the braking parachute for drag racing in 1959.
This Chicago native gained a reputation as a hard charger barnstorming through the Midwest in the 1920s. He reached the peak of his career during a 5-year period beginning in 1928, when he finished seventh in his first Indianapolis 500. He captured the pole in 1930 and posted a historic win since he led all but two of the 200 laps. Two more victories that season gave Arnold the National Championship. He was in a commanding position in the 1931 Indy 500 with just 39 laps remaining when a broken axle spun him out of the contest.
One of the brightest Formula One stars during the formative years of the FIA World Driving Championship. He won 13 grands prix, including a record nine victories in a row over the 1952-53 seasons which still stands today, and was World Champion for Ferrari those two years. Not in that total are non-championship wins before 1950, including Ferrari’s maiden F1 triumph at Turin in 1948. His championship tally begins with the 1951 German and Italian Grands Prix. Then he started his streak with the 1952 Belgian, French, British, German, Dutch and Italian events, and finished with the ’53 Argentine, Dutch and Belgian before losing, then completed his second title with the British and Swiss rounds. Ascari became the first European driver to make a successful appearance in the Indianapolis 500 since pre-World War II days when he completed his rookie test for the 1952 race by reeling off 20 consecutive and perfect laps without once varying his average speed, and did it without even the benefit of a tachometer in his Ferrari. In the race, he treated the crowd to a tremendous driving performance until his underpowered 12-cylinder machine went out with a broken wheel hub after 40 laps. Ascari also won the 1953 Nurburgring 1000 in a Ferrari and the 1954 Mille Miglia for Lancia. He died in a Monza crash in 1955.
ERWIN G. "CANNONBALL" BAKER
Despite an impressive career on the track, Baker is most readily recognized today for his fame and success as a cross-country speed record holder in the days of the popular transcontinentalist. He competed at Indy in 1922 with an 11th place finish in a Frontenac. His greater fame came in transcontinental jaunts in passenger cars and on motorcycles over rough, rutty and often nonexistent roads of the 1920s and 1930s, and at a time when the automobile industry needed a shot in the arm. His cross-country marks did much to help boost the sale as well as the quality of the American passenger car. In 1915 he drove from Los Angeles to New York in 11 days. The following year he reduced the time to seven days. In his later years, when NASCAR was formed, Baker became its first commissioner, thus lending his name and prestige to the fledgling organization.
Winner of 21 Championship races, which ranks him fifth among all postwar drivers. Bettenhausen won the coveted National Championship in 1951 and again in 1958, and was runner-up in 1959 when he drove five different cars on the Championship Trail. Although he announced his retirement on two occasions, Bettenhausen’s career spanned a 23-year period from 1938 until his death in a practice lap while testing a car for another driver in 1961. He drove in 14 Indy races, scoring a second in 1955. But he did not restrict his racing to Championship cars, having scored great success in midgets, sprints and stock cars. He was at home on virtually any track in any type car.
Bignotti is the all-time winning mechanic in USAC Championship racing with more than 75 victories, including a record six at Indy. A product of the West Coast, Bignotti formerly drove Midgets with moderate success in the post-WW II boom until he discovered that making cars run better was more to his liking. His Midgets were the scourge of the West Coast, and when he first came to Indy in the early 1950s his potential was immediately apparent. Bignotti began proving himself by turning out winning machines, first for the Bowes Seal Fast team which produced A.J. Foyt’s first National Championship-winning car in 1960 and Foyt’s first Indy win in 1961. Bignotti also produced Indy-winning cars for Graham Hill, Al Unser and Gordon Johncock. More recently, he designed the famed Wildcat race cars that have been so dominant in USAC Championship racing.
AFTER INDUCTION: Bignotti eventually raised his Indy car win total to total to 85, wrenching Johncock and Tom Sneva to more victories.
A longtime journalist who began his newspaper career in Kentucky in the 1920s, Frank later joined the New York Times staff and became that newspaper's first motorsports editor, serving in that post during the late 1950s and '60s until his retirement in 1968. His honesty and integrity, plus his friendly and very likeable personality, set a precedent for many of today's motorsports journalists. Frank was so well-liked and respected that soon after his passing the annual Frank Blunk Award was inaugurated to honor deserving journalists.
Best known for his achievements on the Grand Prix circuit where he was not only a World Champion but was, and still is, a prominent builder of the famed Brabham race cars. Won the world title twice, in 1959 and 1960 driving for Cooper, before coming to Indy in 1961 to make his historic mark by introducing the now-popular rear-engine design. His 167 cubic-inch Cooper Climax completed the full distance and placed ninth among the 250-plus c.i.d. Offy-powered roadsters making up the rest of the field. After forming his own team racing Brabham cars, he won the world crown a third time in 1966 and the manufacturer’s title as well, to become the first to win both honors in a single year. Brabham’s cars also won the 1967 manufacturer’s championship with his driver Denny Hulme taking the driving crown.
AFTER INDUCTION: Brabham was subsequently knighted by the Queen of England, to become Sir Jack Brabham.
With 51 Champcar race victories to his credit as a chief mechanic, Brawner is second in that category only to George Bignotti, who is already enshrined among AARWBA's Legends in Racing. Brawner began his winning ways under the American Automobile Association banner and continued under the aegis of the U.S. Auto Club. With Jimmy Bryan at the wheel, Brawner's cars won the AAA championship in 1954, and came in second in 1955. Then Brawner and Bryan became the first USAC National Champion in 1956 and repeated in 1957. That same year, Bryan drove a Brawner-prepared care to victory in a 500-miler at Monza, Italy. Then, with Mario Andretti, Brawner's Hawks won the 1965, 1966 and 1969 championships and the '69 Indy 500. Andretti also scored two seconds and three thirds in Brawner racers. Among other drivers who benefited from Brawner's skills were A.J. Foyt and Eddie Sachs.
He was the first man to break through the 400, 500 and 600 mph barriers in his assaults on the land speed record, driving his Spirit of America creations. He cracked the first barrier in 1963 with a 407.45 mph two-way run at the Bonneville Salt Flats, breaking a record which had stood 16 years. A year later, after his record had been broken by two other challengers, he returned to post a 526.277 mph run. He returned to the salt again in 1965 and on Nov. 15 ran 600.601 mph. In two years' time, Breedlove had raised the absolute record for speed on land by 206.4 mph. In the 30 years following, other challengers were only able to improve it by 33 mph. Breedlove was elected in the Historic Era category, recognizing drivers whose accomplishments were more than 30 years ago.
Britt, a former football player before he turned to journalism, became the motorsports editor for the Associated Press in 1963. He was the first non-driver nominee for the AARWBA Hall of Fame. His honesty and integrity won him thousands of friends and fans throughout the country. It was Britt who helped break the sex barrier in racing when he backed a movement to have women allowed in the pits and garage areas at major events. He died prematurely, from a heart attack two years ago. Elected in his first appearance on the ballot.
A three-time National Champion (1954, 1956, 1957), Bryan ranks as one of the all-time leaders in Championship race wins with 19 and still ranks among the top leaders in lifetime points totals. He joins Earl Cooper, Ted Horn and A.J. Foyt (all Hall of Famers) as the only drivers to win the National Championship three times. Bryan graduated from the roadster racing ranks in the late ’40s to Sprint and Midget competition and finally to Champ Cars, winning his first Champ race in 1953. He won Indy in 1958 and added further laurels to his distinguished career by winning the Race of Two Worlds at Monza, Italy, in 1957. He was a picture to watch on dirt and one of his most remarkable feats came in the final race of the 1957 Championship season at Phoenix when, while leading, he was cut off by another driver and crashed through a wooden fence. Somehow he regained control, drove back onto the track pitching pieces of lumber from the cockpit, regained the lead and won the race and the championship. In addition to his Indy win, he had finishes there of second, third and sixth. He was killed at Langhorne in 1961.
ROBERT "RED" BYRON
Won NASCAR’s first race, a 150-mile Modified event on Daytona’s four-mile beach/road course, driving a Ford coupe, on Feb. 15, 1948, six days before the fledgling organization incorporated. He went on that year to win NASCAR’s first national championship, a Modified title. The next year he became the inaugural Grand National champion with two wins, a third and a fourth from eight races. Byron began racing in 1932 at age 17, his career interrupted by World War II when he was an Army Air Corps flight engineer. His B-24 was shot down on its 58th mission over Europe, but despite an injury that left him with a limp, he returned to racing in 1946 to become NASCAR’s first star.
SIR MALCOLM CAMPBELL
Broke the World Land Speed Record nine times between 1924 and 1935, first in a Sunbeam and then in the Napier-Campbell and finally in the famous Bluebird. Campbell’s last success was the first-ever run of more than 300 mph, a two-way average for the flying mile of 301.13 mph that he set in the Bluebird on September 3, 1935.
RUDOLPH "RUDI" CARACCIOLA
Winner of a dozen grand prix races including the German GP six times — he won the first-ever German GP on the Avus in 1926 at 84.5 mph, and five at the Nurburgring between 1928 and 1939. His best year was 1935 when he won the Belgian, French and Spanish grands prix. He also won the grueling Mille Miglia in 1931. The victories were all for Mercedes except for the 1932 German victory in an Alfa Romeo. Three times he was Champion of Europe (forerunner to the current World Driving Championship). When Mercedes disbanded its F1 team because of the Depression, Caracciola used his own funds to field a Mercedes SSK that he drove to victory in the Irish GP.
The father of the Lotus cars which so successfully challenged Ferrari for Formula One supremacy during the ’60s and ’70s, producing world championships for Jim Clark (1963, ’65), Graham Hill (1968), Jochen Rindt (1970), Emerson Fittipaldi (1972), and Mario Andretti (1978). Lotus also won the Formula One Manufacturers Championship each of those years as well as in 1973 when Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson split the victories. Chapman died in 1983 of a heart attack. Up to that time his cars had accounted for 72 Formula One victories in 23 years — only 12 fewer than Ferrari (which had been in F1 nine years longer) and more than double Brabham’s third-place total. Lotus’s roster of F1 winners with Chapman at the helm also included Stirling Moss, Innes Ireland, Jo Siffert, Gunnar Nilsson and Elio de Angelis. Chapman also made a distinctive mark on American racing when he brought his rear-engined cars to Indianapolis in 1963, achieving success that ensured the rear-engine revolution begun by Jack Brabham. His Lotus-powered-by-Ford won Indy in 1965 with Clark driving. Later, Chapman developed the Lotus turbine cars for Andy Granatelli which so frightened the establishment they were first choked to impotence and eventually outlawed.
Arthur Chevrolet was the second-oldest of the three Chevrolet brothers, and the only one to have driven in the inaugural 1911 Indianapolis 500, finishing 36th in a Buick. He set a 100-mile record of 1:24:08 at Atlanta in 1910. He also ran in pre-1911 races at Indy and in the 1916 race driving a Frontenac. His driving career ended after a bad practice crash for the 1920 500. His greater contributions to the sport came after he quit driving. Arthur assisted brother Louis in the construction of the Buick "Bugs," the first Chevrolet automobile, and Frontenac race cars. Together they established the Chevrolet Bros. Motors in 1921 to build Frontenac heads for the Fronty Fords, with Arthur heading up the manufacturing plant -- pioneering the high-performance equipment industry. The brothers established the Arthur Chevrolet Aviation Corp. in 1927, and created the stagger-valve Fronty engine in 1931.
Gaston, the younger brother of AARWBA inductee Louis Chevrolet, won the 1920 Indy 500 driving a Monroe built by the Chevrolet Brothers. His victory was amazing in that 1920 was the first year of the reduction in engine displacement from 300 to 183 cubic inches, yet Chevrolet’s winning average speed of 88.62 mph was faster than Howard Wilcox’s average the year before with an engine almost twice as big. It was, at that time, the second-fastest 500 ever run, behind DePalma’s 89.84 average in 1915 with a 300 c.i.d. Mercedes. Gaston’s motor was also a four-banger in a year when eights were dominant. He was the last to win with a four-cylinder car until 1934. Chevrolet was also victorious on the board tracks of the era until a fatal crash in November 1920 at Beverly Hills Speedway.
The oldest of three racing Chevrolet brothers, Louis earned his niche as a car builder as well as a driver, having masterminded the Frontenac and Monroe cars in early races. His driving career was equally impressive with 1,610 Championship points earned from 1915 through 1920. His major wins included board track victories at Uniontown, Pa., in 1916; Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1917, and Chicago, Ill., also in 1917. He also won the Harkness Trophy race at Sheepshead Bay and five additional major races. He was elected to the AAA Hall of Fame in 1962.
The two-time World Driving Champion (1963, 1965) broke the record for Formula One victories with his 25th triumph at the 1968 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. The "Flying Scot" drove his entire F1 career in Lotus cars for Colin Chapman. He also carried the marque to Indianapolis, when he won the 1965 running of the 500 in Chapman’s Lotus Powered by Ford, the first rear-engined car to win the Memorial Day classic and the first foreign driver to win Indy in 49 years. Clark was killed in a 1968 Formula Two race at Hockenheim, Germany. He was one of the three drivers elected in the inaugural year of the AARWBA Hall of Fame.
Was the first three-time National Champion, annexing the coveted crown in 1913, 1915 and 1917. While his finishing record in the Indianapolis 500 is not too impressive, Cooper established an overall driving performance record virtually unmatched in racing history. From 1912 through 1920 he amassed 10,120 Championship points, then went on to compete until 1927, ending with a career total of 13,530 points, the most ever accumulated by a driver. That mark stood for more than 30 years before Rodger Ward and subsequently A.J. Foyt surpassed the Cooper total in the 1960s. With the exception of Indy where his best finish was second in 1924, Cooper won virtually every major race of his day including the Santa Monica and Corona road races, the Montamarathon and Potlach Trophies, the Elgin Cup and numerous others. He was elected to the AAA Hall of fame in 1953.
Cunningham’s cars were the primary American presence on the international scene in the 1950s. A Cunningham C4R driven by John Fitch and Phil Walters won the 12 Hours of Sebring and finished third at Le Mans in 1953. The next year another Cunningham in the hands of Sherwood Johnston and William Spear took third at Le Mans. Cunningham was also a sportsman racer, winning SCCA’s F Modified championship with an Osca in 1954.
The A.J. Foyt of his day, DePalma is regarded as one of history’s all-time great drivers. His career spanned from the early 1900s to the mid-20s. At the conclusion of his career — in a 100-mile race at Detroit in 1929 — DePalma had earned a lifetime total of 11.871 points, 10th highest in history. Only one driver of his era (Earl Cooper) surpassed DePalma’s points score. DePalma drove in his first sanctioned race in 1909 and placed second. Three weeks later he won a 200-miler at Riverhead, N.Y. He was a certain winner of the 1912 Indy race only to break down two laps from the finish while leading by more than five miles. He led nearly every Indy 500 he entered (11 in all) and still is the all-time lap leader with 613 to his credit. He won Indy in 1915 in a Mercedes and was the National Champion in 1912 and 1915. His other major triumphs included the Santa Monica Road Race in 1912 and 1914, the Elgin Cup in 1912-13-14, and board track wins at Beverly Hills, Uniontown, Cotati and Culver City. His last great year was 1921 when he scored three major victories driving a French Ballot.
Was the first Indy 500 winner to average more than 100 mph in victory, setting the mark in 1925 with a Duesenberg. DePaolo got his start as a riding mechanic for his uncle Ralph DePalma and went on to establish a fine record as a driver. He was the National Champion in 1925, the year of his Indy win, and again in 1927 and was particularly outstanding on the boards. He scored important wins at Fresno, Culver City, Altoona, Laurel and Salem in 1925, and his record the following year included a 300-mile win on the new Miami Beach board track at 129 mph. 1927 wins at Altoona, Salem and Charlotte helped him win the title again.
Retiring on a winning note following his capture of the IROC championship last February, Donohue has enjoyed success in three separate divisions — Indianapolis where he was the 1972 500 winner and also the 1971 winner at Pocono, sports cars with the SCCA in both Can-Am (9 wins, 1973 champion) and Trans-Am (29 wins, 1971 champion), and in NASCAR stock cars with a Riverside 500 win. Driver titles were not recognized in Trans-Am during its early years, but later it was determined Donohue also would have been champion in 1968 and 1969. Also won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1969. Praised by writers, fellow drivers and fans alike, Donohue has been classed as racing’s most noted perfectionist, not only for his driving skills but also for his engineering capabilities. He was voted into the AARWBA All-America three times and twice (1971, 1973) won the Jerry Titus Trophy, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot.
AFTER INDUCTION: Donohue was coaxed out of retirement to be the lead driver in Roger Penske’s 1975 Formula One effort, scoring points in Sweden and Britain before suffering a fatal accident in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix
FLOYD "POP" DREYER
He was an outstanding racer specializing in sidecar motorcycles post-World War I, but had the greatest impact as a builder of dirt-track sprint cars before and after World War II. Building his cars from the ground up, his beautiful bodywork was a trademark but he also built the chassis and even the wire wheels - "everything but the tires," he'd say. A special engine he built for midgets proved so dominant on the outlaw circuits of the Midwest it was legislated out of racing. His own double- overhead-cam head for the Model A and B Ford became known as the "poor man's Offy." His "house car" with Everett Saylor driving won the CSRA sprint car crown in 1937, and Duke Nalon drove a similar car to the AAA Eastern Sprint Car Championship in 1938. Postwar, when the Offy had become dominant, Jackie Holmes drove Dreyer's car to the AAA's 1949 Midwest Sprint Car Championship. Among Dreyer's innovations were four-wheel independent suspension on a sprint car, the first complete fiberglass body, the first aluminum flywheel for racing, and the production of magnesium wheels.
In a racing career spanning 31 years from 1924 to 1955, Dreyfus drove Talbots, Maseratis, Delahayes and (for Enzo Ferrari) Alfa Romeos, but is forever associated with Bugatti. In 1930 he scored an upset by winning the Grand Prix of Monaco in his privately entered Bugatti, and he also brought a Bugatti home first in the 1934 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. He raced single-seaters and sports cars in more than 200 races in 19 counties, his victories including a million-franc race at Montlhery in 1937 driving a Delahaye, and a most satisfying triumph at Pau in 1938 in which his Delahaye outran the might of Germany’s Mercedes and Auto Unions. He was champion of France that year. In 1940 he came to Indianapolis and finished his Maserati 10th in the 500, but in the meantime France had fallen to the Nazis and Dreyfus joined the U.S. Army, returning to fight in his homeland in 1944. After the war, he returned to the USA and opened his famous restaurant, Le Chanteclair, in New York. Dreyfus won election to Legends in Racing his first time on the ballot.
No one would question the reputation of the Duesenberg racing cars. In that era, when these sleek machines were introduced they were virtually unbeatable, and the name continues to live on. Thus the engineering genius who made them go must be considered for the Hall of Fame. Augie shared the development and success of these fine cars with his brother Fred, who was elected in the 1977 balloting. A mechanic, Augie supervised and directed the fortunes of the famed Duesenberg racing team and must be credited with a big share of its success. He worked with all the great personalities of the day, producing feats without fanfare.
Developed America’s first "racing" engine and eventually parlayed his racing success into what became America’s finest motor car. He brought out the first Duesenberg race car in 1912 and as time went on the name became more numerous and popular. When the Miller racing engine arrived on the scene. Duesenberg was its only true competitor. Most of the greats of the 1914-1930 eras drove for Duesenberg, including Indy 500 winners Pete DePaolo and Joy Boyer, who won at Indy with Duesenbergs. Elected in his first Hall of Fame ballot appearance.
Won America’s first automobile race, the Chicago-Evanston-Chicago run of 52 miles which was run in inclement weather and over rough or non-existent roads in 1895. Two months earlier, he had established the very first company to manufacture gasoline-powered motor cars. Duryea drove a motor wagon that bore his name to his Chicago victory, averaging a then-thundering 5.2 mph through snowdrifts and other hazards. The overall run was completed in 10 hours 23 minutes, which included more than three hours for repairs. Only two of the original six starters finished the race.
Earnhardt’s initial claim to fame was to become the first Winston Cup Rookie of the Year (1979) to win the Winston Cup championship the following year. But that was just the beginning. Next he won the 1986 and 1987 championships, also winning AARWBA’s Jerry Titus Award in ’87. In 1990 he became only the second driver (after Richard Petty) to win the Winston Cup more than three times. Then he won his fifth in 1991 and his sixth last year, leaving him just one shy of King Richard. He also won the 1990 IROC championship, a season in which he became the first driver to win $3 million in a single season of American racing. He also is the all-time money winner at more than $19.4 million, which is $4 million more than the driver in second place. Through the 1993 season, he has run up a record of 59 victories, sixth on the all-time Winston Cup chart, including an 11-win 1987 season.
AFTER INDUCTION: Earnhardt, who gained the nickname "The Intimidator," won his record-tying seventh championship in 1994 driving what had become his trademark black No. 3 Chevrolet. He also won two more IROC titles, in 1995 and 2000, and posted a record 11 IROC victories. Through the 2000 season his Winston Cup victory tally stood at 76 (still sixth best at that time), and his winnings totaled more than $41.5 million. His 71st checkered flag also was a special landmark when Earnhardt, who won 34 different races at Daytona, at last captured that elusive Daytona 500 victory in his 20th attempt in 1998. Earnhardt died in a last-lap wreck in the 2001 Daytona 500. Bill France Jr. called him "NASCAR’s greatest driver ever."
Probably the single best-known active motorsports journalist in America today, got his start peddling copies of National Speed Sport News (then a pull-out section of a local daily) at the Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway in New Jersey in 1934. Today he is president and publisher emeritus of that journal. He has been a television reporter for CBS, ESPN, WTBS, and ABC, covering virtually every form of the sport from dirt bullrings to Formula One. Economaki was one of the first "expert commentators" hired by ABC for its Wide World of Sports program. He took over a failing NSSN in 1949 and built it into one of the most influential motorsports weeklies in the nation, and continues today as author of one of the most widely read columns in the sport. His career has brought him virtually every important award in the field, including the Walt Ader, Hugh Deery, Dave Fritzlen, Patrick Jacquemart, Harry Kern, Tom Marchese, Ray Marquette, Henry McLemore and Ken Purdy awards. He tried driving only once, in a midget on a Pennsylvania dirt track, and so frightened himself he never did it again.
JUAN MANUEL FANGIO
The first great hero of the modern Formula One era, this former Argentine cab driver established the standards for this pinnacle of motorsport. He narrowly lost the first championship in 1950, after splitting the six races with Giuseppe Farina, then won the title five of the next seven years, 1951 and 1954-57. His five championships and four in a row still stand as the records. His record of two dozen World Championship victories stood for 11 years until broken by Jimmy Clark in 1968. His greatest victories on U.S. soil were in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1956 and 1957. Nicknamed El Chueco ("Bandylegs"), Fangio was one of the great ambassadors for the sport for decades after his retirement.
When he died in August 1988 at the age of 90, Jackie Stewart commented, "Ferrari was probably the most famous single name in the world. Think about it; everybody knew him and what he represented whether they were interested in motor racing or not." What Ferrari represented was an unrelenting quest for victory which dates back to his days as a driver in the 1920s. But his great fame came as the owner and builder of decades of red racers bearing the prancing horse emblem, which first appeared on what essentially were the works Alfa Romeos in the '30s. He split with Alfa just as World War II intervened, and came back to be one of the greatest powers in postwar motorsport. The first victories came in 1948, fittingly in Italy when his sportscars won the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio while Alberto Ascari won the Italian Grand Prix at Turin. Ferraris have since won the Mille Miglia seven more times, the Targa Florio another six, the 24 Hours of Le Mans nine times. The sports cars and prototypes won a total of 13 championships. In Formula One during Il Commendatore's lifetime, Ferraris won 94 races and eight manufacturer championships (it probably would have been 10 had the title existed before 1958), and drivers championships for Ascari (1952-53), Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorn (1958), Phil Hill (1961), John Surtees (1964), Niki Lauda (1975 and 1977), and Jody Scheckter (1979). Ferrari won all the races of the 1952 season, and owns the consecutive victory record of 14 set in 1952-53.
It was Fisher’s foresight that resulted in the building of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, at a time when America was hardly out of the horse and buggy era. Fisher served as president of IMS through 1926 and was one of the most important voices in racing for more than 15 years. His devotion was a tremendous asset not only to the sport but also to the automobile industry itself. Despite early setbacks with his Speedway in 1909, Fisher persevered to see his dream become a reality and perhaps the greatest contribution to racing ever.
His 1993 Indianapolis 500 win made him the only driver to win two Indianapolis 500 victories and two World Driving Championships. The Brazilian native became the youngest driver (age 25) ever to win the World Championship when he claimed the 1972 crown in a Lotus. His second Formula One title came two years later, driving for McLaren. In six years' time, he won 14 grands prix and also was twice runner-up for the championship. After leaving McLaren, he ran his own F1 team for several years but with little success. After a two-year retirement, he returned to racing in 1984 to drive in the CART IndyCar World Series. 1989 was his breakthrough year with his first Indy victory leading to four more wins, the CART/PPG championship and the USAC Gold Crown title. Through his retirement in 1996, he won 17 Indy Car poles and 22 races including the 1985 Michigan 500.
Julius Timothy Flock was the second driver (after Herb Thomas) to become a two-time NASCAR Grand National champion, winning the titles in 1952 and 1955. Among drivers who have won 20 or more races, Flock still owns the best winning percentage in Grand National racing — winning 21.2 percent of his starts, 40 wins in 189 races. Eighteen of those wins came in his 1955 season, nearly half of the 39 Grand Nationals he ran. The youngest of the three Flock brothers (with Fonty and Bob), Tim was a natural driver from the beginning and gives much of the credit for his prowess to his brothers. Unlike many of his fellow drivers in NASCAR’s early days, Flock did not learn to drive on the moonshine trail as his brothers forbade it. He was elected to Legends in Racing in his first ballot appearance.
Enshrined 1999No drag racer has ever been as dominant in a nitro category as the ebullient and sometimes outrageous Force. He won his eighth NHRA Funny Car championship in 1998, adding to a career that shows him with 70 career victories through ‘98, easily making him the winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history. He is second only to Bob Glidden in total championships, and stands third in total wins behind Glidden's 85 and Warren Johnson' 72. His first title came in 1990 and since then he has been champion every year except 1992. In 1996 he set a record of 13 victories and became the first Funny Car driver to turn eight straight four-second runs at the 1996 Western Auto Nationals at Topeka. That season also made him the first drag racer to be named Driver of the Year and only the third to win AARWBA's Jerry Titus Award. Force has won on every track on the NHRA schedule except Gateway and Route 66. His record includes seven wins at Brainerd; five at Phoenix, Gainesville, Atlanta, Topeka; four at Houston, Sears Point, and the Winston Invitational; three at the Winternationals and Mile-High Nationals and U.S. Nationals. He was the first (and so far the only) Funny Car driver to go faster than 320 mph, which he's done seven times, and also was the first (and only) quicker than 4.80 seconds. As of the end of 1998, Force had six of the 10 quickest ETs and eight of the 10 fastest speeds ever done in Funny Cars.
AFTER INDUCTION: Force added Gateway to his win column in 1999 and Route 66 in 2000, winning 11 races each of those years. Continuing to dominate Funny Car, he stretched his winning string to 109 and his championship tally to 12, smashing all NHRA absolute records. Force's championship streak ended at 10 in a row when his protégé and teammate Tony Pedregon won the 2003 title. He also won the Jerry Titus Award in both 1999 and 2000, becoming - after Mario Andretti - the second man to both win it three times and to win it back-to-back. Then Force won the Titus again in 2002 to become the first, and so far only, four-time winner.
Ford established the first Land Speed Record for the flying mile when he drove "Old 999" to a speed of 91.370 mph over the frozen surface of Lake St. Clair near Detroit on Jan. 12, 1904 (all earlier records were for the flying kilometer). Although he was a successful race driver during the first years of the century, he helped boost the sport even more by his reliance upon racing to boost development and sales programs of the Ford Motor Co., including fielding a team of Ford cars in the 1935 Indianapolis 500. Elected to Legends in Racing in his first appearance on the ballot.
A. J. FOYT JR.
Foyt became the fourth three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 with his 1967 victory in his Coyote-Ford at a then-record 151.207 mph, and finishing two laps ahead of runner-up Al Unser. He also won in 1961 and 1964 in Watson-Offenhausers, the second win being the last for a front-engined roadster with the rear-engine revolution well under way. He won USAC’s Eastern Sprint Car Championship in 1960, USAC’s Stock Car Championship in 1968, and the USAC National Championship in 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964 and a record fifth in 1967, and also has 43 Championship Trail victories, the most by any driver. Records also include his 10 wins and seven in a row in 1964. An all-around driver, he also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967 teamed with Dan Gurney, and NASCAR’s Firecracker 400 in 1964 and 1965 and the inaugural NASCAR Grand National at the new Ontario Motor Speedway in 1970. He was one of the three drivers elected in the inaugural year of the AARWBA Hall of Fame.
AFTER INDUCTION: First driver to win fourth Indy 500 in 1977, only four-time winner of Pocono 500 (1973, ’75, ’79, ’81), won the 1975 California 500; four Indy poles; won USAC Championship in 1975, 1979; Stock Car Champion in 1978, 1979; Dirt Car Champion in 1972; Holds record for total USAC victories at 159: 67 in Champ Cars (the record), 2 in Dirt Cars, 42 in Stock Cars, 28 in Sprint Cars, 20 in Midgets. Won seven NASCAR Winston Cup races including 1972 Daytona 500. Won IMSA 24 Hours of Daytona in 1983, 1985; total 4 IMSA wins. Jerry Titus Award winner in 1975. As a car owner in the Indy Racing League, Foyt took Kenny Brack to the 1998 IRL championship and victory in the 1999 Indy 500.
WILLIAM H.G. FRANCE SR.
The founder of NASCAR, who built that organization into one of the most successful and strongest sanctioning bodies in the world. A former driver who began by racing his father’s Model T as a teen, he raced in the first event in the old Daytona Beach course in 1936, finishing fifth. In 1938 he took over promotion of the event. He formed the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing in 1949, built the Daytona and Talladega Speedways and has been one of the most respected as well as powerful men in racing history. Was also instrumental in the formation of ACCUS (Automobile Competition Committee for the United States) and in getting FIA recognition of American races.
The first drag racing competitor to be inducted, there is no doubting his record of accomplishments which includes every major honor there is in drag racing — countless speed and E.T. records for the quarter mile in Top Fuel Dragster, domination of all National events, his innovations to the sport such as the successful rear-engine dragster, and the fact that, at 44, he is still giving his competition a tough way to go. Garlits’ milestones including being the first driver quicker than 5.8 seconds, and the first through the speed barriers of 190, 200, 240 and 250 mph. He was the 1975 NHRA Top Fuel champion.
AFTER INDUCTION: At age 53 came out of semi-retirement to win the 1985 and 1986 NHRA Top Fuel titles and increase his NHRA National-event victory total to 34 over two dozen seasons. At the ’86 Gatornationals, he was the first to break through the 270 mph barrier, running 272.56 mph in the debut of a revolutionary new "bullet nose" streamliner.
EARL B. GILMORE
A West Coast businessman/sportsman, he had his oil company sponsor dirt car racing in California, Indianapolis cars, timed runs at both Muroc Dry Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats, and fuel economy runs. Gilmore helped to publicize the sport as he gave financial support to a number of drivers. He owned and operated the famed Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles, long a showplace among racing ovals. He backed cars at the Indy 500 for several years and his Gilmore Specials won in 1935 with Kelly Petillo and 1937 with Wilbur Shaw. He also supported timed runs at Daytona Beach by the Hudson company and Sir Malcolm Campbell, and assisted John Cobb and Ab Jenkins in their record attempts at Bonneville.
Regarded by many historians as America’s foremost designer of racing engines for a 50-year period beginning with the early 1920s. One of the first was his design of the famed Miller Eight for Harry Miller plus the design and construction of six complete race cars with the 122-cubic-inch power plant for Cliff Durant team in 1923. He also designed Miller’s 91- and 193-cubic-inch eight-cylinder engines of that decade and remained with the company as chief engineer when Miller sold out to Fred Offenhauser in 1933. He then designed the 220- and 255-cubic-inch four-cylinder Offy, and continued his work after World War II when Offenhauser sold out to Dale Drake and Louis Meyer. While working for Meyer-Drake, Goossen was the co-designer (with Bud Winfield) of the famed Novi supercharged V-8 and also served as a special consultant on the design of Ford’s racing engines in the 1960s.
Andy Granatelli was elected in the Modern Era Non-driver category. He is perhaps best known as the owner of STP-sponsored cars at the Indy 500, including the winning cars in 1969 with Mario Andretti and 1973 with Gordon Johncock as well as the radical turbine-powered Novis in 1967 and '68. His most enduring legacy may have been demonstrating the viability of motorsports as a marketing vehicle through his long involvement as chairman and CEO of STP.
Driving Hector Honore's "Black Deuce" Offy, Grim became a four-time IMCA sprint car champion (1955-58), during which time he won 183 features. At one point he held 22 IMCA track records, including a lap of 22.05 seconds at Cedar Rapids, Iowa; a 100-mile record at Sedalia, Mo., which stood for nine years, and a 24.82 one-lap record at Tampa, Fla., which stood some 26 years. He was the 1959 Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500, and the next year scored his only Indy Car win in a 100-miler at Syracuse. Won 12 features in USAC midgets and was one of the last to win in the ancient Offy.
Started as a successful sports car competitor in the early days of sports car competition on the West Coast in the mid-’50s and then went on to earn great distinction in Europe and at Indy. Gurney was the first American since Jimmy Murphy in 1921 to win a Grand Prix race in an American car when he won the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix driving his own Eagle, which more than held its own against the cream of Europe. He earlier won the 1962 French Grand Prix in a Porsche (still Porsche’s only Formula One victory) and in 1964 won the French and Mexican Grands Prix for Brabham. He first raced at Indy in 1963, finishing 7th in a Lotus-Ford that helped start the rear-engine trend. He was second there in 1968 and 1969 and third in 1970, all in Eagles of his own design. His other great achievements include five NASCAR Riverside 500 stock car wins, two victories in the Rex Mays 300 and Champ Trail triumphs at Sears Point and Mosport. He retired as a driver at the close of the ’71 season and now builds Eagle Championship cars which dominate USAC competition.
AFTER INDUCTION: Gurney went on to operate a racing team whose drivers piloted Eagles to championships in Indy cars and IMSA Camel GT Prototypes.
Although a highly successful sports car racer, he is included among non-drivers because of his profound impact on the sport as a revolutionary designer and team manager. Raced for several years in Maseratis, including a season of Formula One in 1963, then turned to building his Chaparral race cars. He won eight races and the 1964 U.S. Road Racing Championship in his Chaparral II, and was second the next year despite six wins. His Chaparrals won 14 major races in 1965 including Nassau, Riverside, Bridgehampton and the 12 Hours of Sebring. In 1966, a Chaparral won the Nurburgring 1000 kilometers. His Chaparral 2A introduced the carbon fiber tub to racing, wings appeared on his Chaparral 2E and ground effects with the 2J, the famous "vacuum sweeper" sucker car. He worked with Carl Haas to help Brian Redman to his 1974-75-76 Formula 5000 titles and Patrick Tambay to the 1977 Can-Am Championship. Turned to Indy cars with Haas to give Al Unser his Triple Crown of 1978 wins in a Lola (Pocono, Ontario and his third Indy), then brought out the Chaparral 2K in 1979, which introduced ground effects to Indy car aerodynamics and gave Johnny Rutherford his third Indy 500 victory and the CART championship in 1980. After a nine-year absence from the sport, Hall returned in 1991 as an Indy Car owner and won his first time out with John Andretti at the Australian CART race, and more recently with Gil de Ferran as his driver. He retired and closed down his team in mid-1996.
Hanks’ accomplishments began long before he gained what was perhaps his greatest victory in the 1957 Indianapolis 500. Ranked as one of America’s best Midget drivers of all time, Hanks came top Indy in 1940 and immediately proved his ability in the big cars. In his long career in Championship racing, he was never upside down and seldom even spun. In an 18-year career, he won three other Champcar races and the 1953 National Championship under the AAA sanction, and also has several Stock Car victories to his credit.
A real pioneer of the sport in its earliest days, Harroun was semi-retired when the Indy 500-mile race was inaugurated and lured him back into competition. He already had gained wide recognition for his victories and achievements, which included early competition at Indianapolis before the 500 was born. Harroun did, of course, win the inaugural 500 in 1911, thereby etching his name forever into the annals of auto racing greatness. His 500 win was memorable in many ways. He chose to ride alone, sans the customary riding mechanic as part of his scheme to save weight, and in so doing came up with the first rear view mirror which is so common now on all cars. Harroun was also instrumental in the actual design of his winning Marmon Wasp. He died of natural causes, in his 80s.
Ranks among the most consistent drivers of all time with a coveted National Championship (1926) also to his credit. Beginning at Indy in 1922, Hartz scored three second- and two fourth-place finishes in six appearances there as a driver. His career spanned from 1921 through 1927 and included a career total if 8,592 points plus eight Champ race victories. Among the all-time points leaders to the present day, Hartz enjoyed further success as a car owner, preparing Hartz-Miller cars for Billy Arnold and Fred Frame for their Indy wins of 1930 and 1932. The fine Wheeler-Schebler Trophy, awarded annually to the owner of the car leading Indy at 400 miles, was presented to Hartz for keeps after he won it for the third time in 1932. He also served with great distinction as an Indy official and member of the tech committee until his death in September 1974.
Hearne ranked high among racing’s pioneer drivers when he placed fourth in the 1919 Cobe Trophy Race and fifth in the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Classic while still a youngster. He also ran in seven free-for-all races at Indy prior to 1911 and won five of them. Also won the 1911 200-miler at Cincinnati and placed second in the Grand Prize race that same year. But that was just the beginning. The amazing thing about Hearne’s career is that he retired with a great record at the end of the 1912 season, then came back after World War I and placed second to Howard Wilcox in th3 1919 Indy 500. He was third there in 1922 and fourth in 1923, the year he also won the coveted National Championship — 14 years after beginning his career. Hearne also was successful on the board tracks until 1927 when he finally retired for good after placing seventh at Indy. He died of natural causes in the late 1950s.
Winner of 14 Formula One grands prix, he was World Champion for BRM in 1962 and again for Lotus in 1968. Among his victories were a record five at the Monaco GP and three at the United States GP at Watkins Glen. Other major victories include the 1960 Targa Florio (in a Porsche, his first major triumph), the 1966 Indianapolis 500 (in a Lola-Ford), and the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans (in a Matra, his last major victory. He is the only man to win those four — Indy, Targa, Le Mans and the World Championship, or for that matter, any combination of three of them. He was killed in 1977 in a crash of his own private plane just months after retiring as a driver and just starting to field his own Formula One team.
The first American to win the coveted World Driving Championship (in 1961). Driving for the Ferrari team that year, he won two of the eight grand prix races held (the Belgian and Italian) and also won the 1960 Italian GP. Hill won both Sebring and Le Mans three times, the Nurburgring 1000 twice and the Daytona 24-Hour race once, all in Ferraris except for the ’66 Nurburgring which was in a Chaparral. Was spectacular in the 1954 Mexican Road Race, making a shambles of his competition while driving a small-bore Ferrari through treacherous mountain roads before finally being overtaken by a much bigger Ferrari once the race reached the flat and level portions of the course.
In a 25-year career from 1935 to 1960, Hinnershitz’ prowess on dirt yielded him some 115 victories and seven AAA and USAC Eastern Sprint Car championships (1949, ’50, ’51, 52, ’55, ’56 and ’59). He usually prepared his own cars and had an affinity for the outside groove. Among the more famous of his rides were the Pfrommer Offy and the Miracle Power Special. He qualified for three Indy 500s, with his best finish a ninth in 1948. Elected to Legends in Racing on his first ballot appearance.
The winningest driver in the history of the International Motor Sports Association, Holbert was 49 times a winner on his way to five Camel GT Championships — 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985 and 1986. As a team manager, he also was the architect of Chip Robinson’s 1987 championship. Racing in the SCCA Can-Am Challenge from 1978 to 1982, Holbert won 10 races, placing second twice and third twice in the championship. He also has one Trans-Am win to his credit, placed fourth in the 1984 Indianapolis 500, and shared victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1983, 1986 and 1987. As a lifelong exponent of Porsche racing cars, Holbert was made the director of Porsche Motorsport North America, which allowed him to build his own versions of the hugely successful Porsche Turbo. He was working on the infant stages of Porsche’s Indy Car program when he died in September 1988 in a plane crash.
Ranks with Jimmy Murphy and Harry Hartz as the most consistent drivers of their times. Horn was the first man to win the National Championship three times in succession — 1946-47-48 — and he won Championship and Sprint Car races on almost every track in operation during his career, with the exception of Indy. But even there his record is tremendous, showing him finishing fourth or better in nine straight years beginning in 1936. He was second once and third four times. He also was the 1947 pole winner. At the time of his death in a racing accident at DuQuoin, Ill., in 1948, he ranked sixth overall in all-time point standings going back to 1909. Today, he still ranks high, 23rd with 8,340 points and five National Championship race wins. Away from the track, Horn did a great deal to promote and further the sport through public appearances and other PR tasks. He was immensely popular with kids and his fellow drivers.
His purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945 saved the historic plant from oblivion and definitely preserved racing in America after World War II. In the meantime, Hulman’s contributions to the sport are almost countless — his development of the Speedway and the 500-mile race into the largest single-day sports attraction in the world, the tremendous world-wide exposure for the sport, his constant upgrading of the facility, the museum, his guidance in other racing matters — the list goes on and on and Hulman’s contributions are so well known it really isn’t necessary to go into fine detail here. Elected to the Hall of Fame in his first time on the ballot.
Hulme was the 1967 Formula One World Champion, winning the second straight title by the Brabham team, but his greatest victories came driving for his fellow New Zealander, Bruce McLaren. Of his eight F1 victories, six were in McLarens. He also was on the all-conquering McLaren team that ruled over the SCCA Can-Am Challenge from 1967 to 1971, finishing 1-2 in the championship each of those years. Hulme’s 22 Can-Am victories stand as the unassailable record. He was the series champion in 1968 and 1970, and was the runner-up in 1967, 1969, 1971 and 1972. Hulme placed fourth in both the 1967 and ’68 Indy 500s, being named the Indy Rookie of the Year in ’67. Although long retired from the world scene, he still enjoyed driving in saloon car races in New Zealand and Australia and died last year at the wheel of his BMW, of an apparent heart attack, during the Bathurst 1000-kilometer race.
Made his first NASCAR Grand National appearance in 1953 but didn’t become a regular until 1960, after having won the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman title in 1957 and 1958. He became Grand National Champion in 1961 and 1965, and scored a career 50 GN wins out of 345 starts. Jarrett and Junior Johnson are tied for seventh on the all-time GN/Winston Cup win list. Among those 50 victories are the 1964 Dixie 500 and the 1965 Southern 500. Today Jarrett serves as a radio and television motorsports commentator.
For many years prior to World War II, Jenkins was America’s leading land speed record holder. Not only were the speeds obtained awesome at the time, but also the length of time he spent behind the wheel in the endurance runs was remarkable, among then a 76-hour record for a New York to San Francisco run in 1927. In 1928 he set a 24-hour record at the Atlantic City Speedway, a board track, with an 85.2 mph clocking. He lobbied the AAA to accept the Bonneville Salt Flats as a superior site for land speed record trials, marked out a circular 10-mile track and ran an unsanctioned 24-hour trial there in 1932 to prove his point, averaging 112.935 mph in a stripped-down Pierce Arrow V12. In 1933 he raised the time to an AAA-sanctioned 117.77 mph. In the next two years he continued to bump the record up with the Pierce Arrow and later a Duesenberg. Then, in 1936, came the first of the Mormon Meteors and records of 153.823 for 24 hours and 148.641 for 48 hours (Babe Stapp driving relief). Mormon Meteor II raised it to 157.27 in 1937 (Louis Meyer helping). Mormon Meteor III set additional records, many of which stood for years. As late as 1940, he set a 24-hour distance mark of 3,868.14 miles for a world’s circular track record.
Although he has gained outstanding recognition as a contemporary crew chief and car owner, Robert "Junior" Johnson also enjoyed a great career as a driver. Although he never won the NASCAR Grand National title, he did accumulate a fantastic record of 50 GN race wins, including the 1960 Daytona 500. His 50 career wins is seventh on the all-time list. Today, as a car owner, he has produced championship-winning cars for Cale Yarborough (the only three-in-a-row champion 1976-77-78) and for the past two seasons for Darrell Waltrip. As a driver, Johnson has five superspeedway wins to his credit, placing him in a 14th place tie on the all-time list. As a car owner, his cars have brought in more than $5.1 million. Only Petty Enterprises has fielded more winners or brought in more money.
With his last Indy appearance in 1967, Jones set the all-time lap prize winning record of more than $75,000. Rufus Parnell Jones won at Indy in 1963 from the pole and was the first to crack the 150 mph barrier officially when he also won the pole in 1962. Was the Indy Rookie of the Year in 1961, 7th in ’62, 2nd in ’65 and 6th in ’67, the year he dominated the 500 in the STP Turbine only to fall by the wayside six laps from victory when an inexpensive part broke. In addition to his success as an Indy driver and in Sprints and Midgets, Jones has major victories to his credit in stock cars and sports cars and in more recent years has turned to off-road racing with victories in the Mint and Baja events. In sports cars he won the Times Grand Prix at Riverside and his stock car laurels include a NASCAR Riverside 500 win. Today, Jones fields the Vel’s Parnelli Racing Team that won Indy in 1970 and ’71 with Al Unser driving and the Parnelli driven to success in the ’78 season by Danny Ongais.
The King of the Outlaws has earned that appellation by being the most dominant sprint car driver of the past two decades, and continues to add to his laurels. Kinser has raced with the World of Outlaws since 1978 and through 2002 had recorded 471 career A-Main victories and 17 championships - numbers which do not reflect an estimated 150 victories on other circuits. For many years he raced for his cousin, Karl Kinser, winning 14 of his championships. In 1994 his fame had grown to the point that he was invited to participate in the International Race of Champions, and stood that series on its ear winning the Talladega round. That led to a brief, and underfunded, foray in Winston Cup, but he returned to WoO with his own team, winning his 15th championship in 1998, his 16th in 2000 and his 17th last year. Kinser set a national short-track record in 1987 with 56 feature victories, including 46 of the 69 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series main events, plus 10 more in non-WoO races. His stupendous tally of race wins includes 12 Knoxville Nationals and 10 Gold Cup of Champions (Chico, Calif.). He finished 14th in the 1997 Indianapolis 500 (crashed while running ninth with 12 laps remaining). The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame has hailed Kinser as the greatest sprint car driver ever.
AFTER INDUCTION: Kinser won 25 races in the 2003 season, raising his WoO victory total to 496, and his 18th championship in the World of Outlaws' 25th season.
Ranks among the outstanding race car designer/builders of all time, starting with midgets in 1938 for such successful drivers as Rex Mays, Bob Swanson and Mel Hensen. Built his first Indy car in 1941 and devoted much of his time to such projects after World War II, starting with the front-drive Novi and two other cars in 1946. Increasing his production each year for the next several years, he built as many as 14 new machines in 1957 and a total of 128 between 1941 and 1953. For six straight years, beginning in 1952, 22 or more cars built by Kurtis dominated the starting lineup at Indianapolis each year. Six of them were winners, and his Kurtis Krafts grabbed the top 13 positions in the 1953 Indy 500. Eight were pole winners. Kurtis also pioneered the famed roadster-type chassis that dominated the sport for 13 years.
World Champion for Ferrari in 1975, he made a miraculous and courageous comeback from his terrible fiery racing accident at the Nurburgring in 1976 after he already had won five grand prix races and was well on his way to repeating as the World Champion. His courage in returning to the wheel was emphasized even more in 1977 when he won the German Grand Prix, at the same track where he met with his near-fatal crash, and went on to win the title again in 1977. He retired in 1979 after scoring 17 Formula One victories to stand fourth on the all-time list behind Stewart, Clark and Fangio.
AFTER INDUCTION: Lauda came out of retirement in 1982 and raced four seasons for McLaren, winning eight more races to tie Clark at 25 wins, and also taking his third World Championship in 1984.
Levassor won the event which launched auto racing as a competitive sport - the grueling 732-mile Paris-Bordeaux-Paris contest of 1895. Prior automotive events were essentially reliability contests. Levassor, in a 2-cylinder, 4 hp Panhard et Levassor, drove the entire distance himself averaging a then-amazing 15 mph. He was denied the prize of 31,000 francs because his car had but two seats, but it is his statue that today overlooks the finish line at the Porte Maillot in Paris. Levassor, for several years in partnership with Rene Panhard, also is credited with inventing the "systeme Panhard" considered to have established the basic layout of most cars built for the next century - front engine, clutch between the engine and gearbox, and rear-wheel drive.
Lockhart was, and still is, regarded as one of the best racing engineers the sport has known. He was a Mark Donohue of his time, with equal ability as a driver. Lockhart combined two basic straight-eight engines to form a V-16 in 1928, and covered the measured mile at Daytona Beach at 208 mph before losing his life when a tire failed on the return trip. Lockhart won Indianapolis in 1926 and recorded other major wins at Altoona, Charlotte, Fresno and Salem. In addition to Daytona, he set world speed marks at Muroc and Atlantic City.
The "Golden Boy" of NASCAR's Grand National circuit, the blond Lorenzen won 26 races out of 159 starts between 1960 and 1967. Before then, he raced in USAC's stock car division, winning 12 races and the 1958 and 1959 championships. After moving over to NASCAR, Lorenzen became the first driver to win $100,000 in a single season (1963). His victory list includes many of the series' most prestigious races: the Daytona 500 (1965), the World 600 (1963, 1965), the Rebel 500 (1961, 1964), the National 500 (1964, 1965), and three straight Atlanta 500s (1962-64). He was the first to score the original "grand slam" of superspeedways with wins at Daytona, Charlotte, Atlanta and Darlington, and then when Rockingham came on line in 1965 he added that track to his list to make it a sweep of the then-existing Southern superspeedways. He tried a comeback in 1970, but went winless and retired for good in 1972.
Although his untimely passing in that tragic plane crash last April 23 hastened his nomination, there isn’t any doubt that Ray Marquette eventually would be a candidate for Hall of Fame honors. Only the second writer to be nominated, Marquette was a veteran sports writer with the Indianapolis Star which led to his involvement with racing. Extremely well-liked and -respected by the entire racing fraternity, he was dedicated to the sport in every way. In addition to his outstanding writing and race coverage, he served as the AARWBA president and was constantly in demand as a master of ceremonies for his quick wit and personality could charm the pants off anyone. He wrote with the same personality. A little more than a year ago, Marquette left his newspaper job of some 14 years to become USAC’s Vice President of Public Affairs, and probably served better in that capacity than anyone before him, meeting the needs of track operators, capably assisting in promotion and publicity work and serving as a goodwill ambassador between the sanctioning body and major sponsors. Elected in his first ballot appearance.
Mays was one of the few drivers able to carry his career across the chasm of World War II. He raced on the AAA Championship Trail for 12 years from 1934 to 1949, leaving out the four years of the war. He scored his first win in a 100-miler at Goshen, N.Y., in 1936. He was the national champion in the last two years before the war, 1940 and 1941, winning twice in each year although the crown jewel of the Indianapolis 500 escaped him as he finished second in both years. After the war he returned to the cockpit to win all three of his starts in 1946.
Drove his first race in a "strictly stock" event at Portland in 1945. More than 50 years later he was still one of the toughest stock car drivers on the West Coast. First came to prominence in 1950 by winning the inaugural Carrera Panamericana (Mexican Road Race). He met Bill France there, who invited him to race in the first Southern 500 at Darlington. During a four-year Grand National career he won four times. Retired in 1954 and came back in the mid '60s, concentrating on the Grand National West/Winston West circuit. His first post-retirement win was at Riverside in 1969; when Riverside closed 20 years later, McGriff held the mark for the most victories there, 14. He has won 36 Winston West races, but for all that his only championship came in 1986. Born Dec. 14, 1927, he became the series' oldest champion at age 58. At age 65, he became the Winston West's oldest race winner taking the Winston West checker at the combined 1993 NASCAR/ARCA Texas World race as well as the oldest driver to start a Winston Cup when he qualified for the '93 Sears Point race. He also holds Winston West records for most wins in a season (12) and most consecutive wins (five), both set in 1972. He retired again, for good this time he says, in 2002 at age 74.
One of several great drivers to come out of New Zealand, was a top driver and builder on the Formula 1 circuit. He won four grands prix in his career, including the first-ever United States GP at Sebring in 1959, and the first for the cars bearing his name, the 1968 Belgian GP. His McLaren race cars won the World Championship in 1974 and dominated the early Can-Am series. Team McLaren won every Can-Am championship from 1967 to 1971, during which it won 37 of 43 races, finishing 1-2 20 times. McLaren himself took the 1967 and ’69 titles and won nine races, teammate Denny Hulme was champion in 1968 and 1970, and Peter Revson took the 1971 crown. Bruce left behind a great legacy in mechanical and engineering ability following his death in a 1970 testing accident in England.
By his 39th birthday last December, Mears had rolled up 27 Indy Car wins, had won three championships and owned six victories in 500-milers, including three at the Indianapolis 500. This year he added his fourth Indy triumph, becoming only the third driver to do so. He stood atop the list of all-time Indy Car earnings at $8.2 million. In CART’s breakaway year of 1979, Mears won his first Indy, became CART’s first champion, and also won AARWBA’s prestigious Jerry Titus Award. He repeated the championships in 1981 and 1982, won Indy again in 1984 and 1988, and also won the Pocono 500 in 1982, 1985 and 1987. One of his most thrilling Indys was the one he lost, in 1982, when he chased down Gordon Johncock and lost by a record .16 of a second. Through 1990, Mears owned 34 poles (fourth on the all-time list) including five at Indy. Was the Indy co-Rookie of the Year in 1978. Started his career racing motorcycles, then dune buggies in the California desert, winning more than 60 trophies.
AFTER INDUCTION: Mears won the 1991 Michigan 500, to cap his tally of 500-mile wins at eight. Retired at the end of the 1992 season with a total of 29 wins, 40 poles (including a record sixth at Indy) and $11 million in earnings.
Could easily fit into the 1921-1930 era since he was active and successful during those years, but probably belongs in the later years since he achieved his greatest honors then. Meyer won his very first race at Indy, the 1928 500, after appearing briefly as a relief driver in 1927. He also won the 1928 and 1929 National Championships before going on to even greater fame during the 1930s, when he won the Indy races of 1933 and 1936 and again captured the ’33 National crown and went on record as Indy’s first triple winner. In all, he drove in 12 Indy races, finishing second once and fourth twice. His achievements on other tracks included two straight 200-mile victories on the boards of Altoona. He retired after narrowly missing a fourth Indy win in 1939 and later, with Dale Drake, produced the Meyer Drake Offy racing engine that dominated the sport for so many years.
Developed the famed Miller engine and later built complete Miller race cars which dominated the 1920s and early 1930s and out-performed the venerable Duesenbergs. Miller engines have won more events than any other American racing engine in U.S. competition. The four-cylinder Offy engine of today evolved from Miller’s earlier eight-cylinder design. He built front-drive and rear-drive cars with equal success and also designed a rear-engine four-wheel-drive race car in the late 1930s.
Considered by many who saw him race and others who have researched his records as the greatest driver of his era and one of the best in history. Milton was the first to win Indy twice — in 1921 and 1923. He earned more than 12,000 Championship points in his career, from 1916 through 1927, and was the 1920 and 1921 National Champion — the first driver to win that honor twice in a row. Milton’s career record is long and impressive, especially on the board tracks of his era. He won the first of 23 Championship race victories in 1917 and concluded his career with an eighth place finish in the 1927 Indy race. His best year was 1922 when he captured four wins in 12 races, placed second five times and fifth once, failing to finish only twice. The fact that he was handicapped with one bad eye never daunted his career. Milton later served as Chief Steward for the 500. He died in the late 1950s.
Although noted for his achievements as a driver, Moore is now best remembered for producing winning race cars. His behind-the-wheel credentials include nine consecutive Indy 500s beginning in 1928; he was on the pole once and led the field on two occasions. He placed second as a rookie and later was third twice. He scored two career Champcar wins, both in 1931, taking 100-milers at Altoona and Syracuse. Victory at Indy as a car owner came when he prepared the winning Wetteroth-Offy cars in 1938 (with Floyd Roberts as his driver) and 1941 (with Mauri Rose/Floyd Davis). After World War II, he built the famed Blue Crown Specials that finished 1-2 in both 1947 and 1948 (Rose leading Bill Holland across the line both times). He won again in 1949 (with Holland) and narrowly missed a third straight 1-2 when the second car went out with a broken magneto strap eight laps from the end; his third Blue Crown entry placed third. Moore later served as team manager for Pontiac’s stock car effort. He died of a heart attack in 1956.
Probably one of the most popular European great drivers of all time, this native of Great Britain captured virtually every European GP race on the circuit during his day. He barely missed winning the coveted World Championship on several occasions when he battled the great Fangio and later Mike Hawthorn and Jack Brabham until he was forced into early retirement from injuries suffered in a racing crash while at the peak of his career. Regarded by many as the greatest driver never to have won the World Championship, his 16 wins between 1955 and 1961 stood second only to Fangio’s 24 when Moss last raced in Formula One. He was runner-up for the championship in 1955 through 1958, and placed third in points in 1959 through 1961, coming closest in 1958 when despite four wins he finished one point behind Mike Hawthorn (who won one race) at a time when a grand prix win paid only 8 points. Fast on tracks the circuit had never seen before, Moss won the only Pescara Grand Prix, the only Moroccan Grand Prix, the only Portuguese GP at Monsanto, and the only U.S. GP at Riverside. He also was a star in sports cars, winning the 24 Hours of Sebring in 1954, both the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio in ’55, and four times at the Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers.
One of the most respected and successful drivers of his era, Mulford was extremely great in long distance events such as the Elgin Cup races of 1910, which he won handily against the best drivers of the day. Active from 1909 through 1922, Mulford was deeply religious and refused to race on Sundays. Still, he compiled a record of 15 Championship race wins, a lifetime total of 8,297 points, and won the National Championship in 1911 and 1918. Many credit him with winning the first Indy 500, in 1911, when he contended that a scoring mixup failed to credit him with a lap and he was awarded second place.
Although his career was relatively short, Jimmy Murphy established one of the most remarkable records for consistency in racing history. Starting in 1919 after serving as Tommy Milton’s riding mechanic, Murphy won his very first race, a 250-miler at Beverly Hills. For the next five years, until his death in a racing accident at Syracuse, N.Y., in 1924, Murphy racked up an almost unbelievable record. In the 1920 Championship race season he was 1st, 4th, 6th, 3rd and 4th. In 1921 he was 3rd, DNF, 1st, DNF, 1st, 5th, 4th, 6th, 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 4th and 1st. In 1922, the year he won Indy, he was 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 3rd, DNF, 8th and 1st. In 1923 he was 1st, 1st, 3rd, DNF, 3rd, 3rd, 7th, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 1st. Overall he won 16 AAA Championship races against tremendous competition. He was National Champion in 1922 and 1924 and also became the first American to win a European Grand Prix (the 1921 French Grand Prix in a Duesenberg), an achievement that went unmatched until modern times. Murphy accounted for nearly 10,000 lifetime Championship points.
DENNIS "DUKE" NALON
An outstanding midget, sprint and Indy car racer whose career spanned nearly a quarter-century, Nalon enjoyed his greatest success on the eastern and midwestern Big Car Championship circuits before World War II, taking the eastern title in 1938 with seven wins (also fifth in the midwest series), then taking the midwest title in 1941 with nine wins (also sixth in the eastern series). Won four features at the Langhorne mile oval in the famous "Poison Lil" championship car. Raced the Indy 500 ten times, his best finish a third in 1948 aboard the brutish Novi after starting 11th with a new qualifying record of 131.603 mph. He broke that record the next year, taking pole at 132.939, but went out in a flaming crash after 24 laps. Returning two years later, he took pole again at 136.948 mph. Elected to the Hall of Fame in his first ballot appearance. Nalon died in 2001 at the age of 87.
Elected from the Historic Era, non-driver category. He was the "Rennleiter," or team manager, for Mercedes-Benz guiding the careers of luminaries such as Rudi Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Hermann Lang and Dick Seaman during the 1930s. Postwar, he helped raise Mercedes to prominence once again with a 1952 victory at Le Mans with Lang and Fritz Reiss, and was the overseer of Mercedes' 1954-55 return to Formula One which resulted in Juan Manuel Fangio's second and third world driving championships.
Achieved his greatest fame on the Grand Prix circuits of Europe where he was one of Italy’s all-time great drivers. A great champion who overcame ill health as a boy and who survived numerous race injuries that caused doctors to shake their heads in disbelief and advise him to quit. Nuvolari was outstanding in his brief American appearances, winning the revived Vanderbilt Cup race at Roosevelt Raceway. In the early ’30s he won many races for Alfa Romeo, including the French, German, Monte Carlo and Italian Grands Prix as well as the great Italian open road races, the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio, taking each twice. He also drove successfully for the Mercedes and Auto Union teams that dominated European racing in the 1930s.
In the history of American auto racing, no other name has been so familiar or as long-lasting perhaps as that of Offenhauser. Fred was an accomplished mechanic when he became shop foreman for the famed Harry Miller, who produced one of America’s most successful racing engines. Fred later took over the business and the popular Offenhauser or Offy engine (of which the Miller engine was a forebear) went on to completely dominate Championship racing for nearly four decades. Won election to the hall his first time on the ballot.
Barney Oldfield was one of the earliest heroes of the roaring road in the days of the automobile’s infancy. Although he only won two National Championship races in his career, his name was synonymous with speed and daring. In a racing career running from 1909 to 1918, his two wins came within four days of each other during a spring swing through the west coast — a 300-miler at Venice, Calif., and a 100-miler in Tucson, Ariz. Of course his fame came from innumerable exploits in non-sanctioned races, challenges and exhibitions in the years prior to World War I — among them the opening day at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 19, 1909, when he lowered the track record for the mile to 43.2 seconds, almost 84 mph. The following year he drove his big Benz to a record for the flying mile of 27.33 seconds, 131.724 mph.
Parks formed the National Hot Rod Association in 1951 and built it into what is now the world’s largest sanctioning body. Under Parks’ leadership, the hot rodding craze of the late ’40s and early ’50s was taken off the streets and organized into the fast, modern-day sport of drag racing. Parks first was noted as a leader when he helped found the Southern California Timing Association, which conducted speed trials on the desert dry lakes in 1937. He helped establish Hot Rod Magazine in 1948, now the world’s largest-circulation auto enthusiast publication, and was editorial director for all Petersen Automotive Publications until he resigned in 1963 to devote full time to the NHRA presidency. Parks organized the first NHRA Safety Safari which toured the country from 1954 to 1956 producing drag races at abandoned air strips, and conceived the first major drag racing event, the Nationals, at Great Bend, Kansas, in 1955. Today, NHRA sanctions more than 2,500 events annually, including a multi-million dollar season of Nationals. Parks also was instrumental in gaining international recognition for drag racing when NHRA became a member of ACCUS and the FIA. In 1991, he was named vice chairman of ACCUS. Parks retired as NHRA president in 1983 but continued as chairman of the board through 1999. Parks remained Chairman of the board of the Museum that bears his name for the rest of his life. He passed away on September 28, 2007 at the age of 94.
One of the most popular and colorful drivers of the 1950s, Parsons also was one of the youngest National Champions winning the 1949 title during his first full year on the Championship Trail. He won five Champcar races that year and was second at Indy as a rookie. The next year he won at Indy. Parsons was running at the head of the pack at Indy as late as 1956, and won a total of 11 Champcar races and made the Indy lineup 10 times in his career. He also was successful racing in Midgets and was well known as one of racing’s finest goodwill ambassadors.
The second man to surpass the $1 million mark in prize money earned during his career in stock car racing, Pearson is the only man to seriously challenge the fantastic record of Hall of Famer Richard Petty. Pearson won his 103rd Grand National victory in 1978 making him second to the all-time high held by Richard Petty and only the second driver to surpass the 100-victory mark. He was the second driver, after Lee Petty, to win the Grand National championship three times, in 1966, 1968 and 1969, but his greatest victories came in the ’70s — especially 1976 when he won the Daytona 500, the Southern 500 and the World 600.
AFTER INDUCTION: Pearson raised his victory total to 105 before retiring in 1986 after 574 starts. He scored 301 top-5 and 366 top-10 finishes in his career.
A fine driver in his own right, his greatest accomplishments have been in the business end of the sport as car owner and track owner. His driver credits include four SCCA national championships in F Modified, 1960; D Modified 1961, '62 and '63; selection as Sports Illustrated's 1961 Driver of the Year, and even the NASCAR Golden State 400 at Riverside in 1963. With Mark Donohue as his primary driver (and George Follmer sitting in when Donohue was injured in 1972), he won four Trans-Am Championships and two Can-Am Championships. Donohue also carried Penske's colors to wins in individual races such as the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona, the 1972 Indianapolis 500, plus Formula 5000 events. Campaigned an AMC Matador in NASCAR Grand National in 1973-75, winning five races with Donohue and Bobby Allison, and in 1994 became a major partner in Rusty Wallace's Winston Cup team. Penske's Formula 1 car won the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix with John Watson. Penske was a prime mover in the creation of both the International Race of Champions and Championship Auto Racing Teams. Since the formation of CART, he has concentrated on Indy car racing, becoming the winningest car owner in Indy-car history. As of 1999, his 99 victories include 10 more Indy wins with Bobby and Al Unser, Tom Sneva, Danny Sullivan, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser Jr., and four with Rick Mears; two USAC championships with Sneva and seven CART championships for Mears (3), Unser (2), Sullivan and Unser Jr. Penske is also the owner of Michigan International Speedway, Nazareth Speedway, North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham), half of the Homestead Motorsports Complex, and the new California Speedway in Fontana.
AFTER INDUCTION: Racing in CART in 2000 and 2001, and the Indy Racing League since 2002, Penske's drivers have raised his ChampCar/IndyCar victory total to 119, earned two more CART championships with Gil deFerran, and three more Indianapolis 500 victories with Helio Castroneves (2) and deFerran
Joining his son Richard in the Hall of Fame — the first father-son pair in the hall — Lee Petty was the first driver to win the NASCAR Grand National title three times (1954, 1958, 1959) and his lifetime GN win total of 54 is exceeded only by his son, David Pearson and Cale Yarborough. Petty established his fabulous record in an 11-year period from 1949-1960 when he was forced into retirement after a near-fatal crash at Daytona, one year after winning the inaugural Daytona 500. Petty scored most of his wins in a Plymouth during a time when that marque was not the high-powered baron of stock car racing it was later to become. As a result it was often pure driving skill and mechanical ability that enabled Petty to win against the faster cars of the day. From 1949 through 1959 he was never worse than 4th in seasonal Grand National point standings. Petty passed away in 2000.
The all-time leader in NASCAR Grand National statistics of every kind, Petty is the only four-time Grand National Champion, has compiled nearly 150 victories (more than 75 more than his nearest competitor), and has earned more than $1,300,000 in his career which began in 1958. He was first to win the Daytona 500 three times and added a fourth to that last February. His single-season prize earnings of more than $309,000 is also a record. He has more finishes in the top five (360) than any other driver, more in the top ten (430) and has driven more miles in GN competition (110,934). He also has won more GN races in a single season (27 in 1967, including a record 10 in a row), was the first race driver to be named to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and has won more high-caliber awards than any other driver.
AFTER INDUCTION: Petty has since raised his win total in Winston Cup (formerly Grand National) to an even 200, 95 more than David Pearson, and has won seven championships — 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979. Other records established in his NASCAR career up to his retirement after the 1992 season following 35 years of competition include 1,185 starts, 555 top-5 finishes and 712 top-10 finishes, and seven Daytona 500 victories. His career earnings totaled $7,757,964.
One of the strongest and most influential men in racing since the early days of the sport. Pillsbury originally was an engineer who made his fortune developing Beverly Hills and building many of Los Angeles’ public buildings. He designed and built many of the famed board speedways of the 1920s and early 1930s. He was a strong member of the American Automobile Association’s Contest Board, which ruled racing for more than half a century, and was the West Coast supervisor for the AAA in the ’20s and ’30s. When the AAA bowed out of racing in 1955, Pillsbury along with Col. Art Herrington designed the makeup of the U.S. Auto Club, which succeeded the AAA. He also supervised all Land Speed Record runs at Bonneville from 1939 through the early 1960s, as well as the famed Mobilgas Economy Run. A stern follower of the rule book, Pillsbury kept racing honest during several rough periods. He was one of the most respected men in the sport.
Founder of the company that today has become Porsche AG. In 1900, at age 25, he developed the Lohner-Porsche, a car with electric motors in each wheel hub. He developed the one-liter Sasha, which was entered in the 1921 Targa Florio and finished 1-2 in class with a third car seventh. He developed the Daimler in 1924 which won the Targa Florio overall, finishing 1-2-3 in class. He designed and built the Mercedes S, SS, SSK and SSKL cars which won the German Grand Prix in 1926, 1928 and 1931. In 1930 he started his own engineering and design firm which produced the two most successful rear-drive cars of the 1930s — the Auto Union grand prix racer and the Volkswagen passenger car. His Auto Unions won the grands prix of Germany and Switzerland in 1934 and ’35, and in 1936 took the Tunisian, Italian, Swiss and German grands prix with Bernd Rosemeyer driving. Porsche was elected to the hall on his first ballot appearance.
Upon his retirement in 1994, Prudhomme's 49 NHRA National event victories -- 14 in Top Fuel and 35 in Funny Cars - stood him second on NHRA's all-time, all categories pro list. He also has won all of the big Nationals in multiples -- five Winternationals, six Springnationals, six Summernationals, two Fallnationals, three World Finals, and the U.S. Nationals seven times (3 TF, 4 FC). "The Snake" owned the Funny Car category in the mid-70s when he won four consecutive NHRA World Championships, 1975-1978. Included in that set was a streak of seven national event wins in a row across the 1975-76 seasons. In 1990 he moved back to Top Fuel and resumed winning in the diggers again. Now he's a car owner fielding winning racers in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.AFTER INDUCTION: Prudhomme's driver Larry Dixon was the NHRA Top Fuel champion in 2002 and 2003, giving The Snake his fifth and sixth championships and first two as a car owner.
Achieved recognition for his performances at Indy, which he won in 1960, and on the Championship Trail’s paved tracks. In addition to his victory, he placed second in 1952, 1957 and 1959. He also won at Milwaukee and Daytona in the Championship cars. His best years on the Championship Trail were 1959 and 1960, when he placed fourth both years. One of his greatest days was when he won all three segments of the second Race of Two Worlds in 1958 at Monza, Italy. Rathmann was elected to the hall on his first ballot appearance.
Enshrined 1999Winner of the 1916 "short race" at Indy, which was scheduled for only 300 miles. The Italian-born Resta lived mostly in England and raced mostly in America. He was the 1916 AAA National Champion, and earned more than 7,000 points in his Champcar career to rank third among all drivers active before 1920. He was the Vanderbilt Cup winner in 1915 and 1916, won the 1915 U.S. Grand Prize, and finished second at Indy that year, his only other Indy appearance. In those 1915-1916 seasons, Resta accumulated his career total of 10 Champcar victories. He was killed in 1924 at England's Brooklands Speedway.
Because of his great game as a World War I flying ace, Rickenbacker is often overlooked for his achievements in auto racing. He not only was a great driver in that colorful era prior to World War I but played a vital role in the sport’s destiny after earning fame as a flying ace over France. Rickenbacker’s driving career was short, from 1913 through 1916. Still, he managed to win seven Championship races and compiled 5,564 points which ranked him fifth among the all-time point leaders of the 1911-1920 era. Today he is ranked 43rd in all-time standings. Among his major wins were 300-mile events at Sioux City, Omaha and Tacoma. Rickenbacker purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after World War I and also was named chairman of the AAA Contest Board which controlled racing. It was he who kept the sport alive during the Great Depression, when little else survived.
GLEN "FIREBALL" ROBERTS
Considered by many as the "Babe Ruth" of stock car racing, Roberts acquired his nickname as a schoolboy baseball pitcher, not in racing as many believed. Starting with Modifieds in 1948, he competed sparingly on the NASCAR Grand National circuit through 1956, winning one race (only the 19th GN ever run) in 1950. Then he won 31 more between 1956 and 1963. He never ran for the point title, entering only the major races from 1958 on. His victories include the Rebel 300 in 1957 and ’59; the Southern 500 in 1958 and ’63; the Firecracker 250 in 1959 and ’62; the Firecracker 400 in ’63; the Dixie 300 in 1960; the Daytona 500 in 1962; and the only 500-miler ever held at Trenton, in 1958. Roberts is 13th on the all-time GN win list and he’s still tied for ninth with 10 superspeedway wins and sixth in superspeedway poles with 21. His superspeedway pole record stood until 1973 when David Pearson broke it. Roberts died of pneumonia on July 2, 1964, after having been severely burned in a three-car accident during the World 600 at Charlotte on May 24, 1964. He was 35.
Credited in modern record books with the very first U.S. National Championship, in 1909 under AAA sanction, after victories in a 318-mile race at Lowell, Mass., and a 200-miler in Philadelphia. At the time the champion was determined by a popularity vote of the press with another driver, Bert Dingley, getting the nod. Later a points formula was devised and Robertson emerged atop the tally (Dingley was 5th). Robertson also won the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup and was twice the victor at the Brighton Beach Classic.
One of four triple winners of the Indianapolis 500, Rose is the only one to score 500-mile victories both before and after World War II. His victories came in 1941, 1947 and 1948. He won the AAA National Championship in 1936. His 1941 Indy win came after his own mount went out with mechanical trouble and he took over his team car from Floyd Davis, moving it from 12th place to first. Rose also finished fourth or better in four other Indy races, driving in 15 altogether and leading the field in nearly every one before his retirement after the 1951 classic. He earned the respect of European drivers at Roosevelt Raceway in 1936 when he became the first American to finish the revived Vanderbilt Cup race, which was completely dominated by European cars and drivers. Rose earned a total of 5,913 Championship points in his career, which lasted from 1932 through 1951, ranking him 40th in the all-time point standings.
Other than an appearance in the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup race at Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island, a 300-miler he won in an Auto Union, Rosemeyer confined his racing to Europe. There, the German was one of the all-time great and popular pre-war Formula One drivers, often the only obstacle to a Mercedes wipeout. Signed by DKW to race motorcycles, he pestered them for an opportunity to get in the Auto Union grand prix car although he had never driven a racing car before. He got his chance in 1935 and proved to be the only driver able to tame the vicious V-16 rear-engined behemoths -- some say because he'd never driven anything else and didn't realize what a handful they were. In the difficult but fast German cars, he won the 1935 Czech GP at Brno and was the 1936 European Champion (the forerunner to today's Formula One World Championship), a season which included victories in the Pescara, German, Swiss and Italian grands prix and the Eifelrennen, where he chased down the great Nuvolari through a heavy fog. The next year, in addition to the Vanderbilt Cup, he also won the Eifelrennen, Coppa Acerbo and the Donington Grand Prix. He died in January 1938 in a wreck during a 270-plus mph speed record attempt on the Autobahn.
Joined the elite list of three-time Indianapolis 500 winners with his third triumph in 1980 for Jim Hall, which led to his 1980 CART Indy Car championship. Earlier Indy victories were in 1974 and 1976 while driving for Team McLaren, along with other 500-mile wins at Pocono in 1974 and Michigan in 1986. Was the USAC national sprint car champion in 1965, the same year he won his first Indy-car race, a 250-miler at Atlanta. His Indy-car career victory total of 27 had him tied for sixth on the all-time list, and his total of 23 pole positions is seventh in that tally, as of the end of 1992, his last active year.
Became the youngest Indianapolis 500 winner when he captured the 1952 race at age 22 driving for J.C. Agajanian. Actually, he was the youngest driver ever to race at Indy when he was only 19 (without the knowledge of race officials) when he placed 12th in the 1949 Indy. In all, Ruttman drove Indy 12 times and led the field in nearly all of them. He also was outstanding on the high-banked half miles of the Midwest sprint car circuit, claiming the 1951 AAA Midwest crown as well as the 1951 and 1952 Pacific Coast crowns. He also captured the 1948 URA midget title and the 1947-48 2CRA Track Roadster title at the tender ages of 17 and 18.
The affable and popular Sachs missed on his first attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, clocking in 34th. The next year, 1957, he left no doubt, putting himself in the middle of the front row for his rookie run. He started No. 2 again in 1959 and then started both the 1960 and 1961 races from the pole. He looked to have the '61 race won when he pitted with three laps left for a new right rear tire. The tires in those days had a white safety lining that showed through when the tread got too thin. He lost to A.J. Foyt by just eight seconds, but it was a good decision. A few days later in a test duplicating track conditions, the tire blew within less than a mile. Sachs won eight Champ Car races in his career, including four at Trenton, N.J., plus two Stock Car 200-milers at Milwaukee. He was the Midwest Sprint Car champion in 1958 and runner-up three times before that. Sachs died in a fiery wreck on the second lap of the 1964 Indy 500, which led to a ban on gasoline as a fuel in Indy cars.
"BRONCO BILL" SCHINDLER
"BRONCO BILL" SCHINDLER
One of the best of the Midget aces of the ’30s and ’40s, Schindler’s best years came after losing his left leg as a result of a 1936 racing wreck. After that he was no longer "Wild Bill" and became "Bronco Bill," one of the smoothest and most intelligent drivers on the ARDC or any other circuit, driving the Caruso Offy Nos. 2 and 3 Midgets on the Eastern Seaboard. He was ARDC champion several times, and later president of that club. In 1947 he went on a tear, winning 53 Midget features on 10 different tracks, and duplicated the feat in 1948. After that he returned to racing Sprint Cars. In 1952 he won a Champcar 100-miler at Springfield. He died later that year in an accident while leading a race at Allentown Speedway in Pennsylvania.
AYRTON SENNA da SILVA
His third World Driving Championship in 1991 made him the eighth to achieve that milestone. Had 41 Formula One victories — second on the all-time list — and is far and away the record-holder for F1 pole positions with 65. The brilliant Brazilian won his first six races for Lotus in 1985-87 before becoming the point man of the McLaren juggernaut in 1988. That year he won not only his first championship but also eight grands prix, breaking Jim Clark’s 25-year-old record for most wins in a season. Senna is only the second man to score more than 500 World Championship points. His second championship came in 1990. He was killed in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
Shaw scored his first Champcar win in a 1929 100-miler at Syracuse, and won twice more the following year, but then after a dry spell of several years burst out as the dominant driver of the late ’30s. He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1937 in an Offy-powered car of his own manufacture. It was also the last Indy won by a car with a riding mechanic, Jigger Johnson along for the ride. The next year he placed second in the same car, then in 1939 and again in 1940 he took a Maserati to the winner’s Circle. Shaw was also the AAA National Champion in 1937 and 1939, placing second in the points in 1938 and 1940. He was one of the three drivers elected in the inaugural year of the AARWBA Hall of Fame.
Could be listed with equal appropriateness as driver or non-driver. Behind the wheel, some of his greatest accomplishments fall into the historic era of more than 30 years ago beginning with SCCA competition in the early ’50s, including being part of an Austin Healey team that set more than 70 land speed records at Bonneville in 1954. He won a 1956 Formula Libre national championship in SCCA amateur competition with a Ferrari, and claimed 19 straight SCCA wins in 1956-58. His greatest victory came in 1959 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (with Roy Salvadori in an Aston Martin). In 1960 Shel won the U.S. Road Racing Championship and designation as Sports Illustrated Driver of the Year. Heart trouble ended his driving career (he had a transplant in 1990), but he merely found a new direction, building cars. First was the brutish Shelby Cobra sports car — which won the SCCA Manufacturer Championship in 1963-’64-’65 and the World Sports Car Championship in ’65 — and then the Mustang-based Shelby GT350. Also spawned the Ford GT40 which in 1966 won the first victory at Le Mans for a U.S.-built car, the first of four straight Ford wins at the Sarthe circuit; Shelby was team manager for the ’66 and ’67 wins. Most recently he has put the Shelby name on Chrysler cars, won the contract to build (and bankroll) SCCA’s new Shelby Can-Am spec racer, and established a reputation as a pretty fair chili chef.
A three-time World Champion (1969, 1971 and 1973), Stewart is one of Formula One racing’s all-time winners. He broke fellow Scot Jimmy Clark’s mark and set the record at 27 wins — out of just 99 starts — in 1973. He has won with regularity on that rugged circuit for seven years and, when he didn’t win the title, managed to figure prominently in the point standings each year. In his first season (in Formula 3) he won 28 out of 58 races, then captured the Tasman Championship. His first Formula One season netted third in the final standings and he barely missed the 1968 championship after being hampered with a broken wrist. In his only Indy 500 appearance, in 1966, Stewart was in strong contention and had victory in his grasp when his car gave out. Like Donohue, Stewart retired as a driver, closing out a great career on a winning note with his last F1 championship.
AFTER INDUCTION: Stewart operated his own Formula One team for three years, 1997-99. Stewart Grand Prix finished fourth in the 1999 World Driving Championship constructor’s standings, including a German Grand Prix victory by Johnny Herbert. He sold the team to Jaguar in 2000.
Developed not only a great race car but a fine passenger car as well. Had an undistinguished career as a driver in pre-1911 days but attracted attention by developing the Marion. There is no question of Earl Cooper and Gil Anderson dominating that era of racing, and the cars they drove were designed and developed by Stutz and carried his name. As a race car, the Stutz was not the fastest of its day but its reliability was unsurpassed. Stutz used the sport to develop his engineering ideas and was a challenger in any type of contest that would prove and improve his automobiles.
Sweikert won both the Indianapolis 500 and the National Championship in 1955 driving for Oklahoma sportsman John Zink, becoming the last driver to win those laurels under AAA sanction before the AAA dropped out of auto racing and the U.S. Auto Club took over in 1956. He also won the 1955 Midwest Sprint Car crown, becoming the only man to win all three titles in the same year. His first Champcar win was the Hoosier Hundred in 1953, and he also won 100-milers at Syracuse in both 1954 and ’55. In ’56 he finished sixth at Indy after saving a car sent into a wild spin by a flat tire. Sweikert won 15 Sprint races in little more than three years, set a one-lap Champcar speed at Syracuse and Sprint speed records from 1 to 50 laps at Winchester, Illiana, DuQuoin, Dayton and Salem. He was making a strong bid to repeat both the National Championship and Sprint Car titles when he was killed in a race at Salem, Ind., in June 1956.
This native of Daytona Beach earned fame as both driver and car builder. He scored his first major win in a 1949 200-miler on the old beach course with a hometown crowd cheering. He won the 1951 NASCAR Grand National race on the beach course in a Hudson Hornet, then outqualified a 100-car field for the Southern 500 at Darlington. After his car went out, teammate Herb Thomas won in another Teague Hornet. The next year, in the beach race, Teague led Thomas across the line in a pair of Hornets. The exploits brought backing from the Hudson factory and access to the factory workshop to develop improvements for the Hornet’s flathead six. Teague himself won seven Grand Nationals, Thomas won 49, and Dick Rathmann 13 in Teague’s cars. Teague also raced Indy cars, finishing as high as seventh in the ’57 Indy 500. When Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, Teague cut a lap at 171.182 in his Indy racer, the fast lap ever run on an American track back then. He was killed two days later on Feb. 11 when a front axle snapped during an attempt to break the world closed-course record. Elected among Legends in Racing his first time on the ballot.
Proclaimed as NASCAR’s first superstar, Thomas won 49 races during NASCAR’s first eight seasons, 1949 to 1956, a figure that as of 1990 still stands ninth on the all-time Grand National/Winston Cup list. Those wins, driving Marshall Teague’s Hudson Hornets, came from 222 starts, a winning percentage of 22.07, still the best in NASCAR history. He finished out of the top 10 just 50 times. During Thomas’ career, the only superspeedway race was the Southern 500 at Darlington, which he won in 1951, 1954 and 1955, and was leading in 1953 with just eight miles to go when his engine blew. Thomas won the 1951 GN championship, missed three races in ’52 and lost by just 106 points, then won it again in ’53. In 1954 and 1956 he again missed races and placed second in the standings.
One of the most innovative men in motorsports for more than 35 years. Could easily be listed under driver nominees for his accomplishments as a drag racer and speed record holder, but perhaps his most lasting contributions were as entrepreneur and innovator. Thompson drove to more than 500 national and international speed and endurance records, more than any other person — from a 194 mph mark in a dual-Ford engine Bantam coupe in 1952 to a one-way speed of 406.6 in Challenger 1 in 1960, the first run over 400 mph. Many of the records, most set at Bonneville, still stand. He has won races in sprint cars, stock cars, drag racers, sports cars, and later off-road vehicles, winning the Baja 1000 at age 55. Built the first slingshot dragster, the first twin-engine dragster, and the first dragster to exceed 150 mph; designed the wide oval drag racing tire. Built the first stock-block rear-engine car to qualify at Indy (Gurney driving), ran cars at the Indy 500 several years and won the DA Mechanical Achievement award, and also won the drag racing equivalent, the "Ollie." Put Danny Ongais in a Mustang funny car that won 11 of 12 major drag racing titles. As entrepreneur, he built and/or operated five racing facilities, including Lions Drag Strip and Fontana Dragstrip; founded SCORE International in 1973 to sanction off-road racing, and later created the popular Off-Road Grand Prix series of stadium races. Founded tire, shock and engineering companies to advance racing performance and safety. He and his wife were the victims of a still-unsolved 1988 murder.
This colorful competitor known as "Pops" was a pioneer of stock car racing and an early hero on the Grand National scene. He was equally successful in Modifieds. Despite a long interruption in his NASCAR career because of a suspension, Turner accounted for 17 Grand National victories. When his suspension was lifted in 1965, he came back stronger than ever by winning the Permatex 200 at Daytona in his first appearance. He died in a plane crash five years later.
"Big Al" is a three-time national champion, a four-time Indy winner, the only driver ever to win all the Triple Crown races in a single year, and owner of eight 500-mile victories and 39 career wins over a quarter-century career. The first championship came in 1970, but it would be 1983 before the second came his way. By then he had already become the fourth driver to win Indy back-to-back in 1970 and ’71 (which no one has done since), and had won Indy, Ontario and Pocono to sweep the 1978 Triple Crown of 500-milers. The third title in 1985 was a special season in which he won not only after taking over the injured Rick Mears’ car, but did so by edging his son, Al Jr., by one point. The fourth Indy win came in 1987 as the No. 3 Penske Racing driver after the other two cars both failed. Tied with Foyt for the most Indy Car wins in a single season (10, in 1970), and with Foyt and Andretti as the only drivers to win on paved ovals, road courses and dirt tracks in a single season (he did it three times). Stands third on the all-time Indy Car victory list. His 27 Indy Car poles stand fifth on the all-time list. He was IROC champion in 1978 and was named winner of the 1970 Jerry Titus Trophy in the first year of the AARWBA All-America Team.
In a 27-year career, Unser amassed a record of 35 Indy-car wins, fourth on the all-time list including all AAA, USAC and CART races. Of the eight drivers who have won the Indianapolis 500 at least three times, Unser is the only one to score wins in three separate decades, taking the checker in 1968, 1975 and 1981. He also is the only four-time winner of the Ontario 500 and his 1980 Pocono 500 raises his total in Triple Crown races to eight, a figure equaled only by brother Al and exceeded (by one) by A.J. Foyt. Unser was the USAC National Champion in 1968 and 1974 and was the Indy-car series runner-up three times. Also on his trophy shelf are nine Pikes Peak Hill Climb victories and the 1975 IROC title.
WILLIAM K. VANDERBILT
A millionaire-sportsman whose love and devotion to the automobile was a tremendous asset to the progress of racing in its pioneer years. Vanderbilt also did some racing of his own, and twice set one-mile Land Speed Records, driving a Mors at 76.08 mph in an August 1902 run in France, then breaking Henry Ford’s 10-day-old record by running 92.307 in a Mercedes at Daytona in January 1904. In 1900 he established the Vanderbilt Cup race, first run on a short track at Newport, R.I., and then for several years on Long Island before moving to Milwaukee in 1912, the West Coast in 1914-1916, and after a two-decade hiatus resuming in 1936-37 at Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island. For years this race was one of this country’s most prestigious motorsports event and one of the few at the time that was recognized in Europe and attracted well-known European entries. The Vanderbilt Cup races were a tremendous contribution to racing’s early progress.
The versatile Vogler stands second only to A.J. Foyt in USAC career victories, his 134 national wins coming in Midgets, Sprints, and both Gold Crown and Silver Crown dirt cars (including regional contests, he owns 165 career wins). He also is the only driver ever to win both the USAC Midget and Sprint titles in the same year, turning the trick in 1980 when he won 5 of 28 Midget starts and 6 of 24 Sprint starts. He also was the Midget titlist in 1978, 1983, 1986 and 1988, and won his second Sprint crown in 1989. He also won USAC regional Midget championships in 1984 and 1985. He qualified for five Indy 500 races, his best result being in 1989 when he started 33rd and finished eighth. In his career he amassed 95 Midget wins, 34 Sprint wins, four in Silver Crown dirt cars, and a Gold Crown dirt race, the Ted Horn 100 in 1982. Vogler died in 1990 when he was involved in a crash while leading the Joe James-Pat O’Connor Sprint race at Salem, Ind. He was leading when the race was red flagged for the crash and was credited with his final victory.
Drove a total of 1,690 miles in competition at Indy and led 1,210 of them or 71.5 percent of the time, over a period of five years. Vukie did, of course, win the 500 twice, back-to-back in 1953 and ’54, top become only the third driver (at that time) to do so. He also sat on the pole in 1953. Today, 19 years after he was killed while heading toward an unprecedented third straight 500 victory in 1955, Vukie is ranked second among all-time lap prize winners ($65,000), is fourth among the all-time lap leaders (485). Most experts agree, there probably was not a more fierce competitor in 500 history. Vukovich was also a former National Midget champion and scored important Championship race wins at Denver and Detroit. He set new one- and four-lap qualifying records at Indy in 1952 and had that race in his clutches when an inexpensive steering part broke and snatched victory from his grasp.
Retired after the 2000 season after a 29-year career, tied for third with Bobby Allison on the list of NASCAR Winston Cup victories at 84. All of Waltrip's wins were scored in the "modern era" of Winston Cup. His resume also lists the 1981 and 1982 Winston Cup championships - both 12-win seasons for him - plus the 1985 title. Three championships is a pinnacle exceeded only by NASCAR deities (Petty and Earnhardt). Regarded as a short-track expert, Waltrip still knew his way around the superspeedways, especially Charlotte, where he has won the World 600 five times. And on his 17th attempt, in 1989, he finally put Car 17 into the Daytona 500 winner's circle. In 1992, he added the Southern 500 to his tally. Early on in his career he earned something of a mouthy bad-boy image, but overcame that as evidenced by being voted Winston Cup's most popular driver in both 1989 and 1990.
One of 10 drivers who have scored more than one victory at Indianapolis, Ward compiled a total of 26 career Championship race victories, ranking him sixth on the all-time list and seventh in all-time point standings. In addition to winning Indy in 1959 and 1962, he won the USAC National Championship title those same years. Perhaps the most consistent Indy finisher ever, Ward compiled a fantastic record between 1959 and 1964 when he placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 1st, 4th and 2nd. He retired after being forced out of the 1966 race with mechanical trouble. Ward was also the 1951 AAA National Stock Car Champion and also enjoyed wide success in Midgets. Died in 2004.
A car builder and chief mechanic since the late '40s, Watson enjoyed his greatest success in the decade immediately preceding the advent of rear-engine cars at Indy. He was the winning chief mechanic at Indy four times, with Bob Sweikert in 1955 (the last Indy under AAA sanction), Pat Flaherty in 1956 (the first Indy under USAC), and Rodger Ward in 1959 and 1962. He built all of those winning cars except Sweikert's, and he also built the winners for Jim Rathmann in 1960, Parnelli Jones in 1963, and A.J. Foyt in 1964 -- the year a dozen Watson cars were on the grid. When Sweikert won Watson was 29, possibly the youngest chief mechanic to wrench an Indy winner. Sweikert won the last AAA National Championship for Watson in 1955, and Ward drove Watson's cars to his 1959 and 1962 championships. Watson also built the car that carried Foyt to his 1964 title. Watson's record as a crew chief includes a total of 29 Champcar victories by Sweikert, Ward, Flaherty, Jud Larson, Mike Mosley and Johnny Rutherford -- fourth on the all-time list. Watson was also the wrench on sprint cars driven by Larson, Foyt, Mosley, Ed Elisian, Don Branson, Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti. When USAC instituted its Dirt Car championship in 1971 a Watson/Leader Card Racers car driven by George Snider was its first champion, and Bobby Olivero won the title as the team's driver in 1979. In recent years, Watson has been devoting his efforts to restoring many of the legendary cars he built in the '50s and '60s, most now in the hands of collectors.
Won the 1962 NASCAR Grand National championship, winning nine races, with 12 seconds and 10 thirds from 52 starts, and taking seven poles in Bud Moore’s Pontiac. The next year he was champion again, but this time driving five different makes of car for nine different owners. His three wins that year were all in Moore’s cars. "Little Joe" owns 24 career Grand National wins and another 13 wins in NASCAR’s Convertible Division 1956-59. He was the 1953 NASCAR Modified champion, and before that a three-time motorcycle champion. Died in a race at Riverside in 1964.
Enshrined 1999Considered the "original outlaw," Wilburn owed little allegiance to any organization, barnstorming across the nation and regularly dusting AAA legends such as Ted Horn, Tommy Hinnershitz and Joie Chitwood. Sources put him third on the all time win list behind Ralph DePalma and Gus Schrader, with more than 900 features in a career spanning nearly 20 years. He won the 1937 Northwest Sprint Car Championship and five CSRA sprint crowns, winning that title both both before and after World War At one time, Wilburn held virtually every qualifying mark on every major dirt track around, including Langhorne and Winchester. Also drove with success in AAA and IMCA races. Ran the Indy 500 just once, in 1946, qualifying a 10-year-old Alfa Romeo fifth fastest but starting 16th; had it in the top 10 when it gave up, then took over another limping racer and ran it as high as 6th before it quit. Returning to the outlaw dirt, he won an astonishing 121 races in 122 starts in 1946-47, the only loss coming from a rollover caused by a rough track.
In 41 years of the NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup championship, only Yarborough has ever won the title three years in a row — 1976, 1977 and 1978. He retired at the end of the 1988 season with 83 GN/WC victories, fourth on the all-time list. In that 1977 championship year, he became only the second driver ever to start and finish every race of the season. Fifty of his victories came on superspeedways, including the Daytona 500 four times and the Southern 500 five times. He was also the 1984 IROC champion.
The John Zink Special bridged the transition of Championship Car racing after the American Automobile Association got out of the sport in 1955 and the U.S. Auto Club picking up the duties of sanctioning body in 1956. It was Zink's cars that won both the last Indianapolis 500 under AAA sanction with Bob Sweikert, and the first under USAC with Pat Flaherty. Zink brought his first car to Indy in 1952 and entered every year through 1967, only once failing to put a car in the field. Sweikert also won the 1955 National Championship for the Zink team, which repeated in 1958 with Tony Bettenhausen. It was a John Zink Special driven by Jim Rathmann that also won the 1958 "Race of Two Worlds" at Monza, Italy. Zink also brought rookie Dan Gurney to Indy in 1962 to run a turbine car he had designed. Others who drove for him included Jud Larson, Troy Ruttman, Jack Brabham, Lloyd Ruby and Jim McElreath. While Zink earned his renown as a car owner, he had his own latter-day fling as a driver in desert off-road races from 1972 to 1980, winning the Mexican 500, Cobra 300 and Parker 400. Back to the AARWBA Home Page
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