Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

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Jeff Gordon among seven to be inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

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Four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on March 13.

Gordon, who retired from full-time competition after 2015, will be among seven men inducted into the Hall of Fame at the The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The 2018 class is the 30th induction class for the institution. Its first induction class was in 1989

The MSHFA is the only American motorsports hall of fame that acknowledges cars, motorcycles, off-road, powerboats and airplanes.

That’s how to best explain why Gordon will be inducted with aviation pioneer and billionaire Howard Hughes.

“Our inductee classes are always intriguing but this year is even more so,” MSHFA President Ron Watson said in a press release. “Howard Hughes and Jeff Gordon in the same class – that is probably the best example we’ve ever had to illustrate the breadth of our inductee roll.”

Also included in the class are drag racing car builder John Buttera, Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl G. Fisher, motorcycle great Fred Merkel, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion owner U.E. Pat Patrick and sports car legend Bob Tullius.

Here’s a look at all seven inductees:

  • John Buttera   “Lil John” built championship-winning dragsters, funny cars and pro stocks for the biggest names in the sport in the 1960s and ‘70s, including Danny Ongais, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Tom “Mongoose” McEwen and Don Schumacher. The late Kenosha, Wisconsin, native moved to California after a chance meeting with 1990 MSHFA inductee Mickey Thompson at the 1969 U.S. Nationals. Characteristics of a Buttera car were simplicity, elegant design, a wicked stance and flawless craftsmanship. His cars not only looked amazing, they won races and championships. Later, Buttera built award-winning street rods and motorcycles and helped pioneer billet wheels and components. In 1987, on a shoestring budget, he redesigned a castoff Eagle chassis which qualified on the third row at the Indy 500, winning him the prestigious Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award. During the 80s and 90s, Buttera designed parts and components for Edelbrock, Harley-Davidson, Bonspeed and others. He was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2010.
  • Carl G. Fisher – The late Carl Graham Fisher is best known as the man who created the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Earlier, the Greensburg, Indiana, native helped popularize the automobile by competing against Barney Oldfield and others in a series of lucrative exhibitions on Midwest fairground tracks beginning in 1902. He repeatedly urged automakers to support plans for speedways, where they could prove the reliability of their products. When that failed, he persuaded three business associates to join him in the 1909 construction of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, serving as its president until 1923. Among his lesser-known activities were his leadership roles in the Prest-O-Lite company, which produced headlights for almost every early American automobile; the transcontinental Lincoln and Dixie Highways; and the establishment of Miami Beach as a resort destination. Fisher was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1971 and the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1952.
  • Jeff Gordon  Jeff Gordon changed the face of NASCAR when he entered the sport in the 1990s. The Vallejo, California, native is third all-time in NASCAR Cup Series wins (93) behind Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). Gordon is fourth all-time in Cup titles with four (1995, ‘97, ‘98, 2001), behind seven-time champions Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson. Gordon won three Daytona 500 (1997, ‘99, 2005), five Brickyard 400s and six Southern 500. He also set an “Iron Man” record with 797 consecutive starts. Gordon began racing quarter midgets at the age of 5 and by age 6 had won 35 main events. He was 1990 USAC National Midget Series champion, 1991 USAC Silver Crown champ and Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year. He was the Cup Rookie of the Year in 1993. Gordon was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998 and inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • Howard Hughes – One of the world’s richest men, the late Howard Robard Hughes Jr. formed Hughes Aircraft in 1932, set numerous records and built some of the world’s most advanced planes (Hughes H-1 Racer, H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” and XF-11). Born in Texas, Hughes showed mechanical aptitude early, building Houston’s first “wireless” radio transmitter as the age of 11. After dropping out of Rice University, he produced films, including the seminal flying film, Hell’s Angels(1930). In 1935, he flew his H-1 to a land plane speed record (352 mph). In 1937, he beat his own transcontinental record, (Los Angeles to New York), in 7:28:25. In 1938, he circled the globe in 91 hours, obliterating Wiley Post’s 1933 mark. His aviation awards included the Harmon Trophy (1936, ’38), Collier Trophy, FAI Bibesco Cup (1938), Octave Chanute Award (1940) and a 1939 Congressional Gold Medal “for achievements in advancing the science of aviation and thus bringing great credit to his country throughout the world.” He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973.
  • Fred Merkel  “Flying Fred” is an American road racing legend, winning two FIM Superbike World Championships (1988-89), three AMA Superbike Championships (1984-86) and setting multiple records along the way. The charismatic Stockton, California native started out riding on dirt but quickly moved to pavement. In 1983, he registered the first of his 20 AMA Superbike victories, a record that stood until 1998. In 1984 he won a record 10 Superbike races in a single season and his first of three straight AMA titles. That same year he teamed with fellow Honda rider Mike Baldwin to win the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race. In 1988, Merkel won the inaugural Superbike World Championship and successfully defended the crown the following year. Merkel returned to the U.S. in 1994 to ride for Kawasaki, then Suzuki – bikes considered past their primes but on which he nevertheless turned in scintillating performances. He retired at the end of the 1995 season after a crash at Firebird International Raceway. Merkel was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2001.
  • U.E. “Pat” Patrick  “Pat” Patrick made his fortune as a wildcat oilman and made his mark in open-wheel racing. His teams won three Indianapolis 500s and two IndyCar titles. Patrick began as a sponsor in 1967. By 1970 he was a partner in a team and by 1973 owned his own operation. His three Indy wins came with Gordon Johncock (1973, ‘82) and Emerson Fittipaldi (1989). The same duo brought him two championships, with Johncock in 1976 and Fittipaldi in 1989. Always looking for an edge, Patrick commissioned his own cars in the late 1970s, named Wildcats in deference to his roots. Patrick was also among the car owners who established the breakaway Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) sanctioning body. The directors, which included Hall of Famers A.J. Foyt, Jim Hall, Dan Gurney and Roger Penske, elected Patrick their first president. Patrick also led the effort to form the Indy Lights series in 1986. Today, Patrick still strives to innovate through alternative fuel-powered racing engines. He was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.
  • Bob Tullius  Tullius created the model for the modern American amateur sports car team and built Group 44 into one of the most successful ever. Group 44 was the first to combine manufacturer support (British Leyland), title sponsorship (Quaker State), immaculate preparation, ubiquitous branding (from transporter to cars to uniforms) and lots of speed. The two-time Trans-Am and four-time SCCA national champion began his career in the early 60s driving white Triumph TR4s wearing No. 44. Over the next 25-plus years, green-and-white Group 44 cars would net more than 300 victories in club racing, Trans-Am and IMSA GTP competition, plus capture 14 national titles and three Trans-Am championships, many of them with Tullius behind the wheel. The team’s self-built Jaguar GTP car won four races in 1983 against the dominant Porsche 935s — with Tullius finishing second in points — and the ‘86 season finale at Daytona. In 1988, the team ran Audi’s Trans-Am program, taking eight out of 13 races and the drivers’ championship for Hurley Haywood. Tullius was inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2014.

Kurt Busch to serve as chairman of Motorsports Hall of Fame induction in Daytona

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Kurt Busch, 2017 Daytona 500 winner and 2004 NASCAR Cup champion, will serve as honorary chairman of the 29th Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA) induction ceremony.

The ceremony will take place June 28 at the Shores Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach on June 28. The Hall of Fame relocated there last year after spending over 25 years headquartered in Michigan.

This will mark the second time Busch has served as honorary chairman of the MSHFA induction. He also served for the 2011 induction.

“I’m very thankful for the pioneers that helped pave the way to create the sport that we love and enjoy today,” Busch said in a media release. “And to have the opportunity to honor this group of inductees as Honorary Chairman is an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.”

This year’s induction class includes:

* Steve Kinser, Open Wheel Category

* Richard “Dick” Klamfoth, Motorcycles

* Terry Labonte, Stock Cars

* Paula Murphy, Drag Racing

* Scott Pruett, Sports Car

* Herb Thomas, Historic inductee

* Brock Yates, At Large

“It’s an outstanding class of inductees featuring pioneers, champions, record-breakers and innovators,” said MSHFA President Ron Watson. “And the presence of the 2017 DAYTONA 500 champion will help make this an induction for the ages.”

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WATCH: Kurt Busch’s Daytona 500 celebration took infield grass where it’s never been before

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His name is Jason and he takes care of grass.

But not just any grass. He takes care of the grass at Daytona International Speedway.

And as of Monday, that grass is also located in the track’s museum.

As Kurt Busch celebrated his first Daytona 500 win on Sunday, his No. 41 Ford sent grass flying as it went through the infield on the frontstretch. Some of that grass landed on Busch’s hood.

As is tradition, the car that wins the Daytona 500 goes into the track’s museum for the next year in the same condition that it was in victory lane.

The track has shared a humorous video on Facebook showing its head groundskeeper going about his day, which now involves taking care of the grass on Busch’s car.

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Terry Labonte to be inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

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NASCAR champions Terry Labonte and Herb Thomas will be among the seven members inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

The induction ceremony for the class of 2017 is scheduled to take place June 28 at the Daytona Beach, Florida, showplace.

Labonte, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a part of the 2016 class, won two championships (1984 and ’96) in his Cup career and 22 races.

Thomas, who as inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the 2013 class, was the first driver to win multiple NASCAR titles in what became the Cup series. He won crowns in 1951 and ’53. He finished second in the points in 1952 and ’54.

Also joining Labonte and Thomas in the latest Motorsports Hall of Fame of America class will be – sprint car champion Steve Kinser, motorcycle racer Rickard Klamfoth, drag racing’s Paula Murphy, sports car champion Scott Pruett and journalist Brock Yates.

For more information on the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, go here.

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Richard Childress, Chip Ganassi among 7 inductees to Motorsports Hall of Fame

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The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America has announced its 2016 class, which will be inducted Wednesday at the 28th Annual MSHFA Induction Ceremony at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach.

The class, which includes NASCAR owners Richard Childress and Chip Ganassi, is the first to be inducted since the MSHFA moved from Novi, Michigan.  The hall’s new facility is located at Daytona International Speedway’s Ticket and Tours Building and will be open to the public for the first time on Sunday.

Childress’ induction comes after he was also voted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame last month.

Here is the full list and bios of the seven people who are now part of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

  • Everett Brashear – One of the top AMA dirt-track motorcycle racers of all-time, Brashear won a total of 15 AMA nationals between 1952-1960. After exiting from competition, Brashear immersed himself in other areas of the motorcycle industry, working for Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Yamaha and Kawasaki. In all, he spent 47 years in the industry. Brashear was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1988.
  • Richard Childress – Childress’ remarkable career evolved from being a struggling stock car racer to becoming one of the premier owners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, winning six championships with 2002 MSHFA inductee Dale Earnhardt (1986, ’87, ’90, ’91, ’93, ’94). Has 14 championships in NASCAR national series competition, second-best all time. His drivers have won the Daytona 500 twice and the Brickyard 400 three times.
  • Gary Gabelich – Gabelich chased speed records on both land and water during a brief but mercurial competitive career for the former Apollo test astronaut. In 1969, Gabelich established a quarter-mile Drag Boat record of 200.44 mph. A year later, driving the “Blue Flame” he set FIA Land Speed Records of 622.407 mph over a flying mile and 630.388 mph over a flying kilometer at the Bonneville Salt Flats. His competitive career ended after a 1972 accident in an experimental Funny Car. He died in 1984 due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
  • Chip Ganassi – Ganassi is the only car owner to have won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Brickyard 400. Between February 2010 and January 2011, his drivers swept those four events, giving him an unprecedented “Grand Slam” in America’s major auto races. Overall, his teams have won 18 championships and more than 170 races. His open-wheel teams have amassed 11 championships and more than 100 victories – including five in the Indianapolis 500. His NASCAR teams have 17 victories including a Daytona 500 victory, and have twice qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. His sports car teams have a record six Rolex 24 At Daytona victories to complement their seven Rolex Sports Car Series championships.
  • Dave McClelland – Known as “The Voice of the NHRA” McClelland is one of the most legendary voices in all of motorsports and certainly the most legendary in the history of drag racing. But his face is very recognizable, too, thanks to his years of NHRA-related work on ESPN, SPEED and The Nashville Network. His background also includes a stint as a race track executive followed by a successful run as NHRA publicity and public relations director. He has been recognized with a number of awards during his career including the 2013 Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented annually to pioneers in the hot rod and restoration industry.
  • Sam Posey – Posey has excelled both on the race track and in the broadcast booth, in the process becoming one of this country’s most recognizable and respected motorsports personalities. Posey raced in Can-Am, Trans-Am, Indy Car, sports cars, Formula One and NASCAR competition. He raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 10 times, finishing in the top 10 five times, with a best finish of third in 1971. After leaving competition he became an ABC commentator in 1974 and now works for NBC Sports Network on Formula One coverage and has written numerous well-regarded books and magazine articles on motorsports subjects.
  • Bob Sweikert – Los Angeles native Sweikert had a season for the ages in 1955, winning the Indianapolis 500, the AAA “Big Car” National Championship and the Midwest Sprint Car Championship, becoming the first driver to sweep all three honors in a single season. … Sweikert was the first driver to exceed 100 mph on a one-mile oval track. … His career was halted at the age of 30, his full potential unrealized, when he died in June 1956 after a Sprint Car accident at Salem (Indiana) Speedway. … He was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 1994 and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1995.