2007 Motorsports HOF inductees NOVI, MI – NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, Indy car mechanic-team manager Jim McGee, 1960 Indy 500 king Jim Rathmann, and Goodyear and Indy Racing League executive Leo Mehl will lead a class of eight racing greats into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its annual induction ceremony on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at the State Theater in Detroit.
These four, along with the legendary Pro-Stock drag racing team of Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin, America’s first national sports car champion John Fitch, and dirt track and pavement motorcycle hero Bubba Shobert will join the 160 racers already enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
“From Daytona, to Indianapolis, to Sebring – the members of this class have visited victory circle in every significant race the nation has to offer,” says Ron Watson, president of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. “And they’ve done it as drivers, mechanics, team managers and executives.”
Bill Elliott won 11 races and 11 poles in 1985, including the Daytona 500, the Winston 500 at Talladega and the Southern 500 at Darlington, which earned him the first “Winston Million” cash prize. He captured the NASCAR Cup championship in 1988 and was voted the sports most popular driver 16 times, including 10 consecutive years between 1991-2000.
Jim McGee is the most successful chief mechanic and team manager in the history of Indy car racing. Fielding cars for drivers that included Hall of Famers Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Tom Sneva and Emerson Fittipaldi, McGee’s teams won four Indianapolis 500s, nine national championships, plus an all-time record 90 championship race victories.
Leo Mehl joined the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 1959 and 10 years later stepped into racing tire development. That work put Goodyear into the winner’s circle with A.J. Foyt at the Indy 500 in 1967. When he retired in 1996, Mehl was in charge of all of Goodyear’s worldwide competition activities. From 1996 to 1999, Mehl was executive director of the Indy Racing League and a vice president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Jim Rathmann won the 1960 Indianapolis 500 after three second-place finishes. From 1949-1963, Rathmann ran 7,000 competitive miles at the famed Brickyard. He also won a go-kart world championship, managed a championship NASCAR program for Chevrolet and founded a top Chevrolet dealership in Florida.
Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin combined driving artistry and mechanical genius to form one of the most famous teams in drag racing history – headlining in stock and super stock match races throughout the 1960s. Sox, listed as #15 on the list of the National Hot Rod Association’s 50 all-time best drivers, piloted Martin-prepared Pro-Stock cars to three consecutive NHRA championships between 1970-1972, and exhibited unique domination in vehicles equipped with four-speed transmissions.
John Fitch emerged from a German prisoner-of-war camp in World Ward II to become a teammate of Juan Manual Fangio and Sterling Moss on the Mercedes-Benz sports car team. His driving career included the first Sports Car Club of America national championship in 1951, a solo victory in the 1953 MacDill Six Hour Collier Memorial and the 1953 12 Hours of Sebring. When he retired from driving, he designed and became the first general manager of Lime Rock Park raceway and was an innovator in highway and racetrack safety.
Bubba Shobert was a versatile rider from Texas who excelled on both dirt and pavement tracks. He was the American Motorcycle Association Grand National Champion in 1985, 1986 and 1987, the AMA Superbike Champion in 1988 and had accumulated a total of 33 AMA Grand National event wins before injuries suffered in a freak accident abruptly ended his brilliant racing career in 1989.
Tickets for the Induction Ceremony can be purchased by calling 1-800-250-RACE (7223).
The Motorsports Museum & Hall of Fame is operated by the nonprofit Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame of America Foundation Inc. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is a museum housing more than 40 racing and high performance vehicles. The constantly changing collection features racers from the world of Indy cars, stock cars, Can Am, TransAm, sprint cars, powerboats, truck racing, drag racing, motorcycles, air racing and even snowmobiles. Among the highlights are Art Arfons’ Green Monster jet car and championship NASCAR stock cars driven by Darrell Waltrip and Dale Jarrett.