Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees announced Racing legends Kenny Bernstein, David Hobbs, Scott Parker, Les Richter, Al Unser, Jr., H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler and Joe Weatherly will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its annual induction ceremony on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit.
“Innovation and competitive spirit are hallmarks of the class of 2009,” says Hall of Fame president Ron Watson. “These men have exemplified leadership and teamwork both on the track and in the front office.” Kenny Bernstein became the King of Speed in 1992 when he was the first NHRA driver to break the 300 MPH barrier. He is a four-time NHRA Funny Car champion and an IHRA World Funny Car titlist.
After changing classes to Top Fuel, Bernstein garnered two additional NHRA driving crowns, becoming the first to win championships in both nitro categories. He is still actively involved in drag racing as an owner. He holds the unique distinction of being the first and only race team owner to have collected wins in each of America’s three major motorsports series: NHRA drag racing, NASCAR, and CART.
David Hobbs is currently a television broadcaster on Speed Channel whose sports car driving career spanned three decades. While accumulating some 40 major victories at all levels of motorsports, he captured the 1971 U.S. Formula 5000 championship and the 1983 SCCA Trans Am title. Hobbs also raced competitively at the Indy and Daytona 500s, in Formula One and 20 times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Scott Parker dominated the nation’s flat dirt tracks on his Harley Davidson, establishing two all-time records with 94 national event wins and nine Grand National championships at the time of his retirement in 2002. Parker was named American Motorcyclist Association Pro Athlete of the Year three times during his 22-year career.
Les Richter was an eight-time Pro Bowl football player with the Los Angeles Rams before becoming one of the co-owners of Riverside International Raceway and helped turn that track into one of the finest in the world. He also co-founded the International Race of Champions, became a vice president of NASCAR and played a dominant role in the development of California Speedway.
Al Unser, Jr. is known in racing circles as “Little Al” but his accomplishments are as big as his family name. Unser visited Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500 twice and was also a two-time season series winner in CART and the International Race of Champions. He will join his father Al Unser Sr. and his uncle Bobby Unser in the Hall of Fame.
H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler is known as a consummate promoter and public relations genius. Wheeler was the innovative president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina for nearly three decades. He was instrumental in making it one of the premiere racing facilities in the world, being the first to offer extensive VIP suites and condominiums.
Joe Weatherly began his racing career and won three championships on motorcycles before switching to NASCAR, winning the 1953 Modified championship. Then, he went on to win the Grand National (now Sprint Cup) championship in 1962 and 1963. He ranks 19th in all-time Cup wins with 24. He died in a 1964 accident at Riverside Raceway in California.
Tickets for the induction ceremony can be purchased by calling 248-349-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, and showcasing the stories of 175 Hall of Famers known as the Heroes of Horsepower. 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’ jet car and stock cars driven by Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd and Bill Elliott.