Legends inducted into Motorsports HOF
Racing legends Kenny Bernstein, David Hobbs, Scott Parker, Les Richter, Al Unser, Jr., H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler and Joe Weatherly were inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America during an inspirational and emotional ceremony on Wednesday, August, 12, 2009 at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit.
|Front Row: Gary Nixon, Shav Glick, Jay Springsteen, Linda Vaughn, Hurley Haywood, Danny Foster |
Next Row: Joe Leonard, Mel Kenyon, Tom Sneva, Tommy Ivo
Third Row: Don Garlits, Danny Ongais, Bill Simpson
Fourth Row: Lyle Shelton, Bill Seebold
Fifth Row: Chris Economaki, Carroll Resweber, Ned Jarrett
In addition to those being honored, several racing notables took part in the proceedings. Track announcer Jim Mueller served as master of ceremonies. Hall of Fame hydroplane racer Mira Slovak read the stirring patriotic “My Creed” by Dean Alfange. Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, whose Lucas Oil Co. supporter nearly every form of motorsports, were on hand.
At this year’s Induction Ceremony, the list of presenters was nearly as impressive as the list of those being honored. Speed Channel’s Bob Varsha introduced Hobbs. Harley-Davidson’s Willie G. Davidson presented Parker. Roger Penske inducted Richter. Hall of Fame stock car legend Ned Jarrett presented and accepted on behalf of Weatherly. Long-time racing broadcaster Ken Squier introduced Wheeler. NHRA President Tom Compton presented Bernstein. And four-time Indy 500 champ Al Unser inducted his son.
Each year, those in attendance are treated to stirring video presentations that document the accomplishments of the honored Heroes of Horsepower. This year was no exception.
Bernstein’s video detailed how he 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 Winston Funny Car champion and an IHRA Winston World Funny Car champ. Bernstein also is a two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion. He is still actively involved in drag racing as an owner.
The Hobbs presentation followed his exploits from three decades driving sports cars to his current role as a television broadcaster on Speed Channel. His driving career saw him win the SCCA Trans Am championship and close to 40 major race victories. Hobbs also fared well in his four Indy 500 starts and his Formula 1 debut in 1966.
Parker rode Harley-Davidsons for 21 years amassing 94 wins and a record nine dirt track championships. He is the only rider to have been named American Motorcyclist Athlete of the Year three times.
Richter was a former 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.
Unser, Jr. is known in racing circles as “Little Al” but his accomplishments are as big as his family name. Unser visited the winner circle at Indianapolis twice and also captured the CART crown and the IROC title two times.
For nearly three decades, Wheeler was the innovative president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte and helped make it one of the premiere racing facilities in the world, being the first to offer extensive VIP suites and condominiums.
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.
Plans already are underway for the 22nd annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Ceremony.