The Class of 2012 announcement was made in a press conference on the opening day of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach where Hall President Ron Watson was joined by Sullivan and Pink, who represented the accomplished motorsports legends that make up this year’s illustrious group of inductees. Among the Hall members in attendance at the press conference were Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones.
“The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America’s Class of 2012 is an incredible example of the breadth and variety of American motor racing," Watson said. “It spotlights the talented, glamorous personalities of victory lane alongside equally important heroes from behind-the-scenes."
Sullivan, a former Indy Car Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, scored his only Long Beach victory 20 years ago in 1992 on the famous California street circuit. He is best known for his Indy Car accomplishments, but Sullivan also raced in Formula 1, Can-Am and sports cars. His 17th and final Indy Car win came in 1993 on the Belle Isle road course, located just a few miles from the Fillmore in the heart of downtown Detroit.
“Obviously it’s a great honor," Sullivan said. “To get inducted with the great class that we have, and join the people that are already in, like ‘The Snake’ back there, to get in with that group is credible for your career. I think it just puts a nice exclamation point at the end of your career that says ‘hey you did something and accomplished something’ that was recognized by your peers, and the voters, and that makes it special."
Pink has more than 45 years of engine building experience and opened Ed Pink Racing Engines in 1961. Part of the Southern California post World War II Hot Rod Era, Pink first raced on dry lakes and then moved to drag strips. From the early ‘60s through the mid ‘70s Pink was famous for his blown fuel drag engines, but he has also supplied power for Indy Cars and a variety of road racing machines.
“When I first heard that I was going to be inducted it kind of blew me away quite a bit," Pink said. “When I got the program that showed all of the people that are in it, that really gets your attention. You have Amelia Earhart in it, Gaston Chevrolet, Henry Ford, and it just goes on and on with the heroes and the heroines of the motorsports business. To be included in a group like that is really something because when I started out doing this I didn’t do it to get into any Hall of Fame, or anything like that. I did it because this is what I love to do, and to be honored for doing what I love to do is just really something special with this great group. It just really takes your breath away."
Bell is perhaps best known for his five wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1975, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1987) and two World Sports Car Championship titles (1985-86). He made his impact in the United States by winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 1986, 1987 and 1989.
Bonnett was one of the most affable drivers in NASCAR Winston Cup Series history, earning 18 series victories during his 18-year career. Among his 18 wins were back-to-back victories in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 (1982 and 1983). Bonnett also won back-to-back Busch Clash races at Daytona International Speedway (1983 and 1984).
Dreyer’s first name was Floyd but he was known as “Pop" and as one of the most resilient motorcycle competitors of all time. His career spanned an amazing 70 years, from the late teens to the 1980s. He was a side-car motorcycle racing pioneer and open-wheel Midget and Sprint Car builder who competed on dirt as well as on the famed board speedways of the teens and early 1920s.
Edelbrock was considered one of the founders of the American hot rod movement. Starting with a small auto repair shop in Beverly Hills in 1933, the Edelbrock Corporation grew into one of the world's premier parts suppliers for racers and auto hobbyists. After World War II, Edelbrock started selling parts by catalog and his Midget racing team gained fame for beating the then-dominant Offy Midgets with their souped up Ford V-8 60s.
Johnson was one of the greatest AMA motocross and Supercross racers and champions of all-time. During the 1980s, he won seven AMA national championships and was part of four winning U.S. Motocross des Nations teams. In all, Johnson tallied an amazing 61 AMA national wins. He retired as the all-time AMA Supercross wins leader in 1991 and later moved to Off-Road Truck competition where he remains active today.
In other Motorsports Hall of Fame news, Watson confirmed today that the organization is presently reviewing several proposals that will see the Hall and its collection of memorabilia and racing machines housed in a new location in the near future. The Hall is presently located at the Detroit Science Center, which is currently closed due to the economy since late last year. Several groups and organizations from around the country, however, have demonstrated a strong interest in housing the MSHF, and the organization hopes to announce the selected group and location by August’s induction ceremony.
Tickets for the 24th Annual Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony can be purchased by calling 248-349-RACE (7223) or at www.mshf.com.