MSHFA 26th Induction Class Enshrined
DETROIT (August 6, 2014) – An enthusiastic and at times humbled audience of family, friends, fans and motorsports insiders gathered Wednesday evening in downtown Detroit to usher in an equally impressive and accomplished group of 2014 inductees at the 26th Annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Ceremony at the historic Fillmore Theater.
The 2014 class included event attendees Rusty Wallace (Stock Cars) and Arie Luyendyk (Open Wheel) in addition to sports car racing visionaries Jim France and Dr. Don Panoz who jointly accepted the Hall's Bob Russo Heritage Award for outstanding contributions to the motorsports industry.
Wallace, inducted by his former NASCAR team owner Roger Penske, was ushered into the Hall in the final presentation of the night.
"I see some of the world's greatest drivers and champions here tonight and it has humbled me to be here," said Wallace, who won the 1989 NASCAR Cup Championship. "It's an incredible honor. Thank you very much for inducting me into the Motorsport Hall of Fame."
Luyendyk shared with the crowd how he feels his induction is the crowning moment of an outstanding career that saw him win two Indianapolis 500s in 1990 and 1997.
"It is a great honor to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame," Luyendyk said. "It is something that almost closes a chapter in my life. I am obviously retired from racing. This is probably one of the last victories I will have in racing. Thank you very much."
Inductee Raymond Beadle (Drag Racing) was a last minute cancellation as he continues to recover from a recent health ailment, but his induction into the Hall was respectfully accepted by his son Ryan Beadle.
Family members also capably memorialized and touchingly accepted the honors for deceased enshrinees Ole Bardahl (At Large), Marshall Teague (Historic), Ricky Graham (Motorcycles) and John Bishop (Sports Cars).
The Induction ceremony followed the announcement earlier this week of a $7.5 million fundraising drive that has been launched to relocate the Hall to its new home on the grounds of Daytona International Speedway. The move coincides with the scheduled January 2016 completion of DAYTONA Rising, the Speedway's $400 million renovation project currently underway. Once it's completed, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America will be one of the main stops on every track tour, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors per year.
Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III fittingly served as the evening's Honorary Chairman. His keynote address touched on the significance of the Hall being housed at the World Center of Racing.
"It is an exciting time in our business," Chitwood said. "I can't think of a better place than Daytona for the home of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. We are looking to the next step of the racing fan experience. The future is bright."
Joining Penske among the evening's other presenters were television broadcasters Bob Varsha (Bishop) and Dave Despain (Graham), three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny "Lone Star J.R." Rutherford (Luyendyk), longtime boat racing announcer Jim Hendrick (Bardahl) and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme who presented fellow drag-racing champion Beadle.
Ageless NASCAR legend Herschel McGriff, 86, presented his late friend, Teague, in one of the more emotional moments of the evening.
Teague's widow, Mitzi, died Saturday at age 90 and their daughter Patty Teeters honored both of her parents in accepting her father's induction.
Evelyn Bardahl McNeil accepted her father Ole Bardahl's induction while Mitch Bishop fittingly filled the same role in the enshrinement of his father, John Bishop.
A group of more than a dozen friends and family members traveled from California to Detroit to honor Graham, who was enshrined by his sister Holly Graham.
Road Racing champion and current television broadcaster David Hobbs once again shined in his fourth year as the evening's host, sharing duties at times with Varsha.
The Motorsports Museum & Hall of Fame is operated by the Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame of America Foundation Inc.