by Jon Asher
courtesy of CompetitionPlus.com
Shortly after the New Year I was asked by the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America if I'd write a short biography for the induction of Raymond Beadle. The ceremony was slated for August, so I had plenty of time, and while I was honored to have been asked, there was a problem. The copy had to be no more than 500 words due to space limitations. How do you compress an individual's stellar career in racing into so few words, particularly when that person's fingerprints are all over the history of not only drag racing, but stock car racing as well? And how can you possibly capture the essence of a personality as gregarious and outrageous as was Beadle's in just a few paragraphs?
Raymond's career demanded more than 500 words if for no other reason than the man himself was bigger than that. He had a major impact on drag racing, one that went far beyond mere statistics. Yes, he was an NHRA champion (three times consecutively!) and a two-time winner of the U.S. Nationals (among many other victories), but those are just numbers, and Beadle was more than that, too. That he would also prove successful in NASCAR racing surprised many, but he knew talent when he spotted it, and together with driver Rusty Wallace (another 2014 Hall of Fame inductee) they won the '89 Cup championship. Less than a handful of owner/drivers can claim such lofty accomplishments on their resumes.
There's a somewhat regional aspect to the history of drag racing, and while these might be generalities, there's nevertheless some truth to the theory that California and the West Coast was where Top Fuel grew up. At the same time the East Coast was the breeding ground for Funny Cars and hot doorslammers, while the Midwest was Gasser country. And then there was that whole separate universe of Texas drag racing. Some of the cars were as crude as the oil bubbling up out of the ground, but you knew a Texas racer the moment you saw him. From the top of his Stetson to the tips of his razor-pointed Justins, you knew what you were looking at. But here's the thing. Beadle rarely fit within that comfortable frame. Sure, he wore his share of hats and boots, but when the moment demanded it he could be as urbane as the slickest New York bond trader or Washington Beltway insider. And where's the evidence for that? Just look at the sponsor names his cars carried over the years.
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."
DETROIT (August 5, 2014) - On the eve of the 26th Induction Ceremony, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America announced Tuesday an ambitious $7.5M campaign to build a new, permanent home at 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 Hall of Fame will be one of the main stops on every track tour – welcoming and enthralling hundreds of thousands of visitors per year.
DETROIT (July 9, 2014) – Two motorsport icons instrumental in the preservation and expansion of road racing in North America will be honored during the 26th Annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America's (MSHFA) Induction Ceremony on Aug. 6 at The Fillmore Detroit.
Jim France and Don Panoz will receive the Bob Russo Heritage Award in recognition of their long-term support of sports car racing in North America and their effort to bring about the landmark merger of GRAND-AM Road Racing (GRAND-AM) and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). On Sept. 5, 2012 it was announced the two series would merge to form the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for the 2014 season with the unified series sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).
The award, named in honor of the long-time motorsports journalist and historian, is presented at the recommendation of the MSHFA Board of Directors in recognition of the recipient's contributions to motorsports throughout their career.
"To recognize two sports car racing icons with the Bob Russo Heritage Award is a tremendous honor," said Ron Watson, president of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. "Their names are synonymous with sports car racing in North America. Through GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series they established a firm foundation and have assured the future with the merger into the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship."
DETROIT (April 30, 2014) -- Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway, will be the honorary chairman of the 26th Annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America's Induction Ceremony to take place August 6 at The Fillmore Theater in Detroit.
Joie Chitwood IIIChitwood has been president of International Speedway Corporation's (ISC) flagship motorsports facility since August 2010. He oversees all speedway activities including event entertainment, fan amenities and ticket sales. Chitwood is also a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America's Board of Trustees. His grandfather, historic open-wheel race car driver and legendary showman Joie Chitwood, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
"As the head of one of our sport's premier facilities and a member of a motorsport dynasty, we are proud to have Joie Chitwood serve as our honorary chairman this year," says Ron Watson, president of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. "He is one of the most respected motorsports executives in the country. Joie's participation marks the beginning of a dynamic partnership between the Daytona International Speedway and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America."
In January, it was announced that the Hall of Fame will be relocating to the grounds of the 'World Center of Racing' by 2016.
"I'm honored to serve as the honorary chairman for the upcoming induction ceremony," Chitwood said. "The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is a special place for me both personally and professionally. I had the privilege of having my father and son with me during my grandfather's induction in 2010. In addition, many of the inductees have strong connections to the 'World Center of Racing' and this iconic racing venue is going to be a fitting home to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America beginning in 2016."
NOVI, MI and DAYTONA BEACH, FL – Two of the greatest names in racing soon will share the same address. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, motor racing's Cooperstown, announced today that it will move its operations and collection of historic racing machines and memorabilia from the Detroit area to the "World Center of Racing," Daytona International Speedway by January 2016.
Al Speyer (MSHFA Trustee), Joie Chitwood III (DIS President) and Ron Watson (MSHFA President) announce the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America will be moving to Daytona International Speedway.
The move coincides with the scheduled January 2016 completion of DAYTONA Rising, the speedway's $400 million frontstretch renovation project currently underway.
Plans call for the Hall of Fame's displays featuring cars, images, stories and bronze sculptures of 209 icons of American motorsports to be located in the Daytona International Speedway Ticket and Tours Building, which was formerly known as the "DAYTONA 500 Experience."
Vehicles and artifacts representative of the diversity of motorized competition celebrated by the Hall of Fame, including Open Wheel, Stock Cars, Motorcycles, Aviation, Drag Racing, Sports Cars and Powerboats, will be exhibited as a regular part of the tours admission at Daytona International Speedway all year long.