Jeff Gordon, “Pat” Patrick, Howard Hughes among Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America unveiled its 2018 class on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series champion, and U.E. “Pat” Patrick, a championship-winning IndyCar team owner, are perhaps the most prominent names of that group, though they are joined by five other motorsports figures who are all legends in their own right. The full list is below:
John Buttera - Nicknamed “Lil John,” Buttera was a championship-winning car builder in drag racing who worked alongside such names as Danny Ongais, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Tom “Mongoose” McEwen, and Don Schumacher. Buttera is also a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2010.
Carl G. Fisher - Fisher is best known as the man who originally designed and built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Prior to building the famed Speedway, Fisher was also a competitor in his own right and helped increase the popularity of the automobile, which was still a novelty at the turn of the century, by participating in a series of exhibitions at several fairground tracks across the Midwest.
Howard Hughes - The founder of Hughes Aircraft, Howard Hughes set several aviation records and built some of the most advanced airplanes of his time, including the Hughes H-1 Racer, H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” and XF-11. He was previously inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973.
Fred Merkel - One of the most successful American motorcycle racers of all-time, “Flying Fred” is a three-time AMA Superbike Champion and two-time FIM Superbike World Champion. He also has a win at the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race on his resume. His 20 AMA victories were a record that stood until 1998, and he was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2001.
Bob Tullius - A sports car racer who began his career the 1960s, Tullius set the template for modern amateur sports car teams, being the first to combine manufacturer support, title sponsorship, high-level preparation, and branding to his programs. Tullius is a two-time Trans-Am and four-time SCCA national champion, whose Group 44 team amassed more than 300 victories in club racing, Trans-Am, and IMSA GTP competition and captured 14 national titles and three Trans-Am championships.
U.E. “Pat” Patrick - “Pat” Patrick began his career by sponsoring a race team in 1967, became a partner in a team in 1970, and owned his own race team in 1973. Patrick went on to become one of the most successful IndyCar owners of all time, with his teams scoring three Indianapolis 500 victories and two IndyCar championships. Patrick was also among the group of car owners who established the CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) sanctioning body. He was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.
Jeff Gordon - A four-time NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series champion, Gordon was one of NASCAR’s biggest stars. He ranks third all-time in wins (93) and fourth all-time in championships. He has also won the Daytona 500 three times, the Brickyard 400 five times, and the Southern 500 six times, and currently holds the record for most consecutive starts (797).
The variety of backgrounds represented in the new inductees was emphasized by MSHFA President Ron Watson at the announcement.
“Our inductee classes are always intriguing but this year is even more so,” said Watson. “Howard Hughes and Jeff Gordon in the same class – that is probably the best example we’ve ever had to illustrate the breadth of our inductee roll.”
The induction ceremony, traditionally held in July, will take place in March this year.