Friends, family, fellow legends and motorsports and automotive industry insiders converged in downtown Detroit this week to usher an illustrious group of seven motorsports icons representing the Class of 2012 into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America at the organization’s 24th Annual Induction Ceremony at the historic Fillmore Theater.
The accomplished Class of 2012 class includes event attendees Ed Pink (Drag Racing), Derek Bell (Sports Cars) and Ricky Johnson (Motorcycles) who were joined by friends and family members that touchingly memorialized and enshrined deceased inductees Pop Dreyer (Historic), Neil Bonnett (Stock Cars) and Vic Edelbrock Sr. (At Large).
Inductee Danny Sullivan (Indy Cars) was forced to miss the event after an unexpected schedule change kept him in England on a television shoot, but he was capably represented by AutoWeek Editor and Associate Publisher Dutch Mandel who both inducted and accepted the honor for his friend and the 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner.
A keynote address was delivered by Honorary Chairman Jim Campbell, General Motors Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. In addition to respectfully acknowledging the achievements and contributions of the other well-known manufacturers represented at the event, Campbell focused on the Chevrolet brand’s important role in motorsports history, as well as its particular presence in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson inducted AMA Supercross and Motocross legend Ricky Johnson. Although unrelated, the two remain close friends today from their youthful California off-road racing days that launched both to stardom.
Leonard Wood, a Hall member enshrined with his brother Glen Wood in 2000 as the leaders of the famous Wood Brothers racing team and pit crew, inducted Edelbrock, Sr. Edelbrock was considered one of the founders of the American hot rod movement and built a small auto repair shop into one of the world's premier parts suppliers for racers and auto hobbyists.
Vic Edelbrock Jr., who accepted the honor on behalf of his later father, has been at the helm of the family company’s success for the last 50 years. He provided one of the evening’s most touching moments when he pointed to the heavens in acknowledgment and respect to his parents.
Hall of Famer and NASCAR icon Bobby Allison (Class of 1992) presented for the second consecutive year after having the honor of inducting his brother Donnie Allison in 2011. On Wednesday, Bobby Allison enshrined fellow "Alabama Gang" member Bonnett, one of the most affable drivers in NASCAR history.
Bonnett’s widow Susan Bonnett Northcutt accepted the honor on behalf of her late husband.
Pink was enshrined by Hall member and drag racing legend Don “The Snake” Prudhomme (Class of 1991). Pink supplied engines to “The Snake” during his most successful years as a dominant NHRA funny car driver.
Pink extended his personal thanks to Prudhomme, the countless number of other competitors he has worked with for decades and also to the Hall itself.
Motorsports pioneer Dreyer was inducted by his grandson and Dreyer-Reinbold Racing IndyCar team owner Dennis Reinbold in one of the evening’s two all-family presentations. Dreyer’s enshrinement was accepted by his son, and Reinbold’s uncle, Junior Dreyer.
Bell was ushered into the Hall by his son and fellow sports car World Champion Justin Bell in the night’s second family-style enshrinement. Derek Bell’s stateside success includes three overall victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Road racing champion, SPEED television broadcaster and Hall member David Hobbs (Class of 2009) kept the evening’s program moving and entertaining in his second year as Master of Ceremonies. He was capably supported by Justin Bell, his SPEED colleague, who assisted with the evening’s off-stage Inductee and VIP introductions in addition to enshrining his father.
Additional Hall members and other notables in attendance at Wednesday’s ceremony included Donnie Allison, Tom D’Eath, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Ralph Gilles, Paul Goldsmith, Hurley Haywood, Mel Kenyon, Katherine Legge, Jim McGee, Hershel McGriff, Leo Mehl, Shirley Muldowney, Scott Parker, Bill Simpson, Jay Springsteen, Bobby Unser and more.
Organizations supporting the Induction Ceremony included Pirelli North America, Bridgestone Americas, American Honda, Mazda, Chevrolet, Ford Racing, Edelbrock Corp., Toyota, NHRA, SPEED TV, Daytona International Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, NASCAR, SCCA, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, AMA Pro Racing, Porsche Cars North America, Bentley Motors, Ed Pink Racing Engines, Glenora Wine Cellars, One Source Talent, MotorCities National Heritage Area, Bonwell, Kelley & Associates and others.
The Motorsports Museum & Hall of Fame is operated by the Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame of America Foundation Inc.