Remembering The “Car Guys” We Lost in 2017
Nick Arias Jr., a key figure in the Southern California car culture. He built his first hot rod in 1946, at age 17, and went on to spend a lifetime designing and building go-fast parts and the performance products companies that sold them.
Carl Jensen, a longtime and beloved vintage racing event official for Road America.
Pete Chapouris, a native Californian hot rodder who was co-founder of Pete & Jake’s Hot Rod Parts and more recently President of So-Cal Speed Shop. Chapouris was also an influential leader within SEMA and shepherded the formation of the SEMA arm known today as the Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA).
Andrew “Jack” Griffith, the man behind the Griffith sports cars, which were launched in the 1960s as a challenger to the Shelby Cobra. One of Griffith’s colleagues in the project, which put Ford 298 V8 engines in British TVR bodies, was a young engineer by the name of Mark Donohue. Later in life Griffith co-founded the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance with Bill Warner.
Casey Folks, founder of the Best in the Desert Racing Association, one of the biggest race sanctioning bodies for off-road competition in America. The best-known of the BITD events is the Mint 400. Folks was a motorcycle racer-turned promoter, and his first off-road events were for bikes before branching out to include cars, trucks and quads.
Jean Argetsinger, widow of Cameron Argetsinger, who together were responsible for bringing sports car road racing to the village of Watkins Glen, New York, and who later was a founder of the International Motor Racing Research Center there as well.
Chuck Weyant, the last surviving competitor from the 1955 Indianapolis 500, who raced in the years 1939-1971 and who in that time won 64 races throughout the midwest in Midget, Sprint, and Indy cars.
Howie Hodge, a popular short-track racing photographer who shot mostly in the New England region and who was immensely popular with racers and fans. Hodge was entered into the Eastern Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame only two weeks prior to his unexpected passing.
Leo Cleary, a veteran stock-car racer from Connecticut who won 14 track championships over a six decade career in racing. After relocating to Florida in 1988, he continued to compete in the Sunshine State until 1993, finally retiring at the age of 63. Cleary was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1999.
Robert Lichtmann, the founder of Covercraft Industries, maker of custom vehicle covers used extensively by car enthusiasts. Lichtmann started Covercraft in 1965 with one employee and 30 car cover patterns; today the company has 700 employees and more than 85,000 patterns.
Ralph Capitani, promoter of Knoxville Raceway in Iowa from 1978 through 2011 and the man who grew that track’s signature event, the Knoxville Nationals for sprint cars, into one of North American’s premier racing events. Capitani also helped with the creation of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum, which sits alongside Knoxville Raceway.
Greg Staab, a popular midwest Midget and Sprint car racer who, in a six-year span between 1982 and 1987, won the Lawrenceburg Speedway sprint car track championship five times and the Bloomington Speedway title in 1984, both tracks located in Indiana. Staab finished second in the USAC National Sprint Car standings in 1986, and following his driving career he remained active in the sport as a car owner, speedway operator, and series coordinator.
John Surtees, the only man to have won the world championship on both two wheels and four. Before switching to cars, Surtees won seven motorcycle world championships, and then won the 1964 Formula One world championship by a single point driving for Ferrari. A naturally gifted and accomplished competitor, following his racing career Surtees developed a real estate business and restored cars and motorcycles. As vice-president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club he continued to encourage British involvement in international motor sport into the new century. Following the 2009 death of his son in a racing accident Surtees threw himself into developing the support for the Henry Surtees Foundation, and in 2016 Surtees was appointed to the Order of the British Empire.
Chuck Berry, the pioneering rock & roll musician whose songs often celebrated the American car culture in the postwar years, the most popular of which were “Maybellene” and “No Particular Place To Go.” There were more: “You Can’t Catch Me,” “No Money Down,” “Jaguar and Thunderbird,” and “I Want To Be Your Driver” among them. Berry, who was 90 years old at the time of his passing, is one of the very few rock & rollers to die of old age.
Pete Hamilton, a Massachusetts racer who was at his best on NASCAR’s superspeedways, where he won consecutive Daytona 500s in 1970 and 1971, and two 1970 races at Talladega. Hamilton captured the NASCAR National Sportsman championship in 1967, the Cup series Rookie of the Year Award in 1968 and a number of victories throughout a variety of NASCAR-sanctioned events and short-track series. Hamilton had 26 top-five finishes, including the four superspeedway victories, in 64 career Cup series starts during the years 1968-73.
David Steele, racing driver from Florida who made his mark in open-wheel short-track racing on pavement, winning races in the Sunshine State both before and after venturing to the midwest to claim 60 USAC victories, 16 in the Silver Crown series, 26 in the Sprint Car series, and 18 in the Midget series. Steele once won both ends of a nationally-televised USAC Midget double-header, winning the first race such that he had to start last in the second race. Steele also competed in three IndyCar series races. His death came at age 42 in a racing crash in Florida.
Bruce Rogers, second-generation owner of Grandview Speedway, a popular but rustic dirt track in eastern Pennsylvania, as a result of health issues stemming from a highway accident in Florida more than a year earlier.
Sam Ard, a popular and highly successful driver in NASCAR’s second-tier series (today known as the NASCAR Xfinity Series). Ard won 22 races in the series and finished second in the series championship in 1982, then went on to win the title in both ’83 and ’84. At the time the series was still known as the Late Model Sportsman division before sponsor naming took over. Ard also won the most-popular driver honors in both of his championship years. He retired from driving in competition due to injuries suffered in the final race of the 1984 season, but remained active in the sport as a team owner and car builder. In recent years, Ard had battled health issues, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
Al Amatuzio, the man behind Amsoil, the line of synthetic lubricants marketed primarily via the “Amway” method of home-based dealer-resellers. Amatuzio, a Minnesotan who passed at the age of 92, was not the inventor of synthetic oils, which date back over 100 years, but he was among the first to market them for consumer automobile use. Amatuzio began researching synthetic oils in 1963 and formulated his first product in 1966. Amsoil was originally called Amzoil, the original spelling being a play on Amatuzio’s name.
Truly David Nolen, a second-generation leader in the pest control industry who used mouse ears and whiskers on yellow VW Bugs and who parked vintage cars on busy street corners to create iconic and memorable images for a company with revenues of $120 million in 2016. A man possessed of a strong sense of humor, he described himself as “a professional killer,” but Nolen was not a “car guy” in the traditional sense – he just found a car-related marketing gimmick that worked.
John Parham, founder of J&P Cycles and chairman of the National Motorcycle Museum. His J&P Cycles became one of the largest retailers in the aftermarket motorcycle parts industry, and at the National Motorcycle Museum Parham created motorcycle-centric events geared toward the bike enthusiast. Through the years he received numerous motorcycling industry awards and was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2015.
Robert M. Pirsig, the author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” a best-selling book that was published in 1974 after first being rejected by 121 publishing houses. The book is only tangentially about motorcycles; it is really a work of popular philosophy and indeed carried the subtitle “An Inquiry Into Values.” The book was inspired by a motorcycle trip across the West with his son Christopher in 1968, and was one of only two books written by Pirsig, the other being “Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.”
Preston Henn, an business entrepreneur, racing driver, and car collector, who in 1983 drove his Porsche 935 to a win in the Daytona 24-hour race along with co-drivers A.J. Foyt, Bob Wollek and Claude Ballot-Lena. Henn was also the first civilian to buy a new $65 million Gulfstream 650S, then the fastest private jet in the world, and his extensive car collection at the time of his death included a yellow 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale that raced at Le Mans, possibly the most valuable Ferrari in existence. Henn famously sued Ferrari after the company refused to sell him a limited-edition LaFerrari Aperta. The suit was later withdrawn after Henn claimed to have “made my point.”
Joe Leonard, a nine-time Indy 500 starter and a two-time USAC National Champion in the Indy cars. Leonard, who won just six Indy car races following three AMA motorcycle championships, was highly respected by his peers and is best remembered for winning the pole position for the 1968 Indy 500 in the second-generation STP Turbine. Leonard was nicknamed “Pelican Joe” by A.J. Foyt, who said that Leonard would “swoop in and take over.”
Billy Scott, who competed in four USAC National Championship races, including the 1976 Indianapolis 500. Scott began driving quarter-midgets as a 5-year-old in San Bernardino, California, and later raced an NHRA Top Fuel dragster before serving as a crew member for Rick Muther’s 1974 Eisenhour-Brayton Indy 500 team. Scott made his sole “500” start in 1976, driving Warner Hodgdon’s Spirit of Public Enterprise Eagle/Offenhauser at an average speed of 183.383 mph. He finished 23rd when the race was ended prematurely by rainfall after 102 laps.
Ward Crozier, who, after his own career as a stock-car racer, turned his attention to race promotion, first working at the Nazareth, Pennsylvania, dirt track as a jack-of-all-trades manager before taking control of the Mahoning Valley Speedway. The Mahoning Valley track had fallen into disuse but Crozier resurrected it in 1988 and it remains in operation today.
Tom Curley, a former NASCAR official and creator of the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) stock car series, and partner with broadcaster Ken Squier in the ownership and operation of Vermont’s Thunder Road Speedbowl. Curley had won three national Promoter of the Year awards and was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Curley and Squier, in recognition of advancing age and declining health, had sold their interest in the Thunder Road Speedbowl only weeks before Curley’s passing.
Timo Makinen, a multi-time Rally winner at the world championship level. After first appearing on the rallying stage in 1959 in a Triumph TR-3 and later in Austin Healeys, the Helsinki native switched to Mini Coopers and became a key figure in the that car’s rallying success in the years that followed. Among his victories were the Tulip Rally in Holland, the Rally Great Britain, and the Rallye Monte Carlo. During his career he drove such diverse makes as Ford, Toyota, BMW, Fiat and Peugeot, and apart from rallying he was a three-time touring car champion in Finland and won the inaugural Round Britain Powerboat Race in 1969. Makinen retired from competition in 1981.
Jim McElreath, the 1962 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and a veteran of 15 starts in the 500 between 1962 and 1980. At the time of his passing McElreath was one of the last eight surviving drivers who had driven a front-engined car in the 500. His best Indianapolis finish was third in 1966 behind Grand Prix drivers Graham Hill and Jim Clark. McElreath won a total of five USAC National Championship races, most notably the inaugural Ontario (California) 500 in 1970. In 1966 McElreath finished second behind Mario Andretti in the USAC National Championship point standings.
Nicky Hayden, a Kentucky native who rose to prominence on the American dirt-track motorcycle racing scene and claimed the MotoGP world championship in 2006. Hayden, age 35, died from head and chest injuries suffered when he was struck by a car while bicycling in Italy.
David Raabe, throttleman for the “Repeat Offender” racing boat, from injuries sustained during the Offshore Powerboat Association’s Point Pleasant Beach Grand Prix when his craft and another collided early in the race.
Eric Broadley, who in 1958 founded Lola Cars in Great Britain, a company that soon was innovating in Formula One racing and which ultimately enjoyed racing success across a wide spectrum of racing. Lola cars won three Indianapolis 500s, nine CART/Champ Car championship, eight U.S./European/Tasman Formula 5000 titles, the 1969 Daytona 24 Hours, five consecutive Can-Am titles, several FIA International F3000 championships, and innumerable amateur and professional race victories worldwide.
Guy Ouellette, a Canadian dirt-track Modified racer, as a result of injuries suffered in a racing crash at the Autodrome Drummond in Quebec province.
Tom Tjaarda, an architecturally-trained designer whose father is credited with the design of the Lincoln Zephyr and whose best-known automotive work ranges from the Fiat 124 Pininfarina Spider to the Ford Maverick. Tjuuarda is credited for either designing or influencing the design of more than 80 vehicles worldwide.
Vic Edelbrock Jr., second-generation leader of Edelbrock, LLC, the automotive aftermarket company founded by his father, Vic Edelbrock Sr., in 1938. Begun as an auto repair shop in Los Angeles, the Edelbrock company became a key player in the hot rod industry with the design and manufacture of Edelbrock intake manifolds. Under Edelbrock Jr.’s direction following the 1962 passing of Vic Edelbrock Sr., the company grew well beyond manifolds, becoming one of the largest and best-known aftermarket performance parts suppliers in the world.
Arlen Vanke, a highly-successful but relatively little-known drag racer from Ohio who built a reputation not only as a winning driver but also as a skilled and innovative mechanic. He began racing in the 1950s and by the 1960s was a full-time professional racer. Vanke also built engines and complete cars for other racers.
Johnny Vance, a second-generation car owner who fielded sprint cars and Silver Crown cars on the USAC circuit starting in 1981, following a nearly 20-year stint as an official and technical inspector for the sprint car division. As a car owner Vance won two national sprint car titles and one Silver Crown series championship, and his career victory total of 44 ranks fourth all-time in USAC history. Vance also served as steward at the Indianapolis 500.
John Knepp, who with Don Devendorf founded Electramotive Engineering, the company that helped Nissan move from club racing under the Datsun brand to four straight IMSA GTP championship in the years 1988 through 1981.
Terry Chandler, a sponsor in the National Hot Rod Association for Don Schumacher Racing, who instead of promoting the aviation business operated by her husband and herself, placed the colors and logos of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Infinite Hero Foundation on the cars she sponsored.
Otto Kuhni, a graphic designer who over the course of his career did work for clients such as Lockheed, Max Factor, and Tyco, but who is remembered best for his designs for the original Mattel Hot Wheels line, designs which are iconic in the toy industry and remembered by virtually every car-obsessed person who grew up at any point after the product’s debut in 1962.
Carl Van Horn, a highly successful and popular racer of dirt-track “Modifieds” in the Northeast, who raced and won for over 30 years and who later became a track operator. As grassroots racing made the transition from home-built to store-bought, Van Horn continued to build his own cars and win with them.
Bill Pollack, a Southern California sports car racer from the post-war boom’s earliest years, driving an Allard J2 to numerous amateur racing victories starting in 1950. In the 1950s Pollack drove a variety of sports cars and raced against a variety of drivers, including some such as John Fitch and Phil Hill who gained worldwide recognition, and others, such as Steve McQueen and James Dean, who gained worldwide recognition more for their screen exploits than their racing adventures.
David Reininger, a person who indulged his love of cars and the Indy 500 by serving as the radio “spotter” for IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan, including during Kanaan’s 500 victory in 2013.
Mark Smith, owner of Tri-Star Motorsports, the NASCAR team for which Cole Whitt drives in the Cup series. Smith was a highly-successful and highly-respected racing engine builder who made the transition into team ownership.
Leo Kinnunen, the first Formula 1 driver from Finland. Driving an unreliable Surtees TS16 in the 1974 F1 season, Kinnunen was unable to finish a single race and his F1 career ended after that one season. Kinnunen had enjoyed considerable success in other series prior to that, including three consecutive championships in European Interserie racing, driving a Porsche 917.
Pat Santello, perhaps the last genuine “shoestring budget” racer at the Indy 500, who in 1977 entered a car that Lee Kunzman drove to a seventh-place finish. Kunzman later estimated that Santello’s budget likely did not exceed $20,000, and that the engine was put together with borrowed parts and pure determination.
Harry Scott Jr., a former NASCAR team owner who won two K&N Pro Series championships and who fielded cars in NASCAR’s Truck, Xfinity, and Cup series. Scott shut down his racing team after the 2015 season and was just 51 years old at the time of his passing.
Sue Roethel, a longtime Chief Steward for the SCCA and the first woman to hold that title at a professional auto race in the United States. A member of SCCA Hall of Fame, she served with the organization for more than 50 years.
Bruce “Pee Wee” Griffin, a Floridian who, despite his nickname, was a tall man, and a prolific winner of dirt-track stock car races in the mid-Atlantic and northeast states in the 1960s and 1970s. Griffin was one of several Florida racers who migrated north to chase the lucrative purses offered at the time.
Roy C. Lunn, whose obituaries mostly focused on his role as “the godfather of the original Ford GT40″ but who designed or contributed to the design of a wide variety of automobiles, from the Aston Martin the DB2 to the Ford Anglia 105E to the original Jeep Cherokee.
Shane Sieg, a racer who competed in the former All Pro Super Late Model Series and in 68 NASCAR Truck Series races, and older brother of current NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ryan Sieg. Shane Sieg was given an indefinite suspension by NASCAR in 2011 for violating its substance abuse policy and for actions detrimental to the sport, and died at the age of 34.
Lonnie Isam, Jr., a vintage motorcycle enthusiast best known for being the organizer of and the spiritual leader of the Motorcycle Cannonball, an every-other-year cross-country ride with a decidedly vintage spin – the 2018 is open only to motorcycles built prior to 1929.
Richard L. Knudson, by profession an English teacher at the college level, but well-known in the auto hobby as the leading authority on M.G. automobiles, having co-founded the New England MG “T” Register in 1964 and having assembled a thorough and authoritative M.G. archive.
Ted Christopher, a highly successful and often controversial short-track racer whose speciality was pavement Modifieds in the northeast but who raced everything from TQ Midgets to NASCAR Cup cars to endurance sports cars. Christopher was the 2001 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion and the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title winner, was a ten-time winner in the K&N Pro Series East, and was the winningest driver at both the Stafford Motor Speedway and the Thompson Speedway in Connecticut and in the wintertime indoor TQ Midget series in the northeast. Christopher and pilot Charles Dundas perished in a plane crash en route to a race at Riverhead, New York.
John L. “Jack” Smith, credited with developing the concept of the Plymouth Road Runner, a car intended to appeal to a younger demographic, equipped with a big engine, performance-related parts, and not much else so that it could be sold for a reasonable price. Smith was at the time a product manager for the Plymouth Belvedere, the car upon which the Road Runner was based, and he graciously gave more credit for the Road Runner to his assistant, Gordon Cherry, than he took for himself.
Joe Bailon, a West Coast customizer from the 1950s through the early 1980s who is credited with the invention, through considerable trial and error, of the paint color known as “Candy Apple Red.” For this and his other work Bailon into the National Roadster Hall of Fame in 1960.
Robert Yates, perhaps best known among followers of racing for having been a championship-winning car owner in NASCAR’s Cup series, but best known within the racing community for his skills, innovations, and successes as a builder of racing engines. Yates first worked for Holman-Moody as an engine builder in beginning in 1967, and by 1989 was able to become a NASCAR team owner. Between 1989 and 2009 Robert Yates Racing won 57 Cup races, including three Daytona 500s, and the 1999 series championship, and Yates’ overall career statistics include 77 wins as an engine builder between 1967 and 1988; 48 poles as a team owner; and five Daytona 500 wins as an engine builder. The Yates name remains active in racing, as his son, Doug, currently runs Roush Yates Engines, which among other successes won the 2017 Daytona 500.
Bailey Schweitzer, daughter of Bakersfield Speedway owner Scott Schweitzer and his wife, Crissy, and who worked at the family-owned California dirt track in several capacities. She was among the 58 people killed in the Las Vegas massacre in October.
Steve McDonald, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, who among other things helped found the SEMA Action Network and the State Automotive Leadership Caucus, and who contributed to industry- and hobby-friendly legislations such as the RPM Act and the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturer’s Act, as well as legislation regarding titling and registrations, exhaust noise restrictions, parked and inoperable vehicles, and ride height alterations.
Bill Puterbaugh, a successful midwest dirt-track racer who, determined to compete in the Indy 500, failed to qualify in 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1974 before making the show in 1975 and again in ‘76 and ‘77. Puterbaugh finished the race all three years and earned Rookie of the Year honors for his 1975 performance.
Johnny Stevenson, owner of auto dealerships in North Carolina and, beginning in 2003, owner of Stevenson Motorsports, which won a total of 33 races in Grand-Am and IMSA competition. The team also won the North American Endurance Cup in 2013 and the Continental Tire Challenge Grand Sport (GS) title in 2015.
James Watson, a road-crew fabricator for Furniture Row Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series teams, and a long-time race car driver himself, having competed in dirt late models and in asphalt super late models in his native Wisconsin.
Rolla Vollstedt, a native of Portland, Oregon, who provided Indy car rides for drivers ranging from Cale Yarborough to Emerson Fittipaldi, and who is perhaps best remembered for being the car owner who enabled Janet Guthrie to become the first woman to qualify for the Indy 500. Vollstedt provided early-career opportunities for drivers such as Tom Sneva and gave Formula One World Champion and 1965 Indy 500 winner Jim Clark his final IndyCar ride at at Riverside, California, in 1967. Vollstedt, who operated his racing team on a comparatively small budget, was 99 years old at the time of his passing.
Gaspar Ronda, a man whose obvious nickname of “Gas” suited him perfectly, became a factory driver for Ford’s Fairlane Thunderbolt, with which he won the 1964 NHRA World Championship. Ronda later raced altered-wheelbase “Funny Cars,” and enjoyed considerable success with a Mustang-bodied “flopper.” In early 1970 Ronda was burned critically in an engine explosion and was not able to return to racing, but was inducted to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.
Joe Oldham, a self-professed car guy from childhood, who began writing about cars more than 50 years ago and was a three-time president of the International Motor Press Association. A hands-on person with solid “cred,” Oldman’s work appeared everywhere from Hi-Performance CARS to Popular Mechanics to Hemmings Muscle Machines, and he was the author of the book Muscle Car Confidential, subtitled Confessions of a Muscle Car Test Driver. Oldham also served on the Board of Directors of the Automotive Hall of Fame and on the nominating committee for the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Peter Schutz, a man whose family fled Nazi Germany for Cuba when he was 8 and who eventually became the first American CEO of Porsche AG, named to the position in 1981 by Ferry Porsche himself. Schutz has been credited with saving the Porsche 911 from extinction in the 1980s and turning around the Porsche brand in the process. The company was on the way to dropping the venerable rear-engine Porsche in favor of the front-engine 944 and 928 models, but Schutz recognized that the 911 was a brand icon, and not only saved it from the executioner but expanded the number of 911-based offerings.
DeWayne Ashmead, a devoted car collector and restorer whose cars covered all makes, all nationalities, and all eras, yet could all be classified under his broad definition of “sports car:” A car that goes fast and was built originally to go fast.
Bob Kinser, a tough-as-nails dirt-track Sprint Car racer from Indiana, who over the course of a long racing career won 29 local and series championships and more than 400 races. Kinser, known also for being the father of 12-time Knoxville Nationals champion Steve Kinser, was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1999.
Thomas O’Rorke, an everyman who worked as a construction foreman and first-responder in his community, but who also spent more than 35 years as the Chief Pit Steward at Wall Stadium in New Jersey, an oval track that spawned Ray Evernham and Martin Truex, among others. O’Rorke ran the speedway pit with an firm hand and Irish humor, maintaining discipline and order in the volatile short-track environment and ensuring that the racing program went off on schedule.
Arjay Miller, who began at the Ford Motor Company as one of the company’s “Whiz Kids,” and who rose through the ranks to become president of the company in the 1960s. The so-called “Whiz Kids” group, ten Harvard-educated young men hired in the late 1940s, included Robert McNamara, who also became Ford president before serving as Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Miller was the last survivor of the group, having lived to age 101.
Walter “Bud” Moore Jr., who won the NASCAR Grand National series title in 1957 as crew chief for Buck Baker and car owner titles in 1962 and 1963 with Joe Weatherly. Moore did not win another title but was a consistent top-ten finisher through the years with drivers including Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, and Ricky Rudd. Allison came closest to giving Moore another championship, finishing second overall in 1978, the year in which he gave Moore his only Daytona 500 victory. Ultimately, Moore’s cars collected 63 Cup-level victories, with his final win coming in 1993 at Sonoma. Moore was a highly-decorated World War II veteran who was assigned to the 90th Infantry Division which landed on Utah Beach in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. At the time of his passing, Moore was the oldest living member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Jim Nabors, best known as an actor for having portrayed hayseed Gomer Pyle on first The Andy Griffith Show and later in his own spinoff series, Gomer Pyle, USMC, but best known to racing fans as the singer who performed “(Back Home Again In) Indiana” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each May prior to the start of the Indianapolis 500. Nabors’ stint at the iconic track began in 1972, and continued, with few interruptions, through 2014.
Bruce Brown, a California filmmaker best known for the popular 1966 Surfing documentary The Endless Summer, but respected among motorcycle aficionados for his 1971 documentary On Any Sunday, which by and large introduced the country to the sport of off-road motorcycle riding and racing. Brown was nominated for an Academy Award for On Any Sunday, and while Brown made several documentaries both before and after The Endless Summer and On Any Sunday, those two films are generally considered to be the best in their fields.
Bob Glidden, an icon in Pro Stock drag racing and a Ford campaigner for the majority of his amateur and professional career. In NHRA racing, Glidden won 85 events and 10 season championships, and in 2000 he was voted No. 4 on the list of Top 50 racers from NHRA’s first 50. Glidden claimed his last national event victory in 1995 and was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994.
Jules Heumann, known simply as “J” to his friends and associates, is credited along with friend and colleague Lorin Tryon for revitalizing the Pebble Beach Concours when the now-67-year-old event was at a low point in the early 1970s and at risk of being discontinued. With hard work and dedication the two men (Tyron died in 1999) built the Pebble Beach Concours into the world-renowned event that it is today.
Barry Dodson, NASCAR crew chief for Rusty Wallace’s 1989 Cup series championship and who in the course of his career worked with drivers such as Darrell Waltrip, Tim Richmond, and Kyle Petty. In addition to winning the championship with Wallace, Dodson earned a total of 19 race victories as a crew chief.
Kenichi Yamamoto, a gifted engineer who led Mazda’s “47 Ronin” team that brought the rotary engine to market, and who ultimately rose to the positions of President and Chairman of the company. Even though the rotary engine was invented by Felix Wankel in Germany, in Japan Yamamoto is considered the father of the design because it was he who developed it into a mass-market product and sustained it through the years with ongoing improvements.