NOVI, Mich. – The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America announced its 27th class of inductees today at Daytona International Speedway, a list of legends representing a variety of racing disciplines. Ricky Carmichael, Walker Evans, Warren Johnson, Tommy Kendall, Mark Martin, Duke Nalon, and Lloyd Ruby will be inducted Thursday, June 18 at Detroit’s historic Fillmore Theater.
“This year’s class truly reflects the wide range of American motorsports – which has always been the foundation for our facility,” said Ron Watson, president of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. “These gentlemen achieved success on two wheels and four, on dirt and pavement, on every kind of track – plus off the road entirely.”
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is racing’s Cooperstown, memorializing achievement in all forms of motorized competition. Over the years, 216 motorsports luminaries have been inducted. The 99-person nominating panel itself reads like a “who’s who” of racing, with stars such as Mario Andretti, Don Garlits, Craig Breedlove and Richard Petty involved in the process.
Friday’s announcement was made in the Daytona International Speedway media center as part of the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend, with domestic and international media in attendance.
“I am overwhelmed by the news that I’m getting into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, especially with this 2015 class of inductees,” said Martin, who retired from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition last year. “I have a lot of respect for each [of the other inductees].”
Kendall, along with Carmichael, was present for Friday’s announcement.
“A lot of the names on this year’s hall of fame are heroes of mine,” said Kendall, one of America’s greatest sports car racers. “[Being on the same list] doesn’t really compute. I’ve been lucky to have good things happen during my career. To be mentioned with names like that … at the end of the day it’s nice to be recognized for the work you did.”
Added Motocross/Supercross legend Carmichael:
"I am honored and humbled to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. As a kid growing up racing dirt bikes I never would have thought something like this was possible for me. To be in the company of some of the greatest names in motorsports is surreal. As you look at all of the great athletes and people that are in the Hall of Fame, it is hard for me to believe that I will be included among names like Ward, Hannah, Earnhardt, Petty or Garlits. This recognition is truly an honor."
Some specifics regarding the remarkable achievements of this 27th MHOF class:
- Ricky Carmichael – Around the turn of the 21st century, Ricky Carmichael owned Motocross and Supercross racing in the United States. He won a 125cc Supercross championship and three consecutive outdoor Motocross titles before jumping to the 250cc class for Supercross in 1999 and Motocross in 2000. All told, he compiled 10 consecutive National Motocross titles, three riding 125cc bikes (1997-99) and seven in the premier class (2000-06). In the 2002 outdoor season, Carmichael won all 24 motos contested that year. He repeated that achievement in 2004. Carmichael amassed a career total of 150 victories. His 102 Motocross victories is an all-time record.
- Walker Evans – A career spanning more than 20 years began as a volunteer mechanic and ended being called a legend by many of his peers. He won nine SCORE World Championships, nine Baja 1000s, eight Mint 400s, eight Parker 400s, six Baja 500s, six Mojave 250s, six Fireworks 250s, and two Frontier 500s, all in desert competition. Also racing in the Mickey Thompson Stadium Off-Road series, he was the 1991 Grand National sport truck champion, and his two-truck team won the coveted Manufacturers Cup for Dodge, breaking an eight-year monopoly by Toyota. In all, Walker has more than 118 career victories and 17 championships.
- Warren Johnson -- As of the 2010 season, Johnson won six NHRA Pro Stock Championships and a total of 97 NHRA national events. He also is a two-time IHRA champion in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock division. In 1997, he became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver to exceed 200 mph with a pass of 200.13 mph at Richmond, Va. He became the first Pro Stock driver to make a sub-6.9 second pass with a 6.894-second run at Richmond, Va. He won 30 percent of the races and appeared in 44 percent of the final rounds. He claimed four consecutive U.S. Nationals crowns from 1992-1995 and ended the decade with his sixth career nationals title in 1999. He was ranked seventh on the list of the best drivers of NHRA’s first 50 years and is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
- Tommy Kendall – Tommy Kendall burst onto the professional sports car racing scene in a Clayton Cunningham IMSA GTU Mazda at the age of 19. He was a winner immediately, capturing consecutive GTU championships in 1986-1987. Switching to Chevrolets for 1988, he won his third consecutive GTU title in a Cars & Concepts Beretta. In four GTU seasons, he had won 15 races in just 50 starts. Kendall started collecting Trans-Am wins in 1990 and won the championship that year. He added titles in 1995, 1996 and 1997 driving Roush Racing Mustangs with 1997 a spectacular year with 11 consecutive wins, setting an all-time record for win streaks. Besides Trans-Am, Tommy competed in IMSA GTP, IROC, NASCAR, Corvette Challenge and the 24 Hours of Daytona, which he won twice.
- Mark Martin – Mark Martin made 882 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 1981-2013 (two inactive seasons in 1984-85), finishing second in the championship standings five times. After competing on and off for various team owners in the early and mid-1980s, he landed with Jack Roush's single-car outfit for the 1988 season. Together, Martin and Roush won 35 times in the Sprint Cup Series races through 2006, 41 times in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and seven times in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. After that he drove for Dale Earnhardt Inc., Ginn Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. He also scored a record five IROC (International Race of Champions) championships. Martin won 96 NASCAR races during his entire career (40 Sprint Cup, 49 Xfinity, seven Camping World Truck). He’s now back with Jack Roush as a driver development coach.
- Duke Nalon - A driver whose career spanned the pre- and post-World War II eras, Dennis “Duke” Nalon was among the top midget drivers before the war and also competed in several championship races. Despite his many achievements, his experience with the famed Novi at Indianapolis probably won him his greatest fame. His first Indy 500 start came in 1938, and he competed until 1953 when he retired. His best showing was a third in 1948 in the Novi, a race he could have won except for a pit stop error late in the race. He set the qualifying record at Indy in 1949 and again in 1951, and won his last race, in a midget, in 1952. From 1946 through his retirement, Nalon led five different championship races for a total of 102 laps including his early domination of the 1949 Indy 500 when a mechanical failure sent his Novi crashing into the wall after winning the pole and leading for 28 laps. He also set a new one-lap pole winning qualifying record of 137.049 mph at Indy in 1951, also driving a Novi.
- Lloyd Ruby – Ruby’s career began on the dirt tracks of Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and elsewhere with dozens of wins in midgets for Chet Wilson and Bob Nowicke, and culminated in 19 consecutive years in the Indianapolis 500 from 1960 through 1977, with a best finish of third in 1964. He also won in sports cars, including Ebb Rose’s Micro-Lube Maserati, J. Frank Harrison’s Lotus, and Carroll Shelby’s Ford GT40 with Ken Miles. Ruby died of cancer in 2009 at age 81 in his hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas.
“Undeniably, this is another unbelievable class of inductees,” said John Doonan, the chairman of the MHOF board of directors. “And it’s also another class which personifies what the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is all about.”