OCALA, Fla. – Donna Garlits, general manager and CFO of the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, has announced the presenters for the Class of 2015 International Drag Racing Hall of Fame (IDRHoF) Induction Banquet.
The banquet will take place in Gainesville, Fla., at the Paramount Plaza Hotel & Suites on Thursday, March 12, immediately preceding the NHRA Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals. Bob Frey, the popular retired NHRA event announcer, will serve as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.
This year’s presenters are illustrious names in their own rights, and include one current NHRA Mello Yello World champion.
Ted Jones/Lee Edwards
Al Hanna/Shirl Greer
Darrell Gwynn/Jerry Gwynn
Erica Enders-Stevens/Butch (Larry) Leal
Greg Sharp/Bob Muravez
Jessica Oliver/Bill Schultz
Jerry Baltes/Jess Van Deventer
Harry Hibler & Don Garlits/Dave Densmore (Founder’s Award)
Ted Jones, former Vice President of Media Relations for the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) has been a long-time friend of “General” Lee Edwards, and watched his racing career from its beginning. Jones is also a Hall of Fame selection committee member, and the President of Masters Entertainment, LLC.
Al Hanna has been a longtime fixture in East Coast drag racing, first as a Funny Car racer with the famed “Eastern Raider,” and later as the driver of a series of jet-powered dragsters and funny cars. Hanna and the late Shirl Greer raced against each other in the southeastern U.S. in the decade of the 1970s. Today, Hanna oversees a highly popular three-car team of jet dragsters with his wife, Ellen and sons Rich and Scott.
Darrell Gwynn, the popular Top Alcohol and Top Fuel dragster pilot of the 1980s and early 1990s, drove the Coors-sponsored Top Fuel dragster to 18 national event wins (and 10 more in Top Alcohol Dragster class) was inducted into the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2002. Currently, he is the President of the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, a not-for-profit charity dedicated to the cure of paralysis. He is inducting his father, Jerry Gwynn, who served as his mentor and crew chief through his career.
Erica Enders-Stevens, the popular 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock World Champion is the first female to win the championship in Pro Stock. She came up through the ranks of Junior Dragsters as a child, winning the “Junior Dragster Driver of the Year” award in 1995, and with her sister Courtney, was the subject of a Disney movie, “Right On Track.” In an illustrious career, she has become the most successful female Pro Stock driver in history, securing a number of performance “firsts” in her career.
Greg Sharp, the curator of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif. is a highly respected drag racing historian and serves on the International Hall of Fame selection committee. He was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 2010, honored for his efforts in developing and managing the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, and his knowledge of the sport and the hot rodding scene.
Jessica Oliver will be presenting her father, Bill Schultz. Mrs. Oliver, who resides in Athens, Ga., with her husband Jim and her two children, Jacquelyn and Jenson, credits her parents, and the drag racing environment for molding her. She says, “Via his racing career, my dad taught me the importance of taking care of business in a modest, hard-working manner and consistently setting firm goals for oneself. Growing up, whether that was at the races, the shop or in my parents’ home office, the values of saving money, self-sufficiency, generosity, austerity and how to endure inconvenience were modeled every day. It has been my experience that car people are good people! And, I am proud that my dad raised a car girl!”
Jerry Baltes has been a friend of Jess Van Deventer since the two raced in the 1960s. Baltes’ racing career began in 1951, and raced a ’32 Ford coupe at the first NHRA national event in Great Bend, Kan. in 1955. He raced in the Top Gas ranks, and in 1963, switched to Top Fuel. The Croshier-Baltes-Lavato Top Fuel car and the “Tom & Jerry” Funny Car were the most popular and well known of his career. Baltes recently retired from operating a commercial truck operation in eastern Virginia, and has been the trophy sponsor for the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame for many years, and is a member of the Class of 2002 inductees.
Harry Hibler and Don Garlits will present the “Founder’s Award. Hibler, retired from his career as long time publisher of HOT ROD magazine in the Petersen Publishing organization, is a former top fuel racer and track operator (San Fernando Drag Strip). He serves on the Hall of Fame selection committee, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. He also is the President of the Zircon Corporation.
The honorees are selected by a committee of veteran drag racing and performance industry figures. The selection committee consists of: Steve Gibbs (Retired Vice President, NHRA), Harry Hibler (President, Zircon Corporation), Ted Jones (Masters Entertainment, Retired President, IHRA) and Greg Sharp (Curator, Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum).