OCALA, Fla. – The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, home of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, has announced the latest class of inductees.
Additionally, the recipients of the Founder’s Award and the Patricia Garlits Memorial Award were named.
The inductees for 2020 are (in alphabetical order): Robert “Bones” Balogh, Lee Beard, Don Enriquez, Roy Hill, Billy Meyer and Larry Minor. The Founders Award is being presented to Don Prieto and Etta Glidden will be honored with the Patricia Garlits Award.
Balogh was one of the most respected drivers and engine builders during the period of drag racing’s infamous Gasser Wars of the 1960s. Balogh became well-known on the West Coast as an engine builder and driver before retiring from driving at the end of the 1960s, though he continued to use his race-winning engine building talents for many years thereafter.
Beard has created an enviable record of accomplishments in the drag racing world as a crew chief, engine tuner and team manager. He’s worked with a number of competitors, including Jerry Ruth, Don Schumacher, Kenny Bernstein, Gary Ormsby, Cruz Pedregon, Whit Bazemore and even NFL and NASCAR Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs.
Enriquez has long flown under the radar when considering racers who were dominant at one point or another of drag racing history. His racing career has been linked with his friend and fellow Hall of Famer Gene Adams in the late 1960s-early 1970s in what was collectively known as Junior Fuel Dragsters. Enriquez raced with Adams for 33 years.
Hill has been hailed as one of the stalwarts of the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class during its heyday on the International Hot Rod Ass’n circuit from the early 1970s into the 1990s. Hill began his racing career in Super Stock class, but when the Pro Stock class was born in the early 1970s, Hill started his illustrious Pro Stock career in a Dodge Dart.
When the IHRA unveiled the unlimited displacement engines rules for their Pro Stock class, Hill was one of the earliest to embrace the emerging class. While he never logged World Championship as a driver, Hill recorded 28 IHRA national event victories and 31 runner-up finishes as a driver and team owner. He later launched his Roy Hill School of Drag Racing out of his home base in Sophia, N.C.
Meyer’s drag racing career actually began in the seat of a go-kart at the age of nine. At the age of 16, Meyer sought and got his Funny Car license. While he never won a championship in the NHRA, he finished second three times, and was third three times across his 15 years of competition. He competed in 112 NHRA National events, and reached the final round 22 times and won 12 of those. He retired from driving in 1989 and later built the Texas Motorplex, which he still owns to this day.
Minor is a gearhead, perhaps a wealthy one, but a true gearhead nonetheless. Aside from overseeing his family’s vast agri-business ventures in California’s Imperial Valley, Minor has been deeply involved with drag racing, off-road racing and sand drag racing in one form or another since the late 1950s.
His drag racing efforts got underway in 1978, teaming with Gary Beck in a Top Fuel dragster. In 1983 the pairing set 17 of 18 quickest runs in the sport’s history to that point, and won the NHRA’s Top Fuel World Championship. That was just the tip of the iceberg, as a pairing with Ed McCullough would deliver an IHRA World Championship in 1988 and a prestigious U.S. Nationals win in 1990 and Cruz Pedergon would win the NHRA Winston World Championship in Funny Car in 1992, and won the U.S. Nationals three times in four years (1992, ’93 and ’95).
As a journalist, Prieto was nicknamed “The Louisiana Lip” for prodding at some of the sacred cows of drag racing and the emerging performance automotive aftermarket. The nickname changed to “The Wavemaker,” and his very pointed critiques were both lauded and hated, but their points were most often on target. Prieto was a fixture at the drag strips writing and editorializing for first Drag Digest and then Drag Racing magazines. This was followed by a stint at Petersen Publishing Book Division, editing drag racing-related titles, plus Hot Rod Industry News, a trade publication for the performance parts aftermarket.
Glidden stood beside her legendary husband, Pro Stock superstar and Hall of Fame driver Bob Glidden, throughout his checkered career of 85 NHRA class wins, and 10 NHRA Winston World Championships. She was a fixture at the starting line and in the pits as the Glidden family raced their Ford Pintos, Fairlanes, Mustangs and Thunderbirds (as well as one year with a Plymouth Arrow) against some of the very toughest competitors in Pro Stock class history.
As the Glidden Family’s race program developed, Etta served as crew chief – keeping the team organized and was there to assist in any way possible, working on the car with her sons with Bob’s direction, yet being a mother at the track and at home. She is one of the Founding Mothers of the Drag Racing Ass’n of Women with several of the wives of the leading drivers and personalities of the sport in 1984 following Shirley Muldowney’s life-threatening crash pointed to the need for support of drag racing families following accidents.
The Patricia Garlits Memorial Award is given out annually to a woman who has “contributed to the sport of drag racing through their professional activities- at the track-and/or their personal activities-off the track-which promotes the sport in a positive manner or to the success of the sport.”
The event is being sponsored by Summit Racing Equipment (Rings), Jerry and Pat Baltes (Trophies) and Total Impact Wear (Commemorative t-shirts).