OCALA, Fla. – The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, home of the Int’l Drag Racing Hall of Fame, has announced its Class of 2019 honorees.
The select group includes a trio of top regional Top Fuel teams which contributed to the growth of the class in their time, a multi-talented racer/track operator/race team executive, and a manufacturer with a product that found a home in a variety of racing applications.
Additionally, the recipients of the Founder’s Award and the Patricia Garlits Memorial Award were named, with Ed Justice Sr. and Lynn Prudhomme receiving those honors, respectively.
Biographies from each of the Class of 2019 inductees follow below:
The Carroll Brothers
William (“Bones”) and Curt Carroll hailed from Irving, Texas, and were major players in the Top Fuel class during the 1960s and into the early 80s.
The Carroll Brothers owned Carroll Brothers Erection Company, which built steel buildings, but the two men had a deep passion for drag racing. They boasted some of the sport’s top racers of the time driving for them – including Gary Bailey, Kenny Bernstein, Buddy Cortines, Bob Gibson, Ben Griffin, Marshall Love, James Ludden, Murray Oxman, David Pace, Dave Settles and Richard Tharp.
The “Texas Whips” made a successful transition from the front-engined dragster era to the new rear-engined cars, with David Pace and Richard Tharp delivering some of the most memorable results. Tharp recorded the first sub-6 second run at the NHRA Springnationals in Englishtown, N.J., in 1975, and Pace recorded two runner-up finishes at Denver’s NHRA Mile High Nationals and at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Over the years, the Carroll Brothers did most of their racing in and around NHRA’s Division 4 (South Central Division), winning a number of races and season championships along the way.
Rupp & Dakin
Gary Rupp and Pat Dakin raced as the “Rupp & Dakin” Top Fuel team and were strong competitors in NHRA’s Midwest Division. Rupp owned the car and served as crew chief, while Dakin handled the driving chores.
When matched against the national touring teams, the pair more than held their own. The pair raced heavily at divisional races because of their businesses, but would occasionally venture out to compete at select national events east of the Mississippi River.
The pair won the NHRA’s Le Grandnational Molson national event at the Sanair Dragstrip outside of Montreal, Quebec in 1971 and again in 1973. The pair bought a new chassis for the 1975 season, and ran it through the 1977 season when they retired from competition.
In 1989, they returned to the sport, and immediately were contenders, winning the International Hot Rod Association’s Top Fuel title that year. The team disbanded in 1993, when Rupp retired and moved to Carlton, Fla.
Today, Dakin continues to race competitively in selected NHRA events, while continuing in his professional life as the owner of Commercial Metal Fabricators in Dayton, Ohio.
The Iron Horse Team
The Iron Horse Team of Dan Richins and Rex Pearmain were not household names in the world of drag racing, as Salt Lake City, Utah, is a bit off the beaten path when it comes to significant drag racing teams.
However, during the mid-1970s, the Iron Horse Team were significant forces with which to be reckoned. This was particularly true at the high elevation dragstrips found in the NHRA’s Division 5 (West Central Division), Division 6 (Northwest Division) and Division 7 (Pacific Division).
The team’s career-defining moment was a 5.930-second elapsed time run at the NHRA’s Supernationals in Ontario, Calif., in 1973, which secured them the No. 8 spot in the prestigious Cragar 5-Second Club, plus a low qualifier at American Hot Rod Association’s Northern Nationals at Fremont, Calif.
Mike Lewis could be described as a “man for all seasons.” He was almost born into the world of drag racing, when his grandfather, Alfred Stauffer, built the famed Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa., when Lewis was 12 years old.
During his teen years, he worked at the family’s dragstrip, learning just about every facet of the track from the ground up. After graduating from Kutztown University (Kutztown, Pa.), he returned to the track in a management role, including announcing.
Lewis also partnered with his brother Kent in the “Sparkling Burgundy” top fuel dragster, which the pair campaigned from 1970 to 1976.
He stopped driving to become the track manager in 1971, and later assumed the role of President. He left Maple Grove in 1989 to join NHRA as Vice President, Field Operations, overseeing the NHRA’s seven divisions and member tracks. In 1995, he was named as Vice President of NHRA, and also General Manager of the NHRA’s Indianapolis Raceway Park, home of the NHRA’s crown jewel event, the U.S. Nationals.
In 1998, Lewis formed Ace Ventures in Indianapolis, a motorsports consulting organization. He joined Don Schumacher Racing as vice president – a position he still holds today – and helped develop the team’s position as a premier motorsports operation, featuring three Top Fuel cars and four fuel Funny Cars, as well as 16 championships and over 200 victories.
In 2007, he rejoined his family’s race track operations, and currently serves as president of Maple Grove Raceway. Lewis continues race in select Nostalgia drag racing events, winning the 2012 NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion Funny Car class.
Ted Dzus Jr.
Ted Dzus Jr., known affectionately as “The Quarter Turn Man,” took a product, technically known as a cam-locking fastener, but commonly known as a Dzus Fastener, from the aircraft industry and into the motorsports and custom automotive arenas.
The Dzus Fastener was the brainchild of Ted’s grandfather, William, an immigrant Ukrainian engineer who worked for a Long Island aircraft company in the 1930s.
Working for his grandfather and father at the company in the 1960s, Dzus Jr.’s love for automotive performance helped expand the company’s market horizons outside the aircraft industry. He assumed control of the company in 1982.