OCALA, Fla. — The International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, housed at the famed Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, has released its 2014 class of inductees.
The six new members are the sport’s most prolific Pro Stock winner and six-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Warren Johnson, two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion Frank Hawley, racer/turned master sheet metal craftsman Al Bergler, popular Top Fuel racer and U.S. Nationals champion John Abbott, popular Funny Car driver and AHRA Funny Car champion Tom Hoover and passionate drag racing supporter Forrest Lucas.
Abbott was a highly popular Top Fuel driver from the early 1960s into the 1980s. He successfully transitioned the somewhat difficult conversion from the front-engined Top Fuel cars to the rear-engined cars. The highlight of his career was winning the NHRA’s most prestigious event — the U.S. Nationals.
Bergler has been a hot rodder at heart throughout his adult life, racing cars and shaping sheet metal to create some of the most memorable appearing race cars in the sport. His Competition Coupe, the beautiful yellow “More Aggravation,” is the only race car to win the Detroit Autorama’s Riddler Award in its 49-year history.
Hawley, the Canadian Top Fuel and Funny Car star, took the famed Farkonas, Coil & Minik “Chi-Town Hustler” fuel Funny Car team to back-to-back NHRA Funny Car world championships in 1982 and 1983.
Hawley currently operates the Frank Hawley School of Drag Racing, which has trained thousands of racers.
Hoover and the “Showtime” Funny Cars were highly popular with fans. Hoover was the driver f the Hoover family racing operation, with his father George (“Pa”) doing the tuning, and Ruth (“Ma”) always present to do what needed to be done. Across a 30- year career, Tom (and his parents) captured five NHRA Funny Car wins and the AHRA (American Hot Rod Ass’n) world championship in 1976.
Johnson acquired the nickname of “The Professor” over his career in the NHRA and IHRA Pro Stock class. A dogged, determined and crafty practioner of the art of engine building, chassis and clutch tuning, Johnson’s 97 Pro Stock wins and six NHRA world championships and two IHRA (International Hot Rod Ass’n) world championships made him the most successful Pro Stock racer in the sport’s history.
Lucas, through his Lucas Oil Products company, has become one of motorsports’ greatest modern-day supporters. He has utilized motorsports marketing, and particularly drag racing, to build brand awareness of his company’s extensive line of lubricants.
Motorsports artist Kenny Youngblood will be honored with the annual Founder’s Award.
The induction ceremony will take place in Gainesville, Fla., at the Paramount Plaza Hotel & Suites on March 13.