INDIANAPOLIS – Four names have been added to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame ballot, representing a diverse cross-section of motorsports achievement at IMS and abroad.
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and 1995 Brickyard 400 winner Dale Earnhardt, winning open-wheel racing driver and longtime official Wally Dallenbach Sr., two-time Brickyard 400 winner and Cup Series champion Dale Jarrett and 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1997 Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve join the list of nominees for the Hall of Fame, which is located at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
Ballots for the 2019 IMS Hall of Fame class have been mailed to the Selection Committee, which is comprised of nearly 150 distinguished media and racing officials. The 2019 IMS Hall of Fame class will be announced on Founder’s Day, March 20 (the date in 1909 the IMS Company was incorporated), and the honorees will be inducted at the annual Hall of Fame/IMS Oldtimers Club dinner on May 23.
Nearly 20 years after he lost his life in a tragic last-lap crash at the 2001 Daytona 500, Earnhardt remains one of the most beloved figures in racing history. At Indianapolis, he amassed an impressive record at the Brickyard 400 in just seven starts: five top-10 finishes and a popular win at the rain-delayed 1995 Brickyard 400 with Richard Childress Racing. His legacy was cemented with seven Cup Series championships, tying him with Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson for the most in history.
Dallenbach competed in 13 Indianapolis 500s and made 180 Championship starts in open-wheel racing from 1965-79, winning five times. He nearly won the 1975 Indianapolis 500; after leading 96 of the first 161 laps, he was forced out by a burned piston, and less than 15 minutes later the race was halted by rain. He would have been declared winner if still leading.
Dallenbach’s greatest contributions to racing came in his role as chief steward for every CART-sanctioned event from 1981-04. He is known not only for his fairness as referee but for directing many safety advancements in the sport.
Jarrett earned his first Brickyard 400 victory in 1996 and repeated in 1999 (the same year he won the Cup Series championship) after bitter disappointment in 1998. He had the dominant car but ran out of fuel at the race’s midway point. In 13 Brickyard 400 starts he earned a total of seven top-10 finishes.
Arguably as significant as his racing accomplishments at IMS is the tradition Jarrett started along with his Robert Yates Racing crew chief, Todd Parrott. After their 1996 win, the duo got on their hands and knees at the start/finish line and kissed the famed Yard of Bricks. Kissing the Bricks has since become a traditional right of passage for every IMS event winner.
Canadian-born Villeneuve, the son of late Formula One ace Gilles Villeneuve, turned heads at the 1994 Indianapolis 500 by finishing second and earning Rookie of the Year honors. Despite a two-lap penalty early in the 1995 race, he stormed through the field and won, then took the 1995 CART series championship as well.
Villeneuve moved to Formula One in 1996 and, driving for Williams, narrowly finished second in the championship to teammate Damon Hill. However, he dominated the 1997 season with 10 pole positions and seven wins en route to the title.
Only two other drivers have won the Indianapolis 500, CART championship and F1 World Championship: Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi. Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya are the only drivers to have competed in the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.