DETROIT – An illustrious and enthusiastic gathering of family, friends, race fans and motorsports legends and insiders came together in downtown Detroit last night, Wednesday to usher in an equally impressive group of Silver Anniversary 2013 inductees at the 25th Annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Ceremony at the historic Fillmore Theater.
The accomplished 2013 Silver Anniversary class included event attendees Brad Lackey (Motorcycles), Bud Moore (Stock Cars), Alex Zanardi (Open Wheel) and Bob Riley (Heritage Award), as well as friends, family members and colleagues that fittingly memorialized in presenting or accepting the honors for posthumous inductees Jack Chrisman (Drag Racing), Harvey Firestone (Historic), Masten Gregory (Sports Cars) and Robert E. Petersen (At Large).
The evening began with an energetic and inspiring keynote address by event Honorary Chairman Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group.
“Tonight, we celebrate some special people,” said Gilles (pictured). “We celebrate the car builder, the drag racer, and the automotive publisher and museum founder. We celebrate a motocross legend, a founder of a tire company, a sports car racer, a stock car driver turned team owner and, finally, an open-wheel champion I would describe as a human force of nature.”
Gilles’ final reference was to two-time CART IndyCar Champion Zanardi. The popular Italian, who recovered from devastating injuries in 2001 to race again in both cars and international and Paralympic hand cycling competition, was the evening’s final inductee. He was presented for induction into the Hall by his close friend and former Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jimmy Vasser.
“I am going to thank all of the people at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America for having me tonight here,” Zanardi said. “But I am also going to thank all of the fans that were behind me, all of the people that I was working with who were real friends. I have to thank all of the people that were involved in Target/Chip Ganassi Racing all of those years. It is a great honor for me to be here.”
The first two enshrinements were among the evening’s most emotional with family members Bill Riley and Steve Chrisman visibly proud and moved in honoring their fathers. Bob Riley remains an active constructor and technology innovator today while Jack Chrisman earned his place in the Hall as a NHRA Champion, and through other accomplishments that were eloquently highlighted by his presenter, leading Drag Racing Announcer Bob Frey.
Gregory’s enshrinement also had a family touch as his older brother Riddelle Gregory humbly accepted the honor on behalf of his 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning sibling. Presenting the “Kansas City Flash” for induction was his former teammate Luigi “Coco” Chinetti, Jr., son of legendary North American Racing Team (NART) owner Luigi Chinetti. The Ferrari Gregory and Jochen Rindt drove to victory at Le Mans in 1965 was entered by the American-based NART organization.
Moore, the World War II veteran who went on to become a top team owner in NASCAR and Trans-Am, was presented for induction by Edsel Ford II, the great grandson of Hall member Henry Ford (Class of 1996), and an obvious lifelong Detroit resident.
“Let me also add my welcome to the city of Detroit,” Ford said. “My family has been here for over 125 years and, ladies and gentlemen, we are the comeback city. It is my honor and privilege to present my friend, Bud Moore, for induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. I also want to add my congratulations to the other inductees as well, a superior class of gentlemen.”
Mike Martini, president of U.S. and Canada Consumer OE Tire Sales for Bridgestone Americas, presented Firestone for induction. The honor was accepted by Firestone’s great grandson and former Firestone Indy Lights driver Nick Firestone.
“I am so grateful that my great grandfather had the vision and foresight to actually latch on to motorsports and grab on to the opportunity to sponsor Barney Oldfield and others,” said Firestone (pictured, from left with Lackey and Moore) “On behalf of the family, I want to thank the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America for this honor. I can’t think of a more appropriate home for my great grandfather to have.”
Other presenters included Hall member Roger DeCoster (Class of 1994) who enshrined Lackey, his friend and fellow Motocross World Champion. Petersen, the pioneering automotive publisher of Hot Rod and hundreds of other titles, was presented by his close colleague of 40 years, GiGi Carleton, who now serves as the President of the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation. Accepting on behalf of Petersen was Terry Karges, Executive Director of The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.