Penske Leads USAC Hall Of Fame Inductees

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Roger Penske is among eight who will join the USAC Hall of Fame later this year. (Bret Kelley Photo)
Roger Penske is among eight who will join the USAC Hall of Fame later this year. (Bret Kelley Photo)
Roger Penske is among eight who will join the USAC Hall of Fame later this year. (Bret Kelley Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – The initial eight 2015 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame have been announced and four more, selected by popular vote from a list of 16 eligibles distributed through social mediums, will be announced April 15.

The fourth annual USAC Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held July 25 at the Lincoln Tech Indianapolis Speedrome in Indianapolis, Ind., in conjunction with the inaugural “Tony Stewart Classic” Midget race.

The eight-member class of inductees announced today includes five drivers, two car owners and a chief mechanic. They are (alphabetically) Clint Brawner, Butch Hartman, Lindsey Hopkins, Jim Hurtubise, Fred Lorenzen, Roger Penske, Shorty Templeman and Sleepy Tripp.

Online voting for the final four 2015 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame is now available on the USAC website at www.usacracing.com.

Brawner, of Phoenix, Ariz., was one of the most accomplished of all car builders and crew chiefs and won National driving titles as a car owner with drivers Jimmy Bryan (1954, 1956 and 1957) and Mario Andretti (1965, 1966 and 1969). He finally entered victory lane as the winning crew chief with driver Andretti in 1969, who piloted his Brawner Hawk to victory.

In all, he amassed 51 championship wins and his impressive driver list includes the likes of Bryan, Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Bob Sweikert, Roger McCluskey, Troy Ruttman, Rodger Ward and Eddie Sachs. Brawner’s cars won the first four Hoosier Hundreds with drivers Sweikert and Bryan and, in 1957, he won the 500-mile “Race of Two Worlds” at Monza, Italy with Bryan. Each May, a driver at Indianapolis receives the prestigious Clint Brawner Mechanical Achievement Award in his memory.

Hartman, of Zanesville, Ohio, won five USAC Stock car championships in the 1970s and, in 1968, became the first rookie driver ever to lead the Daytona 500. The 1966 USAC Stock car Rookie of the Year and 1967 Most Improved Driver, then won the first 500-mile stock car race held at Pocono, Pa Raceway in 1971. A frequent NASCAR competitor as well with some success, he was inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2004. His total of USAC Stock Car victories was 29.

Hopkins, from Miami, Fla., fielded competitive National Championship cars for three decades, entering up to four cars on occasion at the Indianapolis 500. Never an Indy 500 winner, he appeared headed for that achievement in 1955 until his driver, two-time “500” winner Bill Vukovich, perished in an accident while leading in an effort to score his third consecutive victory. In 1957 and 1959, Hopkins scored a second-place finish at Indy with driver Jim Rathmann.

In 1972, Roger McCluskey won the 1972 Ontario 500 in a Hopkins entry, and then earned the 1973 USAC National Championship in another Hopkins car. Championship wins also came for Hopkins at Phoenix, Ariz., Atlanta, Ga., Milwaukee, Wisc., Langhorne, Pa., Springfield, Ill. and Brooklyn, Mich. with drivers McCluskey, George Amick, Tony Bettenhausen, Bobby Marshman and Jim Rathmann. In 1959, Rathmann won a “special” Championship race for Hopkins at Daytona Beach, Fla.

Hurtubise, of North Tonawanda, N.Y., stood the racing world on its ears in 1960 when he flirted with the 150-mph. barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was that year’s “500” Rookie of the Year. National Championship wins came at Sacramento, Calif., Langhorne, Pa. and Springfield, Ill. (twice), before suffering serious burns in an accident at Milwaukee, Wisc. in 1964. He was the last driver to wheel a front-engined car in the Indy 500 in 1968.

A spectacular sprint car racer, he won 14 USAC features, including five in a row at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track. Also an accomplished stock car veteran, he won the 1966 Atlanta 500 NASCAR race. In 1993 he was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.