Mario Andretti will open the show, with Jeff Gordon as the closer, supplying extraordinary high-profile bookends to Tuesday night’s (March 13) 30th annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Ceremony Presented by Bridgestone.
The ceremony, set for 7 p.m. at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach, will once again honor luminaries from a variety of motorsports disciplines. It will also increase the MSHFA inductee list to 244, encompassing motorcycles, stock cars, sports cars, open-wheel, drag racing, land speed records, powerboating, off-road and aviation racing.
This year marks the third consecutive year the induction ceremony has been held in Daytona Beach. The MSHFA moved to Daytona International Speedway in 2016, from Novi, Michigan. The hall is housed in the speedway’s expansive Ticket and Tours Building located in front of the famed 2.5 DIS tri-oval.
The MSHFA will be the site of Monday night’s (7 p.m.) annual Heroes of Horsepower Reception Presented by Pirelli which involves the unveiling of the seven new inductees’ bronze busts that will be displayed permanently in the hall.
In addition to Gordon, this year’s inductee class includes drag racing car builder John Buttera; Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl G. Fisher; record-setting pilot – and renowned billionaire – Howard Hughes; motorcycle great Fred Merkel; three-time Indianapolis 500 champion owner U.E. “Pat” Patrick; and sports car legend Bob Tullius.
Andretti, a MSHFA inductee himself (1990) will open the evening with a keynote speech. Gordon, in his second year of retirement from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition and now a commentator on FOX, will be the last inductee honored.
“When you consider this year’s class of inductees and then factor in the appearance of Mario Andretti, it’s easy to understand our excitement about this year’s induction ceremony,” said MSHFA President Ron Watson.
“In addition, we are delighted with our new timing for the induction (a change from July). We are now part of a fabulous month for motorsports in Florida. That includes the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, IndyCars at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix and the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville. And, of course Bike Week begins right here this weekend at Daytona International Speedway with the DAYTONA Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship and culminates next week with the 77th annual DAYTONA 200.
“The energy is real and we’re proud to be part of that energy.”
Two other events are also on tap as part of induction-related activities: on Monday at 12 p.m., the Inductee Luncheon Presented by Chevrolet will be held at the DAYTONA 500 Club in the Daytona International Speedway infield, adjacent to Gatorade Victory Lane. On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., the Inductee Luncheon Presented by Toyota will be held in the Rolex 24 Lounge in the speedway’s stadium grandstands.
Tickets for all events on Monday and Tuesday are available by visiting www.MSHF.com or by calling 386.681.6843.
The 2018 class of inductees:
- John Buttera – “Lil John” built championship-winning dragsters, funny cars and pro stocks for the biggest names in the sport in the 1960s and ‘70s, including Danny Ongais, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Tom “Mongoose” McEwen and Don Schumacher. The late Buttera was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2010.
- Carl G. Fisher – The late Carl Graham Fisher is best known as the man who created iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Greensburg, Indiana native persuaded business associates to join him in the 1909 construction of IMS, serving as its president until 1923. Fisher was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1971 and the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1952.
- Jeff Gordon – Gordon is third all-time in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories (93) behind Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). He ranks fourth all-time in Monster Energy Series championships with four (1995, ‘97, ‘98, 2001), behind seven-time champions Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson. Gordon was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
- Howard Hughes – The late Howard Robard Hughes Jr. formed Hughes Aircraft in 1932, set numerous records and built some of the world’s most advanced planes. His aviation awards included the Harmon Trophy (1936, ’38), Collier Trophy, FAI Bibesco Cup (1938), Octave Chanute Award (1940) and a 1939 Congressional Gold Medal for achievements in advancing the science of aviation. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973.
- Fred Merkel – “Flying Fred” is an American road racing legend, winning two FIM Superbike World Championships (1988-89), three AMA Superbike Championships (1984-86) and setting multiple records along the way. In 1983, he registered the first of his 20 AMA Superbike victories, a record that stood until 1998. The charismatic Merkel was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2001.
- U.E. “Pat” Patrick – “Pat” Patrick made his fortune as a wildcat oilman and made his mark in open-wheel racing. His teams won three Indianapolis 500s and two IndyCar titles. Patrick was also among the car owners who established the breakaway Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) sanctioning body. He was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.
- Bob Tullius – Tullius created the model for the modern American amateur sports car team and built Group 44, Inc. into one of the most successful ever. The two-time Trans-Am and four-time SCCA national champion began his career in the early 1960s driving white Triumph TR4s wearing No. 44. Over the next 25-plus years, green-and-white Group 44, Inc. cars would net more than 300 victories in club racing, Trans-Am and IMSA GTP competition. Tullius was inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2014.