WALTRIP HEADS CLASS OF 2005 AT MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME

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    Three-time NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Darrell Waltrip heads the Class of 2005 that will be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame next April 28th.

     Joining Waltrip in being inducted are drag racing icons Joe Amato and Bob Glidden, powerboat champion Chip Hanauer, and Formula 1 and CART champion Nigel Mansell.

     “This is a powerful class, one in which each member had a significant impact on the history of his particular form of racing.  All five of them have won multiple championships.  It is quite a group,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Jim Freeman.

     Waltrip won titles in 1981, 1982 and 1985, driving for Junior Johnson.   He also had 84 wins, 54 poles, and was named Driver of the Year three times.

     Amato had 54 NHRA Top Fuel wins and five Top Fuel championships, both records.  He also finished in the Top Ten in each of his 19 seasons.

     Glidden captured ten NHRA Pro Stock titles and another one in IHRA.  When he retired, he was NHRA’s winningest driver in any class with 85 career victories

     When the spray had settled after Hanauer’s career, he’d won seven Unlimited Hydroplane national and world titles, and 61 national events including a record 11 Gold Cup races.

     This ultra-successful quintet will be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 28, 2005.  In addition, the 2004 Driver of the Year will also be honored.  Reservations for tickets to the black-tie event are now being accepted at the Hall of Fame.

THE CLASS OF 2005

JOE AMATO (1944 -      ):    Joe Amato quit school at age 16 to take over the family auto parts business from his ailing father, and launched his racing career at about the same time.  As his racing career grew, so did his business, which specialized in speed accessories.  He wound up as NHRA’s all-time winner in Top Fuel with 52 national event victories.  Amato also won a record five national Top Fuel titles, including three in a row in 1990-91-92.  Consistency was a strong point for Amato, as he finished in the Top Ten in all 19 seasons of his career.   Amato was the first driver to top the 260 and 280 mph marks, and won the Bud Shootout All-Star race a record six times.  He was listed as #9 on the NHRA’s list of Top Ten drivers of all time.  Amato retired at the end of the 2000 season because of a detached retina, and now runs his own team with Morgan Lucas as the driver.

BOB GLIDDEN (1944 -     ):   When Bob Glidden retired in 1997, he was the winningest driver in NHRA history, in any class, with 85 Pro Stock national event victories.  He won ten NHRA Pro Stock world championships, including five in a row from 1985 thru 1989, and added an IHRA championship and several event wins for good measure.  In 1979, he won nine straight national events, then enjoyed another incredible streak in 1987, in which he was the No. l qualifier in all 14 events, and won the last five in a row.  In 1988 he extended his string of fastest qualifier to 23, and stretched his consecutive streak of rounds won to 50.  In 1989, Glidden enjoyed his most dominant season ever, winning seven of the first 11 races, and leading the points all season.  Glidden has been ranked #4 on the list of NHRA’s Greatest Drivers.  He is now working at Schumacher Racing in Indianapolis.

CHIP HANAUER (1954 -        ):   For at least a dozen years, Chip Hanauer was unquestionably the greatest Unlimited Hydroplane racer in the world.  He got his first win in 1979, but it was 1982 before his career really took off.  He won the prestigious Gold Cup race plus four others, and claimed his first Unlimited national and world championships.  He repeated in 1983, and finished his career with seven national titles, the last in 1993.  He won the Gold Cup race a record 11 times, including seven in a row, with the last one coming in his final season of 1999.  His win total of 61 ranks second only to legendary Bill Muncey, who was inducted last year.  His career win percentage is an incredible 40%.  Hanauer’s toughness was part of his success.  He once cracked three vertebrae in a crash, but came back three weeks later and won three in a row.  He is now retired and living in Seattle.

NIGEL MANSELL (1953 -      ):   Nigel Mansell was one of the most determined and aggressive drivers ever to sit behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car, and it was because he and his wife had sold their house to get his career started in 1979.  He ultimately caught the attention of Lotus boss Colin Chapman, and his career took off.  Driving for Williams, Mansell first won at Brands Hatch in 1985, plus another one that year, then won 11 times in the next two years, and finished second in points both times.  His first championship came in 1992, when he won nine races and 14 poles.  Shocking much of the racing world, Mansell moved to the CART series the next year, and became the only driver to ever win back-to-back titles in these two series. For that, he was named Driver of the Year in 1993.  He had three wins and seven poles in ’93, but slipped to 8th in points, with no wins, the next year.  He returned to Formula 1 in 1995, but retired after two races.

DARRELL WALTRIP (1947 -       ):   Darrell Waltrip enjoyed a career that places him among the best ever in Winston Cup history.  His career 84 victories are good for a tie for third place with Bobby Allison on the all-time win list, and his three Nextel Cup championships are surpassed by only three others.  In addition to his 84 wins, Waltrip captured 59 poles, good for fourth on the all-time list.  He was named Driver of the Year three times (1979, 1981 and 1982), and won the 1989 Daytona 500.  He was twice voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver (1989 and 1990), and was also selected as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.  He was the first driver to win $10 million, and finished his career with $20 million in winnings.  Waltrip is now the owner of a Craftsman Truck Series team, is the national spokesperson for Toyota trucks, and is also the lead color analyst for Fox Sports on race telecasts.

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