The votes have been tallied and officials from the International Motorsports Hall of Fame are excited to announce the 2008 Hall of Fame Induction Class. The six inductees, determined by a panel of 125 international motorsports media, that will be enshrined to the Hall of Fame on April 24, 2008 are: Art Arfons, Robert “Red” Byron, Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, Frank Kurtis, Everett “Cotton” Owens and Ralph Seagraves. This year’s votes were tallied by Letson & Associates in Hoover, Ala.
“Congratulations are in order for all these motorsports legends,” said Talladega Superspeedway President and IMHOF Executive Director Rick Humphrey. “This induction class is a perfect example of what makes the International Motorsports Hall of Fame so unique. With this class we are honoring drivers, an owner, a fabricator, an engine builder and a promoter. These men comprise the building blocks of all motorsports. Personally, I find it very rewarding to be involved with an organization that honors competitors from all motorsports venues under the same roof.”
About the 2008 Induction Class
ART ARFONS (1926 – 2007): Best known for setting the unlimited Land Speed Record three times in his “Green Monster” racers, Art Arfons also made significant contributions to drag racing, tractor pulling and powerboat racing during a five decade career.
ROBERT “RED” BYRON (1915 – 1960): Robert “Red” Byron from Anniston, Alabama, got his start in the early 1930s in unorganized races in Talladega. Byron won the first NASCAR sanctioned race on the Daytona beach-road course on February 15, 1948. Byron ran in 6 races in 1949 winning two and earning 842.5 points to become the first driver to win a NASCAR points championship.
BILL “GRUMPY” JENKINS (1930 – ): Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins innovative use of his mechanical engineering skills in the mid-1950s produced many of drag racing’s most successful vehicles. Considered the “Father of Pro Stock”, Jenkins, built engines for 61 NHRA Eliminators producing five championships and three ARHA championships. Jenkins also earned a considerable reputation as a driver, winning a combined total of 13 NHRA national Pro Stock events from 1965 to 1975 with one championship as a driver.
FRANK KURTIS (1908 – 1987): Though he never drove a race, Frank Kurtis’ cars crossed the finish line many times. His Kurtis-Kraft, Inc. firm produced some 550 midgets in kit and “ready to run” forms. The combination of the Kurtis chassis powered by a smaller version of the famous Offenhauser engine was virtually unbeatable for over twenty years.
EVERETT “COTTON” OWENS (1924 – ): Known as the “King of the Modifieds,” Everett “Cotton” Owens won more than 100 NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour races during the 1950s before making the transition to the NASCAR Grand National series. As a car owner and driver, Owens’ combined career statistics include 41 wins and 38 poles in 487 races.
RALPH SEAGRAVES (1929 – 1998): Ralph Seagraves helped initiate R.J. Reynolds Tobacco’s sponsorship of motorsports in the 1970s. Seagraves was director of Reynolds’ Special Events Operations, now known as Sports Marketing Enterprises, from 1972 until his retirement in January 1985. During that period, Reynolds forged sponsor relationships with several motorsports sanctioning bodies, including NASCAR and the NHRA.
About the International Motorsports Hall of Fame & Museum
Opened in April of 1983, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports. Each year, the annual International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held on the grounds of the museum to honor those men and women chosen for induction from among the greatest names in all of motorsports. The 2008 ceremony will be held April 24, at the SPEED Channel Dome, adjacent to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. This black-tie ceremony consists of a reception, banquet and awards ceremony. Individual tickets are $125 and a table for eight may be purchased for $1,000 by calling 1-877-Go2-Dega. VISA, Mastercard and Discover are accepted.