For car owner and race promoter J.C. Agajanian, the road to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame began 6,000 miles away, in his parents’ home country of Armenia.
For Donnie Allison, the IMHOF is only 60 miles from where he made his name as a racer, in Hueytown, Ala.
Perhaps nothing exemplifies the international aspect of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame more than the varied backgrounds of Agajanian and Allison. Motorsports notables from throughout the world are enshrined in the IMHOF, and five more joined their ranks Thursday night during the 2009 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies.
Along with Agajanian and Allison, this year’s group of inductees included seven-time Modifieds champion Jerry Cook, longtime team owner Bud Moore and NASCAR pioneer and car owner Raymond Parks. Their induction increases the number of IMHOF members to 132.
Agajanian, who died in 1984, was the only member of this year’s class not present for Thursday night’s induction ceremonies at the SPEED Dome, adjacent to the IMHOF and Talladega Superspeedway. He was represented by his son, Cary Agajanian, who marveled at the wide array of motorsports representatives enshrined in the Hall.
“My dad has been inducted into a number of Hall of Fames. But when I went through and looked at the list of people who have been inducted here over the years, this is a true international Hall of Fame,” said Cary Agajanian, whose father was the car owner of two Indianapolis 500 winners. “You see all forms of racing and drivers from around the world. That’s what’s so impressive and so gratifying, to have our dad inducted into a Hall of Fame like this.
“I know my dad would enjoy being with such a fine group of race drivers and car owners and promoters and all the rest of it. When you look at that list, there’s just nothing like it. I’ve never seen another list of such great, great motorsports people.”
Allison said he was happy to round out the list of Alabama Gang members already inducted to the IMHOF, a group that includes his brother Bobby Allison, as well as Charles “Red” Farmer, Davey Allison and Neil Bonnett.
“This is the icing on the top of Donnie Allison’s cake,” Allison said. “It’s a big honor. People can’t really understand the height of it, and the way I feel right now. What else could there be?
“Alabama is still our home. So this is an honor not only for us, but for the state of Alabama.”
Cook, who won six NASCAR Modified championships in a seven-year span in the 1970s, also said he was honored to be inducted into a Hall of Fame whose members hail from across the globe.
“I’m absolutely proud, that’s for sure, because this Hall of Fame is truly international,” Cook said. “There have been some people (inducted) who I didn’t recognize, because they were from overseas, but then I’d read about them and realize how great they are and how they’re definitely deserving to be in it. I’m certainly as proud as I could be to be included with all of them.”
Moore was a NASCAR car owner for 37 years. His drivers won a total of 63 races and captured the pole position 43 times.
“I’m in a lot of Hall of Fames, but this is one of the greatest,” Moore said. “I never would have dreamed back when I first started that I would be in this kind of Hall of Fame. There are a lot of great people in there, and I’m really proud to be in there with them.”
Parks was one of the pioneers of stock-car racing, and his drivers captured the first three national stock-car titles in the years following World War II. He is credited with helping Bill France form NASCAR and keep it afloat financially during the early years.
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.
Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $5 for kids age 7 to 17 and free for kids age 6 and younger. Discounts to the museum of $1 off individual tickets are available to: adults in the military, AAA members, senior citizens, children (age 7 to 17) of a military member or AAA member. Discounts do not apply to combo tickets.
Race week hours are: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday.