Five names added to AARWBA's Legends in Racing
It is easy to over-use a word like "legendary," but what else can we call the two Indy Car chief mechanics, two NASCAR drivers and a pre-war grand prix hero elected to Legends in Racing?
The 2004 inductees to the hall of fame are chosen by members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.
Clint Brawner was the wrench who gave Mario Andretti his lone Indy 500 victory, just one of the 51 Indy car triumphs that make him the second- winningest chief mechanic in the history of Champ cars. With Jimmy Bryan at the wheel, Brawner-s cars won the national championship in 1954 under AAA sanction, and in 1956 and '57 after USAC took over the sport. Later with Andretti, the Brawner Hawks were champion again in 1965, 1966 and 1969.
Fred Lorenzen was the "Golden Boy" of NASCAR's Grand National circuit (now Nextel Cup), winning 26 races between 1960 and 1967, and in 1963 was the first driver to win $100,000 in a single season. Before his NASCAR days he was the USAC stock car champion twice, 1958 and 1959, during which time he ran up a dozen victories. His NASCAR victory list includes some of the most prestigious races and he was the first to score a superspeedway "grand slam" winning at Daytona, Charlotte, Atlanta and Darlington.
Hershel McGriff had a career spanning more than 50 years, with victories from the 1950 Carrera Panamericana (Mexican Road Race) to a 1993 NASCAR Winston West/ARCA race at Texas World Speedway at age 65. He won four times in the old Grand National division, but primarily raced on the West Coast where he won 36 times and took the 1986 Winston West championship at age 58.
Bernd Rosemeyer tamed the vicious rear-engined V-16 Auto Unions of the mid-30s that often were the only real Formula One opposition to the all- conquering Mercedes of the day. After convincing the Auto Union hierarchy to give him a chance, he won the 1935 Czech Grand Prix and then the 1936 European Championship with victories at the Eifelrennen and at the grands prix of Germany, Pescara, Switzerland and Italy. In his only American appearance, he won the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup. He won three more times before a fatal accident in a 1939 speed record attempt on the Autobahn.
A.J. Watson was an Indy car builder and chief mechanic since the late 40s and represented line none other the transition from AAA to USAC -- Bob Sweikert drove his car to the last AAA-sanctioned Indy 500 in 1955 and Pat Flaherty was in a Watson car to win the first USAC-sanctioned Indy in 1956. Rodger Ward later gave him two more Indy wins. He also built the winners for Jim Rathmann in 1960, Parnelli Jones in 1963, and A.J. Foyt in 1964. As crew chief, Watson recorded 29 victories and three championships -- two by Ward, one by Foyt in the Champ cars. He also wrenched George Snider and Bobby Olivero to USAC Dirt Car championships.
Brawner led all candidates with the most votes for any nominee regardless of category. He and Lorenzen both easily won election in Historic Era categories -- individuals last active more than 30 years ago. Both returned to the ballot after long absences -- Brawner last on the ballot in 1992 and Lorenzen in 1989. It was Brawner's seventh ballot appearance and Lorenzen's fifth.
McGriff, making his seventh appearance, and Watson, in his fifth try, were elected in Modern Era categories under "Rule Two" which elects the one top vote-getter in a category under a reduced minimum if nobody in that category meets the first standard. Rosemeyer was elected in a "last chance" vote for drivers who had appeared a dozen times before. Needing a 75% vote, he received a solid 85.5% approval.
Nobody was elected from among the Active Driver category, where drivers must meet a stiff 80% standard. Formula One champion Michael Schumacher missed the cut by two votes. In the Historic categories, Trans- Am racer Jerry Titus also missed election by just one vote, and drag racing pioneer Pappy Hart missed by three.