Legends in Racing, AARWBA 2001 inductees announced

Five Names added to AARWBA'S Legends in Racing One of the most colorful car owners in Indy Car history leads the 2001 class of five inductees into Legends in Racing, the hall of fame of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters ...

Five Names added to AARWBA'S Legends in Racing

One of the most colorful car owners in Indy Car history leads the 2001 class of five inductees into Legends in Racing, the hall of fame of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.

Also elected is one who for many years was the fastest man on wheels, the manager of Mercedes-Benz' sportscar dominance before and after World War II, the man regarded as the first true American national champion, and the winner of the first true over-the-road auto race in 1895.

Andy Granatelli was the top vote-getter from among the members of the motorsports press, elected in the Modern Era Non-driver category. He is perhaps best known as the owner of STP-sponsored cars at the Indy 500, including the winning cars in 1969 with Mario Andretti and 1973 with Gordon Johncock as well as the radical turbine-powered Novis in 1967 and '68. His most enduring legacy may have been demonstrating the viability of motorsports as a marketing vehicle through his long involvement as chairman and CEO of STP.

Craig Breedlove was the first man to break through the 400, 500 and 600 mph barriers in his assaults on the land speed record, driving his Spirit of America creations. He cracked the first barrier in 1963 with a 407.45 mph two-way run at the Bonneville Salt Flats, breaking a record which had stood 16 years. A year later, after his record had been broken by two other challengers, he returned to post a 526.277 mph run. He returned to the salt again in 1965 and on Nov. 15 ran 600.601 mph. In two years' time, Breedlove had raised the absolute record for speed on land by 206.4 mph. In the 30 years following, other challengers were only able to improve it by 33 mph. Breedlove was elected in the Historic Era category, recognizing drivers whose accomplishments were more than 30 years ago.

Alfred Neubauer was also elected in from the Historic Era, from the non-driver category. He was the "Rennleiter," or team manager, for Mercedes-Benz guiding the careers of luminaries such as Rudi Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch, Hermann Lang and Dick Seaman during the 1930s. Postwar, he helped raise Mercedes to prominence once again with a 1952 victory at Le Mans with Lang and Fritz Reiss, and was the overseer of Mercedes' 1954-55 return to Formula One which resulted in Juan Manuel Fangio's second and third world driving championships.

George Robertson is credited in modern record books with the very first U.S. National Championship, in 1909 under AAA sanction, after victories in a 318-mile race at Lowell, Mass., and a 200-miler in Philadelphia. At the time the champion was determined by a popularity vote of the press with another driver, Bert Dingley, getting the nod. Later a points formula was devised and Robertson emerged atop the tally (Dingley was 5th). Robertson also won the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup and was twice the victor at the Brighton Beach Classic.

Emile Levassor won the event which launched auto racing as a competitive sport - the grueling 732-mile Paris-Bordeaux-Paris contest of 1895. Prior automotive events were essentially reliability contests. Levassor, in a 2-cylinder, 4 hp Panhard et Levassor, drove the entire distance himself averaging a then-amazing 15 mph. He was denied the prize of 31,000 francs because his car had but two seats, but it is his statue that today overlooks the finish line at the Porte Maillot in Paris. Levassor, for several years in partnership with Rene Panhard, also is credited with inventing the "systeme Panhard" considered to have established the basic layout of most cars built for the next century - front engine, clutch between the engine and gearbox, and rear-wheel drive.

The 2002 vote for Legends in Racing largely recognized candidates who have been on the ballot several years. Granatelli was elected in his fifth appearance, Neubauer in his ninth, and Breedlove in his 10th (eight of them in Modern-era categories).

Granatelli and Breedlove both easily won election this year. Neubauer made it in by one vote 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.

Both Levassor and Robertson were elected on a Last Chance vote after having previously been on the ballot a dozen times. It was the fifth and sixth times a Last Chance has been presented to the voters, with half of the previous candidates failing the test. Levassor received the highest "yes" percentage ever with a 91 percent affirmative vote.

Nobody was elected in the Modern Era or Active Driver categories. Seven of the 10 drivers on the Modern Era ballot split the vote so evenly, the spread between them was but 10 votes, but none reached the "Rule Two" minimum. Among active drivers (which includes those retired within the past two years, and also imposes the highest vote-percentage standard), Darrell Waltrip was once again the top vote-getter, but four votes shy of induction.

-AARWBA-

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About this article
Series Automotive , History
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Mario Andretti , Gordon Johncock