AARWBA Legends in Racing

Six names added to AARWBA's Legends In Racing. The dean of American motorsport journalists leads a class of six inductees into Legends in Racing, the hall of fame of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Also elected...

Six names added to AARWBA's Legends In Racing.

The dean of American motorsport journalists leads a class of six inductees into Legends in Racing, the hall of fame of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.

Also elected is a man who set several land speed records and was a drag racing pioneer, the only one of the Chevrolet brothers to race in the Indianapolis 500, a pre- and post-war sprint car builder, a three-time Winston Cup champion, and the King of the Outlaws.

Chris Economaki drew a 92.6 percent vote to lead all candidates in all categories, needing only a 70 percent vote for induction as a Modern- Era Non-Driver candidate. The publisher emeritus of National Speed Sport News and television commentator on several networks has been reporting motorsports since he began selling copies of an auto racing section of the Ridgewood (N.J.) News for a nickel in 1934 at the Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway. He took over NSSN in 1949 and has built it into the most influential motorsport weekly in America. Economaki was elected in only his second time on the ballot, returning after one previous appearance in 1991.

Art Arfons in his Green Monster cars traded the Land Speed Record back and forth with 2001 Legends inductee Craig Breedlove several times in the 1960s. His highest official mark was 576.553 in 1965, although a few days later he had a run under way in the 615 mph range when a wheel failed and his car crashed, leaving Arfons miraculously unhurt. Arfons also was the first drag racer through the 150 and 180 mph barriers, and the inventor of the braking parachute. Arfons also was a returnee to the ballot in the Historic Era category (active more than 30 years ago) after a nine-year absence, having been on four times previously in the early 1990s.

Arthur Chevrolet's lasting contribution to motorsport was as a pioneer in the high-performance equipment industry. He was head of the Chevrolet Bros. Motors manufacturing plant building Frontenac heads for the dominant Fronty Fords. The middle of the three Chevrolet brothers, he raced in the inaugural Indy 500 finishing 36th in a Buick. He also drove in the shorter pre-1911 races at Indy, and in the 1916 race, but his driving career ended after a bad practice crash for the 1920 500. He was elected in his second ballot appearance, in the Historic Non-Driver category (Louis Chevrolet was elected to Legends in Racing in 1974, Gaston Chevrolet in 1991)

Floyd "Pop" Dreyer boasted that he built "everything but the tires" on his pre- and post-WWII sprint cars. His double-overhead-cam head for the Model A and B Ford was known as the "poor man's Offy." Drivers including Everett Saylor, Duke Nalon and Jackie Holmes drove Dreyer's cars to championships over the powerful Offenhausers. Among Dreyer's sprint car innovations were four-wheel suspension, complete fiberglass bodywork, the first aluminum flywheel and the production of magnesium wheels. Dreyer was elected to Legends in his first appearance on the ballot.

Darrell Waltrip had been on the ballot eight times previously, narrowly missing induction several times in the Active Driver category, which establishes a purposely difficult high vote total percentage. Retiring after the 2000 season, this was the first year he was eligible in the Modern Era category. He was NASCAR's Winston Cup champion in 1981, 1982 and 1985, and closed his 29-year career with 84 Winston Cup victories, tied for third-highest in Cup history. He also overcame a bad boy image in his early years, being voted Winston Cup's most popular driver in 1989 and 1990.

Steve Kinser has been the most dominant driver in sprint car racing for the past quarter-century, and is a major reason for the high popularity of the World of Outlaws circuit. He has won the WoO championship a staggering 17 times since 1978, and through the end of the 2002 season had racked up 471 career A-main victories - among them 12 Knoxville Nationals and 10 Gold Cup of Champions (in Chico, Calif.). After winning 14 championships driving for his cousin, Karl Kinser, he made a brief foray in Winston Cup before returning and winning three more titles with his own team. He became the first sprint car driver invited to participate in the International Race of Champions, and proved the wisdom of that decision by winning a round at Talladega. Kinser was on the ballot for a third time after splitting votes with Waltrip in two previous appearances.

Economaki and Arfons both easily won election this year. The other four made it in 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 Chevrolet and Dreyer were elected because they tied in the Historic Non-Driver vote. Unusual this year was that someone was elected in each of the five categories.

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The minimum for election is determined by a specified percentage of the total votes cast in each category. Rule One: The total vote is divided by the maximum number that may be voted for on any one ballot. For example, if 300 individual votes are cast in a "Vote for 4" category, the factor is 75. Candidates must then meet a percentage of that factor: Historic 60%, Modern 70%, Active 80%. Rule Two: If no one in a given category is elected, the single person in that category receiving the highest vote is inducted if within 10 percentage points (Historic 50%, Modern 60%, Active 70%). On a Last Chance vote, a driver must receive a 75% "Yes" vote.

HISTORIC ERA - (433 votes/4 = 108.25 x 60% = 64.95: 65 to elect)

ART ARFONS, 74; Joie Chitwood, 50; Jerry Titus, 49; Pat O'Connor, 45; Fonty Flock, 44; Richie Ginther, 43; Cotton Owens, 43; Bernd Rosemeyer, 41; Woolf Barnato, 25; Joe Dawson, 19.

HISTORIC/NON-DRIVERS - (191 votes/2 = 95.5 x 60% = 57.30: 57 to elect) (Rule Two: 95.5 x 50% = 47.75: 48 to elect one)

ARTHUR CHEVROLET, 55; FLOYD "POP" DREYER, 55; Jean Marcenac, 39; Hector Honore, 30; John Gerber, 12.

MODERN ERA - (435 votes/4 = 108.75 x 70% = 76.125: 76 to elect) (Rule Two: 108.75 x 60% = 65.25: 65 to elect one)

DARRELL WALTRIP, 74; Hershel McGriff, 65; Alan Kulwicki, 60; George Follmer, 55; Nigel Mansell, 54; Eddie Hill, 40; Joe Leoanrd, 37; Iggy Katona, 20; Jerry Hansen, 18; Ray Hendrick, 12.

MODERN/NON-DRIVERS - (419 votes/4 = 104.75 x 70% = 73.325: 73 to elect)

CHRIS ECONOMAKI, 97; Bob Russo, 66; Les Richter, 62; John Bishop, 39; Jim Chapman, 37; U.E. "Pat" Patrick, 31; Ted Johnson, 28; George Moore, 28; Al Swindahl, 22; Derek Bennett, 9.

ACTIVE DRIVERS - (218 votes/2 = 109.00 x 80% = 87.20: 87 to elect) (Rule Two: 109.00 x 70% = 76.3: 76 to elect one)

STEVE KINSER, 83; Michael Schumacher, 46; Ivan Stewart, 35; Hurley Haywood, 31; Sleepy Tripp, 23.

LAST CHANCE - (Must have 75% "yes" vote to elect)

Louis Chiron: Yes 62, No 29 - 68.13% (not elected)


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About this article
Series Automotive , Vintage
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Michael Schumacher , Nigel Mansell , George Follmer , Steve Kinser , Hershel McGriff , Alan Kulwicki