RACING LEGENDS MARIO ANDRETTI, PARNELLI JONES AND GARY GABELICH TO BE HONORED AT MOTORSPORTS WALK OF FAME 3rd Annual Induction Ceremony is April 17, During Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Week LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 7, 2008) -- The City of...
RACING LEGENDS MARIO ANDRETTI, PARNELLI JONES AND GARY GABELICH TO BE HONORED AT MOTORSPORTS WALK OF FAME
3rd Annual Induction Ceremony is April 17, During Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Week
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 7, 2008) -- The City of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach will honor racing legends Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones and Gary Gabelich, at the third annual Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame induction ceremony. The event will take place on Thursday, April 17, 2008 during the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach week.
"This is an incredible group of racing legends," said Mayor Bob Foster, who will be presenting the awards. "Andretti and Jones defined Motorsports racing and Gabelich had set records since he was a teenager that the rest of us could only dream about."
The ceremony begins at 11:00 am at the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, located on South Pine Avenue in front of the Convention Center, just south of Ocean Boulevard.
"This year's inductees are the crème de la crème," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "Versatility is the operative word for these performers, because Andretti and Jones both raced and won on every conceivable type of track and in a variety of cars. Gabelich not only set speed records in automobiles, he also did the same in power boats."
Mario Andretti won four IndyCar championships and became the first driver to win IndyCar races in five decades. He is the only driver to have won the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and a Formula One World Championship. Andretti is the last American to have won a Formula One race (in 1978) and he won a total of 111 races on major circuits. He is also one of only three drivers to win races on road courses, paved ovals and dirt tracks in one season, something he accomplished four times.
Parnelli Jones began his racing career in jalopy cars as a 17-year-old in Gardena. He moved to stock car racing, winning 15 races in the NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Series. In 1962 he was the first driver at Indianapolis to qualify over 150 mph and the following year started on the pole and won. In 1964 he won the USAC Stock car championship. He went on to win four NASCAR races, 25 midget car feature wins and 25 sprint car victories. He also participated in off-road racing, winning the Mexican 1000 twice, the Baja 500 and the Mint 400.
Gary Gabelich, a San Pedro native, began racing as a teenager, winning first place in the stock eliminator drag racing class at Santa Ana at the age of 16. At 19, he won the world's first jet dragster race topping 250 mph. He was the first man to break into drag racing's seven-second bracket, driving a Double A fuel dragster at 7.05 seconds. On October 23, 1970 he drove the Blue Flame, a vehicle powered by a liquid gas-hydrogen peroxide powered rocket engine at the Bonneville Salt Flats, achieving a land speed record of 622.407 mph, which stood for 13 years.
Gabelich, who died in 1984, will be represented at the ceremony by his widow, Long Beach City Councilwoman Rae Gabelich, who represents the 8th District.
"Recognizing these celebrated individuals and their families each year is adding a new highlight to our Grand Prix week," added Foster. "It is especially meaningful this year with Councilwoman Gabelich and her family able to participate. As the Walk of Fame grows, racing fans will be able to share in the achievements of those racing legends who have made exceptional contributions to the sport."
The Walk of Fame medallions include renditions of the racers' cars and their major achievements in motorsports.