International Drag Racing Hall of Fame announces Class of 2017 inductees




garlits-hall-of-fame-seal

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing announces 2017 inductees

to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame

Ocala, Fla. (October 25, 2016) – The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing has released the names of the individuals to be inducted into the Museum’s International Drag Racing Hall of Fame. The names include one of the most influential drag racing track operators and marketers of the sport, a pair of brothers who epitomized the blue collar racers of the Southern California top fuel scene in the 1960s and 1970s, an iconic Southern California starter/racer, three racers who became very successful businessmen serving the racing community and a well-known showman that was a very early trend-setter in the “wheelstander” exhibition car category. Additionally, the Founder’s Award went to a long-time drag racing photographer, auto enthusiast magazine editor and author.

The inductees are:

The late Jeff Byrd (Kingsport, Tenn.) was President/General Manager the famed Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway (best known as “Thunder Valley”) for Speedway Motorsports. Previously, he was the Vice President of Business Development for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, and oversaw the building the very successful Winston Drag Racing programs with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA). He marketed the mystique of the Bristol race track facilities, and using the resources of Speedway Motorsports, created the state-of-the art racing facilities of today. His visionary ideas, combined with his marketing skills helped lead drag racing to a higher level.

Brothers “Jeep” (Gerald) & Ronnie Hampshire (Colfax and Applegate, Calif. respectively) were San Fernando Valley, California racers, born and raised in Reseda, Calif. They were highly talented racers with blue-collar roots (typical of the many fuel car pilots in the Los Angeles basin) in the heyday of the front engined dragsters. Together, they raced some of the most successful cars of the period, winning major events in southern and northern California. Both were recognized for their driving skills and were often sought to deliver second opinions about cars that were called “difficult” by other drivers.

The late Dean Moon, whose “Mooneyes” logo has become an icon with racers and street performance enthusiasts, was a racer on the Mohave dry lakes and at the Bonneville Salt Flats, as well as the drag strip, who had considerable talent for building parts and components racers needed and wanted. He started the Moon Equipment Company in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. which became a major company in the market. Moon helped transplant drag racing to Great Britain and Europe when his ”Mooneyes” dragster, with Dante Duce at the wheel, competed with the U.S. Drag Racing Team in a series of exhibitions in 1965 in England. Moon was one of the founders, and second President, of the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), now Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (Diamond Bar, Calif.).

Joe & Dellie (Delma) Reath were a highly influential husband-and-wife team, which created and operated engine building/speed shop business – Reath Automotive – in Long Beach and Signal Hill, Calif. Joe was born in Rutledge, Ala., and moved to Washington state, and later to southern California; and Dellie was born in Moore, Okla., and moved with her family to southern California. In his early career, Joe raced on the Mohave dry lakes and at Bonneville Salt Flats, but his skills in building and modifying engines led him to his career path as businessman. Joe and Dellie were married in 1957, and Dellie was an essential part of the operation of Reath Automotive, serving as as office manager, accountant and parts purchaser, which allowed Joe to concentrate upon meeting the needs of the customers. Joe was particularly adept at welding and grinding crankshafts to increase the stroke length (stroker cranks). The Reaths were well-known for employing talented machinists, several of whom went on to become race team crew chiefs or owners of racing parts manufacturing businesses. Reath Automotive also sponsored a number of drag racing and land speed teams, most notably the Dunn & Reath (with Jim Dunn) fuel Funny Car. Joe passed away in January, 2013 at the age of 87.

Joe (“Gentleman Joe”) Schubeck (Henderson, Nev.) was born and raised in Lakewood, Oh., a west Cleveland suburb. He built a career as a formidable top fuel/top gas car racer, with a flair for promotion. As manufacturer, he founded Lakewood Industries, a prominent racing safety parts company and is responsible for creating one of the drag racing’s key safety components – the one-piece, hydroformed steel bellhousing which covered the clutch/flywheel assembly. Schubeck was hired by Hurst Performance owner George Hurst to drive the famed “Hurst Hairy Olds” twin-engined exhibition car, and had a tuxedo inspired fire suit made, which inspired the “Gentleman Joe” nickname, and had Linda Vaughn, then “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter,” alongside as “crew chief.” Today, he operates Schubeck High Performance in the Las Vegas area, manufacturing components for the nostalgia and “Cacklefest” markets and selling parts.

Bill (“Wild Bill”) Shrewsberry (Cathedral City, Calif.) moved tosouthern California from Mansfield, Oh. as a young man, and became best known as one of the founding fathers of the “wheelstander” exhibition cars, driving the famed red-and-white Dodge Dart “L.A. Dart” cars, and the “Berry Wagon II” (sponsored by Knott’s Berry Farm). His nickname came from driving the original L.A. Dart while standing in the windshield, with the car on its rear wheels, racing down the track. Prior to his exhibition career, Shrewsberry successfully drove some significant A/FX and Super Stock class cars for Mickey Thompson, Jack Chrisman and Sox & Martin. When he retired from the exhibition circuit, he piloted corporate and charter jets. In retirement, he has restored the L.A. Darts, with the original in the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.

Larry Sutton (Cedar City, Utah) served as one of the sport’s most well-known race starters – famed for being very firm but fair in that critical position. He was born and raised in Long Beach, Calif., and as a teenager, he was working at the famed Lions Drag strip in Long Beach. At the age of 16, he was placed into the role as starter. He was also racing a dragster, and would often race and run the starting line at the same event. He served as the Chief Starter at Lions from 1959 until it closed in 1972, then became the starter at two other iconic southern California tracks – Orange County International Raceway (OCIR) and Irwindale. After OCIR closed, Sutton raced very competitively in the Top Fuel class. His most notable car was the Richardson & Roberts “Circuit Breaker” car, winning one of the last 32-car Top Fuel races at OCIR in 1978. He retired from competition in 1995, after taking the Darrien & Meadows Top Alcohol Dragster to two National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Division 7 (Pacific Division) Championships.

Founder’s Award – The 2017 recipient is veteran photographer, journalist and author, Bob McClurg (Hilo, Hawaii). Born in upstate New York, McClurg’s family moved to Orange County, Calif., where he graduated from Villa Park High School. He had a passion for drag racing, and was credentialed as a photographer by the Anaheim Bulletin and the Orange County Register at Lions Drag Strip during high school and college. He was hired by Super Stock & Drag Illustrated (Alexandria, Va.) and became the Photo Editor. He returned to southern California to become the Photo Editor of Hot Rod and then the Editor of Kit Car, Mustang Illustrated and Ford High Performance. Later, he turned his attentions to authoring automotive books, with highly acclaimed titles about automotive/racing personalities and their businesses, historical perspectives on auto brands and high performance automotive technologies – authoring 12 titles for several publishers.

The inductees will be honored at the 27th annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Banquet presented by Lucas Oil Products, to be held on Thursday, March 16th, 2017 in Gainesville, Fla. at the Wyndham Garden Hotel Gainesville. Additional details will be announced at a future date.




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