Eight persons who have made noteworthy contributions to the Sports Car Club of America and the motorsports world became official members of the SCCA Hall of Fame Saturday evening during the Awards Banquet that closed the 2018 SCCA National Convention at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The SCCA Hall of Fame was created in 2004 to preserve, protect and record the history and accomplishments of the Club by acknowledging those members who have made a significant impact on the development of SCCA, be it through service to the national organization, achievements in national competition, bringing national recognition to SCCA, or a combination of these factors. Nominations were submitted to, and reviewed by, the Hall of Fame Nomination and Selection Committees before the inductees were chosen.
The 2018 Hall of Fame class includes William C. Bradshaw, Peter Cunningham, Janet Guthrie, August Pabst, Dave Stremming and Loren Pearson, Bob Sharp and Dr. Dick Thompson. These current inductees join 75 others in the Hall of Fame as those who have positioned the building blocks that elevated SCCA’s stature in the motorsports world for more than 70 years.
William C. Bradshaw
Bradshaw joined the SCCA in 1964. His incredible gifts of time and effort, across multiple programs, benefited generations and will continue to help members for decades to come. As a competitor, he participated in Road Rally, stage rally and road racing, but found his calling helping other Club members, tirelessly working track side, staging rallies, and in board meetings shaping the organization.
Through the years, Bradshaw helped by inspecting tracks, as a pit marshal, directing traffic on grid or as a steward, including time spent as executive steward for the Northeast Division and assistant chief steward for the SCCA Runoffs at Road Atlanta and Road America. His work trackside even took him beyond the SCCA – to multiple Formula One Grand Prix events at Watkins Glen. As a regional board member, Bradshaw served as by-laws chairman, membership chairman, assistant regional executive and regional executive. As testimony to the impact of his character and contributions, when Bradshaw decided to add to his SCCA plate by running for Area 10 director, it was discovered that he did not reside in the Division. But Bradshaw was so beloved that Central Pennsylvania Region ceded the county he was living in to Glen Region and forever redefined the border between two areas.
In 1975, Finger Lakes Region requested Bradshaw’s assistance as they attempted to create a stage rally in northern Pennsylvania. The Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally became a highlight of the SCCA Pro Rally season and Bradshaw continued to support it tirelessly. As a result, Bradshaw is the namesake of the SCCA Pro Rally “Bill Bradshaw Award for Volunteerism.”
Though his hours spent organizing and volunteering were formidable, it is his efforts for safety that Bradshaw may have the most lasting impact. As a steward, he focused on driver safety by gathering statistics on incidents, analyzing that data on incidents and outcomes, and using them to create risk management profiles. These data and analysis methods helped form the current Safety Steward Model still instrumental today.
Bradshaw’s commitment to safety extended beyond incident reporting and analysis and into supporting and promoting the recognition of Emergency Services as a separate, unique specialty, an effort that resulted in the creation of a stand-alone license for Emergency Services.
Bradshaw earned the Carl Haas Award for outstanding service, the Glen Region’s Jacqulyn Holman Race Worker of the Year award, the Glen Region’s Regional Executive award and the Northeast Division’s Floyd Stone award.
The racing bug bit Cunningham after a happenstance meeting with a Porsche driver in an apartment parking lot. The driver told him about autocrossing and that one could do it in their own car. An excited Cunningham entered his first autocross in his SAAB 99, won the event and the groundwork was set for him to go head over heels into the motorsports world. He autocrossed every weekend that year and, as he did, found more competition and more challenges – each pushing him to do more and work harder.
Along the way, Cunningham built the resume of a renaissance driver, with success across series and formats. Cunningham found himself behind the wheel in ice racing, blasting through the woods on stage rally, and had his SCCA National Competition License fast-tracked by winning his first two regional events.
It was ice racing that launched Cunningham into his most visible achievement – his partnership with Honda. After some success, he was able to convince Honda to give him a well-used road racing car for a series. With it he beat the factory team and won the drivers and manufacturers championship. That led to a relationship which has grown to one of the longest partnerships in motorsports – 31 years of RealTime Racing and Honda/Acura.
Cunningham has championships on ice, dirt and asphalt – in stage rally, ice racing, road racing and autocross, winning in both cars, and even trucks as part of the Shellzone Truck Guard Racetruck Championship. He has multiple SCCA Nationals-level road race wins – including the June Sprints. He has won the SCCA Solo National Championship, is a two-time United States Endurance Championship winner, is a Pro Rally champion and is a 10-time SCCA Pro Racing Driver’s Champion. He is the career leader in every major statistical category in World Challenge, including: starts, championships, wins and pole positions. And in 1998, he won the GT3 class at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
As a motorsports leader, Cunningham’s role with World Challenge Vision helped rejuvenate World Challenge in the late 2000s. As a team owner, his RealTime Racing team is a constant championship contender posting 89 race wins, 24 Championships in iconic products like the Integra Type R and debuting the Acura NSX racing program in the 1990s and again in 2017.
After college, Guthrie bought a Jaguar XK 120 M Coupe. It was while daily driving that car she discovered gymkhanas and then Hillclimbs, and became involved in the Sports Car Club of America. While competing, she found the faster she went the happier she was. This quest for more speed led her in 1963 to earn her SCCA racing license.
Like many SCCA racers, Guthrie worked on the cars herself – including rebuilding her own engines, towing her own car to the races and enlisting volunteer crew to help along the way. She transitioned to professional racecar driver, got a dealer sponsorship and turned a new Toyota Celica into a race car for the Two-Five Challenge series. In 1973, she won the North Atlantic Road Racing Championship in that car.
In 1976, her SCCA Championship and two Sebring 12-hour class wins helped get her noticed by IndyCar team owner Rolla Vollstedt. Guthrie broke barriers and stifled skepticism by becoming the first woman to pass the Indy 500 rookie test, this only five years after women were first allowed into the garage area at all. In 1977, she became the first woman to compete in the Indy 500.
A year later, looking to improve on her chances, Guthrie formed and managed her own IndyCar team. Twice that year at Indy she had the fastest practice time of the day and finished ninth in the 500 – a best finish for a woman which would stand for 27 years. In her eight IndyCar races outside of Indianapolis, she qualified fourth at Pocono and finished fifth at Milwaukee.
Just as she branched beyond sports cars and into IndyCars, Guthrie branched into stock car racing. In 1976, she was the first woman to compete in a NASCAR super-speedway race at Charlotte. In 1977, she was the top finishing rookie and first woman to drive the Daytona 500, and became the first woman to lead a NASCAR race at Ontario. That same year, she finished sixth at Bristol, which remains tied for the best finish for a woman in NASCAR’s super-speedway era.
Throughout her career, she won praise from her competitors and the media. Indy 500 winner Tom Sneva listed her as one of two he felt comfortable running side-by-side with at 200 miles per hour, and Sports Illustrated called her 2005 autobiography, “Janet Guthrie: A Life at Full Throttle,” one of the best books ever written about racing.
Her impact on the world of sports has been put on display and has been awarded time and again. Her Indy 500 driver’s suit and helmet are in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, and her Daytona 500 suit and helmet reside at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. She is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, and now the Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame.
“Augie” Pabst attended his first race at the Janesville, Wisconsin airport in the ’50s where he decided he wanted to race. Not long after that, he turned 21, bought a Triumph TR3, and drove in his first race at the State Fair Park in Milwaukee. Over the next several years, Pabst progressed from the TR3 to an AC Bristol, and then eventually bought a Ferrari Testarossa in 1958. It was with the Ferrari he began to have more success.
He teamed with such esteemed names as Roger Penske and Briggs Cunningham, competing against legendary names such as Carroll Shelby, Bob Holbert, Jim Hall, Bob Sharp, Sterling Moss and Dan Gurney, all while driving iconic cars like the Scarab, Maserati, Ferrari 250 GTO, Ferrari 250 LM, Corvette Gran Sport, Chaparral, McLaren and Ford GT40. He raced and won across the country, including 24 feature events, 15 of them majors and many coming at the Road America 500. In 1959, he won the USAC Road Racing title. In 1960, he won the SCCA B Modified National Championship.
A fun-loving soul, Pabst will forever be associated with events resulting in a rental car at the bottom of the pool at the Mark Thomas Inn at Monterey, California. Although off track antics certainly make some of the best stories, it was his fight for the professional landscape of sports car racing which had some of the greatest impact.
For those efforts behind the wheel and helping form policy, Pabst won the 1960 Competition Press Driver of the Year Award, the Bob Akin award from the Road Racing Drivers Club, and has been inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Dave Stremming and Loren Pearson
In 1994, the Solo Nationals were looking for a new home. In the fall of that year, Topeka’s Forbes Field was suggested as an alternative venue, and SCCA Solo organizers set up a meeting with Forbes Field airport president Dave Stremming and local SCCA representative Loren Pearson. What resulted was an 11-year partnership that changed the future of Solo in profound ways.
Pearson was a cheerleader for SCCA and the Topeka area. And while Stremming had every reason to say “no” to the use of Forbes Field for a motorsports event, he saw the potential of it being a benefit to the local community. Stremming convinced the airport board to make an investment in the Solo Nationals because it would be good for Topeka.
Once the airport board was aboard, Stremming and Pearson teamed up to garner support from regional and state government officials, the visitors’ bureau, local media and local businesses. It quickly became apparent that while Salina had been a great home for the event for many years, something special was brewing in Topeka and the event could move to the next level, which it most certainly has over the following decades.
An example of the dedication Stremming and Pearson showed to the Solo Nationals program took place the week of September 11, 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the United States. The attacks occurred just minutes after Solo Nationals began, and the Air National Guard needed to secure the Forbes Field runways. Pearson and Stremming were not only instrumental in helping to evacuate the site, but were also responsible for the Club’s return to the venue later in the week to complete Solo Nationals.
Bob Sharp’s racecars have been collected by celebrities, shaped the world of sports car racing, and built careers. In 1960, Sharp raced his daily-driver Austin Healey Bug-eye Sprite while attending college before moving up to a G Production Sprite. In the never-ending quest to find more speed, Sharp found his way into a Lotus Seven for a couple seasons. Though those cars are classics, at the time they were not fast or flashy enough for Sharp, and he knew he needed more.
While he was searching for the right car and the right direction, so was the SCCA. The early ’60s saw the Club change from being strictly amateur to allowing professional aspects into the sport, including paid drivers and sponsorship. These changes would open doors for Sharp and helped set the course for SCCA and road racing in the United States.
Sharp didn’t have the money to get a flashy car, but what he lacked in funds, he would make up for in business skills. New SCCA rules allowing sponsorship enabled Sharp to use connections to pitch a Datsun dealership his philosophy that fielding winning racecars would help sales, and so was born an effort to race a new “Fairlady” in SCCA competition.
That effort started in the back of a dealership, moved to Sharp’s own used car-turned Datsun dealership, and soon expanded to a standalone racing facility with full factory support. The results led to 35 years of iconic Number 33 red-white-and-blue Datsuns and Nissans competing, and a relationship which helped set the mold for manufacturer and race team partnerships.
Along the way, Sharp volunteered his time on the Competition Board and Classification Committee of the SCCA, was named as a competition consultant for Datsun, captured six SCCA National Championships in three different classes, and won the IMSA GTU title – all behind the wheel of Datsuns.
Sharp stopped driving in 1976, but his team would be the springboard from which several drivers would make their mark on motorsports, including SCCA Hall of famer Jim Fitzgerald, sports car stars Sam Posey and Elliott Forbes-Robinson, actor Tom Cruise and Bob’s son – Indy and sports car champion Scott Sharp. But of the people who raced with Bob, a special relationship stands out that began in 1972 when Lime Rock owner Jim Haynes asked Bob to take a man for a publicity ride around the track. That man was actor and future SCCA Hall of Fame member Paul Newman.
Dr. Dick Thompson
Dr. Dick Thompson — known as the “Flying Dentist” — helped usher in iconic cars like the Chevrolet Corvette, the Shelby Daytona Cobra and the Ford GT40 alongside legendary drivers including Dan Gurney and Jacky Ickx. His motorsports career started in 1952 when he went racing in a MG TD street car. His 1954 SCCA National Championship behind the wheel of a Porsche caught the attention of General Motors executives, which led to Thompson driving Corvettes for much of his career. As part of the Corvette team, Thompson’s driving success would build the iconic stature of the Corvette in American automobile history.
Most of his success came while behind the wheel of Corvettes. In addition to Corvettes, the list of cars he competed in reads like that of the most amazing concourse list or high-end automobile auction. During his racing years he spent time behind the wheel of Ford GT40s, Shelby Cobras, Shelby Daytonas, Shelby GT500, Masaratis, the Ferrari 250 GTO and even a Turbine-powered Howmet.
He raced across the world, along the way capturing eight SCCA National Championships and wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1000KM of Spa. In endurance racing, his teammates included SCCA Hall of Fame members Phil Hill, Briggs Cunningham, John Fitch, Augie Pabst, Roger Penske, Dan Gurney and Mark Donohue.
Thompson has been inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame, the Le Mans Hall of Fame, and he is now a member of the Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame.
A handful of Club awards were also presented Saturday evening. The Woolf Barnato Award went to Carol and Dave Deborde, of the Reno Region. This is the SCCA’s highest award and is presented to those who have made an outstanding, long-term contribution to the Club.
The John McGill Award, presented for significant contribution to the SCCA Road Racing Program, was presented to Chris Kern, of the Kansas City Region. This honor is chosen by the Club Racing Board and the Vice President of Club Racing.
The David Morrell Memorial Award went to Jerry Wannarka, of the Lone Star Region. This award is presented to encourage continued participation in the Steward’s Program by recognition of an active National Chief Steward who has exhibited outstanding performance and dedication to the sport and the highest principles. The winner is selected by the Chairman of the Stewards and the Executive Stewards.
The RallyCross Dirty Cup was awarded to Jim Rowland, of the Ozark Mountain Region. This accolade is presented by the RallyCross Board in recognition of an individual’s extraordinary contribution to the sport of SCCA RallyCross over time.
The Robert V. Ridges Award was presented to Rich Bireta, of the Kansas Region. This award is presented to the SCCA member who exemplifies the highest degree of dedication and sportsmanship in Road Rally, and who has made an outstanding contribution to the success of an event. This is the second time this award has been presented in five years.