An evening of champions and legends celebrated sports car driver Bob Tullius Tuesday evening at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Praised for his talents behind the wheel of a car, Tullius also was recognized for being a transformative personality in the sport – pioneering modern factory support and the idea of commercial sponsorship.
The 87-year old Tullius smiled recalling the cocktail parties and social gatherings at local Jaguar dealerships that also punctuated several of his race weekends.
After all, Tullius told the A-list room of attendees, “Motorsports is not really about the cars, it’s about the people.”
The founder of the successful Group 44 Inc. team seemed to enjoy the crowd’s reception as he reminisced about his racing days. He recalled one instance when people scoffed at him when he showed up to compete in a Dodge Dart.
The audience in the ballroom at The Shores Resort and Spa on Daytona Beach chuckled as he spoke about the reaction he received from the car – the only Dart entered in one such race.
As many in the room laughed listening to Tullius’ story, he smiled and acknowledged the laughter, “that’s what everyone else did too, except I won the race.”
A 10-time IMSA race winner, Tullius was honored by the Hall of Fame also for winning 14 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) national championships, including three Trans Am Series titles. And the 1978 Trans Am trophy, it should be noted, was a product of a seven-race winning streak during the season.
Tullius won at Le Mans and had a class win in the 12 Hours of Sebring as well.
The Rochester, New York native even made an attempt to start the Daytona 500 and although he ran in the qualifying race, didn’t make the 500 field.
Tullius took the time to recognize his family with him for the important honor. His son and daughter were there, as were three of his four grandsons – the fourth, he explained proudly, was on a school trip as part of a marching band.
In accepting the great Motorsports Hall of Fame of America recognition, Tullius paused and looked around the room – filled with family and some of racing’s most celebrated champions from emcee Mario Andretti to two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi to sports car’s most recent championship retiree Scott Pruett.
And Tullius took it all in.
The best part of his acclaimed Hall of Fame career, he figured, may not have been all the trophies, but instead all the people he had a chance to meet around the world.
“I’m blessed to be here,” he said, “And God bless all of you.”