Wally Dallenbach, an Indy 500 veteran turned race official who brought safety to the forefront of open-wheel racing and two of the biggest men in motorsports, literally and figuratively, Tiny Lund and Ivan “Ironman” Stewart, head the 2020 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
In one of the largest classes in recent history, motorcycle maven Chris Carr, stock car champ Red Byron, car owner Rick Hendrick, publisher Floyd Clymer, drag racer George Montgomery and the versatile Jacky Ickx join that trio above and will be inducted March 16-17 at Daytona Beach, Fla.
Dallenbach (pictured at Indy in 1975), a 13-time starter at Indianapolis before becoming the respected chief steward of Championship Auto Racing Teams in 1979, became appalled at the lax conditions of safety at many tracks, so he organized a special safety team of firemen and paramedics that began traveling to all CART races in the early ’80s. It set the standard for motorsports worldwide, and that model and the professional responders helped save the lives of Alex Zanardi, Mikhail Aleshin and James Hinchcliffe.
At 6-5 and 270 pounds, DeWayne Louis Lund captured the 1963 Daytona 500 under heroic circumstances. He pulled fellow driver Marvin Panch from his burning car during practice for the ’63 Daytona Continental and replaced Panch for NASCAR’s biggest race. Tiny also captured 41 Grand American races and three titles of that short-lived series before losing his life at Talladega in 1975.
Another big man, the rugged 6’3″ Stewart became the king of off-road racing in his 20-year career, and grew his legend by driving Baja by himself instead of having a teammate. He won 84 desert races – including three Baja 1000s, 17 Baja 500s, eight Mint 400s and four SCORE championships. He also dominated Mickey Thompson’s off-road series.
In the world of flat-track motorcycle racing, Carr was king in the early 2000s, earning five of his seven AMA grand national crowns from 2001-2005 while piling up 78 wins (second of all-time). He also competed in the Super Bike series and set a motorcycle land speed record of 350.8 mph in 2006, only to best it three years later at 367.3 mph.
After being wounded in air combat during WWII, tail gunner Robert Byron spent two years in the hospital recovering before returning to racing. He drove midgets and sprints prior to the war, but came back to stock cars and had to bolt his leg brace to the clutch pedal. But that didn’t prevent him from winning NASCAR’s first-ever championship in 1949 and the inaugural race on the beach. He retired in 1951, and became a chief mechanic for Briggs Cunningham before dying of a heart attack in 1960.
A car dealer who dabbled in driving, Hendrick has forged his reputation as the most successful team owner in NASCAR history with 12 Cup championships and a staggering 254 victories. His breakthrough came when he hired USAC star Jeff Gordon in the early ’90s and followed that up by putting desert racer Jimmie Johnson in one of his stock cars.
One of America’s top motorcycle racers in the 1910s and 1920s, Clymer then became an AMA promoter. But his legacy was built on his publishing business, where his annual Indianapolis 500 Yearbooks and Motorcycle Topics and Cycle magazines cornered the market. Today they are considered valuable reference books and his Indy history remains one of the most popular purchases at memorabilia shows.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Montgomery became known as the “King of the Gassers” in capturing eight NHRA titles from 1959-1968 – most of them in his Chevy-powered Willys – and also won four U.S. Nationals. His George’s Speed Shop in Dayton may be the oldest such enterprise in continuous operation in the United States.
Ickx, son of a Belgian motorsports journalist, was a prominent F1 and sports car driver from the late ‘60s into the mid-1980s – including a then-record six victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But his North American sports car record is what put him in the MSHOF. He won the 1979 SCCA Can-Am championship and multiple World Sports car Championship (WSC) wins, including the 12 Hours of Sebring twice, Daytona 24 Hours, Mosport 1000k and Watkins Glen 6 Hour on three occasions.