With three in the class of 2012 hailing from the Southern California area, it was appropriate for the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America to announce this year's inductees during the 38th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The class of 2012 is Derek Bel, Neil Bonnett, Pop Dreyer, Vic Edelbrock Sr, Ricky Johnson, Ed Pink and Danny Sullivan.
The group includes Derek Bell who, while not an "American" raced in the States successfully for many, many years.
Known for his five victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1975, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1987), Bell also achieved two consecutive world sports car championship titles in 1985-86 and truly made his name in the U.S. with his Rolex 24 at Daytona wins in 1986, 1987 and 1989.
The late Neil Bonnett, a member of the Alabama Gang of NASCAR drivers earned 18 Sprint Cup wins during his 18-year career, including back-to-back success in NASCAR's longest race, the Coca-Cola 600 (1982-83).
Motorcycle rider Floyd "Pop" Dreyer had a career that spanned an amazing 70 years, from the late teens to the 1980s. He was a side-car racing pioneer and also competed on dirt as well as the famed board speedways in the earlier part of the last century. In his later career Pop Dreyer competed in Midget and Sprint cars.
Southern Californian Vic Edelbrock Sr is one of the founders of the American hot rod movement, starting with a small auto repair shop in Beverly Hills in 1933. He grew the Edelbrock Corporation into one of the world's premier parts suppliers for racers and hobbyists. Following World War II Edelbrock began selling parts via catalog and the success of his Midget racing team helped grow the company.
One of the American Motorcyclist Association's (AMA) most successful motocross and Supercross racers and champions, Ricky Johnson earned seven AMA national championships in the 1980s and was part of four winning U.S. Motocross des Nations teams. In his career the Southern Californian tallied 61 AMA national victories and retired as the all-time AMA Supercross wins leader in 1991; he later moved to off-road truck competition where he remains active today.
With 45 years of engine building expertise, Californian Ed Pink opened his eponymous shop in 1961 in the San Fernando Valley and was a part of the post-World War II hot rod era.
He first raced on dry lakes and then moved to dragstrips, making his mark through the mid-1970s with blown fuel drag engines. Ed Pink also has produced superlative Indy car engines, road racing engines, USAC Silver Crown and National Midget championship-winning engines.
Best known for his "spin and win" 1985 Indianapolis 500 victory and 1988 championship, IndyCar/CART driver Danny Sullivan set Formula One as his initial racing goal. Once engaged in Indy car competition he never looked back. Sullivan scored a single Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach victory 20 years ago in 1992; his 17th and final Indy car win came in 1993 on Detroit's Belle Isle road course.
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inducts the 2012 class at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, August 29th. The public is welcome to attend by contacting www.mshf.com or calling 248-349-RACE (7223).