Four greats of the motor racing world were inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame during a star-studded awards ceremony at the Club’s Woodcote Park clubhouse on Wednesday 7 June.
Surrounded by some of motorsport’s most legendary machines and names, including Barry Sheene’s 1976 500 cc title-winning Suzuki ridden by Freddie Spencer, Bruce McLaren’s very own M6B Can-Am car piloted by Dario Franchitti and a Ford GT40 driven by Brian Redman – all of which wowed the crowds as they roared up the Captain’s Drive – more than 20,000 enthusiasts voted for their favourites, with the winners being announced during the prestigious event. Club member John Watson had the pleasure of making the most noise, climbing behind the wheel of a Penske Camaro replica to mark the esteemed team owner’s award.
Roger Penske won the US Racing category, Barry Sheene topped the Motorcycle poll, while Brian Redman joined them in recognition for his huge success in Sports Car Racing. Mansell, meanwhile, topped the Formula 1 category, the shortlist for which also included Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, plus Gilles Villeneuve. The 1992 World Champion received his award from Sir Patrick Head and spoke about the many highlights from his illustrious career.
‘Driving Nelson Piquet’s spare car at Brands Hatch during the 1986 British GP stands out,’ explained Mansell. ‘I had one chance to get past him and took it – it was the perfect race. Then there was 1987 at Silverstone, and boxing-in Ayrton Senna at Hungary in 1989. So many great memories.’
Among the racing stars in attendance were Dario and Marino Franchitti, Richard Attwood, Howden Ganley, John Watson, Mark Blundell, Perry McCarthy, David Brabham and Darren Turner.
Tony Brooks was also there, helping renowned artist Tim Layzell unveil a new work depicting the victory of team-mate Stirling Moss in the 1957 Pescara Grand Prix. The British ace was interviewed by Motor Sport’s Simon Arron and shared his memories of Moss, Pescara, and his time driving for Vanwall.
Roger Penske, who saw off competition from Mark Donohue and AJ Foyt, was presented his award by John Watson and Dario Franchitti, who described him as a ‘human dynamo’. Franchitti added: ‘He pushes the limits every week, and nobody has a bad word to say about him.’
Penske added: ‘This is truly an honour, especially to be recognised in such a talented class. Any successful business and race team is only as strong as its people so, although it’s my name on the award, it’s for all those who make Penske what it is today.’
Last year’s inductee Derek Bell helped to decide the shortlist for the Sports Car Racing category, with the ever-popular Brian Redman topping the vote. Redman won the Targa Florio, Spa 1000km and Sebring 12 Hours in a long and varied career, and beat the likes of Mario Andretti in Formula 5000.
‘This means a great deal,’ said Redman. ‘It’s a great honour and I’m delighted. I drove an awful lot of sports cars, and had a tremendous relationship with Chevron and Lola. The GT40 was one of my favourites, too, then I had two great years with Porsche. I have super memories of sharing with Jacky Ickx – I think he was the best of all those I raced against.’
Contenders in the Motorcycle Racing category included Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood and road-racing legend Joey Dunlop, but two-time Grands Prix World Champion Barry Sheene was selected as this year’s inductee. The larger-than-life Londoner won the 1976 and ’77 500 cc titles – becoming a household name in the process.
The award was presented by ‘Fast Freddie’ Spencer, who delightfully rode Sheene’s Suzuki up the Captain’s Drive earlier that evening, and received by Barry’s sister Margaret Smart and his former mechanic Martyn Ogborne.
‘In 1980, I was 18 and had never raced outside the US,’ recalled Spencer. ‘I came over for a match race and won, beating Barry – but he was the first person to come up afterwards and say, “Good job”. Then, in 1982, I was signing autographs with him and we’d been there for about an hour. I began to stir and he said, “Where are you going? We stay here until the last person has their signature” – That was the Barry I knew.’
There were two new prizes for 2017 chosen by Motor Sport’s editorial team. Mansell presented Murray Walker with the Inspiration Award, the two men delighting in sharing memories. ‘To be a commentator,’ explained Walker, ‘you have to be enthusiastic about what you’re talking about, and I was definitely that.
‘Then you have to know what you’re talking about,’ he added with a smile. ‘Some people suggested that I didn’t!’
Meanwhile, David Brabham and Subaru’s Paul Tunnicliffe were on hand to present the Industry Champion award to Prodrive boss David Richards.
‘In the early days,’ said Richards, ‘it was just a case of survival – as it is with most businesses, but especially in motorsport. It’s been remarkable and, rather than any single championship victory or rally win, I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve built an extraordinary team that’s enthusiastic and is always anticipating the next project. You have to create the right environment for people and develop their creativity. It’s no good being blinkered.’
Baker-turned-racer Paul Hollywood had an emotional ride on a 1960 MV Agusta that had been raced by the late, great John Surtees. The Henry Surtees Foundation was the Awards’ charity partner, and a 1972 Surtees TS10/2 was on display at Woodcote Park.
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