Five Indy 500 Drivers, Owners To Be Inducted Into Hall Of Fame; Donohue, Fittipaldi, Hopkins, Sneva, Zink to join elite list INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, March 22, 2004 -- Five legendary names from the Indianapolis 500 will assume their place among ...
Five Indy 500 Drivers, Owners To Be Inducted Into Hall Of Fame;
Donohue, Fittipaldi, Hopkins, Sneva, Zink to join elite list
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, March 22, 2004 -- Five legendary names from the Indianapolis 500 will assume their place among racing legends May 21 at the 2004 Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The event is taking place at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown in conjunction with the annual "500" Oldtimers' Club Banquet.
Indianapolis 500-winning drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Tom Sneva, and team owner John Zink are expected to attend the ceremony, while driver Mark Donohue and team owner Lindsey Hopkins will be inducted posthumously.
The Auto Racing Hall of Fame honors drivers, team owners, mechanics and event officials who have made significant contributions to the success and colorful history of the sport of open-wheel racing.
Donohue, from Summit, N.J., won the 1972 Indianapolis 500 driving for legendary team owner Roger Penske, a 2002 Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee. Donohue's brief tenure at the Speedway was one of the most impressive in history, as he also earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1969 and followed with a second-place finish in 1970. He was leading and had just set a record race lap when mechanical problems sidelined him in 1971, and similar problems ended an impressive run in 1973, his final Indianapolis 500.
After winning the first race he entered, a hill climb in Belknap, N.H., Donohue's legend grew quickly thanks to multiple SCCA U.S. Road Racing and Trans-Am championships throughout the 1960s. He also scored a NASCAR stock car win in 1973 at Riverside, Calif., in only his sixth NASCAR start, driving for Penske. Donohue also captured the inaugural International Race of Champions (IROC) series championship in 1974, winning three of four events.
Donohue's record-setting career tragically ended when he suffered fatal injuries during a practice crash at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix.
Fittipaldi, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, first came to the Speedway in 1984 after a stellar 11-year Formula One career that included World Championships in 1972 and 1974. Fittipaldi started 144 Grand Prix events, scoring 14 wins and 21 additional podium finishes.
His success continued at Indianapolis, where he won "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" in 1989 and 1993. He also earned a total of five top-10 finishes in 11 starts at Indy, plus the prestigious pole in 1990.
Fittipaldi's 1989 victory was one of the most memorable in history. He and Al Unser Jr. dueled for the lead in the closing laps, and on Lap 199, with Unser in the lead, Fittipaldi pulled alongside Unser in Turn 3, the two cars touched, and Unser did a 180-degree spin and hit the wall. Fittipaldi's Patrick Racing car wiggled but he somehow stayed in control and won under caution.
Hopkins, from Miami, was a stalwart in championship open-wheel racing from 1951-82, entering as many as four cars for the Indianapolis 500 in some years, even when sponsorship could not be obtained.
Although Hopkins never won the "500," he finished second with driver Jim Rathmann in 1957 and 1959. Roger McCluskey, a longtime Hopkins driver, won the 1972 Ontario 500 and 1973 USAC championship.
Other Hopkins drivers at Indianapolis over the years included stars such as Bill Vukovich, Lloyd Ruby, Wally Dallenbach, Pat O'Connor and many others.
Sneva, affectionately known as "The Gas Man" for frequently sitting atop the speed charts, was the first driver to officially break the 200-mph and 210-mph barriers at Indianapolis, in 1977 and 1984, respectively.
Sneva scored a popular victory at the 1983 Indianapolis 500, after having been a three-time runner-up, in 1977-78 and 1980. His ability to push a car to its limits also warranted three Indy pole positions, in 1977-78 and 1984, and he nearly won a record third consecutive pole in 1979. Sneva also was fastest qualifier in 1981 but started 25th because he qualified on the second Saturday.
Among his more than 200 starts in USAC and CART competition between 1971-92, Sneva won 13 races and added 37 additional top-three finishes. Sneva, a native of Spokane, Wash., won the USAC championship in 1977-78.
Zink, a successful businessman from Tulsa, Okla., was a premier car entrant in open-wheel racing from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, and won the Indianapolis 500 in back-to-back years with two drivers: Bob Sweikert in 1955 and Pat Flaherty in 1956.
Zink and Sweikert also won the AAA National Championship in their successful 1955 season. In 1958, Zink partnered with Bob Wilke, owner of the Leader Cards team, to win the Monza 500 in Italy with Jim Rathmann behind the wheel.
Like Hopkins, Zink's additional list of drivers is a "who's who" of stars from the era: Troy Ruttman, Tony Bettenhausen, Jimmy Reece and Jack Brabham.
The Auto Racing Hall of Fame Inductions/Oldtimers Club Banquet will begin with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. (EST). Dinner will be served at 7:30 with the program following immediately. Tickets for the event are sold out.
Tickets: Tickets are available for the 2004 Indianapolis 500 on May 30. For information, log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or call the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.