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Local Sports News

Tuesday, 31 August, 2010 4:49 PM

Dale Armstrong, Jeremy McGrath and Ken Squier among the inductees at the Motorsports Hall of Fame

Joie Chitwood, Alan Kulwicki, Jerry Titus and Richard Vogler were also inducted this year

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Dale Armstrong was inducted into the 2010 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and also received a trophy on Aug. 25, 2010.
by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America held its 22nd annual induction ceremony at the Fillmore Theater in downtown Detroit on Aug. 25. This year's inductees include Dale Armstrong, Joie Chitwood, Alan Kulwicki, Jeremy McGrath, Ken Squier, Jerry Titus and Richard Vogler. Honorary chairman Chip Ganassi presided over the ceremony and gave a keynote speech. The black-tie event was hosted by Jim Mueller, who is a track announcer for ISC race tracks, including Michigan International Speedway.

This year's presenters were Ned Jarrett, Marty Reid, Kyle Petty, Neal Pilson, Jim Farley and Gary Lee. The $250-per-ticket gala served as a fundraiser for the non-profit Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

"The automobile was the center of my universe when I was 16," Ganassi said. "We were in love with cars at that age. You dreamt of your first car. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, kids have fallen out of love with the automobile. Kids today tell me they're not interested in cars. They're interested in cell phones. This is what they aspire to, cell phones and iPods. Look folks, we need to make cars cool and sexy again and put them back on the radar screen of our youth."

Dale Armstrong won the drag racing category for winning 12 NHRA National events in the 1970s. He won the 1974 U.S. Nationals in the Pro Comp class and a season championship in 1975. Later, he set a national elapsed-time record of 5.891 seconds in his last Funny Car appearance.

"I grew up in western Canada and I was always obsessed with cars," Armstrong said. "So much of what Chip said earlier is so true. I grew up obsessed with cars and I don't see it today of the young people. I don't know how we're going to change that. I hope smart people do it though. Because that's what creates all of these motor sports. I was always obsessed."

Joie Chitwood was awarded posthumously in the historic category. He was the AAA East Coast Sprint Car Champion in 1939 and 1940. Chitwood was also the CSRA Sprint Car Champion in 1942. His popular and long-running Joie Chitwood Thrill Show led to stunt work in TV and motion pictures. He died in 1988.

Alan Kulwicki was awarded posthumously in the stock cars category. He started racing in short tracks around the MIdwest and then later became the first owner/driver to win the NASCAR Cup championship in 1992 since Richard Petty in 1979. Kulwicki was the first to do the "Polish Victory Lap" when he celebrated by circling the track clockwise after he won at Phoenix in 1988.

Jeremy McGrath was awarded in the motorcycle category. From 1993 until 2002, he broke every record in AMA Supercross racing before winning eight national championships. His maneuvers launched the sport of freestyle motorcross. McGrath is a native Californian who is considered to be the most popular motorcycle racer of the 1990s. McGrath was unable to attend the ceremony because he was racing in Chicago.

Ken Squier was awarded in the at-large category. He began his career as a track announcer in the 1950s. He acquired the Thunder Road track in Barre, Vt. after forming the Radio Vermont Group. Then, he became the lead voice of the Motor Racing Network. Later, he became an ABC motor sports announcer and then a commentator for CBS in 1979. Squier is currently a commentator on SPEED and FOX.

Jerry Titus was awarded posthumously in the sports cars category. He was one of the dominant drivers of Trans Am racing in the 1960s. He won five races in 1967 then claimed the championship title and the manufacturer's trophy for Ford. Titus later became a writer and editor of Sports Car Graphic Magazine. He was killed in a racing crash at Road America in 1970.

"There's a lot of scary moments of driving a race car," said Rick Titus, son of inductee Jerry Titus. "Having been around this sport and this business my whole life, it's much scarier seeing this many race car drivers this well dressed. My dad was not a glamour boy. Today, you've got to be pretty, well dressed, well spoken. He was not one who suffered fools well."

Richard Vogler was awarded posthumously in the open wheel category. He was the first driver to win the USAC sprint and midget titles in 1980. His record of 134 national event wins in various divisions of United States Auto Club competitions is second behind only A.J. Foyt. Vogler's last win came when he lost his life in an accident on the final lap of the sprint car race at Salem Speedway at the age of 39.

"I know Richard would have been terribly honored to add this to his résumé," said Eleanor Vogler, mother of inductee Richard Vogler. "He would be so terribly proud, as is the rest of the family. We all rooted for him always. His dad, always knew he would be the best. But I think Richard would want me to help the people that helped him on his way. If he didn't have them, he didn't have his crew."

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America recently moved its collection from the Novi Expo Center to the Detroit Science Center. A temporary exhibit is now being shown as the rest of the collection is arriving and being put out for display.

For more information on the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, visit www.mshf.com.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

IndyCar/NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi served as the presiding officer.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

ESPN Announcer Marty Reid was one of this year's presenters.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Rick Titus accepted the Motorsports Hall of Fame award on behalf of his father Jerry Titus.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

ESPN Announcer Gary Lee served as another presenter.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Eleanor Vogler accepted the Motorsports Hall of Fame award in honor of her son Richard Vogler.

 

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