LAS VEGAS (February 13, 2011) – Capping three days of business and fun at the 2011 Sports Car Club of America Annual Meeting and Convention, six legendary SCCA® members were inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
The SCCA National Hall of Fame was created in 2004 to preserve, protect and record the history and accomplishments of the Club by acknowledging those members who have made a significant impact on the development of SCCA, be it through service to the national organization, achievements in national competition or brining national recognition to SCCA. The 2011 class covers all of the criteria with inductees Karen Babb, John Bishop, Jim Fitzgerald, Tracer Racing (comprised of Chuck Billington and Tom Foster) and Harro Zitza.
Babb was selected to the Hall of Fame by excelling in every facet of SCCA Solo activities, including course designer, administrator and event organizer, at the Region, Division and National levels of competition. Her 20 Solo National class wins is more than any other driver in the sport, a remarkable run that has come in 31 consecutive Solo National events.
“This is such a humbling honor,” Babb said. “It’s a cliché, but I need to thank my parents who never told me there was something I couldn’t do because I’m a girl. I also have to thank my husband, Ron. No one could possibly be a better teammate, or teacher, or mentor. Thank you, SCCA.”
Bishop, one of the legendary leaders in American road racing, joined the SCCA Hall of Fame on Saturday night. Hired by SCCA in 1956 to run its Contest Board, he conceived and implemented classification of race cars by their potential, not just by their displacement. His other duties consisted of defining technical rules and the general administration of SCCA competition. Bishop became Executive Director of SCCA in 1962 and focused on building professional racing interests. Bishop created the U.S. Road Racing Championship series, followed by Can-Am, Trans-Am® and Formula 500. He revamped the SCCA Club Racing program to determine a National Champion in every class, an effort that led to the creation of the SCCA National Championship Runoffs.
“If anyone had told me all those years ago that I’d be standing here getting an award just for doing my job, I would have said they were crazy,” Bishop said. “The best thing for the club was the change in the by-laws in 1958 that created the areas and the Governors [now called Directors]. It was the system that leveled out controversy and solved some situations that seemed impossible at the time. So I urge you all not to change the system, it does work. I’m happy to be here with all of you, and thank you.”
Accepting on behalf of the late Jim Fitzgerald was M.J. Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald’s daughter. “Fitzy” was the most successful driver in the history of SCCA National Club Racing, earning hundreds of National race wins and two National Championships at the SCCA Runoffs during his 30-year career. The Jim Fitzgerald Rookie of the Year Award is among the top honors given to an SCCA Club Racer each year. Fitzgerald died in 1987 following a Trans-Am Series accident at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tracer Racing was formed in 1979 by San Francisco Region drivers Billington and Foster. Each driver had been successful independent drivers, but thrived after joining forces. The pair earned 13 National Championships in C Sports Racing, six for Billington and seven for Foster, before retiring the race team. Tim Billington and Trevor Foster, sons of the duo, accepted the honor on behalf of their respective late fathers.
Zitza’s SCCA career began as a driver, but his real mark on the SCCA came as a well-regarded Steward and for his roles on the SCCA Board of Governors and the Club’s Competition Board. Zitza has previously earned the John McGill Award for outstanding contribution to Club Racing, and the Woolf Barnato Award for outstanding long-term contribution to the SCCA.
“It’s been said before tonight, but ‘wow!,’” Zitza said. “Because of my personal situation, I haven’t been an SCCA regular in the last five or six years. But then I looked around tonight and all of my friends are still here. But I see a lot of young people here tonight, and I’m encouraged. These are the people that are going to carry this Club. But it’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m glad you’re all here – I’m glad I’m still here! Thank you so much.”
A number of prestigious SCCA Awards were given out at the banquet, topped by the Woolf Barnato, SCCA’s highest annual award presented to the member who has made the most outstanding long-term contribution.
Fred Cummings, longtime SCCA Steward, added his name to a long and distinguished list of previous winners that includes Curtis LeMay, James Kimberly, Mark Donohue and Carl Haas.
Other awards presented included the Robert V. Ridges Memorial Award for RoadRally to Cheryl Babbe and Bill Demming, of the Arctic Alaska Region; the inaugural Dirty Cup for RallyCross to Scott Beliveau, of the New England Region; the John McGill Award for longtime contribution to Club Racing was presented posthumously to Brian Holtz, of the Philadelphia Region; Andy McDermid earned the President’s Cup for his outstanding drive at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs® in the American Sedan® class; Marina Craft earned the third annual Member of Excellence award, complete with $5,000 prize to be used to attend any motorsports event, anywhere in the world.
SCCA President and CEO Jeff Dahnert ended the evening and the banquet with reflection and a look to the future.
“Evenings like this truly underscore the character that runs through this organization,” Dahnert said. “I want to congratulate the award winners tonight, and our new Hall of Fame class. To everyone that was here this week, I want to thank you for your participation and encourage you to take what you’ve learned back to your Regions. Let’s all work together to make SCCA an even better place.”
Dahnert also announced that the SCCA Banquet would be returning to the South Point Hotel and Casino in 2012.
More information on the 2011 SCCA Convention can be found at SCCA.com, @SCCAOfficial on Twitter, or by becoming a fan of SCCA Inc. on Facebook.
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