SCCA Presents: Hall of Fame, Member of Excellence, and Woolf Barnato Awards

The Sports Car Club of America® has officially inducted five new members into the SCCA Hall of Fame, with the SCCA Hall of Fame Presentation and Awards ceremony taking place as part of the virtual 2024 SCCA National Convention. The five inductees – Anatoly Arutunoff, Bruce Foss, Victoria “Vicki” O’Connor, Terry Ozment, and Fred Wacker Jr. – had been previously announced, but on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, at 7 p.m. CT, the membership was able to hear directly from the inductees, or in the case of the late Fred Wacker Jr, from his son.

But the SCCA Hall of Fame induction ceremony wasn’t the only celebration that took place during the evening’s banquet. Following the SCCA Hall of Fame celebration, Club members discovered who won the Member of Excellence Award, as well as who was the recipient of the Woolf Barnato Award.

SCCA Hall of Fame Ceremony

“Hello everybody. I’m set up like this because I want to say that no matter how goofy I might act, nothing can diminish in any way the wonderful honor bestowed upon me by inducting me into the Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame,” Anatoly Arutunoff said during his pre-recorded acceptance speech. “It’s obviously been several days since I’ve been told, but I thought I better have a cheat sheet to thank you and tell you various things in this little talk about how joyful it’s made me feel.”

Comfortably sat in his home surrounded by racing art, Hallett Motor Racing Circuit clothing, a pad with his notes, and a strong drink, Arutunoff told a heartfelt story about how he came to join the SCCA. His decades of motorsports exploits rival those of any Club member.

Next to be inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame was Bruce Foss. The face of Hoosier Racing Tire to many, Foss’s passion and determination led to a tire program that just about everyone in the SCCA has benefited from. His drive for Hoosier to develop competition rubber pushed the tire industry as a whole, and along the way, many friendships in the paddock were formed.

“First of all, I’m extremely honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” Foss said during the ceremony. “There’s been many others that have been inducted that I’m in pretty famous company, and it’s very humbling. It’s been a long and fruitful career for me at Hoosier Tire, and along with our relationship with the SCCA. My journey at Hoosier started in November of ’84. I went there to start a sports car tire program, as they were only doing circle track tires at the time. The vice president of Hoosier then, Dennis Sherman, and I put the program together.”

It wasn’t long into the job that autocross entered Foss’s radar.

“The second day I was at Hoosier, I got a call from a fellow named Bruce Wentzel, and he proceeded to inform me that he had just won the 1984 Solo II BSP National Championship on Hoosier tires. I asked him, I said that’s great – how many cars were in your class? He said 53. I said, were you the only one on Hoosier tires? He said no, we were all on Hoosier tires. I said, hmm, there must be a market here.”

Victoria “Vicki” O’Connor was inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame largely due to her leadership of the SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned Formula Atlantic Pro Series – a series that helped launch the career of many now-legendary drivers. But O’Connor’s career had humble beginnings, from working as a Regional registrar and supporting a local series to working for Carl Haas, and ultimately taking control of the Formula Atlantic Pro Series.

“I was both surprised and a bit overwhelmed to be inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame,” O’Connor said while making her acceptance speech. “When I joined SCCA many years ago, I began as a registrar for Chicago Region, and I really enjoyed meeting the drivers and crew members as they signed waivers for each race. At that time, we didn’t have annual credentials. From there, I was more or less talked into starting the Pro 2000 series by several drivers who owned Sports 2000 cars. All four races in the series were run at Road America and we had grids of 50-plus cars. I remember thinking this was fairly easy, but then the series traveled to more tracks and we had competition from other series, and I needed staff, money, etcetera, etcetera. And, of course, the Atlantic championship series came along and needed to be completely rebuilt – [it was] not an easy task, but Atlantic has always been my favorite series.”

Terry Ozment has done it all, volunteering for numerous Regions in many roles, with her organizational skills eventually being called upon on the National level, where she joined the SCCA staff to ultimately lead the Club’s Road Racing department. She was a champion for volunteers and drivers alike, always asking, “What is the right thing to do?”

“SCCA has been a very important part of my life for over 40 years, which is kind of shocking when I realize how long that has been, since I tend to think I’m 20 most days,” Ozment said during her acceptance speech. “It’s giving me the opportunity to look back over that time and really think about the various things that have happened.”

Ozment then told about her start in the Club over the Memorial Day weekend in 1980 at Brainerd International Raceway. “I was working for AT&T in sales and marketing at the time, and one of my coworkers is someone many of you may remember, Gwen Gordon,” she said. “Well, Gwen spent a lot of our break time actually telling me how much fun she was having doing races at Road America, Brainerd, [and] other places, and she talked me into going to Brainerd that weekend to see what it was all about. I did, I ended up camping in a tent at the track – being Minnesota in May, it was cold and rainy all weekend. And when I left the event on Monday, I knew I was hooked.”

The final inductee was Fred Wacker Jr. Accepting for his late father was Fred Wacker III.

“On behalf of the Wacker family, we would like to thank you ever so much for this wonderful honor for our dad to join the SCCA Hall of Fame,” said Wacker III. “He loved motorsports and participated in SCCA events in the late 1940s and 1950s, as well as racing in Le Mans and in Europe in Formula 1 and Formula 2.”

In 1952, Wacker was involved in an incident during a race on the Watkins Glen street circuit that ultimately led to a fatality. Because of this, Wacker pursued the creation of safer racing venues in the United States. Working alongside Jim Kimberly and General Curtis LeMay – both of whom are also in the SCCA Hall of Fame – Wacker helped move motorsports racing to airport circuits and later dedicated road racing circuits, defining the face of motorsports to this day.

Read more about the 2024 SCCA Hall of Fame inductees by clicking here.

Member of Excellence

Selected by the SCCA Board of Directors, Member of Excellence recipients have contributed greatly to the Club overall, regardless of competition area. Earning this distinction for the 2023 season, and presented with the honor during the Jan. 19, 2024, awards banquet, was Finger Lakes Region member Earl Hurlbut.

“I’m very pleased to be selected for the 2023 Member of Excellence Award,” Hurlbut said while accepting the award. “This award is unique among the many that SCCA confers in that it recognizes long-term participation and performance, as opposed to an annual or short-term recognition. It humbles me to see the list of members who have received this award before me.”

Previous Member of Excellence recipients include Lee Hill, George W. Laws Jr., Bob Crawford, Rich Bireta, and more.

Hurlbut’s involvement with the SCCA now spans seven decades with work across numerous specialties, including one term on the SCCA Board of Directors representing Area 10.

“My odyssey began in 1968 or 1969 with membership in the Central New York Region,” he recalled. “After a stint as Regional Executive there, I progressed to Club Racing with an A Sedan. After seven years of that, I played in the IMSA sandbox for a couple years and then I returned to the SCCA, supporting efforts in racing – some flagging, some registration, some other specialties, just to keep my contact with the SCCA. But then the racing bug bit me again and I went back with GT-1 in the ’80s.”

Hurlbut took a break in the 1990s, returning about a decade later when he retired as a school administrator in 2002. Soon thereafter, he said, the addiction returned.

“I attended a race at Watkins Glen one weekend just to see what had changed,” Hurlbut said. “And I found to my enjoyment nothing had changed – same people were standing at the same places saying the same thing. So I said I would like to get back into things, and someone suggested I should be a steward.”

With plans to work a couple of events a year, Hurlbut found himself stewarding some 10 events annually. “The number of those races increased to 13 or 14 a year, and so did the responsibilities,” he said.

His volunteering expanded, ultimately becoming Chief Steward for the U.S. Majors Tour in Southeast and Northeast Divisions. “That ended after a year, and then I got elected to the SCCA Board of Directors,” he said. “I had a purpose for doing that – this Club didn’t have a president for a few years before that, and I wanted to be part of an organization that got the right person to do the job. And we did.”

Hurlbut is still very active as a volunteer, with him taking time during his acceptance speech to thank the friends he’s made through his Club involvement.

Woolf Barnato Award

The Woolf Barnato Award is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a member of the SCCA, with the recipient being chosen by the three prior winners and approved by the SCCA Board of Directors. Past recipients include the likes of Carl Haas, Mark Donohue, and Bob Sharp. Last year’s recipient of the Woolf Barnato Award was SCCA Hall of Fame member Rocky Entriken, who introduced the 2023 winner, Cal Club Region member Paul Pfanner, as the final award presentation of the evening’s ceremony.

Pfanner, who was inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2022, is best known within the Club for his leadership of Racer Media & Marketing Inc., the company that published SportsCar magazine for the SCCA for the last 40 years. Under Pfanner’s leadership, his company has also brought motorsports journalism to the masses through RACER magazine and Motorsports fans will also recognize other work led by Pfanner, like the design of the Skip Barber Racing School logo, and more.

“I’m deeply honored to be recognized by my fellow SCCA members for this prestigious award, but it is much more about the team than it is about me,” Pfanner said as he accepted the award. “As a racer, Woolf Barnato won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times, and no one knew better what teamwork meant. As part of the legendary ‘Bentley Boys,’ he was representing a car company he helped to finance. Wikipedia tells us that Barnato’s attitude to a new sport that took his interest was to immerse himself in the learning process, practicing endlessly and taking lessons only from the very best instructors he could find. I found those life instructors in the SCCA – they quite literally raised me to adulthood.”

Pfanner thanked the previous editors and managing editors of SportsCar magazine, and then turned his acceptance speech over to them. Steve Nickless, Lorna (Fitts) Lyons, John Zimmermann, Mac Demere, Richard James, Philip Royle, and Molly Binks all appeared on video, telling of their time working to produce SportsCar magazine under Pfanner’s leadership.

“All of this would not have happened without the grace and support of SCCA members who encouraged all of us along the way,” Pfanner said at the conclusion of his acceptance speech. “We’re forever grateful to this Club, and we look forward to what comes next. We know you’ve got this, because teamwork will carry you forward to the next era of communications and member engagement in our great Club. Thank you everyone.”

Watch it Again!

You can relive the entire 2024 SCCA Hall of Fame Presentation and Awards ceremony below, or by clicking here