Welcome to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame
To nominate a person for the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, please send a biography of the person and “why you think they should be selected for the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame” to the selectors.
2018 Inductees to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame
The 2016 Founder’s Award:
Growing up in Winston-Salem N.C., Herb Fishel watched short track racing at Bowman Gray Stadium, read about Zora Arkus-Duntov in Hot Rod magazine and worked on cars with his Uncle William. He consumed every scrap of information he could find in the local paper about the Indy 500, Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Mille Miglia.
He came up with an idea: Racing could be, and should be, an accelerated test laboratory for an automotive manufacturer. However, to do it, he had to be the first in his family to get a college education. Technically and scientifically, he was initially ill-prepared to face the engineering challenges he encountered upon enrolling at North Carolina State. But he was determined to go racing, and that grit propelled him to earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering from NC State in 1963.
His first airplane trip was to Detroit to interview with General Motors. After the interview was done, he was asked if there was anything else he would like to do while in Detroit. He didn’t hesitate – “I want to meet Zora Duntov,” he said. Before the day was over, Fishel met his boyhood idol, and agreed to begin working as an engine draftsman.
He held on to his childhood belief that racing was essential to an auto maker, especially the major events: the Rolex 24, the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by the strong work ethic he learned from his father, Fishel made his dream a reality. In 2001, General Motors won the Rolex 24, the Daytona 500, the Indy 500, and a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Fishel guided GM to many driver and manufacturers titles in NASCAR, Indy Car, Drag, Sports Car and Off-Road racing.
He retired as the Executive Director of General Motors Racing in 2003. Afterwards, he completed the Mille Miglia route through the Italy, driving a 1953 Ferrari 250 MM co-piloted by his wife Sandy.
Fishel feels his greatest achievement to be one that carries no trophy or award. In the early 1990s, he pioneered the Motorsports Safety Initiative for General Motors. He assembled a research and development team that led to innovations that saved thousands of lives. His team studied accidents on the race track with test dummies, pioneered black box recorders in Indy Cars, roof flaps and restraints in NASCAR, and structural and impact absorption improvements used in almost every form of racing.
During the energy crisis in 2006, he foresaw the future of motorsports as being defined by global concerns for energy supplies and climate change. His vision that the Great Race of the 21st Century would be for economic, socially responsible and sustainable transportation is now a reality.
Fishel has received many awards for his contributions to motorsports. He was named by Hot Rod magazine as one of the “100 Most Important People In The First 50 years of Hot Rod (1997),” and RACER magazine as one of the “Most Influential People In Racing From 1996-1999.” He was presented with the “Spirit of LeMans” award by the race organizers (2003), and drove the pace car at the 2003 Indy 500. In 2005, Herb received the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award from NCSU, plus was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame.
Automotive News magazine honored the 100 Years of Chevrolet in 2011, naming Fishel as one of the “100 Most Influential People” stating: “Fishel put Chevrolet in the winner’s circle.”
Other Founder’s Award Winners:
Robert J. “Bob” McClurg
Wally & Barbara Parks
Rob’t C. Post
The Patricia Garlits Memorial Award presented by Mopar and Don Garlits:
Terry Chandler grew up in an oil field family in southeastern New Mexico, since her late father, John R. Gray owned Marbob Energy. As a young adult, her one of her interests included watching her younger brother, Johnny Gray race cars. As she grew older, Terry developed a special interest for children in need, and for our military veterans. Fortunately, Terry found a way to combine her love of racing and helping people, while having a lot of fun doing it.
Terry’s interest in drag racing started early as a result of her younger brother, Johnny, being involved with racing. Johnny was involved in many forms of racing, including NHRA Pro Stock, and eventually Funny Car racing. In their early years, Terry would go along with Johnny, and you could find her selling t-shirts at the local track and helping prepare Johnny’s car for a run. These were the days of budget racing.
As Johnny moved up in the Pro Funny Car rank standings, Terry continued to be her brother’s biggest fan, attending most of his races. As they grew older and their financial status changed from the early days of racing on a budget, and Terry and Johnny decided to honor their late father by co-sponsoring the Pitch Energy Funny Car, driven by Johnny with the image of their father on the car for Johnny’s last year of racing. With his retirement looming, and recognizing his sister’s love of NHRA racing, Johnny suggested she consider sponsoring a Funny Car team herself.
While Terry could have chosen to do many different things with her resources, Terry accepted her brother’s suggestion. She decided that if she were to sponsor a car, it would be, as she called it, a “Giving Car.” Teaming with Don Schumacher Racing, Terry began by backing the Make-A-Wish Funny Car driven by Tommy Johnson, Jr., who assumed Johnny’s seat. A year later, the opportunity arose to sponsor a second car driven by World Champion Jack Beckman – the Infinite Hero Funny Car. Both organizations are non-profits, and rely upon contributions for support. Terry provided both of these charities with a tremendous amount of exposure from the 330 mph billboards. With Tommy Johnson in the driver’s seat, the Make-A-Wish car has notched 8 wins and Jack Beckman’s Infinite Hero Foundation team has appeared in the Winner’s Circle 11 times.
Perhaps Terry’s greatest joy was standing at the starting line cheering “her teams” (including the Pro Stock cars of nephew, Shane Gray, and his son, Tanner). Her passing in 2017 has left a very large vacancy at the starting line; and emptiness in the hearts of both racers and spectators.
Selectors of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame
NHRA Motorsports Museum
1101 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
Masters Entertainment Group
907 Highway 126
Bristol, TN 37620
Retired VP, NHRA
16222 Monterey Lane #55
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
10519 Wheatland Ave.
Shadow Hills, CA 91040