USAC Adds Eight To Hall Of Fame
A.J. Watson’s expertise as a car builder and mechanic earned his cars seven victories at the Indianapolis 500. Drivers Bob Sweikert, Pat Flaherty, Rodger Ward, Jim Rathmann, Parnelli Jones and A.J. Foyt all piloted Watson creations to victory lane. A member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, Watson scored 27 wins as a USAC Sprint Car owner and is also a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.
In 1958 Rathmann piloted a Watson-built car to victory in the “Race of Two Worlds” 500-mile event at Monza, Italy. A.J. was awarded USAC’s Eddie Edenburn Award in 1983 and Lincoln Electric Mechanical Achievement Award in 2006. Between 1961 and 1969 A.J. participated as a member of the USAC Board of Directors.
Don White is the winningest USAC Stock Car driver of all time. Known as the “Richard Petty of the North,” White earned 53 victories in the USAC ranks and posted a remarkable 14 wins at the famed Milwaukee Mile. The iconic leader of the Keokuk, Iowa racing clan, he competed in NASCAR races between 1950 and 1972 and in 1966 finished third in a 100-miler behind Paul Goldsmith and Richard Petty at Daytona Beach, Fla.
Patriarch of the famed Wilke Racing family, Bob was Rodger Ward’s car owner at the 1959 Indianapolis 500 and returned with Ward to win in 1962. He also added a 1968 victory at Indy with Bobby Unser. The Wilke family holds the all-time lead in terms of USAC feature race wins – 145 – with 31 different drivers earning National wins in their cars, which also earned numerous USAC car owner championships. In 2003 the family was awarded USAC’s Jim Blunk Award in recognition of their contributions to Midget auto racing.
The inaugural 12 inductees announced in 2012 included (alphabetically) J.C. Agajanian, Mario Andretti, Gary Bettenhausen, Tom Binford, Jimmy Bryan, Duane Carter, A.J. Foyt, Tony Hulman, Parnelli Jones, Mel Kenyon, Roger McCluskey and Rich Vogler.