LONG BEACH, Calif. — Two of the greatest drivers of this century, within their respective series of IndyCar and NASCAR, will be entering the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America together next March.
It’s six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, two of the members of the Class of 2024 that will be inducted into next year’s Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA).
The 36th Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Celebration presented by Toyota Racing, which will formally usher the Class of 2024 into the MSHFA, will be held in the Hall’s home in Daytona Beach, Fla., in March of 2024.
The Class of 2024 includes the all-time winningest NHRA Top Fuel Funny Car crew chief Austin Coil (Drag Racing), six-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon (Open Wheel), HANS Device inventors Jim Downing and Dr. Robert Hubbard (Technology), desert racing legend and Hollywood stuntman Bud Ekins (Motorcycles), seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (Stock Cars), four-time SCCA national champion and eight-time IndyCar title-winning owner Paul Newman (At Large) and 1966 Can-Am champion and championship-winning constructor John Surtees (Sports Car).
Two additional Historic Category inductees will be announced this summer.
The announcement of the 2024 class was made at a media conference Friday at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. It featured Dixon and his longtime team owner and 2016 MSHFA inductee Chip Ganassi.
Dixon will compete this weekend in the 48th running of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, a race Dixon and Ganassi combined to win in 2015.
“I’m extremely honored to be thought of in this way and mentioned among many of the greats across so many forms of motorsports,” Dixon said. “The first thing that comes to mind is how I was able to get here. A single person can never do it alone.
“I’m grateful to Chip, the team and everyone who has helped make this possible over the last 20 years, and then going back to the start of it all with my parents and the group that helped me along. But it comes down to racing for me and the pure love that I have for this sport across every different category.
“First and foremost, I am a racing fan and that’s where the desire comes from. I’m extremely lucky to be able to do what I do, and I am grateful for everybody that has helped give me the possibility, and this is in their honor.”
One of the most successful and longest running team-and-driver combinations in motorsports history, Dixon has never raced in the NTT IndyCar Series for a team other than Ganassi’s after joining the organization in 2002.
“There is not a more deserving driver that’s currently in the series for the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and I know there’s even more work still to be done,” Ganassi said.
Both Johnson and Dixon were inducted in their first year of eligibility.
“It’s hard to imagine a much more-accomplished group of racers,” said MSHFA president George Levy. “Our voters chose these seven from an incredible array of the sport’s greatest achievers. We can’t wait to welcome them into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America next March.”
Each of the MSHFA’s inductees is elected by a straight vote of 200 motorsports experts — half of them inductees themselves.
Regular voters include Mario Andretti (MSHFA Class of 1990), Don Garlits (MSHFA Class of 1989), Ganassi (MSHFA Class of 2016), Tom D’Eath (MSHFA Class of 2000), Scott Parker (MSHFA Class of 2009), Richard Petty (MSHFA Class of 1989), Don Prudhomme (MSHFA Class of 1991), Rusty Wallace (MSHFA Class of 2014) and other titans of the sport.
The nine Class of 2024 honorees will be formally brought into the Hall in the 36th Annual Induction Ceremony Presented by Toyota Racing, the traditional black-tie gala that is the crowning event of the two-day, multi-function MSHFA Induction Celebration.
The Induction Ceremony, which was sold out for the Class of 2023 celebration, will be preceded the night before by the traditional “Heroes of Horsepower” reception and strolling dinner at the MSHFA Museum on the grounds of Daytona International Speedway.
Firestone sponsored this year’s Heroes of Horsepower reception, which was another sellout event.
Daytime events include the annual Inductee Welcome Luncheon on Monday, Presented by General Motors this year, and the annual Inductee Brunch on Tuesday morning. Next year’s Historic inductees will be ushered into the MSHFA as a featured highlight of the brunch, which was sponsored by American Honda this year.
Through last month’s Class of 2023 induction, 288 Heroes of Horsepower are currently in the MSHFA, a number that will grow to 297 with the 36th Induction Class.
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Class of 2024:
Austin Coil (Drag Racing) — 1945-Present
The winningest Top Fuel Funny Car crew chief of all time, Coil directed 2008 inductee John Force to 15 NHRA Funny Car titles, 10 of them in a row and 17 overall, including two won back-to-back captaining Frank Hawley and the Chi-Town Hustler (1982-83).
Coil, engineering mentor John Farkonas and driver Pat Minick made The Hustler one of the dominant match racers of the late ‘60s and 1970s. Coil joined a then-struggling Force to become of the most successful driver/crew chief pairings ever. In addition to 15 titles, they won over 130 tour victories. Coil was named Car Craft Magazine Funny Car Crew Chief of the Year 12 times and was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1997.
Scott Dixon (Open Wheel) — 1980-Present
Currently the second-most successful NTT IndyCar Series driver ever, the New Zealander has won six series championships (2003, ’08, ’13, ’15, ’18, ’20), 32 poles and 53 races, including the 2008 Indianapolis 500.
His six national titles put him second to 1989 inductee A.J. Foyt (7) on the all-time list. His 53 wins are second all-time to Foyt (67) and ahead of inductees Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Al Unser Sr., Bobby Unser and Al Unser Jr. Dixon has started the Indy 500 from pole five times, second only to 1998 inductee Rick Mears (6), and finished in the top three five times.
He’s excelled in virtually every form of racing he’s tried, including three Rolex 24 at Daytona triumphs (2006, ’15, ’20).
Jim Downing And Dr. Bob Hubbard (Technology)
The HANS (Head and Neck Support) Device has saved more drivers than possibly any other advance in the past 50 years. Head and neck injuries, including basilar skull fractures, used to claim many lives, including Dale Earnhardt, Bill Vukovich, Neil Bonnett and Tony Bettenhausen.
Five-time IMSA champ Downing teamed with brother-in-law Hubbard, a biomechanical engineering professor at Michigan State University, to create the U-shaped device which restrains the head from whipping back and forth in a crash. They built prototypes in the 1980s, but the racing establishment didn’t begin to embrace it until Ayrton Senna was killed in 1994.
Widespread acceptance came after Earnhardt’s death in 2001.
Today, the HANS Device is required by virtually every major sanctioning body.
Bud Ekins (Motorcycles) — 1930-2007
In the 1950s and ‘60s, Ekins was the man to beat in California scrambles and desert races, winning the Big Bear National Hare and Hound three times (1954, ’57, ’59), and the Catalina Grand Prix (1955).
In 1962, Ekins was the first American to win gold at the International Six Days Trial (ISDT), repeating in 1963, ’66 and ‘67. He was Steve McQueen’s racing mentor and performed stunts in over 200 films, including the fence jump in 1963’s The Great Escape. In 1966, Ekins captained a foursome that rode the Baja length in record time, setting the stage for the Baja 1000.
Later, Ekins switched to trucks, winning the inaugural Baja 500 (1969). Ekins was inducted into the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame, the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (1980) and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame (1999).
Jimmie Johnson (Stock Cars) — 1975-Present
His seven NASCAR Cup Series championships (2006, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’13, ’16) tie him for most ever with inductees Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. His five in a row (2006-10) has never been equaled.
His 83 wins, including two Daytona 500s (2006, ’13), put him sixth all-time. His streak of 16 seasons with at least one victory ranks fourth all-time (Kyle Busch is No. 1 with 19). The El Cajon, Calif., native began racing motorcycles at four. After high school, he became one of the top off-road racers, winning rookie of the year in the SCORE, MTEG and SODA series and going on to accumulate six championships.
Transitioning to stock cars in 1998, Johnson captured ASA Rookie of the Year and was noticed by inductee Jeff Gordon, who recommended him to inductee Rick Hendrick.
Paul Newman (At Large) — 1925-2008
He was so famous as a movie star that it’s easy to forget his many achievements in motorsports.
After starring in 1969’s Winning, Newman began to drive in SCCA events. He won his first race and captured four national championships between 1979 and 1986. He also won two SCCA Trans-Am events and came second in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 935 with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen.
In 1977, he formed the Newman-Freeman Can-Am team with Bill Freeman, fielding winning cars for inductees Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Danny Sullivan. Later he formed Newman/Haas Racing with longtime friend Carl Haas, capturing more than 100 races and eight IndyCar series titles.
At 70, Newman scored a class win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Mike Brockman and inductees Tommy Kendall and Mark Martin.
John Surtees (Sports Cars) — 1934-2017
By MSHFA rules, only a non-American’s achievements in North America should be considered for induction.
“Big John’s” record was profound. The Briton captured the inaugural (1966) Can-Am title with three wins over an international field that included inductees Mark Donohue, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Phil Hill, Denny Hulme, Parnelli Jones, David Hobbs, Sam Posey and Bruce McLaren.
His other victories include the 1963 Sebring 12 Hours, 1965 Player’s 200 at Mosport, 1965 Player’s Mont-Tremblant, 1966 Mexican Grand Prix and 1967 Las Vegas Can-Am. As a constructor, his eponymous single-seaters won seven U.S. F5000 races with Hobbs and Posey and finished second in the championship three times.
Surtees remains the only person to have won world championships on two and four wheels.
More On MSHFA
The MSHFA is the only hall that honors all American motorsports: cars, motorcycles, airplanes, off road and powerboats.
Its mission is to celebrate and instill the American motorsports values of leadership, creativity, originality, teamwork and spirit of competition. Founded by Larry G. Ciancio and led by inaugural President Ronald A. Watson, it held its first induction in 1989. Watson spent the next 30 years tirelessly building it into the nation’s premier such hall until his passing in 2019.
The original museum in Novi, Mich., relocated to Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2016 and greets more than 100,000 guests a year. MSHFA is operated by the nonprofit Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame of America Foundation, Inc.