The fourteenth annual British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Gala Awards Dinner, sponsored by USAutomotive, Santa Pod Racers’ Club, Beech Underwriting Agencies and BUA Motorsport, was held on 23rd November at the Oatlands Park Hotel, Weybridge, Surrey, and enjoyed by more than 200 attendees. An entertaining Bench Racing session took place earlier, compered by hot rod and race car builder and driver, and Drag Racing announcer Bob Beck. The Gala is one of the leading Motor Sport presentation events in the world and the BDRHoF would like to thank everyone who made it possible.
The evening, compered by writer and former NHRA Motorsports Museum Director Tony Thacker, included the induction of five new members of the BDRHoF, presentation of the Mopar Performance Lifetime Achievement Award and a special award to multiple IHRA champion and NHRA race winner Doug Herbert.
The Mopar Performance Lifetime Achievement Award, presented for global impact in the world of drag racing, was awarded to Bill Simpson in recognition for his innovations in safety in motorsports in general and drag racing in particular. New products such as modern fire suits, driver restraint systems and helmets and the drag racing parachute have undoubtedly saved many lives. Accepting the award from Steve Gibbs on behalf of Bill Simpson, who was unable to attend for health reasons, was his long-time friend ‘Waterbed’ Fred Miller.
A BDRHoF Special Trophy was presented by Hall of Fame consultant and land-speed record holder, Geoff Stilwell to Doug Herbert on behalf of the Herbert family in recognition of their contribution to Drag Racing, Land-Speed Racing and Road Safety
The top three Lucas Oil Junior Dragster championship racers, Matthew Dowdy, Frankie Fordham and Kai Cooper, and top three ACU Junior Drag Bike racers Liam Holgate, Blade Dummer and Ciaran Lucas. Champions Matthew and Liam each received cheques for £100 sponsored by Atlantic Fluid Tech, Jeff Bull Race Engines & Performance Parts, Mopar Muscle Association, Santa Pod Racers Club and USAutomotive, presented by Cheryl Lynch, Race, Speed & Kart Executive, Motorsport UK.
The 2019 inductees to the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame
Leading European Drag Racing website Eurodragster.com, represented by founding editor Andy ‘Tog’ Rogers, Simon Groves, Kirstie Tramm and Julian Hunt, presented by Philip Evans of Atlantic Fluid Tech
Builder and racer of the iconic Gonzo the Great altered and former project foreman at York Raceway Ian Lloyd, presented by International Organisation of Professional Drivers chief executive Steve Murty
Great motorcycle drag racing innovators known for their Jade Warrior, the McCoy Dynamics team of Angus ‘Ag’ MacPhail, Mick Hand and Keith Parnell, represented by Mick Hand, and presented by BDRHoF member Ian Messenger, formerly of the Pegasus Drag Bike team
Pioneers of UK nostalgia drag racing, The Wild Bunch, represented by Claire Meaddows, Chris Hartnell and Roy Wilding, trophy presented by hot rod and race car builder, driver and Drag Racing announcer Bob Beck
From Finland, winner of four FIA Top Fuel Dragster Championships and two European Top Methanol titles, Anita Mäkelä, presented by Keith Bartlett, CEO at Santa Pod Raceway’s owner Trakbak Racing Ltd
The evening was closed by British Drag Racing Hall of Fame chairman and former Santa Pod Raceway chief starter Stuart Bradbury thanking everyone for their participation and support
Inductee Trophies were sponsored by Santa Pod Racers Club
Earlier, the fifth Bench Racing Session, sponsored by US Automotive/Custom Car Magazine had a former NHRA Board member and US nitro racers and crew entertaining a packed audience with tales of their on and off-track exploits back in the day. The panel comprised Steve Gibbs, Doug Herbert, Ron Hope, Fred Miller and Dan Richins. A video recording of the Bench Racing Session is available on Bob’s Facebook page, along with several interviews of honourees.
The event would not have been possible without practical help and support from primary sponsors US Automotive and Santa Pod Racers Club and event sponsors Atlantic Fluid Tech, Beech Underwriting Agencies, BUA Motorsport, Chair Office, Custom Car magazine, DialAFlight, Eurodragster.com, International Organisation of Professional Drivers, Jeff Bull Racing & Performance Parts, Kelsey Publishing, National Street Rod Association, Mopar Performance, Mopar Muscle Association, Prop Portfolio, Rat Trap Racing, Straightliners, Santa Pod and Shakespeare County Relics.
Photos: Julian Hunt for Eurodragster.com