The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame (BDRHoF) and Lucas Oil Products UK are pleased to announce that long-time NHRA Vice President and drag racing pioneer Steve Gibbs is to receive the 2017 BDRHoF Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award. It will be presented later this year at the BDRHoF Gala Awards Dinner being held at the historic Oatlands Park Hotel, Weybridge, Surrey on November 18th.
On hearing that he was to receive this award he said, “This is all a bit overwhelming. I will be extremely honoured…humbled…and eternally thankful to accept the award. It would mean a great deal at any point in time, but is particularly rewarding at the present moment. I cannot adequately express my heartfelt thanks to the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the date is circled on my calendar”.
Those of you who were at the Gala last year will know that Steve attended the event to accept the 2016 Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award on behalf of the National Hot Rod Association. But early in 2017 he shocked the drag racing community when he announced his retirement from the NHRA after 48 years.
At the time he said, “I will be eternally grateful to Wally Parks for the opportunity to do the things I did … and for so long. I‟m proud of the „fingerprints‟ I have left on the sport. But it‟s time to move on.”
In truth, his ‘fingerprints’ are more like ‘huge footprints’ and this year he is attending the BDRHoF Gala to accept the same award – the difference being that this time it is for the work and commitment that he personally has shown to drag racing since the late 1950s. It is his name on the award and you will have to look a long way to find anyone who doesn’t think that he is most deserving.
Although probably best known as a former NHRA Competition Director and for re-establishing the NHRA Safety Safari Programme, and refining track preparation, Steve Gibbs started his involvement with drag racing in 1961 when he became a part time official (with a wide variety of duties including track reporter for Drag News and Drag Sports Illustrated) at San Gabriel drag strip. Between the years 1965 and 1968, Steve managed Irwindale and Fremont Raceways.
In 1969 he was hired by Wally Parks at the NHRA and he remained there until this year. Initially he was Advertising Director for the NHRA’s National Dragster Magazine but within 6-months was promoted as Assistant to Jack Hart running NHRA events. In 1973 he became Competitions Director and later Vice President of Competition where he managed approximately 400 NHRA National and Reunion Events during a 48 year career. Many of the safety developments in place at NHRA events that continue to today are attributed to Steve Gibbs and his Safety Safari team.
In the early 1990s Steve formed NHRA Historical Services and in 1992 he helped launch the first California Hot Rod Reunion at Bakersfield – a living history bringing to life the sights and sounds of the early days of drag racing, with the proceeds of the original meeting and subsequent reunion events going towards the creation and maintenance of a drag racing museum to be based at Pomona that opened in 1998.
Its first Executive Director was of course Steve Gibbs and even after his retirement from NHRA full time activity in 2003, until early this year he remained involved in the Museum and the Hot Rod Reunions. He was inducted into The Don Garlits International Drag Racing Hall Of Fame in 2006 and, at the age of 77, he remains committed to his calling. He is now involved in organizing Nostalgia Events in his own name so the sport has not lost his amazing talent and enthusiasm.
He says, “My goal is to follow many of Wally‟s original concepts of the sport, and to provide events that celebrate and respect our rich drag racing and hot rodding heritage.”
Someone once said that if the California Hot Rod Reunion had a face it would be that of Steve Gibbs. It is for his long and tireless service to the sport of drag racing along with his extensive expertise that Steve Gibbs has been awarded the BDRHoF Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award. We thank him for the role he has played in creating our sport and wish him well with his future plans.
Morgan Lucas, Senior Vice President of Sales for Lucas Oil said, “We are so pleased that a trophy with our name on it is being presented to someone whose commitment to drag racing goes back to the very early days and his positive influence on so many aspects of our sport will act as a guiding light for others in the industry.
He has played a leading role in laying the foundations that have served drag racing well and will continue to be part of his legacy. We thank the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame for enabling us to be part of honouring Steve this way. You have chosen well”.
So who will be joining him in the celebrations from the USA? For a start we have BDRHoF Honorary International Ambassador and the most successful driver of the twin Chevy engined ‘Freight Train’ Gas Dragster Bob Muravez (AKA Floyd Lippencote Jnr) who is returning for a third year.
Then we have GIGI Carleton who is President of the Margie and Robert E Petersen Foundation that supports the world famous Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles as well as several cancerresearch and children’s charities. She is joined by SEMA Hall of Fame Member ‘Gentleman’ Joe Schubeck – the drag racer who started Lakewood Products.
Popular American Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster driver and Tuner Ed ‘Ace’ McCulloch is returning for a second year. And one of the BDRHoF sponsors Ron Hope is joining us again after a very successful world tour with his Fuel Altered Rat Trap, and we also welcome back Blue Max Funny Car tuner ‘Waterbed’ Fred Miller. Both are Honorary BDRHoF International Ambassadors
World renowned and award winning automotive journalist, author and photographer Bob McClurg will be with us hosting the Bench Racing Session again and we will also be joined by two Gala first timers. The first is Top Fuel legend Marvin Graham (sometimes known as Marvin Who). Marvin was Technical adviser on the film about Shirley Muldowney; ‘Heart Like a Wheel’. The second is chassis builder, Top Fuel Dragster driver and Funny Car Crew Chief/Tuner Roland ‘Hawaiian’ Leong.
Finally we will be able to welcome Dale Emery who first visited the UK in 1976 driving the Chadderton and Okazaki Vega Funny Car. Along with many other achievements he went on to become Crew Chief for Raymond Beadle’s Blue Max Funny Car. This will be his first visit to the Gala.
The BDRHoF is now taking reservations for the 2017 Gala Awards Dinner by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 01933 279102. This year the tickets are priced competitively at £65.00 each and this includes a pre-dinner reception and table wine. The event always sells out well in advance, so if you would like to join us for the occasion we suggest you make your reservation sooner rather than later. On receiving your reservation you will be given the procedure to book rooms at the negotiated room rate that includes breakfast and VAT as well as parking.
On-going news about the Gala, sponsors and other events in which the BDRHoF is involved will be published on the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame website, www.britishdragracinghof.co.uk, www.eurodragster.com and on Facebook and Twitter.
British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Limited is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales under no. 10387951 and whose registered office is at 39, Hatton Park Road, Wellingborough, Northants NN8 5AT.
The BDRHoF Benevolent Fund has been created as registered charity no. 1167197 and is run for racers or officials who through injury have fallen on hard times and may be invited to apply for grants. Money raised will also go to the Air Ambulances local to UK drag racing tracks. All money raised by donation goes to charitable grants.