Four drivers, a race organizer and a chief mechanic comprise the six initial 2018 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame. They will be joined by two additional inductees in a formal celebration of their accomplishments during an early-September USAC event in Indianapolis.
The official induction ceremony will take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum on Thursday, September 6, prior to USAC’s Driven2SaveLives BC39 P1 Insurance National Midget race which will unfold on the brand-new IMS infield dirt oval. The festivities are all part of the buildup to IMS’ Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard NASCAR race, scheduled September 9. USAC’s Hall of Fame inductees will also be saluted in a video tribute to be broadcast on the IMS jumbotrons in front of Thursday night’s Midget crowd.
Highlighting the seventh annual USAC Hall of Fame inductions will be former USAC Technical Director and Chief Mechanic Mike Devin, USAC’s first race organizer Bill Lipkey, plus Indianapolis 500 champion Troy Ruttman, and USAC driving champions Tony Elliott, Paul Goldsmith and Jimmy Sills.
Online voting for the final two additional 2018 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame will soon be available on the USAC website at www.usacracing.com.
Devin, of San Gabriel, Calif., a mechanic, engine builder, chief mechanic and car owner, began with USAC in 1990 and coordinated the Saber car program, which eventually was purchased by the Japanese for usage at their multi-million dollar facility on the southern Japanese island of Autopolis. In 1991 he became USAC’s Technical Director after serving as a chief mechanic with drivers Johnny Rutherford, Lloyd Ruby, Roger McCluskey and Johnny Parsons Jr. Prior to retirement, Devin served as a USAC Vice-President, Technical Director and Director of Competition where his primary responsibilities were making rules for all racing divisions under USAC sanction.
Devin balanced new technologies, with their inherent costs, against the financial strengths of the participants and the entertainment quality of the series. Safety was a primary focus and he also managed the liability and participant accident insurance for USAC. He was Technical Director for the Indianapolis 500 from 1991 through 1996 and was responsible for establishing the formula for car and engine construction for the fledgling Indy Racing League. Devin was responsible for safer chassis construction, implementing the impact recorders and the development of rear attenuators.
Post-retirement duties include a Stewardship with the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis, FIA record attempts, the TORC Off Road Series and various other safety and rules related projects. Significant awards include the D.A. Lubricants Award and the USAC Mechanical Achievement Award, Eddie Edenburg Award for lifetime contributions, the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Outstanding Race Official Award and the Lincoln Electric Lifetime Achievement Award.
Elliott, of Warsaw, Ind., was a two-time USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1998 and 2000) and excelled in USAC’s Silver Crown cars. He posted 26 National Sprint car wins, five in Silver Crown competition, and won nine USAC Midget races. Among the Silver Crown triumphs were 2000 and 2001 wins in the prestigious Hoosier Hundred in Indianapolis. In 1999, Elliott won USAC’s “Indiana Sprint Week” title and for years he dominated the scene at his hometown track – Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. In 2015 he was one of four Warsaw men who died in a private airplane accident.
Goldsmith, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., was USAC’s 1961 and 1962 National Stock Car Champion. A six-time veteran of the Indianapolis 500, he finished 3rd in the 1960 classic and fifth in 1959. In 1958 he won the final race at the famed Daytona Beach, Fla., beach course. The oldest living driver of the Indianapolis 500, Paul is a member of both the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. In 1953 he posted AMA victories at Daytona and Langhorne, Pa. and in 1955 he won his final AMA race at Schererville, Ind.
Lipkey, of Kokomo, organized and presented the first USAC race ever held, a Midget race indoors at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. on January 8, 1956. The long-time race organizer at the legendary Kokomo Speedway, also organized races at Baer Field in Fort Wayne and staged numerous indoor events at Memorial Coliseum, where a commemorative marker was recently unveiled, saluting the first USAC race. The Lipkey family was a staple at USAC events in the Midwest, and Bill’s son Vic served as USAC’s chief starter in various racing series.
Bill served for many years on USAC’s Advisory Board as the race organizer representative. In 1983 he received USAC’s prestigious Jim Blunk Award in recognition of his contributions to the sport of Midget auto racing. Bill passed away at the age of 86 in 1999.
Ruttman, of Mooreland, Okla., earned international recognition as the 1952 winner of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. He remains the youngest winner in “500” history, at age 22 years and 80 days. He won his first race at age 15 in 1945 and two years later became the California Roadster Association Champion.
He repeated that title in 1948 and also won the 1948 United Racing Association Blue Circuit (Offy) crown. In 1952, Ruttman finished as runner-up to Chuck Stevenson for the AAA National Championship. Ruttman was USAC’s 1956 Short Track Stock Car Champion and in 1963 finished third behind Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt in a NASCAR championship race at Riverside, Calif.
Ruttman was a 1992 inductee into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, and was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1993, the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2002, the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005. A spectacular Sprint racer on the famed Midwestern high-banks, he won the third leg of USAC’s “Race of Two Worlds” Championship race at the Monza (Italy) Autodrome in 1957. He died in 1997.
Sills, of Placerville, Calif., was USAC’s first three-time Silver Crown champion, in 1990, 1994 and 1996. Until surpassed by Dave Steele, he led the all-time standings for laps led in the Silver Crown series. A six-time champion of the prestigious “Dirt Cup” at Skagit, Wash., Sills won the 1978 “Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic” in Australia and is a former champion of the famed “Oval Nationals” at the Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway.
In 1982, he won the championship at Baylands Speedway in Fremont, Calif. and the following year scored a significant opening-night win in the famed “Knoxville Nationals” in Iowa. Jimmy was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2006, and in 2007 joined the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame.
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