Honorees

Danica Patrick

July 26, 2018
Danica Patrick joined the mainstream ranks by succeeding in the male-dominated world of professional motorsports. As she set records on the track, Patrick made a name for herself off the track as well. She was named TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” list and has graced the cover of ESPN: The Magazine, Sports Illustrated and TV Guide. She has also appeared in a record-setting 14 Super Bowl commercials, 13 of which were for GoDaddy. After racing at various levels in different race cars, Patrick burst onto the national scene in May, 2005 when she became the first woman to lead laps and score a top-five finish in the Indianapolis 500. Three years later, Patrick made history once again as she became the first woman to win a major-league open-wheel race in a North American series with her victory in the IndyCar Series Indy Japan 300. She became the first woman to win a NASCAR Cup Series pole when she set the fastest time in qualifying for the Daytona 500 and then finished in eighth place, the highest finishing position ever for a woman. Outside of racing, she launched a clothing line in 2017, authored the fitness book Pretty Intense, and is the sole proprietor of a vineyard in California.

Tony Kanaan

July 27, 2017
Tony Kanaan is a perennial threat at every racing weekend. The 2013 Indy 500 Champion and 2004 IndyCar Champion joined Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014, one of the winningest IndyCar teams capturing a win at the Fontana 500 mile race. Tony has a total of 17 wins and 15 polepositions in his IndyCar career. “TK” – Tony’s nickname in the racing community – is the all-time Indy car leader in consecutive starts with 275 starts dating back to the Portland race in 2001. In 2004, he became the first driver to complete every possible lap in a season in route to winning the championship. Kanaan is a fearless competitor, known and respected both inside and outside of the track by his peers. In 2011, he was named in conjunction with two other drivers as the head of the Championship Drivers Association, which takes care of safety measures with IndyCar executives.

Dario Franchitti

July 28, 2016
July 27, 2017Best known for his IndyCar career, Franchitti has earned his place in racing history having won 4 IndyCar Series championships; as well as being crowned the winner of three Indianapolis 500’s. Franchitti has spent time competing in NASCAR, in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series, and he has also driven in both the American Le Mans Series and Rolex Sports Car Series, where he won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in the LMP2 class. As of 2013, Franchitti has retired from competitive racing, but has remained active in the motorsport world. As the competitive director for Chip Ganassi Racing, Franchitti has found himself in a mentorship role with the team helping to advise the programs drivers. Franchitti has also made the transition to the commentary box where he currently is a member of the FIA Formula E Championship broadcast TV team. In November of 2014, Dario was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) medal for his contributions to motorsport by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in London.

Bobby Unser

July 30, 2015
Robert William “Bobby” Unser is a retired American automobile racer, one of ten drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 three or more times. He was the first driver to average more than 190 MPH at the Indianapolis 500 and was the 1975 IROC champion. He won the USAC IndyCar championships in 1968 and 1974, drove in three NASCAR Grand National races from 1969 to 1973 with a best finish of fourth. He won the 1993 Fastmasters championship and leads winners of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with 13 wins. Bobby’s Hall of Fame resume includes induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994. After his retirement, he became a television commentator, working for several major networks, announcing IndyCar races and broadcasting several NASCAR events between 1986-1994. The most famous NASCAR race Unser broadcast was the 1989 Winston in which Rusty Wallace won by wrecking Darrell Waltrip with 2 laps to go; Unser was the first broadcaster of the broadcasting team to spot the post-race fist-fight between Wallace and Waltrip's pit crews.

Rick Mears

July 31, 2014
More than 20 years since his last race, Rick “Rocket Rick” Mears remains one of the most successful drivers in history, as one of three men to win the Indianapolis 500 four times and three-time PPG IndyCar World Series champion. In 1978, Rick began racing fulltime for Roger Penske. In 1979, Mears started from the pole and posted his 1st Indy 500 win in just his 2nd start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making him just the 10th driver to win from the pole. He would finish each of the season's 14 races in the top 10 and go on to win the PPG IndyCar World Series Championship. Mears won his second and third PPG IndyCar World Series titles in 1981 and 1982. In 1984, Mears scored his second Indy 500 win, giving him his second straight Triple Crown award. In 1991, Mears claimed his fourth Indy 500, winning after earning his record sixth pole at the Brickyard. His victory tied him with racing legends Al Unser Sr. and A.J. Foyt as the winningest drivers at the Speedway. At 39, Mears was the youngest driver to accomplish the feat, as well as the only driver to win three times from the pole.

Al Unser Jr.

July 31, 2013
Al Unser Jr., the son of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Sr., was one of the most successful drivers of his generation. He won the Indianapolis 500 two times in 1992 and 1994, and recorded seven top-five finishes and ten top-ten finishes. He was inducted into the Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame in 2006. In four full seasons in the IndyCar Series, he finished in the top 10 every year, winning a race in 2000, 2001, and 2003. Unser holds the record for victories (six) in the Long Beach (CA) Grand Prix and has multiple triumphs at Vancouver, B.C. (four), Cleveland, OH (three) and Portland, OR (three). In 1994, he won eight of 16 races driving for Team Penske. Unser, who retired from full-time racing in 2004 with 34 wins, is a member of one of racing’s most famous families. In addition to his father, his uncle Bobby is a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. His cousins, Johnny and Robby, also have competed in the IndyCar Series, while his son Al Unser III has raced in the Firestone Indy Lights.

Johnny Rutherford

August 1, 2012
Nicknamed “Lone Star J.R.” because of the Texas colors and star on his helmet, Johnny Rutherford’s auto racing career includes winning 27 races. Prior to retiring from racing in 1994, Rutherford won the Indianapolis 500 in 1974, 1976 and 1980. In 1974, he became the first man to win two 500 mile races in the same year, at Indianapolis and Pocono, Pa. He also was the first winner of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Indy Race. In 1963, Rutherford won his first NASCAR sanctioned race before switching to Indy cars. Rutherford is the only driver to claim two open-wheel racing titles in one year, winning the 1980 CART championship with Chaparral Racing Ltd. and the 1980 USAC championship. In 1998 he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame in America. Rutherford is a consultant for IndyCar. In 2012, Rutherford was honored with the establishment of the "Lone Star Johnny Rutherford Award." The award honors the IndyCar participant who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, at the track, and in the community.