A galaxy of stars gathered at the Royal Automobile Club to celebrate some of the greatest names in motor sport
The crowd outside the immaculate grounds of the Royal Automobile Club’s Woodcote Park stood in anticipation as a line of cars burbled and chattered away in the background, ready to tear up the Captain’s Drive.
And what a line-up of machines it was. A group of McLarens began the chorus, with five-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Derek Bell at the helm of a P1 GTR, followed by Damon Hill in a 570S and Perry McCarthy in a P1. Then an OSCA FS372 – owned by Sir Stirling Moss – followed by a Porsche 356 Pre-A.
This is how the seventh Motor Sport Hall of Fame opened its curtains, with roaring racing cars and an almighty celebration of what draws us to this sport. And there was more to come with a glittering awards ceremony to induct some of the greatest names in racing into the Hall of Fame.
Bygone heroes such as Jim Clark, Nigel Mansell, Brian Redman, Murray Walker and Barry Sheene were about to be joined by a new group of inductees, after more than 40,000 Motor Sport readers cast their votes.
Editor Joe Dunn introduced the evening on stage before handing presenting duties to host Suzi Perry, who welcomed James Cameron – founder and CEO of Mission Motorsport, this year’s charity partner – to explain his organisation’s vital work.
Then, it was time for the awards, with two new categories introduced this year: the racing car award and road car of the year. The road car of the car was awarded to the Alpine A110 by the editorial team; the racing car award, sponsored by JBR Capital, went to the Porsche 917. Richard Attwood came up to collect the award – he shared the 917’s maiden Le Mans win with Hans Herrmann in 1970 – and was joined on stage by Jackie Oliver.
The editorial team also selected the winner of the ‘Industry Champion Award’, which went to MSV CEO Jonathan Palmer, who thanked his team and said, “We certainly have the best motor sport in the world, and the healthiest motor racing circuits in the world.”
Of course, a night celebrating the greatest motor sport heroes naturally goes hand in hand with emotion and passion. And that’s what Pauline Hailwood exuded when she accepted late husband Mike Hailwood’s motorcycle award from former team-mate and friend, Stuart Graham. “He was a lovely man, an excellent husband, and I miss him lots,” said Pauline in a heartfelt speech.
Two of the sport’s most successful engineers – Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth – were given the Formula 1 award, sponsored by Princess Yachts. Standing next to Keith’s son Roger on stage, Costin said: “I never imagined the influence our DFV engine would have.”
The evening ended with an emotional crescendo when Bruce McLaren, one of the sport’s greatest all-rounders – engineer, racer, team founder – was announced as winner of the 2018 ‘Inspiration Award’. He proved a popular, deserving nominee and daughter Amanda stepped up to collect the award.
Overall, the Hall of Fame attracted the customary collection of incredible machinery, a healthy dose of glamour and a host of legendary figures. It was a memorable occasion and, most importantly, a celebration of those things that make motor sport great.
Mike Costin & Keith Duckworth
They changed the face of F1 when their company, Cosworth, released the DFV. It turned Grand Prix racing into something akin to a spec series, as so many chose the engine. Only Ferrari has claimed more GP wins as an engine supplier, with Cosworth powering cars to 176 GP wins and 22 world titles (12 for drivers, 10 for constructors). But Cosworth’s impact stretched far beyond F1 – it has won Le Mans, multiple Indy 500s and numerous championships in America. It has also been involved with many road cars, including Aston Martin’s Valkyrie. And all from humble beginnings, 60 years ago.
Sponsored by Princess Yachts
The voting for the sports car category proved closest of all, but it was French Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo who came out on top. Winner four times at the great race, including three in a row for French marque Matra in the 1970s, his name is synonymous with Le Mans. He started the race 33 times – a record that is unlikely to be beaten any time soon. Once retired, he returned as a team owner… and came very close to beating the might of Audi.
From the outset, there was only ever one winner in the new-for-2018 racing car category. Devised to recognise the many iconic machines that strike a chord with race fans, the Porsche 917 beat the likes of the Audi Quattro, Jaguar XJR-9 and the McLaren MP4/4. Twice a Le Mans winner, in 1970 and ’71, it was one of the fastest and most feared cars of its era. It’s a car that resonates in sports car racing today.
Sponsored by JBR Capital
Good on four wheels, one of the best ever on two, Mike Hailwood was a popular winner in the motorcycling category. He won nine world championships, the third-highest of all time; 14 Isle of Man TTs, including two after he returned to the island in 1978 following his four-wheeled career; and 76 world motorcycle championship races, putting him fourth in the all-time list.
He was a character, universally popular, and a
true star of the sport.
He’s all too often overlooked when racing’s all-time greats are discussed, but Phil Hill’s career was one of success and variety. He won Le Mans three times in the 1950s and ’60s, and is the only man to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours and the F1 world championship in the same year. He was three times a Grand Prix winner – but his stature is far greater than that simple statistic might suggest. He was an engineer as much as a racer, and was also a distinguished photographer and a true gent.
McLaren is a man who very simply transcends the sport. A Grand Prix winner in a car bearing his own name, Le Mans winner with Ford, dominant in Can-Am with his near-unbeatable McLarens, his name still resonates in racing and on the road. When he won the 1959 US Grand Prix he became the youngest world championship race winner (not including the Indy 500) at 22y 3m 12d, a record that stood until 2003. He won three more, his last almost a decade after the first.
Palmer can list the development and preservation of five UK racing circuits among his achievements. As joint owner of MotorSport Vision he bought Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Oulton Park and Cadwell Park when they were at their lowest ebb and they have thrived under his guidance. He has now turned his attention to Donington Park… This versatile former racer’s continued enthusiasm for the sport underlines just how much he merited the award.