The fourth annual Motor Sport Hall of Fame event took place on Monday February 25. As usual, we inducted some of racing’s greats into our exclusive club, but this year’s event had much more to offer.
The event was held in the Royal Opera House for the first time, and it turned out to be a fine venue for the start of our racing year. Outside, the place was adorned with two of lead sponsor Audi’s race cars: an R8 GT3 and one of last year’s R18 e-tron quattros, which were driven to victory at Le Mans, Silverstone and Bahrain.
Inside, the greats gathered. Founding member Sir Stirling Moss and 2011 inductee Jody Scheckter were in attendance, but there were a throng of stars waiting to join Simon Lazenby and Natalie Pinkham on stage as well.
The first inductee of 2013 was legendary Lotus designer Colin Chapman. Sir Jackie Stewart and former works Lotus driver Jackie Oliver presented the award to Colin’s son Clive, who still runs Classic Team Lotus. He gave a great insight into what it was like growing up around one of the world’s premier racing teams in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s before the two Jackies spoke. Both gave touching tributes to Chapman; Oliver in particular spoke about the Lotus “university of motor sport”. Clive Chapman looked very proud of his dad.
Our second inductee was eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen. Presenting the award were Audi team-mates Allan McNish and Dindo Capello, with whom Kristensen has driven for the last seven seasons, winning Le Mans in 2008 and Sebring in 2006, 2009 and 2012. Both spoke warmly of their friend, pointing out his intensity and determination on track, particularly at night. Endurance racing’s more about the team than the driver, but it’s clear that Kristensen’s contributions stand out.
After a short break it was time for another first for the Hall of Fame: the joint induction of Graham and Damon Hill. Nigel Roebuck and Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali greeted Damon and his son Josh – an up-and-coming driver himself – and presented the awards. Among the highlights of this section of the evening might have been Josh’s apology to Damon for getting into racing just as his dad was settling down. Back on the hunt for sponsorship…
Last but not least, Niki Lauda took the stage to a huge round of applause. Welcomed by Jack Heuer and Piero Ferrari, Lauda stepped on stage with a wiggle to the sound of the Rolling Stones and had the audience in stitches talking about his career, his accident in 1976 and Ron Howard’s Rush. As Simon Lazenby pointed out, Lauda’s induction was long overdue and the crowd were audibly awed by the Austrian maestro.
With that, the inductions were over and it was time to move on to the auction in aid of the Grand Prix Mechanics’ Charitable Trust. Robert Brooks of Bonhams presided over the auction, which raised over £92,000 for the Trust. Notable lots were Sebastian Vettel’s steering wheel from 2010, which went for £20,000 and Ayrton Senna’s gloves from 1991, which were sold for £22,000. There are still reader only lots to bid on, so take a look here.
We spent the evening in a beautiful venue, surrounded by racing heroes of the past, present and future, celebrated their careers and raised a lot of money for a charity that’s close to our hearts. So we’d like to thank all of our guests, sponsors, the Royal Opera House and of course our new inductees. Only another year until the next one…