Steve Gibbs and Connie Kalitta honoured at British Drag Racing Hall of Fame’s 2017 Gala



The twelfth annual British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Gala Awards Dinner, held on 18th November at the Oatlands Park Hotel, Weybridge, Surrey, was another huge success. New inductees to the Hall of Fame from the sport in the UK were joined by a group of sixteen US drag racing legends, and former land speed record holder Richard Noble OBE. The Gala is one of the leading motor sport presentation events in the world and the BDRHoF would like to acknowledge all who made it possible.

The evening, compered by writer and former NHRA Motorsports Museum Director Tony Thacker, included the induction of eight new members of the BDRHoF, presentation of the Sydney Allard media awards, the Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award, and special surprise presentation for a drag racing legend who has combined a racing career over almost sixty years with running successful international airlines.

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The Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award was presented to Steve Gibbs, the former Board Member and Vice President – Competitions of the National Hot Rod Association. It was awarded for his own achievements in managing over 400 NHRA National Events in a 48 year career with the sport’s main sanctioning body, founding NHRA Historical Services in 1992 which gave birth to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion at Bowling Green, Kentucky and the California Hot Rod Reunion held in Bakersfield, California.

A BDRHoF trophy went to Connie Kalitta for operating one of the most successful Top Fuel and Funny Car teams in NHRA history over a period of six decades. The inscription on Connie’s trophy was ‘in recognition for his contribution to Drag  Racing’ and the presentations were warmly applauded by the 250 people present.

The 2017 inductees to the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame were:

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  • Top Fuel car owners and tuners Karsten and Per Andersen, European record holders, presented by NHRA Top Fuel Dragster racer and current record holder Clay Millican (pictured right);
  • Fuel Altered owner series organiser and former photojournalist Lawrie Gatehouse, presented by Ron Hope;
  • Funny Bike and Pro Stock Bike pioneer Pip Higham (centre), presented by Marvin Graham (left);
  • Multi time UK Top Fuel Bike champion Steve Woollatt, presented by Bob Muravez (pictured left);
  • Top Fuel tuner and club organisers John and Lesley Wright, presented by Roland Leong (pictured left);
  • A special induction for BDRHoF Chairman and former Santa Pod Raceway starter Stuart Bradbury, presented by current Santa Pod CEO Keith Bartlett  (pictured left)

Trophies were sponsored by the Santa Pod Racers Club.

The Sydney Allard media awards, for written, photographic and videographic journalism went respectively to

  • Ian Wagstaff for his race track profile on Santa Pod Raceway published in the May 2017 edition of PRI Magazine;
  • Mike Collins’ photo of Top Fuel racer Timo Lehtimaki, taken in 2011 and published for the first time on in December 2016 and previously in ‘Retro Ramblin’s’, Mike’s own blog; and
  • Barney Campbell’s video ‘Welcome to Santa Pod Raceway’, published on the Santa Pod Raceway TV channel in January 2017.

The awards were presented in association with Octane Magazine and the Guild of Motoring Writers and the trophies sponsored by Lucas Oils UK.

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The Gala day also included the third Beech Underwriting Bench Racing Session with the guest American and British racers and personalities telling uproarious stories about their racing exploits, with questions from the floor. The session was introduced by Bob McClurg, leading drag racing photojournalist for almost fifty years. Personalities present were (from left to right) rear row: Jim Oberhofer, Tom Hoover, Dennis Priddle, Ron Hope, Bob McClurg, Clay Millican, Jeff Lutz, Roy Phelps. Front row: Joe Schubeck, Roland Leong, Steve Gibbs, Ed McCulloch, Bob Muravez, Marvin Graham, Dale Emery and Connie Kalitta.

Over $10,000 was raised from charity donations to the BDRHOF Benevolent Fund including an auction of an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 NHRA Gatornationals supplied by DialAFlight and Kalitta Racing, and sales of memorabilia.

The event would not have been possible without practical help and support from sponsorship partner Beech Underwriting Agencies, major sponsors US Automotive and Santa Pod Racers Club, and event sponsors Lucas Oil Products UK, DialAFlight, Institute of Professional Drivers, Atlantic Fluid Tech, Rat Trap Racing, Mac Tools, Kalitta Motorsports, Kalitta Air, Aptitude, National Street Rod Association, and Prop Portfolio. Thanks also to the Pennine Drag Racing Club;; Avon Park International Racing Association for their support.

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Photo credits:

  1. Steve Gibbs – Julian Hunt for
    2. Kalitta Motorsports team owner Connie Kalitta (pictured right) with Crew Chief and VP of Operations Jim Oberhofer – Julian Hunt for
    3-8. 2017 inductees- Julian Hunt for
    9. Bench Racing Lineup: – Simon Groves

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