INTERNATIONAL DRAG RACING HALL OF FAME 2020 INDUCTEES

Ocala, Fla. (February 12, 2020) – The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, home of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, has announced its Class of 2020 inductees.  Additionally, the recipients of the Founder’s Award and the Patricia Garlits Memorial Award were named.

The induction dinner and ceremony will take place on Thursday, March 12, 2020 in Gainesville, Fla. at the Wyndham Garden Hotel Gainesville.   Tickets are priced at $110 each, and available by calling the Museum toll-free at (877) 271-3278.  Corporate sponsored tables are also available.  

The inductees for 2020 are (in alphabetical order):  Robert (“Bones”) Balogh (Long Beach, Calif.), Lee Beard (Pueblo/Silverthorne, Colo.), Don Enriquez (Mission Viejo, Calif./Bowling Green, Ky.), Roy Hill (Sophia, N.C.), Billy Meyer (Waco, Tex.) and Larry Minor (Hemet, Calif.).  The event is being sponsored by Summit Racing Equipment (Rings), Jerry and Pat Baltes (Trophies) and Total Impact Wear (Commemorative t-shirts).

Robert (“Bones”) Balogh (Long Beach, Calif.) –  Robert (“Bones”) Balogh was one of the most respected drivers and engine builders during the period of drag racing’s infamous “Gasser Wars”  of the 1960s.   As a child, “Bones” moved from his birthplace in New Castle, Pa. to the sunny climes of the Los Angeles area.  From the age of 14 (when you could legally drive in California at the time), young “Bones” was a fixture on the street and the southern California drag strips.  When racing at the fabled Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, he became friends with, and an employee of the legendary camshaft grinder, Ed Iskenderian.   Iskenderian openly encouraged him and supported Balogh’s 1949 Chevy with a small-block Chevrolet engine, where “Bones” collected over 250 wins at the track.   Balogh soon became well-known on the West Coast as a terrific engine builder and driver.  Over the years, he drove for and/or built engines for some of the leading race teams in the Gas class.  He shared race shop space with the Mallicoat Brothers - Gary and Jerry - and provided the engine and driving talent for their Willys Gasser in their early years.   Then, after establishing a rivalry racing against John (“Big John”) Mazmanian, the pair partnered in a couple of cars from 1962 to 1965, the most notable being the famed red 1941 Willys A/Gas class car that was first powered by Balogh’s supercharged small block Chevy, and later by a supercharged Chrysler Hemi, which proved to be nearly unbeatable with Balogh at the wheel.  After the Mazmanian partnership dissolved, he teamed with Gary Dubach and Joe Pisano in 1966-67 to build a 1933 Willys, first powered by Balogh’s blown Chevy engine, later replaced with a blown Chrysler Hemi from Pisano.  A broken axle in that car’s third race at Lions put “Bones” into the wall, but the team rebuilt it, and took went to the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis to finish runner-up to “Ohio George” Montgomery in 1967.  In 1968, Balogh teamed with Tim Woods of Stone, Cook and Woods fame to campaign a 1968 Shelby Mustang – the “Swindler A” car – on a national match race tour.  By 1969, the Gas class was being supplanted by the new Funny Car class, and marked the end of Balogh’s illustrious 10-year racing career, as a baby was on the way.  However, he continued to use his race-winning engine building talents for many years after.

Lee Beard (Silverthorne, Colo.) – Lee Beard has created an enviable record of accomplishments in the drag racing world as a crew chief, engine tuner and team manager.  After graduating from Pueblo (Colo.) High School in 1975, he received his Bachelor of Science from what is now Colorado State University (Pueblo) in Industrial Arts.  Introduced to drag racing by his high school industrial arts teacher, Beard quickly rose to prominence when he guided Jerry Ruth to a Top Fuel win at the tricky Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo.  From that point, his services as a crew chief/engine tune were in demand.  He worked for some of the most prestigious race teams in the sport from the 1980s and into the second decade of the 21st Century – Hall of Famers Don Schumacher, Kenny Bernstein, Gary Ormsby, and fellow 2020 International Drag Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Larry Minor.  Also included in that group is NFL and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Joe Gibbs.  Beard’s stellar record includes the 1989 NHRA Top Fuel World Championship for the late Gary Ormsby, 1992 NHRA Funny Car World Championship with Cruz Pedregon at Larry Minor Motorsports (team manager), and 2009 NHRA Top Fuel World Championship with Tony Schumacher at Don Schumacher Racing (as team manager).  Across his career, Beard scored 55 NHRA National event wins with 12 different drivers, in the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes.  In addition to the three World’s Championships, he also guided Funny Car driver Whit Bazemore to two Championships runner-up positions between 2001 and 2004.  Only fellow Hall of Famer, the late Dale Armstrong, had tuned both Top Fuel and Funny Car to entry to the prestigious Four Second Club (sub- 4-second passes) and the 300-MPH Club.  Beard is also a member of the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.  He currently lives in Silverthorne, Colo., and operates Twist Flyfishing Destinations guide service.

Don Enriquez (Bowing Green, Ky.) – Don Enriquez has long been under the radar when considering racers who were dominant at one point or another of drag racing history.  His racing career has been linked with his friend and fellow Hall of Famer, Gene Adams in the late 1960s-early 1970s in what was collectively known as “Junior Fuel Dragsters”.  This classification embraced four front-engined dragster classes, based on engine size, which used nitromethane fuel, but used naturally-aspirated fuel injected engines.   The pair terrorized the class in southern California, and later across the country.   Born and raised in Santa Monica, Calif., Enriquez followed his father’s career and worked at Hilborn Fuel Injection Technologies (where he met Adams) – first as a machinist and later in the sales department.   Not surprisingly, the Adams & Enriquez dragster was powered by a Hilborn-injected, cast-iron Desoto Hemi 305 engine, which delivered a multitude of wins and Class Eliminator championships at the famed Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, Calif., along with the many other drag strips which dotted the southern California landscape of the period.   Enriquez raced with Gene Adams for 33 years – moving on from the injected front engined dragsters, to nitro-fueled injected Funny Cars and later moved into the emerging nostalgia drag racing cars in the 1980s.   Most recently, Enriquez has competed in the NHRA Heritage series at the wheel of Bob McKray’s C/Fuel dragster which has been a multi-season champion in the Junior Fuel Eliminator for over two decades.   Enriquez remains a part of the Hilborn operations which was recently purchased by Holley Performance Products and moved to Holley’s headquarters in Bowling Green, Ky.  Enriquez is overseeing integration of the Hilborn product line, and imparting over 50 years of mechanical fuel injection experience into the Holley line.

Roy Hill (Sophia, N.C.) – Roy Hill has been hailed as one of the stalwarts of the “Mountain Motor” Pro Stock class during its heyday on the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) circuit from the early 1970s into the 1990s.  Born and raised in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina, Hill grew up just down the road from Lee and Richard Petty in Level Cross, and became close friends with the NASCAR stars.  Though closely linked to the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class, Hill began his racing career in Super Stock class with a Dodge Dart using Petty Enterprises-built and tuned Chrysler power.  When the Pro Stock class was born in the early 1970s, Hill started his illustrious Pro Stock career in a Dodge Dart, using a Petty Enterprises-prepared Chrysler Hemi and carrying the famed Petty Blue and Orange color scheme.  When the IHRA unveiled the unlimited displacement engines rules for their Pro Stock class, Hill was one of the earliest to embrace the emerging class.  Using the skills he learned not only competing at the large National events, as well as doing countless match races across the Southeastern U.S., Hill’s driving and tuning skills made him a formidable foe.  He moved to the Ford camp in the 1982 season, and began a long-term relationship with the company driving variety of Ford models over the years.   While he never logged World Championship as a driver, Hill recorded 28 IHRA national event victories and 31 runner-up finishes as a driver and team owner, but did record an IHRA World Championship with Tim Bell driving a Ford Probe in 1995.  In 1989, Hill embarked upon perhaps his most notable contribution to drag racing, when he launched his “Roy Hill School of Drag Racing” out of his home base in Sophia, NC.  Over the years, Hill has trained and tutored hundreds of students ranging from children learning the sport in Junior Dragsters to aspiring professionals to fans who want to understand how to drive a drag racing vehicle.  While initially focusing the school’s attention to full-bodied cars, Hill’s schools now cover Super Stock full-bodied cars, bracket racing dragsters, as well as Top Sportsman and Top Dragster cars.   While Hill is well-known as a stern task master, it is that trait has helped him develop a reputation as an excellent teacher who produces positive results.  Even experienced racers come to Hill for guidance to keep their skills sharp and to shed problems which negatively impact driver performance.  Hill’s Drag Racing School successes have created a number of other drag racing schools, but it has maintained its reputation as the best of the best.   

Billy Meyer (Waco, Tex.) – Billy Meyer’s drag racing career actually began in the seat of a go-kart at the age of nine.  Even as a child, Meyer had a “need for speed”, and as the highest levels of karting had minimum licensing age of 21 for a professional category, he discovered that drag racing had no such restrictions.   At the tender age of 16, Meyer sought and got his Funny Car license (still the youngest to license in the class).  Immediately after graduating from high school, he went on tour for six weeks on the regional Texas Funny Car circuit in 1972 with his newly-found mentor, Grover Rogers, who, in addition to his interest in karting, was the driver of the Steakley Brothers Chevrolet-backed Camaro Funny Car.  That year, he raced one national event at the IHRA Fall Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., where he finished runner-up to Hall of Famer Shirl Greer.  While he did not win any events his rookie year, he learned valuable lessons about driving and tuning the sometimes evil-handling Funny Cars against very seasoned professionals, and proved he learned his lessons well by winning the most prestigious independent Funny Car race of the season, the 1972 “Manufacturers Funny Car Championship” at the famed Orange County International Raceway (Irvine, Ca.) later that fall.   Two years later, at the age of 20, young Meyer shocked the pundits and veterans by rolling through a very tough field at the NHRA’s U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis (and setting a new National elapsed time record in the process) to square off against the legendary Don Prudhomme in the final round.  Meyer lost that match-up, but proved that he could go toe-to-toe with the sport’s best.  Meyer went on to become one of drag racing’s most successful drivers, and with the exception of a six month period, was the engine tuner on each of his cars.  While he never won a Winston World Championship in the NHRA, he finished second three times, and was third three times across his 15 years of competition.  He competed in 112 NHRA National events, and reached the final round 22 times – a final round appearance record of 20%, and won 12 of those (a 55% winning percentage).  He also won the IHRA Winston World Championship in 1980, and won the IHRA’s prestigious Spring Nationals at Bristol, Tenn. four times.  In 1989, Meyer retired from competition, but did not leave drag racing.   Aside from his on-track racing legacy, Meyer will be best known for his vision of the first ‘Supertrack’ and built the then cutting-edge Texas Motorplex in 1986 in the Dallas area suburb of Ennis, Tex., which featured a quarter mile seamless concrete racing surface and the first track with a ‘stadium’-style seating architecture.  In 1998, on the occasion of the NHRA’s 50th Anniversary, he was named as one of the Top 50 drivers of all time.  In 1987, Meyer bought the International Hot Rod Association, then headquartered in Bristol, Tenn., and moved it to Waco.    At the end of the eight-race 1987 season, he shocked the sport by announcing the IHRA would be operating a 12-race schedule for 1988.   However, repeated bad weather for most of the season resulted in poor attendance, and he sold the IHRA to racer Jim Ruth and Ted Jones.Today, he still owns the Motorplex, and operates several other businesses in the aviation, technology and real estate markets in the Waco area.

Larry Minor (Hemet, Calif.) – Larry Minor is a gearhead, perhaps a wealthy one, but a true gearhead nonetheless.  Aside from overseeing his family’s vast agri-business ventures in California’s Imperial Valley, Minor has been deeply involved with drag racing, off-road racing and sand drag racing in one form or another since the late 1950s.  It was on the “dirt side” of things where Minor began his motorsports career, winning the coveted Mexican 1000 and Baja 1000, as well as the Mint 400 and the Baja 500 events.  In the world of sand drag racing, his innovative approach carried him numerous race wins and induction into the Sand Drag Racing Hall of Fame.  His drag racing efforts got underway in 1978, teaming with Hall of Fame driver, Gary Beck in a Top Fuel dragster – which produced an overwhelming demonstration of performance in 1983, setting an amazing 17 of 18 quickest runs in the sport’s history to that point, and won the NHRA’s Top Fuel World Championship.  Throughout the decade of the ’80s Minor’s teams were a threat to win every time they rolled into the pits.   By the end of the decade, Minor had sponsorship from Miller Brewing Company and their Miller High Life and Miller Lite brands.  Minor occasionally drove his own Miller-backed dragster, and had a Funny Car with another Hall of Famer, Ed “The Ace” McCulloch, at the wheel.  Not only did Minor’s drag racing operations attract top-level driving talent, he also drew top level team personnel to the teams, names that included Hall of Famer Bernie Fedderly and fellow Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inductee, Lee Beard.  During his later years in drag racing, Minor was one of the first “super teams” to compete in NHRA events, fielding a Top Fuel car and a Funny Car through the mid-1990s, when he left the sport to concentrate on his businesses.  After the Miller Brewing sponsorship, fast-food giant, McDonalds entered the sport, backing McCullough in the McDonald’s Top Fuel car, and Cruz Pedergon in the Funny Car.  McCullough would deliver an IHRA World Championship in 1988 and a prestigious U.S. Nationals win in 1990 in the Miller Funny Car, and Pedergon would notch win the NHRA Winston World Championship in Funny Car in 1992, and won the U.S. Nationals three times in four years (1992, 1993 and 1995).  Though Minor left active participation in drag racing behind, he continued to participate in the sand drags – as a racer and later as a chassis and vehicle builder.  

Founders Award - Don Prieto  (Torrance, Calif.) – Don Prieto’s checkered career has had many facets, at times with the facets overlapping one another.  A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Louisiana State University, Prieto went to California after college, and immersed himself completely in the West Coast car culture of the 1960s.  Prieto, never one to turn a blind eye to what he considered to be a problem (or worse) found himself working in the automotive enthusiast media, while also getting involved with Top Fuel cars.  As a journalist, Prieto was nicknamed “The Louisiana Lip” for prodding at some of the sacred cows of drag racing and the emerging performance automotive aftermarket.  The nickname changed to “The Wavemaker”, and his very pointed critiques were both lauded and hated, but their points were most often on target.  Prieto was a fixture at the drag strips writing and editorializing for first “Drag Digest” and then “Drag Racing” magazines.  This was followed by a stint at Petersen Publishing Book Division, editing drag racing-related titles, plus “Hot Rod Industry News”, a trade publication for the performance parts aftermarket.  During this period, Prieto was an employee of the famed chassis builder Woody Gilmore’s Race Care Engineering (RCE), and was involved with several teams, most notable the Prieto, Cagle and Yates team with Don Yates driving.  Over the years, Prieto’s skills at extemporaneous speaking and the ability to present his thoughts on paper led him to public relations positions with the automotive trade associations, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA).  This led to employment with advertising agency positions working with automaker accounts.  Eventually, Prieto founded The Prietive Group, which contracted with a number of automakers to provide test cars and trucks to the media, as well as doing special automotive projects in the shop.   One of the most significant project vehicles to come out of The Prietive Group shop was Don’s restoration of the “Hustler VI” front-engined dragster of Frank Cannon and Art Chrisman in 2010, a car he worked on during his employment at SCE.  The car has been considered one of the best front-engined fuel dragster restorations ever done, keeping the car true to its mid-1960s origins.  He also restored “TV Tommy” Ivo’s single engined, fuel-injected Buick-powered dragster.   Prieto continues to help his family operate the business, plus writing insightful blog stories about the early days of drag racing and the automotive industry.

Patricia Garlits Award - Etta Glidden (Whiteland, Ind.) – Etta Glidden stood beside her legendary husband, Pro Stock superstar and Hall of Fame driver Bob Glidden throughout his checkered career of 85 NHRA class wins, and 10 NHRA Winston World Championships.  Etta was a fixture at the starting line and in the pits as the Glidden family raced their Ford Pintos, Fairlanes, Mustangs and Thunderbirds (as well as one year with a Plymouth Arrow) against some of the very toughest competitors in Pro Stock class history.  As the Glidden Family’s race program developed, Etta served as Crew Chief – keeping the team organized and was there to assist in any way possible, working on the car with her sons with Bob’s direction, yet being a mother at the track and at home.  There were many of those iconic, leaping celebratory starting line moments with Billy and Rusty as Bob recorded another victory, but those were made possible with Etta’s total dedication to the hard work she did behind the scenes in the pits and at home in Whiteland, Ind.  There was also the humanitarian side of her that few have known about.  She is one of the ‘Founding Mothers’ of the Drag Racing Association of Women (DRAW) with several of the wives of the leading drivers and personalities of the sport in 1984 following Shirley Muldowney’s life-threatening crash pointed to the need for support of drag racing families following accidents.   Her tenacity and ability to handle the business and family needs made Etta Glidden one of the sport’s most respected personalities.   The Patricia Garlits Memorial Award is given out annually to a woman who has “contributed to the sport of drag racing through their professional activities- at the track-and/or their personal activities-off the track-which promotes the sport in a positive manner or to the success of the sport.”