Motor racing luminaries came together with industry colleagues and, for the first time, the public, as the Motor Sport Hall of Fame moved away from its regular London ceremony to a day’s celebrations at the Royal Automobile Club’s Woodcote Park clubhouse in Epsom.
The oldest motoring club and oldest motor sport magazine in Britain came together to present a motor sport spectacle, which started off with an early afternoon panel discussion on ‘The Great Rivals’ and included nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, two-time Le Mans class winner Darren Turner, former Formula 1 driver and team owner Jackie Oliver, five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell, Isle of Man TT winner and Motor Sport magazine writer Mat Oxley and Motor Sport editor Damien Smith. The panel was hosted by Formula 1 presenter Jennie Gow and covered both the sport’s historic rivalries as well as those closer to home for the panel.
Following the panel discussion and afternoon tea on the Cedar Lawn, attendees were treated to demonstration runs up the Captain’s Drive, carving their way through the centre of the Club’s Old Course golf course. Leading the way was Derek Bell in a Porsche 962C, followed by the fabulous sights of the ex-Stirling Moss Jaguar C-type, ex-John Surtees Honda motorcycle, ex-Colin McRae Subaru Impreza and Mike Hailwood’s son David, taking his father’s Honda up the hill.
The rain held off as the guests arrived for the evening’s main event and once again, the cars and bikes blasted their way up the hill as the precursor to dinner and the awards themselves, which saw five new names inducted into the Hall of Fame. This year, it was the public that decided the inductees with over 25,000 people casting their votes in the various categories.
The awards themselves kicked off with the rallying category with nominees including Hannu Mikkola, Sébastien Loeb and Richard Burns but it was the Frenchman, and nine-time World Rally Champion who won the award, presented by Paddy Hopkirk.
In the sports cars category, Tom Kristensen was on stage to present winner Derek Bell with his award.
Next up were the motorcycles and from the choice of Joey Dunlop, Valentino Rossi and Mike Hailwood the public chose the charismatic Italian. Rossi, speaking from the Yamaha motorhome at the Spanish Grand Prix commented, ‘Being with these important names of motor sport is fantastic. Thank you to everybody and I hope to see you next time.’
Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Jackie Stewart was on hand to present the US racing award, which went to his great friend Dan Gurney, who sent a heartfelt message: “Motor Sport magazine, the green one that I remember Jenks used to write… Well, certainly I am touched to be considered to be a part of this group listed on the trophy, people that I have looked up to all my life, some that I raced against. I appreciated the fans, if there was a vote and they voted me in I say ‘thank you very much!’ I am glad that I have managed to get in and I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.”
The finale was the Formula 1 category, hotly contested between Professor Sid Watkins, Gilles Villeneve and Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth from Cosworth Engineering. McLaren chairman Ron Dennis was on hand to help present the award, which went to his close friend Sid Watkins’ whose wife, Susan and son, Alistair, went up to collect the award to great applause.