Legend Jones leads glamorous Hall of Fame

Friday 15 March, 2019
Photos: Clinton Plowman

Alan Jones MBE is officially a ‘Legend’ of motor sport, after his elevation at the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame, presented by Famous Insurance.

Thirteen motor sport identities were also inducted into the Hall of Fame, at a sold-out gala dinner at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday night. 

With FIA President Jean Todt in attendance, guests also paid their tributes to FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting who sadly passed away on the eve of the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019.

To celebrate Whiting's long list of achievements, all guests took part in a standing ovation to honour the 66-year-old.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, was also a surprise guest at the event, sharing his insights into the opening round of the Formula 1 season.

Meanwhile, it was a proud night for the highly decorated Jones, as he was elevated to Legend status. Jones was inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame dinner in 2016 and is a deserving recipient of the prestigious honour. 

Winning the Formula 1 World Championship in 1980 with Williams, Jones ended his illustrious 10-year career with 12 Grand Prix victories from 116 starts, as well as also domestic having success which included the 1993 Bathurst 12 Hour.

The 13 inductees have certainly had their own success in a number of world, national and state championships across a variety of disciplines across many years.

The class of 2019 inductees included the popular three-time Virgin Australia Supercars Champion Craig Lowndes OAM

Lowndes leaves an incredible legacy in the sport, winning five Barry Sheene Medals, eight endurance titles, seven Bathurst 1000 wins and five Sandown 500 victories. The former Triple Eight racing driver was also the first to reach 100 race wins in the championship

Lowndes wasn’t the only inductee from the Australian Touring Cars class to be recognised, with Marcos Ambrose also inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Ambrose made his Australian Touring Cars Championship debut in 2001 and was named Rookie of the Year in just his first year of racing. He went on to race 147 times and claim 66 wins, tasting the ultimate success in 2003 and 2004 with back-to-back championship titles. In 2006 he moved to the US to compete in NASCAR for seven years. 

In a career spanning more than 40 years, the late Hope Bartlett was recognised for his contributions to the sport, which included hill climb records, Australian Grand Prix entries, New Zealand Cup titles and plenty of success at the Maroubra Speedway in front of crowds of 70,000 and more. 

Motorcycle speedway Philip Crump found his success on two wheels instead of four Crump is a deserved Hall of Fame inductee with 13 Victorian titles and four national titles, as well as being art of the 1976 World Team Cup championship winners.

Despite not winning the title, Crump’s third place in the World Solo Cup that same year was one of the most memorable performances of his career.

Crump was not the only two-wheel champion to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year with the late Eric HintonRay Fisher and Stefan Merriman also leaving a lasting impression on their discipline.   

Hinton had a decorated domestic twenty-year career that saw him contest several Grand Prix races in 1950, as well as a host of Australian TT and GP victories at Southport, Mount Panorama, Longford and Phillip Island. 

Making his European debut at just 21-years-old, Hinton enjoyed a long international career, his most notable achievement being a 500cc victory in the 1959 Czech Grand Prix in Brno. 

Fisher also made his mark on the sport during the same era as Hinton, his silverware coming in the form of the Australian Scramble Championship during the 1950s. Fisher always battled hard and was rewarded with a 350cc and 500cc title during this period. 

The New Zealand born Merriman also enjoyed lots of success in Australia, especially his adopted home of New South Wales, however fans may be more aware of his time on the international stage.

 Merriman won the World Enduro Championship four times in the early 2000s, taking out the 250cc in 2000 and 2003, the 400cc in 2001 and the Enduro in 2004. 

Throughout the evening, there were multiple world champions inducted and one of the more inspirational ones was Sprintcar champion Max Dumesny.

Mostly known as a seven-time winner of the World Series Sprintcars held in Australia, Dumesny also claimed a host of championship titles across South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, as well as an incredible eight Victorian championships.

Allan Horsley was also another driver who enjoyed lots of success across multiple states in Australia, but he will always be remembered for his 11 Targa Tasmania class wins and his three consecutive Australian Touring Cars Endurance titles between 1982 and 1984, which included a hat-trick of Bathurst 12 Hour victories.

There were also two iconic figures in the drag racing world recognised for their efforts in making the sport what it is today, Eddie Thomas and Larry Ormsby.

Thomas may not have had a lengthy career behind the wheel in the sport, only competing for four years, but he was a significant figure in the birth of the speed equipment industry in Australia and in the earliest days of Australian drag racing.

As for Ormsby, he won an incredible five National titles across four different categories, his first being the Stock category in 1970 and his last being the second of his Top Fuel titles in 1984. 

While he enjoyed track success, it was his work off it that made him a worthy inductee, as he was instrumental in the formation of the Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA).'

Moving away from tarmac, off road driver David Fellows and rally driver Evan Green can now call themselves members of the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame.

Still going strong in the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship, Fellows enjoyed national success between 2008 and 2011, where he took out back-to-back titles from 2010 after picking up two consecutive runner-up finishes.

Fellows is also known for his incredible run of three consecutive wins at the iconic Tatts Finke Desert Race between 2008-2010. 

As for Green, his time as an international rally driver and a journalist in Australia were the major factors behind his induction. In the car, Green competed at the Australia Trial and the London-Sydney Marathon before spending more than 20 years as a commentator, retiring in 1983.

The night also saw three other special awards given out, starting with the Speedcafe.com Spirit of Speed Award, which rewards the work of motor sport officials and volunteers. Husband and wife Alf and Maureen Capri were joint winners for their contribution to karting in Queensland.

Indy 500 winner Will Power and Dakar champion Toby Price also took out the Ronald J Walker Award for excellence, an accolade which is awarded to the performances of an Australian in world motor sport.