top of page
  • Spencer Frady

USAC Reveals 2024 Hall of Fame Inductees



Series News Release - USAC Media


Speedway, Indiana (April 3, 2024) - The USAC Hall of Fame 2024 class of inductees for 2024 has been revealed.


USAC’s 11th hall of fame class includes photographers Gene Crucean and John Mahoney; car owners The Hoffman Family; champion drivers Rickey Hood and Levi Jones, plus promoter Tom Marchese and mechanic/car owner Jud Phillips.


The official 2024 USAC Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at USAC headquarters in Speedway, Indiana on Friday afternoon, September 27, 2024, during the Driven2SaveLives BC39 weekend for the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Championship at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.



MEET THE USAC HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2024:

 

GENE CRUCEAN


Born on February 16, 1943, in Hammond, Indiana, Gene Crucean’s lifelong racing adventure took him to several facets of the sport. While attending events as a child with his father at the northern Indiana/Chicago area racetracks, Crucean began his collection of racing photography.


In time, his world revolved around the sport, and he was crafty in how he officially began his involvement in an official capacity starting in 1965 at the Terre Haute Action Track, armed with a camera and a USAC credential via the fictitious Northwest News. Since that point, Crucean has captured a plethora of iconic USAC moments.


As an Indiana University freshman in 1962, Crucean met fellow photographer John Mahoney. A lifelong friendship was forged and the most dynamic of duos was born. In 1968, Crucean/Mahoney founded Sprint Car Pictorial magazine, and in 1976, they leased the Indianapolis Speedrome to promote a USAC Midget event won by Bruce Robey.


Soon after, Crucean purchased a midget from Robin Miller and became a team owner. With Roy Caruthers as his driver, the team annually appeared in the series standings between 1983-92, finishing fifth in 1990. In 1988, Crucean and Caruthers scored a monumental victory at the Hoosier Dome Invitational.


HOFFMAN FAMILY


In the annals of USAC racing, nobody has accrued as much success as the Hoffman family. Since USAC’s formation in 1956, the Ohio-based outfit has won 146 feature events across the board in sprint car, midget and Silver Crown competition.


August “Gus” Hoffman founded the team in 1929 after discovering a car in a field and began contesting events in the Ohio/Kentucky area. For the next quarter-century, Hoffman’s team competed regularly in sprint car races. By 1956, Gus’ midget was a winner in USAC’s inaugural season at Ohio’s Dayton Speedway with driver Eddie Sachs.


Gus entered USAC’s Sprint ranks in 1957, and with Don Branson behind the wheel at Ohio’s New Bremen Speedway, scored the first of the team’s 135 USAC National Sprint Car wins to date. Gus’ son, Richard, joined the team as an owner in 1964, and in time, Richard’s son Rob became a mainstay on the team, making it a three-generation effort.


After a decade-plus of Indy Car racing, the Hoffman team hit its stride starting in 1989 with the first of its record 13 USAC National Sprint Car entrant titles with drivers Rich Vogler, Steve Butler, Dave Darland, Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr. and Brady Bacon.

 

RICKEY HOOD


Perhaps the most significant testament to an individual’s skill is how quickly adaptable one is to their surroundings and how resilient they are to sudden obstacles.


Rickey Hood showcased these skills in spades throughout his illustrious racing career. In fact, no driver has become a winner in all three of USAC’s national divisions quicker than Hood with a victory in his Silver Crown debut as well as triumphs in his second starts with both the sprints and midgets – a total of five appearances.


Born into the ultra-competitive Memphis racing scene on July 15, 1952, as the son of National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Clarence “Hooker” Hood, Rickey cemented his own status as USAC star in 1984 by virtue of his first career USAC National Sprint Car driving title. At the conclusion of the season, however, a freak accident occurred when an errant sprint car hit Rickey in the pits, breaking both of his legs.


In his comeback season of 1985, once again teamed with car owner Damon “Blackie” Fortune, Rickey performed even better by becoming the first driver to capture both the USAC National Sprint Car and Silver Crown titles in the same season, thus earning the Jimmy Caruthers Memorial Award for Spirit and Determination.

 

LEVI JONES


From the time he set off rolling down the road with his dad and their family-run racing operation, Levi Jones was determined to become a champion.


Originating from humble beginnings, Jones, born on June 10, 1982, wasn’t afraid to test his abilities against USAC’s best from the outset. From the time he turned 16, the Olney, Illinois native learned the ropes, the trials and the tribulations. After nearly seven seasons of USAC competition, he broke through for his first USAC Sprint Car win in 2004 on the dirt in Charlotte, North Carolina.


From that point forward, no driver was as consistently successful as Levi. He earned his first USAC Sprint crown in 2005 for 2B Racing before joining Tony Stewart Racing’s stable where he reeled off successive championships in 2007-09-10-11. To boot, he added back-to-back USAC Silver Crown titles in 2010-11 for TSR for a total of seven USAC national points championship in his masterful career.


In 2015, he hung up his helmet and joined USAC as its national series director and was ultimately named Vice President of Competition for the club’s Circle Track Division through 2021. Jones was also instrumental in establishing many new foundational events for USAC, most notably the BC39 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


JOHN MAHONEY


Few, if any, individuals have witnessed more USAC events through a camera’s viewfinder, and perhaps nobody has been more adept at snapping an action or candid shot and transforming it into an art form more exquisitely than John Mahoney.


Born in Indianapolis on August 18, 1943, Mahoney was raised in the center of the racing universe, and it wasn’t long before he was hooked.  Mahoney’s earliest racing memories recount visits to the Indianapolis 500 and the Hoosier Hundred during the mid-1950s. However, it was a USAC Sprint Car race at Terre Haute which laid the foundation for a lifelong addiction to the sport.


Early on, Mahoney took his store-bought box camera into the pits after the races. With the assistance of his brother, Steve, Mahoney developed the photos for posterity. At Indiana University, Mahoney met fellow student Gene Crucean, and the instant bond between them forged a lifelong friendship.


The Crucean/Mahoney partnership led to the creation of Sprint Car Pictorial, race promotion and even the ownership of a USAC Midget team. From 1984-85, Mahoney served as USAC’s Assistant Director of the USAC News Bureau as well as the Silver Crown Series Coordinator. In 2019, Mahoney was the inaugural recipient of the Dick Jordan Award of Excellence.


TOM MARCHESE


One of the most prevalent promoters in both AAA and USAC history, Tom Marchese’s stewardship at Wisconsin State Fair Park’s Milwaukee Mile ranks among the longest and most successful tenures in motorsports history.


Born in Sicily in 1899, Tom immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin at a young age and forged his own path forward in the burgeoning automobile industry. As a teenager, he began working as a mechanic at the Holmes Motor Company’s Ford dealership. In the years to come, Tom turned the wrenches for his brother, driver Carl Marchese, and together in 1929, they paired up to finish fourth at the Indianapolis 500.


Later in 1929, Tom was approached with the opportunity to promote a race at Milwaukee. He obliged, and kickstarted a career which turned out to be the first of a long and successful tenure as a race organizer, annually hosting a smorgasbord of AAA, and later, USAC events which offered a hefty purse and a packed house.


In all, Tom promoted 80 USAC events between 1956-68, and under his watch, Milwaukee hosted more National Championship and Stock Car races than any other venue. Tom was prominent in the formation of USAC and was among the first appointees to USAC’s Board of Directors. Tom passed away on March 6, 1990, at the age of 90.


JUD PHILLIPS


A mechanical magician throughout multiple generations of open wheel racing, Jud “Christin” Phillips was a master of his craft on champ cars and sprint cars in a career that spanned from the 1950s to the 1980s.


Born on April 20, 1927, in Vancouver, Wash., Phillips first gained fame for his work on the wrenches for car owner Bob Estes, earning the 1956 USAC Midwest Sprint Car title with driver Pat O’Connor. In 1959, Phillips served as the crew chief for Don Branson’s USAC Midwest Sprint Car crown. With Branson in 1964, Phillips, now as a car owner, earned the USAC National Sprint Car entrant title.


Phillips constructed Bruce Homeyer’s Konstant Hot Specials, which scored back-to-back USAC National Sprint championships in 1962-63, namely with Roger McCluskey at the wheel. The same Phillips-built machine corralled the series title again in 1966, this time with Clarence “Mutt” Anderson as the car owner and McCluskey the wheelman.


In his Indy Car career, Phillips oversaw the transition from front engine cars to rear engines, from roadsters to wings and ground effects, and he found success in all. Overall, Phillips orchestrated 18 victories for drivers Branson, Mike Mosely, Billy Vukovich, Tom Sneva, and his headline win with Bobby Unser at the 1968 Indianapolis 500. Phillips passed away in January of 1997.


USAC HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES:


2012: J.C. Agajanian, Mario Andretti, Gary Bettenhausen, Tom Binford, Jimmy Bryan, Duane Carter, A.J. Foyt, Tony Hulman, Parnelli Jones, Mel Kenyon, Roger McCluskey & Rich Vogler


2013: Earl Baltes, Henry Banks, Tony Bettenhausen, Tom Bigelow, Pancho Carter, Jack Hewitt, Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, A.J. Watson, Don White & Bob Wilke


2014: Rollie Beale, George Bignotti, Don Branson, Larry Dickson, Gus Hoffman, Jud Larson, Norm Nelson, Eddie Sachs, Don Smith, Bob Stroud, Rodger Ward & Bob Wente


2015: Clint Brawner, Jimmy Caruthers, Butch Hartman, Lindsey Hopkins, Jim Hurtubise, Don Kenyon, Sheldon Kinser, Fred Lorenzen, Roger Penske, Larry Rice, Shorty Templeman & Sleepy Tripp


2016: Steve Butler, Russ Clendenen, Jimmy Davies, Willie Davis, Bob Higman, Tommy Hinnershitz, Dick King, Rick Mears, Pat O’Connor, Kevin Olson, Tony Stewart & Bob Tattersall


2017: Donald Davidson, Frankie DelRoy, Bob East, Chuck Gurney, Gene Hartley, Steve Lewis, Howard Linne, Lloyd Ruby, Ken Schrader, Robbie Stanley, Steve Stapp & Johnny Thomson


2018: Mike Devin, Tony Elliott, Paul Goldsmith, Jason Leffler, Bill Lipkey, Troy Ruttman, Bob/Gene Shannon & Jimmy Sills


2019: Bryan Clauson, Johnny Capels, Dick Jordan & Dave Steele


2020: None


2021: None


2022: Doug Caruthers, Jay Drake, Galen Fox, Jeff Gordon, Dan Gurney, Ray Nichels, Johnny Vance & Joe Shaheen


2023: Bobby East, Ted Halibrand, Tracy Hines, Terry Lingner, Bill Marvel & The Wilke Family


2024: Gene Crucean, The Hoffman Family, Rickey Hood, Levi Jones, John Mahoney, Tom Marchese & Jud Phillips

Commentaires


bottom of page