Five legendary names from the Indianapolis 500 will assume their place among racing legends this May as the 2004 Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony adds winning drivers Emerson Fittipaldi, Mark Donohue and Tom Sneva, and team owners John Zink and Lindsey Hopkins to the list of inductees.
Fittipaldi, Sneva and Zink are all expected to attend the ceremony, while Donohue and Hopkins will be inducted posthumously.
Donohue won the 1972 500 driving for team owner Roger Penske, a 2002 Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee. Donohue's brief tenure at the Speedway was one of the most impressive in history, as he also earned rookie of the year honours in 1969, and followed that with a second-place finish in 1970. He was leading and had just set a record race lap when mechanical problems sidelined him in 1971, and similar problems ended an impressive run in 1973, his final Indianapolis 500.
After winning the first race he entered, a hill climb in Belknap, New Hampshire, Donohue's legend grew quickly thanks to multiple SCCA US road racing and Trans-Am championships throughout the 1960s. He also scored a NASCAR stock car win in 1973 at Riverside, in only his sixth NASCAR start, driving for Penske. Donohue also captured the inaugural IROC series in 1974, winning three of four events. His record-setting career ended tragically when he suffered fatal injuries during a practice crash at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix.
Fittipaldi first came to the Speedway in 1984 after a stellar eleven-year Formula One career that included world championships in 1972 and 1974. The Brazilian started 144 Grand Prix events, scoring 14 wins and 21 additional podium finishes.
His success continued at Indianapolis, where he won the 500 in 1989 and 1993. He also earned a total of five top-ten finishes in eleven starts at Indy, plus the prestigious pole in 1990.
Fittipaldi's 1989 victory was one of the most memorable in history. He and Al Unser Jr duelled for the lead in the closing laps before, on lap 199, with Unser in the lead, the Brazilian pulled alongside in turn three, and the two cars touched. Unser did a 180-degree spin and hit the wall, while Fittipaldi's Patrick Racing car wiggled but somehow remained in control, allowing Fittipaldi to win under caution.
Hopkins was a stalwart in championship open-wheel racing from 1951-82, entering as many as four cars for the Indianapolis 500 in some years, even when sponsorship could not be obtained.
Although he never won the 500, Hopkins finished second with Jim Rathmann in 1957 and 1959, while Roger McCluskey, a long-time Hopkins driver, won the 1972 Ontario 500 and 1973 USAC championship. Other Hopkins drivers at Indianapolis over the years included stars such as Bill Vukovich, Lloyd Ruby, Wally Dallenbach and Pat O'Connor.
Sneva, affectionately known as 'The Gas Man' for frequently sitting atop the speed charts, was the first driver to officially break the 200mph and 210mph barriers at Indianapolis, in 1977 and 1984 respectively.