DARLINGTON, S.C. – The National Motorsports Press Association will induct four more members into its Hall of Fame in 2024, led by NHRA legend Don Garlits.
Garlits was elected to the NMPA Hall of Fame alongside three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford, award-winning journalist Deb Williams, and road course star Hurley Haywood.
Garlits received the most votes with 84.95%. Rutherford received 82.80% and Williams 80.65% of the votes cast. Haywood was voted in with 73.12%.
To be elected to the NMPA Hall of Fame, a nominee must receive more than 65% of the votes cast by members. The four new inductees will be honored at the annual NMPA Hall of Fame ceremony in Jan. 2024.
Additional details about the event will be announced at a later date. Biographies of the new inductees can be found below.
The NMPA Hall of Fame, which highlights all inductees and other award honorees, is located on the grounds of Darlington Raceway. It has been in operation since 1965.
Don “Big Daddy” Garlits is a pioneer in the world of drag racing.
After losing his foot in a racing accident, Garlits advanced the use of the rear-engine dragster, changing the sport forever. The Tampa, FL native was the first driver to top 270 miles per hour in the quarter-mile, winning nearly 150 national events and 17 national titles. His innovations and dedication to safety earned his infamous Swamp Rat XXX dragster a spot in the National Museum of American History.
In 2000, the NHRA named him the top driver of the 20th century.
Johnny Rutherford is a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and is known as one of the best ambassadors for Indy car racing. Growing up in Texas earned him the nickname “Lone Star JR,” and Rutherford won 30 times in Indy cars, including the CART series championship in 1980.
His career went beyond open wheel. Rutherford made 35 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, including a win in his first race while driving for owner Smokey Yunick at Daytona International Speedway. Rutherford’s career saw him compete around the world until retirement in 1994. He continued his motor sports contributions in the broadcast booth with NBC, CBS, ESPN and IMS radio network.
Writer and author Deb Williams is a trailblazer for women in the NASCAR media corps. Williams is in her fourth decade of covering motor sports with a resume that includes time at USA Today, the Charlotte Observer, United Press International and as the editor of Winston Cup Scene.
The two-time NMPA George Cunningham Writer of the Year is also the author of five books. Williams was the first female to win the Writer of the Year award and the first female to win the Henry T. McLemore Award for career excellence in motor sports journalism.
Williams also received the prestigious Russ Catlin Award for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism. She remains a trusted voice in media centers across the country.
Hurley Haywood earned a Hall-of-Fame career on the track and continues making his mark off it. Haywood is one of the most accomplished road racers ever, earning five overall victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and three overall wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2018, Haywood publicly came out as gay and told his story of rising in stardom as a closeted man.
He later told Huffpost he came out to “save lives” and advocate for the LGBTQ community