USAC announces 2024 Hall of Fame class with seven inductees

Indy Lights Levi Jones
Indy Lights Levi Jones

The United States Auto Club (USAC) announced its 11th Hall of Fame class with inductions for Levi Jones, Rickey Hood, Gene Crucean, John Mahoney, Tom Marchese, Jud Philips and the Hoffman family.

These seven inductees bring the list up to 105 members.

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USAC has been the breeding ground for some of the greatest drivers in auto racing's history including the stars of the premiere divisions of open wheel, road racing and stock racing including Tony and Gary Bettenhausen, Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Roger Penske and AJ Foyt. The full list is at the bottom of this post.

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.

Levi Jones

Racing since the age of 16 when he toured with his family-owned team, Jones career propelled him to the top of the sport as a racer and official.

After paying his dues during six seasons of racing, he broke through for his first USAC Sprint Car victory in 2004 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jone went on to win his first USAC Sprint Car championship in 2005 before joining fellow Hall-of-Famer Tony Stewart's team and then scoring four more in 2007 and consecutively from 2009 through 2011. Jones also won the USAC Silver Crown titles in 2010 and 2011 with Stewart.

Jones served as the Vice President of Competition for the club’s Circle Track Division through 2021.

Rickey Hood

Hood was immediately successful in USAC's top three divisions. In fact, no one has achieved his level of success in so short a period of time.

Hood won in his Silver Crown debut and was victorious in his second starts in both the Sprint and Midget divisions.

The son of National Sprint Car Hall of Fame member Clarence "Hooker" Hood, Rickey scored his first National Sprint Car driving championship in 1984 before he was sidelined with two broken legs suffered in an accident in the pits.

It didn't take long to rebound. Hood became the first driver to win both the Sprint and Silver Crown titles in the same season of 1985.

Gene Crucean

Crucean contributed to the sport both as a photographer and team owner.

His earliest exploits include covering races in 1965 at the Terre Haute Action Track with a camera and USAC credentials awarded to a fictitious magazine, the Northwest News.

In the late 1970s, Crucean purchased a midget from Robin Miller and became a team owner. With Ray Caruthers as the driver, the team regularly challenged in the points' standings and finished fifth in 1990.

Crucean also developed a lifelong friendship with another of this year's inductees, John Mahoney. The partnership bore a publication named the Sprint Car Pictorial magazine.

John Mahoney

Mahoney is one of the most prolific photographers of USAC action.

From visits to the Indianapolis 500 and Hoosier Hundred in the mid-1950s, Mahoney also cut his teeth professionally in Terre Haute near where he and Crucean both attended Indiana University. Touring the pits with a store-bought box camera, Mahoney met Crucean and eventually formed the partnership that included race promotion and team ownership.

In 1984 and 1985, Mahoney served as USAC’s Assistant Director of the USAC News Bureau as well as the Silver Crown Series Coordinator.

Tom Marchese

Born in Sicily in 1899, Marchese earned his fame as a race promoter and his stewardship of the Milwaukee Mile ranks among the longest and most successful in the motorsports' history.

Marchese served as the mechanic for his brother Carl Marchese, who finish fourth in the 1929 Indy 500. It was soon after this success that he began to promote races at the Mile for both the AAA and USAC.

Marchese promoted 80 events between 1956 and 1968 and during his tenure at the Milwaukee Mile the track hosted more National Championship and Stock Car races than any other venue.

Marchese passed away on March 6, 1990, at the age of 90.

Jud Phillips

In a career spanning four decades, from the 1950s to the 1980s, Philips gained fame as a mechanic for legendary car owner Bob Estes. He helped the team to the 1956 USAC Midwest Sprint Car title with Pat O’Connor behind the wheel.

Phillips lived through the transition of front engine cars to rear engine racers. Phillips was part of 18 victories for drivers including Tom Sneva, Billy Vukovich, Mike Mosely and Don Branson. In 1968, he was part of the winning team that saw Bobby Unser win his first of three Indy 500s.

Philips died in January, 1997.

The Hoffman Family

The Hoffmans are the second family unit to be named to the USAC Hall of Fame, following the 2023 induction of the Wilke family.

In 1929, August Hoffman found a car rusting in a field and started racing it in events around the Ohio / Kentucky area. For a quarter of a century, the family team competed in sprint car races in the area. They would go on to win the championship in 1956 with famed Eddie Sachs,, (a 2014 HoF inductee), behind the wheel.

Gus' son Richard joined the team as an owner in 1964 with grandson Rob later making this a three-generation effort.

They earned their first of 135 USAC National Sprint Car wins with Branson wheeling the car at New Bremen Speedway in Ohio.

In 1989, The Hoffman family earned the first of a record 13 USAC National Sprint Car entrant titles with drivers Rich Vogler, Steve Butler, Dave Darland, Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr. and Brady Bacon.

USAC Hall of Fame Inductees by year:

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

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

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

2020, 2021: No Class announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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