National Corvette Museum Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Honorees

002-national-corvette-museum-messner-1The National Corvette Museum announced its inductees as part of the 20th Annual Corvette Hall of Fame Ceremony for 2017. Peter Brock for Enthusiast; Jim Minneker for GM/Chevrolet; and Tommy Morrison for Racing. These legends will be honored receiving the Museum’s highest honor for their stellar contributions to “the past, present and future of Corvette.”

The 2017 Corvette Hall of Fame recipients will be inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame during a ceremony and banquet on Friday, September 1, 2017. Their induction will take place as part of the Museum’s very well attended Anniversary Celebration August 31 – September 2, 2017. This year the museum celebrates 23 years of the great American sports car.

HOF 1

Peter Brock

Peter Brock was one of the youngest designers to ever be invited to work at GM Design. He was only 19 and an accomplished student at Pasedena’s Design Center school for Art when Bill Mitchell, VP of the Styling Section for GM, wanted to build a successor to the 1957 Corvette SS concept car. Ultimately Brock’s sketch was selected and developed. The team of designers included Chuck Pohlmann, Larry Shinoda and Tony Lapine. The result was the very first Corvette to be called a Sting Ray — the XP87 Corvette Sting Ray Racer. This racing concept would go on to influence the lines and look of the second-generation Corvette and essentially, every subsequent Corvette.

According to the museum’s official release, “As an enthusiast, Brock has done just about everything relating to motorsports. He has designed and raced cars, written books and articles, and even became a photojournalist capturing one of the greatest eras of motor-racing history. He documented the Corvette’s performance history from its earliest days in the mid ‘50s with Briggs Cunningham at Le Mans, through the powerful era when drivers Dave McDonald, Dick Thompson and Bob Bondurant established the Corvette as America’s only true production performance car, all the way to the present C7 generation. In addition to all of that he started Brock Racing Enterprises in the 1960’s and has worked on a number of other marques along the way, but has always had a very special place in his heart for Corvettes.”

HOF 2

Jim Minneker

As both a racer and an engineer Jim Minneker is synonymous of the way Chevrolet pours racing DNA into its Corvette. His understanding of what makes power, and what it takes to control that power on a track made him a hugely valuable resource to Chevy. Minneker joined the Corvette team in 1986, spending the next ten years working on the LT1, LT4 and the legendary LT5 engines that would become the heart of the ZR-1 Corvette supercar. His career culminated with becoming the engineering group manager for GM High Performance Vehicle Operations.

As a racer, he drove for Bake Racing, Morrison-Cook Motorsports, Doug Rippie Racing and Mallett Motorsports, in the SCCA World Challenge, the IMSA Supercar series, IMSA GT and the Grand Am series. Perhaps his greatest achievement behind the wheel however, was as a member of the team of eight drivers that set the 24-Hour Speed Endurance World Record Run in 1990, driving a stock ZR-1 Corvette at an average speed of 175.885 mph.

Jim was also instrumental in arranging for displays relating to powertrain and engineering at the National Corvette Museum. Ultimately, being elected to the position of Chairman of the Board where his leadership, wisdom, direction and vision has been essential in setting the course for the future at the National Corvette Museum.

HOF 3

Tommy Morrison

Tommy Morrison, wearing dark sunglasses with a confident smile, has become an iconic Corvette racer. In the early 1980s when he teamed up with the late Jim Cook to found Morrison-Cook Motorsports, his Corvette race cars dominated the showroom stock racing and making Corvette history along the way. He set out to prove that Mobil 1 and Corvette were a nearly unbeatable combination racking up more 24-hour endurance wins than any team before them–thus starting a sponsorship relationship that is still winning to this day.

On the track, Tommy’s teams gave GM engineers valuable test data that went back to the design of the cars. All his wins gave Chevrolet’s marketing department a series of opportunities for promoting the Corvette. Perhaps the greatest example of this was the 1990 24-Hour Speed Endurance World Record Run, where he Jim Minneker and their team ran a stock ZR-1 Corvette and drove it 24 hours straight, averaging 175.885 miles per hour. This became a PR boost that GM would use in a series of commercials and print ads to further establish Corvette’s reputation as a high-performance icon. So important was this achievement that the National Corvette Museum has a long-term exhibit on display with the actual record run car, and plaster casts of Tommy, Jim Minneker and John Heinricy surrounding it. One of Tommy’s other race cars is part of the Smithsonian Institute collection.

While Tommy would quickly attribute his success to his teammates and the “good Lord above,” his determination, courage, and leadership were also key to his victories, and to his induction into the 2017 Corvette Hall of Fame.

Since its inception in 1997, 64 individuals have been inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame. Bios, photos and in many case videos of each are available on the Museum’s website at www.corvettemuseum.org.

About the author

Tom Stahler

At eight months of age, Tom Stahler sat in a baby stroller in Thunder Valley and watched Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott win the 1968 Road America 500. He has had the car bug ever since. He has won several awards, including the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and the International Motor Press Association's Gold Medal for his writing and photography. When not chasing the next story, Tom drives in vintage road racing events.
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