INDIANAPOLIS – USAC’s recent social media poll to complete the 2016 list of inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame has resulted in inductions for drivers Steve Butler, Rick Mears and Kevin Olson, as well as car owner and chief mechanic Willie Davis.
The four new inductees received the most votes from a list of 16 candidates and will join eight previously-announced inductees in the ceremony, which accompanies the July 21 Rich Vogler Classic USAC Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind.
Previously-announced inductees include Russ Clendenen, Jimmy Davies, Bob Higman, Tommy Hinnershitz, Dick King, Pat O’Connor, Tony Stewart and Bob Tattersall.
Butler, of Kokomo, Ind., is a six-time USAC National Driving Champion. He won the Silver Crown title in 1988 and 1992 and swept three straight Sprint Car championships between 1986 and 1988 before repeating in 1990. A 2005 inductee into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, he is also in the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans Hall of Fame and has been commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel.
Butler was USAC’s Silver Crown Rookie of the Year in 1985 and also won an AMA Motorcycle championship in 1976. He’s a four-time 4-Crown Nationals champ (twice each in Silver Crown and Sprint) and won back-to-back Tony Hulman Classic sprint races on dirt and pavement.
Davis, of Pittsboro, Ind., was one of USAC’s most proficient car owners and chief mechanics. He captured USAC National Sprint Car Owner titles in 1969 and 1971, producing driver titles for Gary Bettenhausen. He recorded 34 feature victories during his tenure as a USAC car owner. In 1980, he served as the chief mechanic on Bettenhausen’s third-place Indianapolis 500 entry from Armstrong Mould Racing.
Having started in hot rods in the 1940s, Davis assisted with Art Bisch’s 1956 CRA Sprint Car championship and later was instrumental in providing Johnny Rutherford’s initial USAC Sprint car ride at Reading, Pa. In 1996, he was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.
Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., is one of only three four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, having won all four under the sanction of USAC. In 1984, 1988 and 1991 he was USAC’s Gold Crown Driving Champion. His six Indy 500 poles are the all-time record. He is also a three-time Indy Car World Series Champion (1979, 1981 and 1982). In 1978, he shared the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Race award with USAC Hall of Famer Larry Rice.
In 1997, Mears was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the following year was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Olson, of Loves Park, Ill., won USAC National Midget championships in 1982 and 1987 and captured 23 victories during his USAC career. Among his victories were wins in the 1983 Turkey Night Grand Prix and the 1996 Hut Hundred. He is a five-time Badger Midget Auto Racing Ass’n champ and also won the prestigious Pepsi Midget Nationals at Sun Prairie, Wis., five times.
Olson has more recently been involved in motorsports broadcasting and has worked on the team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1997.
CREDIT: USAC Racing