Sir Alec Issigonis and his Mini at Longbridge, 1964; image courtesy of The British Sports Car Hall of Fame
Established three years ago, the Petersburg, Virginia-based The British Sports Car Hall of Fame recently announced its honorees for the 2019 Induction Class. This unique organization, which maintains a museum and seeks to “preserve and perpetuate the legacy and impact of these legendary vehicles and to honor the men and women responsible for their success,” has chosen its inductees through a combination of popular vote and a Selections Committee. As it explains, “For consideration, a candidate must ‘have made a significant and lasting impact on the British sports car industry and hobby.’ The seven categories from which honorees are chosen include Automobile Clubs and Associations; Automobile Dealers and Distributors; Aftermarket Suppliers, Parts Manufacturers and the Service Industry; Executives, Engineers and Designers; Journalists and Historians; Competition and Racing; and Special Contributors and Pioneers.”
As revealed by The British Sports Car Hall of Fame, its 2019 honorees are:
Paul Newman—Although famous for his exploits on the big screen, Newman won four SCCA National Championships, including his first driving a Triumph TR6. Newman also won several championships in open wheel racing in the United States and took class honors at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Stanley “Wacky” Arnolt—An inveterate salesman, Arnolt began to sell foreign cars from his Chicago-based dealership, but is best remembered as the father of four collaborative efforts with Carrozzeria Bertone that resulted in the Arnolt-MG, Arnolt-Bristol, Arnolt-Aston and, Arnolt-Bentley. Arnolt also sponsored works efforts at the 12 Hours of Sebring that took home the team prize in 1955, 1956, and 1960.
Charles Runyan—A beloved figure in the British sports car community in the United States, Runyan founded The Roadster Factory in 1978, which grew to become a leading supplier of aftermarket parts for MGs and Triumphs. A constant presence at club events around the country, Runyan also operated a British-style pub known as The Coventry Inn for 25 years.
Sir Alec Issigonis—An engineering and packaging genius, Issigonis started his automotive career at Humber and Austin, but is best remembered for his postwar efforts with Morris, which resulted in the Minor and Mini, two of the most successful vehicles ever built in Britain. In response to the microcars that proliferated in the wake of the Suez Crisis, Issigonis designed the front-wheel-drive Mini. The diminutive vehicle, selected as the runner-up for the Car of the Century Award announced in 1999, became a cultural icon and championship-winning rally mount, certainly the most significant British automobile ever built.
Denise McCluggage—A trailblazer for women’s equality in both journalism and motorsports, McCluggage pioneered the field of participatory journalism when she raced her MG TC and Jaguar XK140 as a means to get closer to the story. A talented driver, McCluggage took class honors at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Monte Carlo Rally, while also serving a short stint as a works driver for BMC in a Big Healey. She would later found the Competition Press, which later became known as Autoweek, the first female to serve as publisher for a major American magazine.
Tom Boscarino—Founder of the American MGC Register, Boscarino was also involved with the New England MG ‘T’ Register, NAMGBR, and AMGBR. A leading voice in the American MG community, he received the Cecil Kimber Award in 2002 for his contributions to the MG marque.
John Nikas, executive director of this organization, took this opportunity to reveal that, by the end of 2019, the Jaguar history-honoring Coventry Foundation will take over operation of the British Sports Car Hall of Fame. John explained, “Transferring control of the British Sports Car Hall of Fame to the Coventry Foundation will help ensure the continued success and health of this wonderful institution, which has done so much to thank and honor the people that made the British sports car hobby in America.”