By: Spencer Neff
January 9, 2020 | 10:08 AM
On Wednesday afternoon, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame announced the nominees for its 2020 induction class.
Included in this list were past nominees like former Indianapolis 500 winners Danny Sullivan, Jacques Villeneuve and Eddie Cheever as well as 1985 pole sitter Duane “Pancho” Carter.
Former driver and CART chief steward Wally Dallenbach, USAC Technical Director and Chief MechanicMike Devlin and team owners Mike Boyle Carl Haas also join the list of IndyCar’s representatives.
In addition, NASCAR legends Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Jarrett along with Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher can be found.
Making their way onto the list of nominees for the first time in 2020 are former drivers Gil de Ferran and Janet Guthrie, as well as longtime broadcaster Paul Page.
The inductees will be announced on the morning of Friday, February 14. In addition to the announcement, the day will also be celebrated as the “100 days out” mark before the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
As a panel of 140 distinguished members of the racing community deliberates their qualifications, here’s a look at the careers and legacies for all three of the newest nominees.
Gil de Ferran
In 1995, de Ferran arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with 1980 Indianapolis 500 winner Hall/VDS Racing. After qualifying 19th in his debut, de Ferran was involved in a multi-car Lap 1 wreck in the South chute.
Unfortunately, the CART/IRL split kept de Ferran away from the Greatest Spectacle in Racing for the next five runnings.
A year after winning his first title, de Ferran and teammate Helio Castroneves joined famed team owner Roger Penske in his IMS return. For his second start, de Ferran qualified a career-best 5th.
In the 85th running, Castroneves and de Ferran gave Penske his first 1-2 finish and 11th victory in the race. Later that year, de Ferran won two more races and clinched his second title in CART,
Following the team’s shift to IRL in 2002, de Ferran would win twice more. At Indianapolis, he started 14th and finished 10th
In 2003, de Ferran’s back was broken in a violent crash at Phoenix. Despite the pain lingering for several weeks, the veteran driver forged on.
After starting 10th, de Ferran led the final 31 laps to hold off Castroneves in another Penske 1-2. Later that year, de Ferran won at Texas Motor Speedway in his final IndyCar start.
Since then, the Brazilian has moved to the managerial side of the sport. De Ferran has joined Arrow McLaren SP and runs their effort in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Following a successful sportscar career and a venture into NASCAR, Guthrie opted for IndyCar in 1976. After a failed qualifying attempt that year, the two-time 12 Hours of Sebring class winner returned in 1977.
By qualifying 26th for the 1977 race, she became the first female driver in the 61-year history of the Indianapolis 500. However, an engine failure relegated her to 29th after finishing just 27 laps.
For 1978, Guthrie found her greatest success at the track. After qualifying 15th, she completed 190 laps and finished ninth.
In 1979, she started a career-best 14th but a piston issue dropped her to 34th as she ran just 3 laps.
Over the past half-century, few voices have become as synonymous with a sporting event as Paul Page’s has with the Indianapolis 500.
In 1974, he began as a pit reporter for the IMS Radio Network. Following lead announcer Sid Collins’ passing in May of 1977, Page took over as the “Voice of the 500.”
By 1988, Page would jump from radio into television as he became ABC’s lead announcer for their Indianapolis 500 telecasts and did so for 11 years. After three years as CART’s lead announcer, Page returned to the booth at IMS for the 2002 race and remained there through 2004.
As he spent the next 13 years as part of a variety of ESPN broadcasts, Page found his way back to his roots.
For 2009 to 2013, he worked as a guest analyst during the Indianapolis 500 radio broadcast. In 2014, Page once again became the “Voice of the 500” in addition to the remainder of the IndyCar schedule. For 2016, Turn 3 announcer Mark Jaynes joined Page as co-host before succeeding Page.
Open-Wheels would like to congratulate all 2020 nominees on this prestigious honor. We also would like to thank them for their contributions to racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Header Image by Chris Owens/INDCAR