Racing legends Alain Prost, James Hunt, John McGuinness and Ross Brawn all took their place in the Motor Sport Hall of Fame at a star-studded ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London.
Now in its fifth year, and kicking off Motor Sport Magazine’s 90th anniversary celebrations, the annual Hall of Fame ceremony unites the top names in motorsport, with top level drivers, riders and engineers in attendance in the heart of Covent Garden.
Joining the twenty-five strong Hall of Fame (eight founding members and 17 subsequent inductees) were Formula 1 World Champions Prost and Hunt, 20-time Isle of Man TT winner McGuinness and engineering genius Brawn, who was instrumental in the success of Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button‘s championship-winning seasons.
“I feel deeply honoured to receive this award,” said first inductee, Brawn, who was the brains behind 16 F1 world championship and all but three of Schumacher’s 91 race wins. “Obviously my career is very closely entwined with that of Michael. He and I grew up together in some respects. We could lean on each other and rely on each other, and I think ultimately, our skills complemented each other.”
Second up was Hunt, who reached worldwide celebrity status across the world thanks to his high-octane life and career. His infamous title-duel in 1976 with Niki Lauda was recently immortalised in the BAFTA nominated film Rush.
“This is a huge honour, and I’m sure dad would have absolutely loved it,” said Tom Hunt, who collected his late father’s award from former British Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert. “He was a very unique person, and for the family, it is very special to see him being held up alongside some truly great names. It’s lovely to be accepting the award on his behalf; I’m sorry he could not be here to accept it himself, but I’m sure we’ll celebrate in fitting style!”
The third name to be placed into the Hall of Fame for 2014 was the ‘Morecambe Missile’, John McGuiness. With 20 TT wins to his name and the outright lap record around the Snaefell Mountain Course, McGuinness is a folk hero on the Isle of Man. He collected his award from fellow TT winner and the only man to win the World Championship on two and four wheels, John Surtees.
“I can’t believe it!” offered McGuinness. “It’s been an amazing journey. I was first put on a motorbike when I was three-years-old by my dad, and I’ve come a long way since then. To see my name up there with so many greats of our sport is just a massive honour. Competing in the TT is such a thrill; just to ride it is exhilarating in itself, and to win there is really special – when you hear your national anthem playing, it’s something incredible. I never honestly thought I would be standing here with 20 wins; if I get one or two more, that would obviously be fantastic, but if I don’t then I’ve still had a great career, and it certainly won’t be through any lack of trying!”
The final trophy of the night was presented to four-time F1 World Champion, Alain Prost. ‘The Professor’, whose 51 wins, 41 fastest laps and 33 pole positions cement him as one of Formula 1′s all-time greats, was presented with his award by his son Nicolas and Motor Sport editor-in-chief Nigel Roebuck.
“When I started out, I actually wanted to be a football player,” said Prost. “I wasn’t interested in motor racing at all, but then I broke my wrist and because I couldn’t play football, I had a go in a kart. I’d say my 1986 title was the most satisfying of the four, because although we maybe didn’t have the best car, we never stopped pushing and we benefitted from fantastic teamwork. When you accomplish something that you perhaps shouldn’t, it’s extremely rewarding. I’m very proud of what I achieved.”
“The fifth Motor Sport Hall of Fame was another outstanding event, bringing together the great and the good of our wonderful sport and celebrating the achievements of four true racing legends,” concluded Motor Sport editor, Damien Smith. “On top of that, to raise as much money as we did for the Grand Prix Mechanics Charitable Trust was phenomenal and means we can give something back to people who have themselves given the sport so much. What a fantastic way to begin Motor Sport magazine’s 90th birthday year!”