"Tears and Cheers" at 2014 BDRHoF Gala Awards Dinner

In the company of royalty and the nobility, tears, cheers and standing ovations were in order at the 9th Annual British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Gala Awards Dinner held on November 22nd 2014. Four British drag racing personalities were joined by American legend Don Garlits and, in a sometimes emotional ceremony they were inducted as members of the Hall of Fame for their services to the sport.

The 2014 Award winners and the trophies; L-R Jon Spoard – Sydney Allard Trophy for Photo Journalism, Gerry Belton- 2014 BDRHoF Inductee, Russ Carpenter- 2014 BDRHoF Inductee, Don Garlits – 2014 BDRHoF Inductee and winner of Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award, Stu Bradbury – Chairman of BDRHoF, John Whitmore – 2014 BDRHoF Inductee, Dennis Norman – 2014 BDRHoF Inductee, Nick Brooke-Langham – Sydney Allard Trophy for Written Journalism.
(Photo; Andy Willsheer)

Don Garlits receives the Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award from Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and Serbia. Manager Director
and Director of European Operations for Lucas Oil Products UK looks on.
(Photo; Keith Lee)

The most emotional moment came when Don Garlits became the first recipient of the Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award presented by Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and Serbia. It will not be awarded every year but each time it is presented it will
have engraved on the base ‘In memory of Pat Garlits’ – Don’s wife who died earlier this year. As such it marks the role played by
the families of all drag racers. Without their support the sport could not happen.

Two other new awards were presented celebrating the role played by the media in furthering drag racing. These were the Sydney Allard Awards for Best Photo Journalism and Best Written Journalism. Sydney Allard Award Winners Nick Brooke-Langham (left for Written Journalism) and Jon Spoard (for Photo Journalism).
(Photo; Andy Willsheer)

Frequent standing ovations and tears were in order at the fantastic Savill Court Hotel venue.
(Photo; Andy Willsheer)

The Garlits family with both trophies – Lucas Oil Global Achievement Award and BDRHoF Inductee Trophy. L-R Sarah Smith (granddaughter), Anna Capitano (granddaughter), Donna Garlits (daughter), Don Garlits, Gay Lyn Capitano (daughter), Marjorie Johnson (family friend), Rodney Garlits (grandson)
(Photo; Andy Willsheer)

The general feedback about the event was that it was the most prestigious drag racing social occasion yet held in the UK; certainly on a par with other motor industry functions and better than most. Drag racing royalty in the shape of three generations of drag racing’s first family – Don, his daughters and his grandchildren – were joined by British royalty in the shape of Princess Katarina. Many of the sport’s pioneers were in the audience. Some had logged up many air miles – Canada, Australia and the USA. Messages were read out and they came from around the world, including one from Ambassador Barzun at the Embassy of the United States of America in Grosvenor Square.

Peter Crane was the first drag racer to run the quarter mile in less than 6 seconds outside North America. His message after the event is typical of many.

“We just wanted to add our Congratulations to you, and everyone else involved for organising such a great event. Everything went like clockwork, and it would have seemed to everyone you’ve been doing it for years. The difference between this event and previous Hall of Fame inductions was amazing. It clearly was everything you wanted, and you have all worked so hard to achieve it. Well done the BDRHoF Management Team; great night; many thanks”.

Quite an evening! Next year’s function is already being planned. Watch this space.