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Jeff Gordon, “Pat” Patrick, Howard Hughes among Motorsports Hall of Fame inductees

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The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America unveiled its 2018 class on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series champion, and U.E. “Pat” Patrick, a championship-winning IndyCar team owner, are perhaps the most prominent names of that group, though they are joined by five other motorsports figures who are all legends in their own right. The full list is below:

John Buttera – Nicknamed “Lil John,” Buttera was a championship-winning car builder in drag racing who worked alongside such names as Danny Ongais, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Tom “Mongoose” McEwen, and Don Schumacher. Buttera is also a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2010.

Carl G. Fisher – Fisher is best known as the man who originally designed and built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Prior to building the famed Speedway, Fisher was also a competitor in his own right and helped increase the popularity of the automobile, which was still a novelty at the turn of the century, by participating in a series of exhibitions at several fairground tracks across the Midwest.

Howard Hughes – The founder of Hughes Aircraft, Howard Hughes set several aviation records and built some of the most advanced airplanes of his time, including the Hughes H-1 Racer, H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” and XF-11. He was previously inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973.

Fred Merkel – One of the most successful American motorcycle racers of all-time, “Flying Fred” is a three-time AMA Superbike Champion and two-time FIM Superbike World Champion. He also has a win at the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race on his resume. His 20 AMA victories were a record that stood until 1998, and he was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2001.

Bob Tullius – A sports car racer who began his career the 1960s, Tullius set the template for modern amateur sports car teams, being the first to combine manufacturer support, title sponsorship, high-level preparation, and branding to his programs. Tullius is a two-time Trans-Am and four-time SCCA national champion, whose Group 44 team amassed more than 300 victories in club racing, Trans-Am, and IMSA GTP competition and captured 14 national titles and three Trans-Am championships.

U.E. “Pat” Patrick – “Pat” Patrick began his career by sponsoring a race team in 1967, became a partner in a team in 1970, and owned his own race team in 1973. Patrick went on to become one of the most successful IndyCar owners of all time, with his teams scoring three Indianapolis 500 victories and two IndyCar championships. Patrick was also among the group of car owners who established the CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) sanctioning body. He was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.

Jeff Gordon – A four-time NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series champion, Gordon was one of NASCAR’s biggest stars. He ranks third all-time in wins (93) and fourth all-time in championships. He has also won the Daytona 500 three times, the Brickyard 400 five times, and the Southern 500 six times, and currently holds the record for most consecutive starts (797).

The variety of backgrounds represented in the new inductees was emphasized by MSHFA President Ron Watson at the announcement.

“Our inductee classes are always intriguing but this year is even more so,” said Watson. “Howard Hughes and Jeff Gordon in the same class – that is probably the best example we’ve ever had to illustrate the breadth of our inductee roll.”

The induction ceremony, traditionally held in July, will take place in March this year.

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GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/