NHRA Drag Racing legend Ed "the Ace" McCulloch was one of seven icons from the world of motorsports inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America class of 2011 Wednesday evening during the organization’s annual induction ceremony at The Fillmore theater in Detroit.
McCulloch, a versatile driver and crew chief who scored 22 victories as a driver and 27 more as a crew chief, was inducted alongside NASCAR icon Donnie Allison, USAC champ Roger McCluskey, noted sports-car driver Augie Pabst, motorcycle champ Bruce Penhall, racing pioneer Ed Winfield, and Sid Collins, the legendary voice of the Indy 500.
McCulloch, 69, raced to 18 Funny Car victories and four Top Fuel victories during his 23-year driving career. Of those wins, six were at the world’s most prestigious drag race, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil in Indianapolis. He won the "Big Go" an NHRA record five times in Funny Car and one time in Top Fuel. He’s one of only four drivers who have won the U.S. Nationals in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.
McCulloch, who retired from driving in 1994, is one of 15 drivers in NHRA history who won races in Top Fuel and Funny Car, and he’s one of 18 drivers who claimed No. 1 qualifying positions in both nitro categories. In 2001 during NHRA’s 50th Anniversary celebration, an expert panel of drag racing journalists and historians ranked McCulloch as the No. 19 greatest driver in NHRA history.
McCulloch was in championship contention often but never claimed a series title. In one of his most memorable title runs, he finished second to John Force in the 1990 season in Funny Car. McCulloch lost the title by 43 points, which still ranks as one of the closest points finishes in Funny Car in NHRA history.
During his years as a crew chief, which began in 1995, McCulloch tuned some of the top drivers in NHRA competition, including Connie and Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel and Ron Capps in Funny Car. McCulloch, who claimed 27 victories as a crew chief including 16 with Capps, officially retired prior to the start of the 2011 season as a crew chief for Don Schumacher Racing.
It is the second Hall of Fame honor for McCulloch, who was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2000.
"To be recognized in our own field is a big honor, but to be recognized outside of our direct industry, to be recognized among the greats of all motorsports, I’m very humbled by it," McCulloch said. "All I can say is 'Wow.' The people who are in there and the people who are attending this and the other inductees, it’s very special to be part of."
NHRA announcer Bob Frey presented McCulloch for induction. NHRA President Tom Compton and NHRA Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Graham Light attended the event on behalf of NHRA.
McCulloch is the 23rd inductee in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America from the world of NHRA Drag Racing. Others are Don Garlits (1989), Shirley Muldowney (1990), Don Prudhomme (1991), Connie Kalitta (1992), Wally Parks (1993), Bob Glidden (1994), Keith Black (1995), Bill Jenkins (1996), Art Chrisman (1997), Don Nicholson (1998), C.J. Hart (1999), Danny Ongais (2000), Tom McEwen (2001), Eddie Hill (2002), Ed Donovan (2003), Joe Amato (2004), Tommy Ivo (2005), Chris Karamesines (2006), Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin (2007), John Force (2008), Kenny Bernstein (2009), and Dale Armstrong (2010).
Housed in the Detroit Science Center, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is a museum showcasing the stories of 188 Heroes of Horsepower along with a display of a wide variety of racing and high-performance vehicles. The constantly changing collection features racers from the world of Indy cars, stock cars, sports cars, sprint cars, powerboats, truck racing, drag racing, motorcycles, air racing, and even snowmobiles.