The National Corvette Museum has announced four new inductees for the 2018 Corvette Hall of Fame. The inductees are John and Burt Greenwood in the Racing category, former Corvette Chief Engineer Tom Wallace in the GM/Chevrolet category, and Mid America Motorworks’ Mike Yager in the category of Enthusiast.
The four inductees will be recognized at the 21st Annual Corvette Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday, August 31, 2018 during the Museum’s 24th Anniversary Celebration.
Burt and John Greenwood
The story of Burt and John Greenwood goes back to childhood when their dad, Hank, would take them to work at the GM Tech Center. Prototype cars would be unveiled for the boys at the Design Dome, sparking an obsession for all things automotive.
John grew to be a gifted, self-taught engineer and a fiercely competitive driver who would blow away the street racers on Woodward Avenue in his 1964 Silver Corvette. This led to starting a shop called Auto Research Engineering, where he did performance work for his competitors. They were eager to pay him to have what he had under the hood, which would ultimately help him finance his racing career.
John’s first National Championship came in 1970, during his first full year of competition. He followed that up with victories in 1971 at the endurance races in Sebring and Watkins Glen, leading to a 2nd National SCCA Championship. Many victories would follow including the 1975 TransAm Driver Championship and Manufacturer Championship for Corvette.
All along, John’s brother Burt, was an integral part of the team. He was the “rule guy” going over all the racing regulations, looking for any angle to give his brother an edge. He became a student of aerodynamics, taking what he learned from his heroes on the track and applying it to the Greenwood street cars. Working together with a team of dedicated mechanics and some covert help on the side from GM Designers and Engineers, the Greenwood brothers made racing history. To this day, those star-spangled Corvettes are a reminder of American pride and America’s sports car.
In Corvette’s history, there have been a few engineers who were also real race car drivers, but only two of them have been Corvette Chief Engineers—the legendary Zora Arkus-Duntov, and Tom Wallace.
Tom has always been a car guy, going back to high-school when he had the fastest car around, and quickly gained a reputation for being the one to beat in a drag race. As he got older and developed his skill as a driver, he would go on to drive professionally competing in the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the Talladega 6-Hour race.
Along the way, armed with a Mechanical Engineering degree from Kettering University, he took his passion and knowledge of performance and applied it to a career at General Motors. He would go on to become Vehicle Line Executive for Performance cars presiding as the Chief Engineer from 2005 to 2008 for the Corvette.
As a team builder, Tom brought everyone closer together–not just from engineering and design areas, but also manufacturing and marketing. Early on he saw the value of bringing a racer’s mentality to the Corvette program, so he invited his team to go out to the track for Corvette Museum High Performance Driving Events to learn more about what Corvette could do, and to dream of what it could do someday.
Then, during a dark time in automotive history, when the future of GM was in question, Tom surprised the world and pulled together the resources to lead a team on a mission to create the fastest, most balanced, most capable Corvette ever made to that point. It was the 2009 638 hp, 200+ mph ZR1 Corvette.
While retired now, the influence of Tom Wallace continues to this day as ten years later, the new highest-performance standard in Corvette evolution is called ZR1 as well.
Mike Yager bought his first Corvette in 1970 when he was just 20 years old. When he saw there was no Corvette Club in his area, he started one. As the club grew he made the observation that there wasn’t a place where a Corvette fan could purchase Corvette merchandise. To remedy that, he bought whatever he could find that related to Corvette and started making it available at Corvette club events and car shows. When that worked out, he got a $500 loan to start a company that has now grown to become one of the world’s largest suppliers of parts and accessories for Corvettes… Mid America Motorworks.
Just as famous as his company is the annual festival that he started to celebrate the people who have made it all happen—his customers. It is an event called Funfest, which brings together thousands of Corvette people each year for a good time that ends with a concert featuring bands like REO Speedwagon and the Beach Boys.
Mike’s love for Corvette doesn’t stop there. He has been a part of numerous clubs and organizations, including the National Corvette Museum where he served as its Chairman of the Board in 2002. He was also behind “Drive Your Corvette to Work Day” and organized an effort to have a commemorative stamp created to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Corvette. While he was at it, he got behind a campaign to honor Corvette’s birthday with a National Day of Recognition.
Through his aftermarket business he has helped thousands of people keep their beautiful Corvettes on the road, but in the end he’s all about making sure people have a good time when they get where they are going.
Since 1997, 65 individuals have been inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame. You can read more about the individuals who created the cars, promoted the hobby and won races with Corvettes at the NCM website: www.CorvetteMuseum.org.
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