O’Connell, Corvette to be Inducted into Sebring Hall of Fame


O'Connell, Corvette to be Inducted into Sebring Hall of Fame

Two icons of sports car racing will be inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame in March. Johnny O’Connell and the Chevrolet Corvette were named as part of the 2012 group of inductees into America’s greatest sports car race hall of fame. The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, March 16 at the Chateau Elan Hotel which overlooks the historic race circuit.

Johnny O’Connell is Sebring’s all-time winner with seven class wins and an overall victory in 1994. He holds the Sebring record for class podium finishes at 12. His string of 20 consecutive starts is also a Sebring record. Although best known for driving with Corvette Racing, his early victories came driving for Nissan.

The Chevrolet Corvette has been proven itself time and again over six decades of racing at Sebring. Since its first appearance at Sebring in 1956, Corvette has earned an incredible 17 class wins. Corvette joins Porsche, Audi and Ferrari as automotive makes to be inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame.

The other inductees into the 2012 Sebring Hall of Fame include drivers Hans Herrmann, Geoff Brabham and Jim Downing as well as driver turned journalist Denise McCluggage.

Induction ceremonies will take place Friday, March 16, during a luncheon at the Chateau Elan Hotel and Conference Center, overlooking Sebring’s famous Hairpin turn. The luncheon is open to the pubic with admission proceeds benefiting the Sebring Hall of Fame. Derek Bell will serve as emcee for the event. Tickets are $200 and must be purchased in advance by calling 800-626-7223 x218.


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  1. Since learning the news of Johnny-O’s EXTREMELY well deserved induction into the Sebring Hall of Fame and ironicly enough, in the company of Corvette, I’ve been itching to ask any GM executive charged with making “special edition car” decisions a few pointed questions!
    -What more could a single person have done for Corvette to deserve a special edition named after him than Johnny O’Connell?
    -Although I don’t begrudge Will Cooksey credit for his years of working for GM at the Corvette plant, there were MANY who did just as many years, probably more but they did so on the line where their contribution simply wasn’t as colorful as Will’s but just as important in the evolution of Corvette. Was it Will’s accomplishments that really SOLD CORVETTES in all those years??? So much more than JO’s that a special edition car was named after Will before JO???
    -Why was JO’s many contributions and accomplishments for the brand so overlooked and ignored ~ to this very day!?
    Yes, Ron Fellow’s deserved his edition (a dream car on my bucket list) but JO was neck and neck in the fan’s hearts and with records to boot ~ as proven by those at Sebring who obviously did not forget JO.
    Those of us who are closer to JO know that his removal from the Corvette race team was both unexplained and sad not to mention being against JO’s wants and wishes but JO moved on to Cadillac with a smile and a team spirit because that’s the definition of JO! He would never approve of my posting this blog/rant so I do so before discussing with him (SORRY JOHNNY) but it just seemed so ironic that he would be granted this honor along side of Corvette when GM has been such a poor “family” member when it comes to honoring and giving JO his rightful and VERY MUCH DESERVED place in Corvette history. Shame on them!

    Congratulations JO, and my hat’s off to Sebring for recognizing the so transparent truth about an AMERICAN racing legend!

    Respectfully !!!

  2. Johnny O is the man. He is generous, gracious, polite, courteous and so focused on the fans. Never one to lash out and always a gentleman, either on the track of off. I cannot think of a better person (short of Ron Fellows, perhaps) to be a great ambassador for Corvette; nor can I think of anyone else (not even Ron for this one) to be honoured by Sebring in this manner. His record of class wins, topped off by the overall win, is about as good as it gets.

    I was at Sebring in 1994 when he won overall in the Nissan 300ZX. A few years ago, there was a special on the History Channel about the Z cars, and they touched on the car and interviewed Johnny. When I brought that up, his face lit up like “wow, someone knows more than just about today! Cool!” I asked him about the 300ZX and his comment, now marginally paraphrased due to time, “Too much power and not enough tire. It was kinda scary!”

    Congrats, Johnny. You so deserve this honour!! I suspect this will be the first of many.

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