The National Corvette Museum has announced the following inductees to be recognized as part of the 20th Annual Corvette Hall of Fame Ceremony in 2017: Peter Brock in the category of Enthusiast; Jim Minneker in the category of GM/Chevrolet; and Tommy Morrison in the category of Racing. These three individuals will be recognized with the highest honor bestowed by the Museum for their contributions to the past, present and future of Corvette.
The 2017 Corvette Hall of Fame recipients will be inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame during a ceremony and banquet on Friday, September 1, 2017. Their induction will take place as part of the Museum’s 23rd Anniversary Celebration August 31 – September 2, 2017.
At just 19 years old, Peter Brock was one of the youngest designers to ever be invited to work at GM Design. When Bill Mitchell, the new VP of the Styling Section for GM, wanted to build a successor to the 1957 Corvette SS concept car, he charged his team of designers to come up with some ideas. Ultimately Brock’s sketch was selected and refined. Working with fellow designers Chuck Pohlmann, Larry Shinoda and Tony Lapine their efforts culminated into the very first Corvette to be called a Sting Ray, the XP87 Corvette Sting Ray Racer. (Yes, it is supposed to be two words.) This racing concept would go on to influence the lines and look of the second-generation Corvette and really, every Corvette since.
As an enthusiast, Brock has done just about everything relating to motorsports. He has designed and raced cars, written books and articles, and even became a photojournalist capturing one of the greatest eras of motor-racing history. He documented the Corvette’s performance history from its earliest days in the mid ‘50s with Briggs Cunningham at Le Mans, through the powerful era when drivers Dave McDonald, Dick Thompson and Bob Bondurant established the Corvette as America’s only true production performance car, all the way to the present C7 generation. In addition to all of that he started Brock Racing Enterprises in the 1960’s and has worked on a number of other marques along the way, but has always had a very special place in his heart for Corvettes.
Jim Minneker is a great example of the way Chevrolet infuses racing DNA into the Corvette. As both a racer and an engineer, he brought to the table an understanding of what makes power, and what it takes to control that power on a track. Using that insight he joined the Corvette team in 1986, spending the next ten years working on the LT1, LT4 and the legendary LT5 engines that would become the heart of the ZR-1 Corvette supercar. It’s no wonder that he became the engineering group manager for GM High Performance Vehicle Operations.
As a racer, he has driven for Bakeracing, Morrison-Cook Motorsports, Doug Rippie Racing and Mallett Motorsports, while competing in the SCCA World Challenge, the IMSA Supercar series, IMSA GT and the Grand Am series. Perhaps his greatest achievement behind the wheel however, was as a member of the team of eight drivers that set the 24-Hour Speed Endurance World Record Run in 1990, driving a stock ZR-1 Corvette at an average speed of 175.885 mph.
Jim’s efforts on behalf of Corvette however, didn’t stop in Detroit or at the track. When the National Corvette Museum was just beginning, he was instrumental, helping out early on in arranging for displays relating to powertrain and engineering. Ultimately, he was elected to the position of Chairman of the Board where his leadership, wisdom, direction and vision was essential in setting the course for a bright future at the National Corvette Museum.
If there was a Mount Rushmore for Corvette Racing, Tommy Morrison’s face might be on it–carved in stone and wearing dark sunglasses with a confident smile. In the early 1980s when he teamed up with the late Jim Cook to found Morrison-Cook Motorsports, his Corvette race cars began dominating in showroom stock racing and making Corvette history along the way. He set out to prove that Mobil 1 and Corvette were a nearly unbeatable combination racking up more 24-hour endurance wins than any team before them–thus starting a sponsorship relationship that is still winning to this day.
At the races and on test tracks, Tommy’s teams provided GM engineers with valuable test data that went back to the engineers designing the cars. His efforts also gave Chevrolet’s marketing department a series of wins that created massive opportunities for promoting the Corvette. Perhaps the greatest example of this was the 1990 24-Hour Speed Endurance World Record Run, where he and his team took a stock ZR-1 Corvette and drove it 24 hours straight, averaging 175.885 miles per hour. This became a PR boost that GM would use in a series of commercials and print ads to further establish Corvette’s reputation as a high-performance icon. So important was this achievement that the National Corvette Museum has a long-term exhibit on display with the actual record run car, and plaster casts of Tommy, Jim Minneker and John Heinricy surrounding it. One of Tommy’s other race cars is part of the Smithsonian Institute collection.
While Tommy would quickly attribute his success to his teammates and the “good Lord above,” his determination, courage, and leadership were also key to his victories, and to his induction into the 2017 Corvette Hall of Fame.
Since its inception in 1997, 64 individuals have been inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame. Bios, photos and in many case videos of each are available on the Museum’s website at www.corvettemuseum.org.