As the Diecast Hall of Fame induction ceremony approaches, excitement is building among the diecast industry and collectors. The nominees to be inducted as our Automotive Legend are a diverse group whose enjoyment and contributions to car culture, small-scale as well as full-sized, have made diecast collecting more rewarding and fun.
And you can help decide who will be inducted… After you read about these talented individuals, head over to the Diecast Hall of Fame ballot and vote!
Here are the nominees in the Automotive Legend category, listed in alphabetical order.
Allen continues the tradition of comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno as connoisseurs of fine automobiles. Not just collecting them, but driving them, working on them, and modifying them.
Best known for his starring role in “Home Improvement” and as Buzz Lightyear in the “Toy Story” Movies, he has built an extensive collection of American classic cars. Inspired by the toys he played with as a child, his collection includes a 1933 Ford Roadster, 1986 Ford RS200, 1962 Chevrolet 409 Bel Air, and a 2004 Porsche Carrera GT, of which only 1,270 were built with only 604 sold in the U.S.
In the Pixar movie “Cars,” he voiced a cameo of a car-based version of Buzz Lightyear. It was eventually made into a toy, so he has provided the voice for at least one diecast vehicle in his career.
Evernham’s career in racing got off to a rocky start when he wrecked his modified racer hard enough to permanently impair his depth perception enough to end his driving days. As a chassis setup specialist with IROC, he gained enough attention to get the call to NASCAR. His days there were almost short-lived as well, with his tenure on Alan Kulwicki’s crew ending over personality conflicts.
But there was no denying his talent and passion, however, and he was quickly hired to foster the career of a young driver named Jeff Gordon. He worked his way up to the top circuit, winning three championships with Gordon. He revolutionized the pit stop by introducing athletic training to pit members and having them act as specialists to do separate jobs instead of full-time mechanics.
Along the way, he has also worked as the auto racing crew chief for Bill Davis Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, and was the owner of Evernham Motorsports from 2001-2010. In 1999, Evernham won the NASCAR Winston Cup Illustrated “Person of the Year”. Prior to his career as a crew chief, Evernham was a modified racer until he crashed in 1993, damaging his brain stem and impairing his depth perception.
Evernham currently works as a NASCAR analyst for ESPN and a consultant for Hendrick Motorsports.
As CEO for all of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Design, Gilles has been instrumental in creating numerous vehicles that have led to classic die-cast vehicles.
He started drawing concepts cars when he was eight years old. When was fourteen, his aunt sent one of his sketches to then Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca. It caught the attention of K. Neil Walling, Chrysler’s design chief at the time, who suggesting Gilles attend design school. He did, and not long after, he was working for Chrysler.
To call him a “designer” doesn’t encompass all of his contributions, however. As head of the SRT division at Chrysler, his cars had to be as much about performance as they were looking stylish, brutish and fast. He is partly responsible for the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Generation Viper, the retro-muscle Dodge Charger, Challenger, and Magnum, the Chrysler 300, and many present day Ram and Jeep models.
He is also a top-notch race driver, pure car guy and the ultimate ambassador for both FCA and the car culture in general.
Hendrick is the owner of the NASCAR team Hendrick Motorsports, one of the most consistently competitive entities the sport has ever seen. Hendrick Motorsports has won 12 NASCAR Cups and he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017.
Before his NASCAR days, he even founded a drag boat racing team in the late 1970s, winning three consecutive championships and setting a world record of 222.2 mph. He is also the founder of the Hendrick Automotive Group and Hendrick Marrow Program.
In total, Hendrick’s foray into automotive racing has won 12 Spring Cup Series titles, one Xfinity Series title, and three Camping World Truck Series titles. As the owner of cars driven by Jeff Gordon (above left), Dale Earnhardt (Senior and Junior), Jimmy Johnson and others, it’s safe to say he’s helped sell a lot of diecast race cars over the years.
Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing. She won the 2008 Indy Japan 300, the first and only woman so far to win an IndyCar race. The next year, she placed third in the Indianapolis 500, the highest finish by a female driver.
In 2010, she decided to try her hand at NASCAR, racing part time in the Nationwide Series. She moved up permanently to the top level (now the Monster Energy Cup Series).
In 2013, Patrick became the first female NASCAR driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole after running the fastest qualifying lap since 1990. Her eight place finish in the 2013 Daytona 500 is the highest finish for any woman.
In addition to the many diecast replicas of her cars that have been sold, also designed two Hot Wheel models including the Danicar, a futuristic six-wheeled race car.
The 2017 Diecast Hall Of Fame induction ceremony will be held November 2, at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. For more details of to buy tickets, visit the DHOF event page.