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Automotive Artist – Cris Cross

Cars and drawing have always been closely intertwined, after all most car designs to this day begin with a drawing. Cristian Cross is an artist dwelling firmly in the drawing stage, developing a passion for capturing cars with pencils and paint as strong as driving them.

Like many in the slightly younger generation of car people, Cris was captivated early on by network shows on TV about cars. One of these was Chip Foose’s: Overhaulin’. Watching Chip Foose seemingly effortlessly sketch out his idea to overhaul the cars of unsuspecting marks made a huge impression. As Cris says in his biography, he had found a hero.

Cris continues drawing photorealistic portraits of Muscle cars and others, and you can clearly see Foose’s influence on Cris’s own 78 Corvette, featuring bright striking paintwork and large badges bearing Cris’s own name, just like a Foose build.

Cris’s passion has become his living, with his business Draw My Ride offering custom portraits and prints of any car you may desire. Cristian considers this a way to take a snapshot of an enthusiasts passion, capturing a moment in the complex story that any car person has with their ride.

Here’s a quote from Cris about what he does: “There is a lot of joy and satisfaction in drawing. You owe it to the car to do it justice. What people likes seems like a mix of what you thought was cool when you were a little kid and what you think today is impossible to get, what you wouldn’t see unless you made the effort to create or acquire it.”

With undeniable talent, a great appreciation of cars and an inspiring story, we’re happy to welcome Cris to the Hall of Fame.

 


Automotive Legend – Ken Block

Youtube, drifting…millions of views, likes and shares…if you’re part of modern car culture, or you want to understand it, you’ve got to start with one man: Ken Block. Block got his start in rally, driving with the Vermont SportsCar team back in 2005 and since then he’s competed in WRC, World Rallycross and other series with success. Where Block immediately stands out is in car content.

Gymkhana 1 and 2 took the world by storm. These videos initially came in large part through block and DC Shoes, the company he co-founded. The Gymkhana series takes an obscure Japanese motorsport and adds incredible cinematics, stunts, pure automotive noise and a hefty dose of Monster Energy Drink to create some of the most unique and captivating car culture in history.

Since their debut, gymkhana have only gotten better and more outrageous, featuring the same beautiful, daring stunts in downtown LA, Downtown London, Downtown San Francisco, Dubai and even Pikes Peak.

Hoonigan, the Media arm of Ken Block’s operation jump started by his Gymkhana videos, has grown to more than 2 million subscribers and 300 million views. These days, Hoonigan in many ways sets the trend in car culture, it’s merchandise grace everything from race cars to minivans, and it’s editing style has become more ubiquitous in the growing automotive youtube scene.

Not bad for someone who got their start in one of America’s more obscure automotive sports. With the undeniable impact that Ken Block’s talent has made, we’re happy to welcome him to the Hall of Fame as an Automotive Legend.


Model Car Entrepreneur – Rodney Smith

Do you enjoy your Johnny Lightning, Hot Wheels, GreenLights and other 1/64 scale cars? You owe a huge thanks to Rodney Smith, Leslie Smith and their groundbreaking company: Matchbox.

Rodney and Leslie smith, buddies since their days in the Royal Navy during WWII, began a partnership in the late 40’s to create toys and diecast. Lesney gained traction with a model of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation coach (complete with horses!) that sold over a million copies.

Rodney helped solidify the companies future by bringing in John “Jack” Odell, an engineer he met at another diecast company. Jack’s breakthrough was to design a toy for his daughter to take to school. The catch was that the school only allowed toys that would fit into a matchbox, so Jack, in an epic “challenge accepted” moment, designed a shrunk down version of the Lesney Road Roller.

This became the first in the 1-75 series, now known as Matchbox. The size, detail and price advantage of a smaller model with less material soon allowed Matchbox to become a dominant player in the diecast car world.

Although Rodney left the company in 1951, he had helped set in motion one of the most iconic toy brands in history. Rodney passed away in 2013, for his work and his legacy, we’re happy to induct Rodney into the Hall of Fame.


Model Car Designer of the Year – Tom Daniel

Chances are, you had or at least seen a model designed by Tom Daniel. Beginning in High school, during the early stages of hot rodding after WW2, Tom began filling his waking hours designing cars with a pen and paper. A sympathetic teacher brought Tom’s class on a field trip to Art Center College, after noticing Tom’s talent for automotive design. Art Center was a design school with a direct pipeline to the major automotive manufacturers, and one trip was enough to convince Tom that car design was his calling.

Despite not having a college degree (or even a diploma yet) Tom submitted a portfolio and was accepted. During School, Tom met with the art director for Rod & Custom, a long running custom car publication, and began contributing work to the sketchpad section of the magazine. Models were becoming so popular, and Tom’s artwork so loved, that for a time R&C published an entirely separate model issue, in which Tom contributed heavily.

After graduating, Tom was hired by GM for a time, but Detroit winters proved less-than appealing, and Tom left to return to California, continuing to work for R&C and others, before landing the gig now synonymous with his name: designing models for Monogram.

Tom’s outlandish creations became some of the most recognized model kits of all time, helping to inspire others such as Hot Wheels and even a few running, full-size versions.  Tom helped design more than 70 Monogram models, with iconic names like Tarantula, Red Baron, and the Tijuana Taxi. Many have been re-released and re-released again.

Tom’s impact on model cars is hard to overstate. With such influential work, we’re glad to Have Tom inducted as Model Car Designer of the Year.


Novice Model Brand of the Year – Goldvarg Collection

The Goldvarg collection is the the culmination of the lifelong passion of one guy, Sergio Goldvarg. Sergio hails from Beunos Aires, where growing up his parents fueled his matchbox obsession and by the age of ten, Sergio was restoring beat up matchbox and selling his work to local shops. Later Sergio worked as one of the few journalists in Argentina covering motor racing and scale cars, helping fuel the countries diecast scene.

Sergio’s first big diecast role was with Buby, an Argentine manufacturer and one of the first (in the 60’s) to use suspension on their models. Sergio worked as an advisor, helping design Renault and Chevrolet models among others.

All the while, he continued to collect, becoming a double Guinness world record holder with a collection of more than 12,000 cars. Despite the size of his collection and the deep ties to model cars in Argentina, Sergio was still frustrated that he couldn’t find many of his favorite cars in Argentina.

Sergio took matters into his own hands, starting the company we’re here celebrating today: The Goldvarg Collection. Goldvarg became the first white-metal diecast company in all of South America, no easy task.

Sergio created an entire manufacturing process from scratch, from melting the metal all the way to finishing touches. The work paid off. Early castings of classic American cars from the ‘57 Starfire, to the Chrysler Imperial to the Kaiser Henry J. created demandall over the world.  

Sergio eventually settled in the states, but continues Goldvarg today. Sergio was first inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame in 2014, recognizing his huge achievements in collecting and forwarding the hobby. This year, we’re inducting Sergio’s Goldvarg Collection. We believe his models, even apart from his inspiring story, represent something special in the model car world.

 


Supplier Brand of the Year – Gulf Oil

From oil prospecting days down in turn of the century Texas, Gulf Oil and its various partners, subsidiaries and spin offs have grown into an important player in one of the worlds most dominant industries. For car people, though, Gulf is more than a multinational corporation. It’s a legendary race sponsor, draping beautiful colors over some of the most recognizable race cars (and model cars) of all time.

 

One of the first cars that Gulf got involved with was the 1938 Gulf Miller Tucker Special Race Car, a rear engined 4wd race car (in 1938!) that went on to beat 14 speed records at Bonneville.

In the mid 60’s, during the next golden age of racing, then VP of Gulf oil himself bought a ford GT40 (man that guy sounds cool) and formed a racing partnership with John Wyer, producing some of the most storied racing in history, including the LeMans winning Ford Gt40 and the Porsche 917, cloaked in-you guessed it-the orange and blue livery still iconic today.

These colors went on to grace many other LeMans winning cars, along with other series like like Can Am, Indy and Formula 1, racing with incredible names like Aston Martin, McLaren, and Lamborghini.

Needless to say, Gulf has had a huge impact on the car world, with countless great model cars of these racing legends worldwide, proudly draped in orange and blue. Cars that never were a part of racing still get painted in these colors because they were so iconic. This team continues it’s racing partnerships to this day. With their support of cars and racing, we’re happy to welcome them to the Hall.