The National Corvette Museum has announced the following inductees to be recognized as part of the 22nd Annual Corvette Hall of Fame Ceremony in 2019: Dollie Cole in the category of Enthusiast; Briggs Cunningham in the category of Racing; and Tom Peters in the category of GM/Chevrolet. 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 2019 Corvette Hall of Fame recipients will be inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame during a ceremony and banquet on Friday, August 30, 2019. Their induction will take place as part of the Museum’s 25th Anniversary Celebration August 28 – 31, 2019.
Dollie Cole – Enthusiast
Dollie Ann Cole was a force of nature. Although she was happily married to Ed Cole, President of General Motors, she was never content with just being the auto executive’s wife. She instead gained a reputation as a respected business person, a staunch defender of the automobile industry, and a strong supporter of Corvette.
Colorful and outspoken, she lived life to the fullest, doing everything from being a model, to becoming an accredited test driver and pilot, as well as the Senior Editor for a publishing company. She was also known for getting things done when no one else could. When privateer racing efforts got stuck, sometimes all it took to get some clandestine support from GM engineering was to let Dollie know about it.
Dollie also provided leadership for several charitable organizations in support of disabled people, children, animals, and families of fallen officers. She served on several national and local boards, including PBS, The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the National Corvette Museum, where she presided as its Chair in 2000 and 2001.
“Dollie took her position on the board very seriously,” Museum Executive Director Wendell Strode remembers. “When the Museum was really struggling, she pushed for a new business plan against strong opposition. She leveraged her contacts in corporate America and GM to open doors to find ways to generate revenue for the Museum. She hosted some large fundraising events for us, and on more than one occasion she would even write a check so that we could be involved in some activity that would make us more visible locally and nationally. Dollie was very proud of her affiliation with the National Corvette Museum. She worked hard to get others excited, involved, and proud of the Museum that represented America’s sports car.”
Briggs Cunningham – Racing
Briggs Swift Cunningham was the very definition of the quintessential American sportsman. He came from a wealthy family, which provided him with the means to fully commit himself to his passion for racing. While cars were his primary focus, he also took to the waves, winning the 1958 America’s Cup race in a yacht named “The Columbia” that he funded and skippered.
‘Mr. C’ thrived on automobile competition and set his sights on challenging the Europeans on the international circuits, for America, and with American technology. To do that he pulled together the best of the best to build cars and teams. A talented driver himself, he also hired drivers like Dick Thompson, John Fitch, Roger Penske, Stirling Moss and others who had the nerve and the skill to win. In the process, he became one of the most prominent figures in the racing world, to the point of making the cover of TIME magazine.
Corvette had come along at just the right time for Briggs as it was already being hailed as America’s sports car. It had proven itself earlier in SCCA championships, confirming its ability to be competitive. After talking with Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, Briggs bought three 1960 Corvettes to take to France for the most famous race on the planet, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
On June 25th, 1960, the three-race modified Cunningham Corvettes, painted white with blue stripes, went up against the best in the world. Despite putting on a good run, the #1 Corvette driven by Briggs and Bill Kimberley would be the first to fall when the rain would cause the car to flip and then catch fire. Corvette #2, driven by Dick Thompson and Fred Windridge, would also wreck, taking it out of contention. Cunningham Corvette #3 however, driven by Bob Grossman and John Fitch, would make history as the first Corvette ever to win its class at Le Mans, and secure Briggs Cunningham’s place for all time in the Corvette Hall of Fame.
Tom Peters – GM/Chevrolet
Growing up, Tom Peters remembers sketching everything, including cars. Still, it wasn’t until his second year in college, where he studied fine art and advertising illustration, that he learned about industrial design. “Someone in class brought in an Art Center catalog and it was an epiphany for me. Paging through it I saw all these drawings of cars and products and these exciting pictures of people working around models and mock-ups. I knew right then where I needed to be.”
Tom would graduate from Art Center, and in 1980 he was offered a position by Chuck Jordan at GM.
Tom’s work in the Advance Studio caught the eye of Jerry Palmer, Corvette Chief Designer for Chevy 3 Studio, who offered him a position on the team. Tom worked on the ZR-1 Corvettes and other variants as well as the Corvette Indy Car, his very first concept vehicle. He eventually got his own studio and was asked to come up with an advance proposal for the C5 Corvette. His imagination, hard work and ability to inspire the best from his team led to Tom becoming Design Director for the C6 Corvette and later the C7 Stingray, ultimately serving as the Director of Design for Performance Car Exteriors for Corvette and Camaro.
“My goal in working on future Corvettes was to create a unique personality that is still distinctively Corvette–with a character and soul that is both new and timeless. The best and most wonderful thing about working on Corvette is doing it with people in design, engineering, and marketing, who have such a strong passion for the car and for the people who drive them. You’ve heard about the people who make this car their goal in life—the ones who pass that love for the car down through the family. It’s a special car to those who drive them. It is a part of their lifestyle and a part of American culture in general. It’s been amazing to have some part in that. Each day that I walked into that studio, I felt honored and blessed. I never took it for granted.”
Since its inception in 1997, 71 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.
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