The Automotive Hall of Fame will induct four new members into its ranks next including Richard E. “Dick” Dauch, co-founder of American Axle Manufacturing; Janet Gutherie, the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500; Sergio Marchionne, former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Patrick Ryan, creator of the first auto dealership finance and insurance department.
Marchionne, who died last summer, rescued first Fiat and then Chrysler from the automotive scrap heap and then managed to merge the two troubled companies to form one of the largest and most profitable automotive manufacturers in the world, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
“Marchionne was also regarded as one of the boldest business leaders of his generation thanks to his business acumen as well as his outspoken and often frank approach to dealing with difficult and complicated problems,” the Hall of Fame citation noted.
Dauch was the innovative manufacturing strategist who spied gold in worn out factories. He co-founded American Axle Manufacturing after retiring from Chrysler Corp. as executive vice president of Worldwide Manufacturing.
(Marchionne treated for “serious illness” for a year before his death. Click Here for the story.)
Under his leadership, AAM became a multi-billion-dollar global company that is one of the largest and most respected Tier One automotive suppliers in the world, the Hall of Fame Citation.
While Marchionne and Dauch left their marks as executives, Guthrie made her mark on the race track as a pioneering racer.
She was the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. Guthrie began racing as an amateur in 1963 with the Sports Car Club of America. In 1976, Guthrie became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup race.
(Click Here for more about last year’s HOF inductees.)
The following season, she competed in her first Daytona 500. Guthrie qualified for her first Indianapolis 500 in 1977. She would compete in two more Indy 500s, finishing ninth in the 1978 race.
Patrick Ryan, on the other hand, made a quiet but significant contribution to the automotive retailing, starting back in the 1960s with an innovation in the automotive dealer service industry.
In 1962, Ryan changed how auto dealerships operate when he founded the first Finance and Insurance department at Dick Fencl Chevrolet in suburban Chicago, Illinois, creating a valuable profit center ensured that it became a fundamental part of all dealership operations.
(To see more about this year’s downsized Detroit Auto Show, Click Here.)
The Automotive Hall of Fame is located in Dearborn, Michigan.