RRDC members Anatoly Arutunoff, Bruce Foss and Vicki O’Connor are among the five-person 2024 SCCA Hall of Fame class which also includes Terry Ozment and Fred Wacker, Jr. The Induction Ceremony will be held Jan. 19, 2024, as part of the SCCA National Convention and will be streamed on the SCCA’s official Facebook page and YouTube channel.
To say Anatoly “Toly” Arutunoff is a racing renaissance man would be an understatement.
His exploits began with the SCCA membership he purchased for $25 when he bought his Porsche Carrera Speedster GS in 1958. He was in for life after purchasing a lifetime membership in late 1958 when the price went up to $120. The history from then is as amazing as it is crazy and includes everything from SCCA grids in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s (including 19 Runoffs starts between his first Runoffs appearance in 1967 and his final Runoffs race in 1996), a couple Cannonball Runs, Pikes Peak Hill Climbs, and the very first One Lap of America, plus multiple stints in Italy’s Targa Florio, owning a Ferrari dealership, and so much more.
While Arutunoff earned SCCA’s H Production National Championship title and the Club’s President’s Cup in 1981 (that award likely coming due to his run from 11th on the grid to win the championship by more than eight seconds), his real impact to the SCCA comes in the form of a racetrack in Oklahoma – a 1.8-mile, 11-turn road course named Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Arutunoff built the circuit with very little landscaping, which resulted in a course boasting 80 feet of elevation changes that could be run in both directions.
Hallett has become a mainstay of racing in the middle of America, hosting everything from IMSA, Trans Am, and the final Can-Am race in 1986. But mostly, Hallett is a club track designed for the amateur driver, and features as one of the mid-season races on the Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour schedule.
Arutunoff once said: “I’ve always told inquisitive folks that it’s the people the cars have brought that makes the Club; seeing people every several months at a race that would’ve been close friends if we lived, well, closer.”
The commitment Bruce Foss has to the SCCA is undeniable and has been ongoing for decades. Since 1984 when he initiated the development of Hoosier Tire’s sports car tire program, Foss has been an unwavering supporter of the Club, building both personal relationships with competitors across the United States and business relationships with the SCCA itself.
Thousands of SCCA drivers may not have achieved such a level of success without his dedication to developing tires to meet the requirements of their SCCA classes. It’s easy to say that SCCA competition programs from all levels would not have realized the strong growth they have enjoyed without Foss’s unwavering commitment.
Through the years, Foss has been instrumental in funding hundreds of thousands of dollars in contingency awards and free tire programs for SCCA members, making it possible for Club members to compete in even more events. He has also established a long-term partnership with SCCA in some of the Club’s most important programs, such as the Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour and a myriad of programs and classes like Spec Miata, Spec Racer Ford, and Formula Vee.
Foss is also on the Road Racing Drivers Club’s (RRDC) Mark Donohue Award selection committee, taking on the role of Membership Chairman, continuing to give back to the sport he loves.
Victoria “Vicki” O’Connor became involved in the SCCA in the 1960s when her husband, Bill, raced in Formula B. Hers was not an unusual introduction to the sport, but what she did next most certainly was.
Her motorsports career began with working for Carl Haas as his personal secretary. She was so effective that she became the natural choice to head up the Sports 2000 Racing Series. Based on that success, in the mid-1980s, SCCA Pro Racing asked her to organize and run a new series for Formula Atlantic on the East Coast to enhance the West Coast Atlantic Race series (WCAR), so O’Connor established the ProMotion Agency Ltd to run SCCA’s East Coast Atlantic Racing (ECAR) series.
Under O’Connor’s guidance, the ECAR series grew and prospered, attracting Toyota as the series sponsor and engine provider in 1989. This was the start of the hugely successful Toyota Atlantic Series. In 1991, WCAR was merged into ECAR, creating a national championship series – and O’Connor was tapped to head the organization. Also that year, Gerry Forsythe, one of CART’s founding members, bought ProMotion Agency Ltd., placing O’Connor and her staff into the CART organization.
From its SCCA roots, the series now gained prominence on a national stage.
In accepting the challenge, O’Connor helped design a hugely successful series that would launch drivers like Scott Goodyear, Dan Wheldon, James Hinchcliff, Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal, Simona de Silvestro, and more, into prominence.
There is so much that happens behind the scenes of a successful series that is integral to its success, from hiring staff, procuring insurance and contracts, arranging publicity, getting sponsors, developing schedules, securing contracts, overseeing advertising – the list is endless, and O’Connor did it all.