(CHICAGO - November 16, 2012) - Saturday night, Venturini Motorsports and the Venturini family will be enshrined into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
Having celebrated their 30th anniversary of competition in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards in 2012, Venturini Motorsports - along with Wendy Venturini and the late Tony Venturini - were recognized and voted into the Hall of Fame this spring.
This prestigious recognition is reserved for Italian American sports figures that have excelled while positively impacting and contributing to their respected sport at the highest level of competition.
This year's distinguished class of inductees will include the Venturini family, as they were unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame by the NIASHF's Nominating Committee. The NIASHF's Nominating Committee is made up of former inductees, sports writers, and members of the NIASHF's Board of Directors.
"The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame is delighted to have such an illustrious group of inductees this year and the Venturini family is truly deserving of this honor for their many years of positive contributions to the motorsports world," said George Randazzo, founder of the NIASHF.
The Venturini family members included on the list of sport figures being honored at this year's NIASHF's induction ceremony include: the late Tony Venturini; Bill Venturini; Cathy Venturini; Billy Venturini; and Wendy Venturini, recognized for their collective contributions to the motorsports industry.
Joining the Venturinis in the class of 2012 are:
- John Smoltz, 8-time National League All-Star
- Mark Recchi, 7-time NHL All-Star and 1997 All-Star Game MVP
- Vito Antuofermo, former World Middleweight Champion
- Ned Colletti, General Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jim Corno, President, Comcast SportsNet Chicago
- Lou Lamoriello, CEO, President & General Manager of the New Jersey Devils
- Larry Lucchino, President & CEO of the Boston Red Sox
- Stefano Pelinga, multi-year international artistic pool champion
In addition to Bill Venturini Sr.'s forthcoming 2012 NIASHF's induction, he also holds a position within the walls of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, located outside Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Venturini is included as one of 30 ARCA Racing Series champions on one of two newly-designed walls dedicated to ARCA's history.
For the first time in the history of the NIASHF, a collective family will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as one entity, versus the "individual" induction typically associated with such an honor.
The NIAHF's induction ceremony will be hosted by Mike Piazza in Rosemont, Ill. The annual event will be attended by former inductees, as well as many of today's top sports figures.
Founded in 1977 and located in the "Little Italy" neighborhood in Chicago, the NIASHF has inducted over 200 national sports figures and legends.
Notable sports figures already enshrined in the NIASHF include: "The Yankee Clipper," Joe DiMaggio; legendary boxing heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano; Green Bay Packers icon Vince Lombardi; football greats Joe Montana and Dan Marino; Olympian swimmer Matt Biondi; hockey great, Dino Ciccarelli; IndyCar legend Mario Andrett;, former Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks chairman and CEO Jerry Colangelo; famed baseball manager Tommy Lasorda; and future Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, who also serves as the NIASHF's National Spokesman, among others.
The Venturini name has become synonymous with modern-day stock car racing in America. The legacy was born over six decades ago when Tony Venturini began racing stock cars in the 1950s at historic Soldier Field in Chicago. Tony, considered one of the early pioneers of the sport, competed with legendary NASCAR drivers such as "Tiger" Tom Pistone and Freddy Lorenzen.
More than any other sport, automobile racing tends to breed generations of racers. Case in point: Bill Venturini Sr., following in his father's footsteps, dedicated his life to racing and took the family pastime to new levels.
Bill's competitiveness and passion for racing started in the 1970s. With a dream and tireless dedication to succeed, Bill catapulted his career - driving and ownership - to the highest levels of stock car racing.
As a former NASCAR driver, two-time ARCA Racing Series champion (1987 and 1991), and the 1983 ARCA Racing Series Rookie of the Year, Bill has cemented his place in motorsports history on and off the track.
With numerous racing accomplishments, including the all-time qualifying records at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Supersppeedway, he is also credited with forming the first all-female pit crew in professional motorsports (pictured above).
Far from a publicity stunt, the all-female pit crew, led by his wife, Cathy, played a major role in Bill's first ARCA championship in 1987.
Taking the reins from Bill is his son Billy. A third-generation driver, Billy Venturini jumped behind the wheel in 1994, competing in NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series for over 10 years. With 162 career ARCA starts, Billy earned 28 top-five and 75 top-10 finishes, including a victory at historic Salem Speedway.
Representing the "now" generation for Venturini Motorsports, Billy's greatest accomplishment came in 2007, when he transformed the team's image by shifting focus and developing one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country.
Venturini Motorsports provides the top NASCAR driver prospects from around the world with the platform and experience to hone their driving skills as they pursue their dreams of reaching the highest levels of automobile racing in America: NASCAR.
Venturini Motorsports competes in the national touring ARCA Racing Series, which is considered the "NASCAR" driver feeder series. Many of today's current NASCAR drivers and team members have competed in the ARCA Racing Series prior to moving on to their NASCAR careers.
Proving you don't have to be one of the boys, Bill's daughter and an award-winning broadcaster for the FOX network's SPEED, Wendy Venturini will share in the honor for her accomplishments as an on-air personality for SPEED's No. 1-rated NASCAR pre-race television show, "NASCAR RaceDay."
Wendy, whose celebrity is known by millions of NASCAR fans coast-to-coast, was the first female reporter in history to provide live television play-by-play for a NASCAR race in 2007. Admired and respected by the entire NASCAR community, Wendy's upbringing and vast knowledge and history of NASCAR makes her the premier female broadcast personality in all of professional racing.
Notable current NASCAR drivers who have raced under the Venturini banner include Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott, Miguel Paludo, Steve Arpin, Josh Richards, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Swindell, Sean Caisse, Marc Davis, and Max Gresham.
Logano, who drives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, was honored by the NIAHF in 2009 as the "Yogi Berra Athlete of the Year" recipient, which subsequently was the same year he raced for Venturini Motorsports, winning in the ARCA Racing Series event at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.
Pictured at right, from top to bottom: Tony Venturini, Bill Venturini, Cathy Venturini, Billy Venturini, Wendy Venturini
From Team Release