Photo Credit: Ford
Mustang legend Jerry Titus was among seven inductees into the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America on Wednesday night at Detroit’s Filmore Theatre. The Shelby American driver and 1967 Trans-Am champion was elected in the sports car category. Other inductees in the 2010 class included driver and crew chief Dale Armstrong (drag racing), Indy 500 driver and stunt man Joie Chitwood (historic), Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath (motorcycles), midget star Rich Vogler (open wheel) and television pioneer Ken Squier (at large).
In 1965 Ford decided its Mustang needed a transformation from a secretary’s car to muscle car. Ford knew the quickest way to rev-up sales was a racing program and Carroll Shelby was brought in to develop the GT-350R model for racing purposes. With Jerry Titus as Shelby’s test driver, twenty five R models were developed, built, and qualified for SCCA “B” production. Titus campaigned one in SCCA Division Six, winning the Regional Championship and the National Championships held at Daytona International Raceway.
During 1966 and 1967, labeled the the glory days of Trans Am racing, Titus was one of the series’ dominant drivers in his famous pale yellow Mustang. His five wins in 1967 won the championship and the manufacturer’s trophy for Ford. He placed third in points in 1968 and 1969. Titus moved over to GM to race Pontiac Firebirds in 1970 but was killed in a racing accident at Road America.
In addition to driving, he was an accomplished writer and editor of Sports Car Graphic Magazine. Titus’ name is remembered annually by the America Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association when it presents its choice for driver of the year with the Jerry Titus Memorial Award. Jim Farley, Ford group vice president, inducted Titus, calling him “a legend of the Trans-Am series and a legend to our team at Ford Motor Company.”