First Woman Honored by the Automotive Hall of Fame!
(1927 - 2015)
McCluggage receives the Automotive Hall of Fame Induction award
from Hall of Fame Chairman Jim Olson.
journalist Denise McCluggage learned she was to be inducted into the
Automotive Hall of Fame, her immediate reaction was "Why me?"
was delighted and impressed, but to be the first journalist inducted,
it was mostly overwhelming," McCluggage said.
yet another impressive first for McCluggage, a respected and humble
pioneer in the world of automotive and sports journalism. Don't forget
to add author, race car driver and photographer to that list. As one
of the first female sportswriters in the 1950s, McCluggage covered
primarily motor racing and skiing for the New York Herald Tribune
before becoming a member of numerous racing and rallying teams across
the nation and abroad.
was included in the conception of Competition Press, now AutoWeek,
for which she is a columnist and senior-contributing editor. And at
the age when most people are well into retirement, McCluggage is still
plugging away, writing a syndicated newspaper column called Drive,
She Said and reviewing European cars (and also providing priceless
travel advice) for us at ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine.
her 70-odd years, McCluggage has seen a world of change in how women
are viewed (and treated) in society.
wasn't allowed in the garage, pit area or press box at Indy,"
she remembers of her time spent covering motor racing for the Herald
Tribune in the late 1950s. "I had to interview drivers through
a chain link fence. Women just weren't permitted in. I was told people
wouldn't accept news from a woman."
the obstacles, McCluggage persevered and found other ways to get the
story. "I would interview people in different places than the
other reporters, so my stories weren't the same as theirs," she
said. "I would pull aside a driver in a hotel lobby and ask my
McCluggage was allowed to join other journalists in the press box
and a change in attitude toward women slowly evolved over the next
as for the handsome crystal trophy she received from the Automotive
Hall of Fame, it got to spend some quality time with the security
staff at the Detroit airport ("they must've thought it looked
like a lethal weapon") before taking the trip with McCluggage
back to her home base of Santa Fe.
Denise was honored in 2004 with Road & Travel Magazine's first Lifetime Legend Award. Click on this link to see her YouTube montage along with Legends honored in subsequent years.
Also click here to read Matt Stone's article about Denise.