Denise McCluggage and the 1956 Jaguar XK140 that helped her break into a male-dominated sport, are a big part of the organization’s 2022 induction ceremony March 8 at the Shores Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach, FL. The MSHFA is located at Daytona International Speedway.
McCluggage is entered as a Class of 2022 At Large inductee.
A cofounder of Autoweek, she was the first journalist to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. McCluggage was also the first woman to receive the Ken W. Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism. She also wound up participating in the sport she covered, earning the nickname “Lady Ledfoot” and earned her respect throughout the automotive and racing communities.
“Denise’s role in publishing and sustaining Autoweek, nee Competition Press, during its infancy not only kept the publication going, but played a vital role in the growth of sports car racing in America,” said George Levy, President of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
“This is the car that inspired all of that for Denise. “This is the car that made her want to race, and we couldn’t think of a better or more appropriate piece of motorsports history to have on display at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America for Women’s History Month and beyond.”
McCluggage made her racing debut in the Jaguar at an SCCA regional in Montgomery, New York in August of 1956 at the age of 29. She won the Ladies Race outright and placed well in the larger race against much more experienced competition.
She was the first woman to win the feature sports car event at Thompson Raceway in Connecticut with a Porsche RS in 1959, won the GT class at Sebring in Florida in 1961 with a Ferrari 250, and subsequently became the first female driver inducted into the Sebring International Raceway Hall of Fame.
The Jaguar, too, has an interesting history. It was thought to be lost before it was found, unaltered, after sitting in a garage for nearly three decades. Barnaby Brokaw, President and Founder of The Motorcar Society, considers the Jaguar to be one of the most significant “barn finds” of the decade.
“This is the car that American sportsman Briggs Cunningham (MSHFA Class of 1997) gave to Denise because he saw something special in her,” Brokaw said. “She was fiercely competitive and highly respected by her peers on and off the race track
“Denise truly deserves the honor of being recognized by the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and it’s a special opportunity to bring her first race car here.”