People Places & Racing News

AAAA Announces 2024 Hall of Fame Inductees

By PRI News Editors

AAAA Hall of Fame Class of 2024

From left to right: Bessie Stringfield, Crystal Windham, KJ Jones, Richard Petty, and Larry Nance Sr.

The African American Automotive Association (AAAA) announced on Juneteenth its 2024 Hall of Fame class. Joining the roster of those who have made significant contributions for African Americans in the automotive and motorsports industries are Bessie Stringfield, Crystal WindhamKJ Jones, Richard Petty and Larry Nance Sr. 

"Our Hall of Fame is a celebration of excellence, resilience, and groundbreaking achievements in the automotive industry," said AAAA Founder Chris Harris. "Each inductee's story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the impact of trailblazing individuals who have paved the way for future generations." 

Harris specifically chose Juneteenth to announce the 2024 honorees, which is the beginning of an annual tradition to celebrate this significant occasion. "Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and celebrates our perseverance and contributions to the nation," he explained. "The increased visibility and media coverage around Juneteenth helps us raise awareness about the AAAA Hall of Fame, its inductees and align with broader celebrations of African American excellence. Too often, African American contributions to American history are omitted, and many organizations, especially in motorsports, fail to acknowledge their past transgressions against African Americans. I see Juneteenth as a chance to educate the public about the incredible individuals in the AAAA Hall of Fame and their significant roles, connecting past struggles with present accomplishments." 

Harris was motivated to create the AAAA Hall of Fame after noticing a glaring omission in other automotive halls of fame. "I wasn't happy with the lack of recognition for African Americans in other automotive halls of fame," he stated. "So, I decided to create one that celebrates and honors their significant contributions. Representation is important, and I have to make sure future generations can easily learn about African Americans' positive contributions to the automotive industry, and that includes transportation and motorsports. This year, we inducted the legendary Richard Petty into our Hall of Fame. While he isn't African American, his words and actions over the past 50 years have helped African Americans enter motorsports on the biggest stage and highlight their skills to the world. Allies like him are well deserving of being in the AAAA Hall of Fame." 

Following are the 2024 Hall of Fame inductees and details about their contributions. 

Bessie Stringfield, "Motorcycle Queen of Miami" 

Bessie Stringfield, known as the "Motorcycle Queen of Miami," is celebrated for breaking barriers for both women and African-American motorcyclists. Starting her journey at 16, she rode her motorcycle across the United States and beyond, facing and overcoming discrimination with unmatched courage and resilience. Her legacy is a testament to the power of perseverance. 

Crystal Windham, Automotive Design 

Crystal Windham, the executive director of design at General Motors, is recognized for her innovative vision and leadership in the automotive industry. As the first black woman to serve as a design director at General Motors, Windham's story is a powerful reminder of the impact of mentorship, perseverance, and the pursuit of excellence. 

KJ Jones, Media 

KJ Jones is celebrated for his extensive contributions to automotive media. He is currently the senior editor of HOT ROD. He was the first, and for almost 20 years, only African-American person on MotorTrend's editorial staff (a company with a 75-year history). In 2014, he became the first African American to hold the editor-in-chief title for any publication in the aftermarket-performance space (Diesel Power). His journey, marked by a deep love for high-performance cars and dedication to sharing his knowledge, has earned him a place in the AAAA Hall of Fame. His passion and perseverance have made a significant impact in the automotive and media industries. 

"Being inducted into the African American Automotive Association Hall of Fame is the most humbling honor I have ever received. It's still incredibly surreal, as I had no idea that I was being considered for something like this," said Jones

He believes his "grind and resilience" are two qualities that led to this honor. "Being a black man in an industry that for all intents and purposes is predominately caucasian, I had to immediately prove that I belonged here (on the merits of my knowledge and ability), and then I felt that I needed to accel in order to stay here," he explained. "To do that, I've been dedicated to outworking competitors, waking up at 3:00 a.m. every day to get emails with project pitches sent, parts requested, other business-related matters handled, and stories written, while everyone else--on both coasts--is still in REM sleep. I've been traveling throughout the United States since I started, getting stories because you can't wait for them to come to you. 

"To be included in the Hall of Fame, the African American Automotive Association's shrine for celebrating excellence and outstanding people who have contributed so much to one of the biggest industries in the world, is a privilege that I will cherish forever," concluded Jones. 

Richard Petty, Motorsports 

Richard Petty, "The King," is a legendary NASCAR figure with a record 200 NASCAR Cup Series wins. Beyond his racing achievements, Petty has been a vocal supporter of minorities in motorsports, providing opportunities for minorities in racing and businesses. His decades of public support and action for drivers like Wendell Scott and Bubba Wallace exemplify what diversity looks like in this industry, earning him a place in the AAAA Hall of Fame. 

Larry Nance Sr., Motorsports 

Larry Nance Sr., a three-time NBA All-Star, seamlessly transitioned into professional drag racing after his basketball career. As the first African-American NBA player to participate as both a car owner and driver in professional drag racing, Nance's achievements highlight his exceptional talent and determination, earning him a place in the AAAA Hall of Fame. 

The AAAA Hall of Fame Class of 2024 showcases the incredible achievements and enduring legacies of these trailblazing individuals. Their stories inspire future generations and emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion in the automotive world. Learn more about these individuals by visiting the AAAA Hall of Fame at