Scottvoight's NASCAR Blog

February 7, 2011

First Class of NASCAR’s Hall of Fame

Filed under: NASCAR Articles — Scott Voight @ 2:39 pm

 On October 14th 2009 NASCAR announced the first class of the NASCAR Hall of fame. The class was chosen from 51 panel members and votes received on line from the fans. More than 670,000 fans votes and nominated their favorite drivers.

The people nominated by the fans included: Bobby Allison, Buck Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt, Richie Evans, Tim Flock, Bill France Jr., Bill France Sr., Rick Hendrick, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, David Pearson, Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts, Herb Thomas, Curtis Turner, Darrell Waltrip, Joe Weatherly, Glen Wood and Cale Yarborough.

            The panel members voted on the finalist and Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, and Junior Johnson were confirmed.

            Bill France Sr.  (b 9-26-09 – d 6-7-92)  it was his vision of racing that led him to form NASCAR.  He promoted the Daytona Beach course for dare devils and pilots and soldiers to test their nerve at the advent of World War Two. Later he was also the visionary leader who built Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.  He led the association until his death in 1992.

            Bill France Jr. (b 4-4-33 – d 6-4-07) Bill Jr. as he was known, took over as president of NASCAR after his father’s retirement in 1972. He was considered a natural leader, he innovated the sport into what it is today. He formed rules that would insure safety for the drivers and fans alike. Promoted tight high drama racing and was responsible for building the fan base to what it is today. He continued to work for new innovations in the sport until his retirement in 2003 when his son Brian France became the president of NASCAR.

            Richard Petty was the greatest driver of his era. He racked up 200 victories and seven championships. He also holds the records for most poles (123), most wins in a single season (27), most Daytona wins (seven), most consecutive wins (10), and most starts (1,185).  He began racing as a humble crew member for his father Lee Petty. When Lee crashed and injured his back, Richard was given the keys and the rest is history. Richard had legendary battles with David Pearson and later Cale Yarborough. After his retirement he became he became a team owner and still holds that distinction today. The King as he is affectionately known, put up records that are staggering and is the face of NASCAR in the beginnings of NASCAR and the modern era as well.

            Robert Glen Johnson known as Junior Johnson has had good success as a driver and car owner. Johnson won the second Daytona 500 in 1960. He won 50 races as a driver and five championships as a car owner. He was one of the moonshine runners that would bring their cars to the tracks to test their mettle against drivers from all around. He is an innovator as well in the sport as he is credited with discovering the art of drafting. Today he is 78 and retired but is always revered as one of the most enduring personalities in the sport.

Dale Earnhardt (b 4-29-51 – d 2-18-01) the intimidator as he is known to race fans throughout the world. His aggressive style and trademark smile made him a fan favorite for years. His black No.3 and his personality behind the wheel was larger than life.  He holds a tie with Richard Petty as the only men to win 7 Championships. He won consecutive titles in 1986-1887, 1990-1991, and 1993-1994.  He has a total of 76 wins ranking him seventh all time in that category. He won 76 victories in races other than the Daytona 500, which he won once. This win was a moment that fans will remember for years to come as every team lined up on pit road to congratulate him. His personality was bigger than live and that attracted the most loyal fans. He died blocking another driver from passing his son and Michael Waltrip who’s cars he owned in the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. It is ironic he would die at a track that was so good to him in one aspect, but so eluding in another.

            The class of 2010 is a good mix of founding fathers, older racers and modern era racers. Not everyone can get into the first class of inductees. The Class of 2010 will be officially inducted in a ceremony on May 23, 2010 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. It won’t be long before the next class is voted on so be ready to vote in your favorite driver next time.

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