In the Pits
Five enshrined in NASCAR Hall of Fame
NASCAR honored five men who have been instrumental in the creation and success of the sport with the May 23 induction of the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC. The first class consists of NASCAR driving legends Richard Petty, Junior Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, along with NASCAR founder Bill France and his son, Bill France Jr.
Petty, known as “The King,” won a record 200 NASCAR Cup races, seven Cup championships and seven Daytona 500s. Earnhardt, known as “The Intimidator” for his aggressive style of racing, won 76 Cup races and seven Cup championships. He died in a last-lap crash during the 2001 Daytona 500. Johnson, a former moonshine runner dubbed “The Last American Hero” by author Tom Wolfe, won 50 races as a driver and 132 races and six Cup championships as a team owner.
NASCAR personalities Dale Inman, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Kyle Petty, members of the Earnhardt family and Darrell Waltrip took part in the historic event, as well as NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Jim France and NASCAR President Mike Helton.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the NASCAR Hall of Fame to our millions of fans and participate in a tremendous opening ceremony in Charlotte,” said Brian France, NASCAR’s chairman and CEO. “We are even more excited to officially and permanently enshrine those pioneers who made our sport what we enjoy today. When we honor my father and grandfather alongside great American heroes and champions Junior Johnson, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, it [is] a signature day in NASCAR.”
Long-time NASCAR television voice Mike Joy served as host of the induction ceremony, while SPEED Channel provided live, exclusive television coverage of the event.
In October 2009, the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel, consisting of members of the nominating committee along with 29 others representing NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, major race track ownership groups, retired drivers, owners and crew chiefs along with motorsports media representatives, met in a closed session in Charlotte to vote on the induction class of 2010.
The class was determined by the 51 votes cast by the panel and the nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com. The ac-counting firm of Ernst & Young presided over the tabulation of the votes.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte opened to great fanfare on May 11. The facility honors the history and heritage of NASCAR and the many who have contributed to the success of NASCAR.
The process to choose the next class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will begin in July when the 25 nominees will be announced. The class of 2011 will be announced in October 2010.