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2012

2012 Nominees

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced a history-rich list of 25 nominees for the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction class. Click on a thumbnail below to read the selected nominee's bio or here for more information:

Cotton Owens

COTTON OWENS – Driver/Owner (b. 5/21/24)

Hometown: Union, S.C.
Competed: 1950-64 (Driver); 1950-73 (Owner)
Starts: 160 (Driver); 405 (Owner)
Wins: 9 (Driver); 38 (Owner)
Poles: 10 (Driver); 33 (Owner)

There are successful drivers and there are successful owners. But, rarely are there both.

Cotton Owens joins NASCAR Hall of Fame member Junior Johnson as masters of the two crafts.

Owens was more than successful behind the wheel, winning nine times in NASCAR's premier series competition, including the 1957 Daytona Beach road course which marked Pontiac's first NASCAR victory. He nearly won the 1959 championship, finishing second to NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Lee Petty. Concurrently Owens raced NASCAR modified stock cars and won the 1953-54 championships.

But as an owner, Owens stood out as one of the greats of NASCAR's early eras. His eye for talent was unmatched. He hired Johnson in 1962, the same season in which he began a future championship relationship with another NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, David Pearson.

Johnson spent only four races with Owens but with Pearson, well, that was another story. Twenty-seven of Pearson's 105 NASCAR premier series victories were recorded in a Cotton Owens car. The pair teamed to win the 1966 championship after Pearson, driving an Owens Dodge, finished third in points in 1964.

In 1998 Owens was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers.

Buck Baker

BUCK BAKER – Driver (b. 3-4-19 – d. 4-14-02)

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Competed: 1949-76
Starts: 636
Wins: 46
Poles: 45

Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker established himself as one of NASCAR’s early greats, becoming the first driver to win consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. That repeat performance in 1956-57 was the meat of an incredible four-year span; in 1955 and ’58 Baker finished as the series championship runner-up.

The first series championship for Baker came while driving for owner Carl Kiekhaefer, who had assembled the first multi-car team in NASCAR while also blazing a trail in using his cars as promotional tools for his other business, powerboat motors. Baker’s second championship came in his own cars.

Baker drove a bus before becoming an auto racer – perhaps a partial explanation for his versatility behind the wheel, as he also won races in NASCAR’s Modified, Speedway and Grand American series. But his legend was made in NASCAR’s premier series; his career victory total of 46 ranks 14th all-time.

Baker was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998. Prior to his passing in 2002, Baker blazed another trail, founding a series of high-performance driving schools at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway and North Carolina Speedway.

His son Buddy followed his father’s footsteps as well, winning the Daytona 500 and also making the “50 Greatest Drivers” list.

Red Byron

RED BYRON – Driver (b. 3-12-15 – d. 11-11-60)

Hometown: Anniston, Ala.
Competed: 1949-1951
Starts: 15
Wins: 2
Poles: 2

Robert “Red” Byron was there at the outset, to say the least.

Byron won the sanctioning body’s first race in 1948, on the Daytona beach-road course. He went on in ’48 to win NASCAR’s first season championship – in the NASCAR Modified Division. The following year he won NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock title – the precursor to today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – driving for car owner Raymond Parks. The Strictly Stock schedule had eight races; Byron won two of them.

Wounded in World War II, Byron drove with a special brace attached to the clutch pedal to assist an injured leg – making his accomplishments even more impressive. That injury contributed to Byron’s relatively brief career, after which he continued to be involved in motorsports.

When he died in 1960 at the age of 45, Byron had branched out, striving to make more history, by developing an American car capable of winning the famed 24 Hours of LeMans sports car event.

In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers,” recognition of a highly significant career, the relative brevity of it notwithstanding.

Richard Childress

RICHARD CHILDRESS – Owner (b. 9-21-45)

Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Competed: 1969-Present
Starts: 1,957
Wins: 90

Richard Childress, long before he became one of the preeminent car owners in NASCAR history, was a race car driver himself, with limited means. Still, he persevered, which is what you do when you purchase your first race car for $20 at the age of 17.
Childress, the consummate self-made racer, was respectable behind the wheel. Between 1969-81 he had six top-five finishes and 76 top 10s in 285 starts, finishing fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings in 1975.
Having formed Richard Childress Racing in 1972, Childress retired from driving in 1981. The rest, as they say, is history.

Much of that history is linked to one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, who won six championships and 67 races between 1984-2000 for RCR.

But Childress has had other successes, as well. In addition to Earnhardt’s championships, Childress drivers have given him five others. His total of 11 national series owner championships is second all-time. Childress was the first NASCAR team owner to win championships in all three of NASCAR’s national series.

Along the way, Childress has excelled off the track. He was one of the first owners to recognize the market potential for race team collectables. In recent years he established his own winery in North Carolina. And in 2008, Childress was recognized for his role in establishing the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

That $20 race car seems a light year away.

Jerry Cook

JERRY COOK (b. 6-20-43)

Hometown: Rome, N.Y.
Competed: 1963-82
Starts: 1,474
Wins: 342
Poles: 26

Jerry Cook made his name in modifieds, winning six NASCAR Modified championships, four coming consecutively from 1974-77. All the while, he was vying with another driver from his hometown of Rome, N.Y., nine-time champion Richie Evans, for supremacy in NASCAR’s open-wheel realm. The rivalry was home-grown – and intense.

Modified racing is NASCAR's oldest form of competition – modifieds were the staple of the very first NASCAR season in 1948. Cook has said the cars’ appeal was based on that history and the fact that the racing is unique within NASCAR.

After retiring from racing in 1982, Cook stayed with the sport and helped shape the series that is known today as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Cook served as the series’ director when it began in 1985 and remains with NASCAR as competition administrator.

In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers.”

Richie Evans

RICHIE EVANS – Driver (b. 7-23-41 – d. 10-24-85)

Hometown: Rome, N.Y.
Competed: 1973-85
Starts: 1,300 (estimated)
Wins: 475 (estimated)

The recognized “king” of Modified racing, Evans captured nine NASCAR Modified titles in a 13-year span, including eight in a row from 1978-85.

In the first year of the current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour format in 1985, Evans won 12 races, including a sweep of all four events at Thompson, Conn.

Evans ranked No. 1 in the 2003 voting of the “NASCAR All-Time Modified Top 10 Drivers,” and he was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.

Tim Flock

TIM FLOCK – Driver (b. 5-11-24 – d. 3-31-98)

Hometown: Fort Payne, Ala.
Competed: 1949-61
Starts: 187
Wins: 39
Poles: 37

A two-time series champion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Flock was one of the sport’s first dominant drivers.

Flock had 39 victories in only 187 starts. His victory total still ranks 17th all-time. Flock won his first series title in 1952 while driving Ted Chester’s Hudson Hornet. He had eight wins and 22 top fives in 33 starts. Flock won his second series title in 1955 while driving Carl Kiekhaefer’s Chrysler. He dominated that season, posting 18 wins, 32 top fives and 18 poles in 39 races. Flock’s 18 wins stood as a single-season victory record until Richard Petty surpassed it with 27 wins in 1967.

In addition, Flock won NASCAR’s only sports car race, in 1955, driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

The entire Flock family raced at times during NASCAR’s formative years. In 1949, brothers Bob and Fonty and sister Ethel joined Tim to become the only four siblings to drive in the same NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Flock, who died on March 31, 1998, was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” that same year.

Rick Hendrick

RICK HENDRICK – Owner (b. 7-12-49)

Hometown: Palmer Springs, Va.
Competed: 1984-Present
Starts: 2,751
Wins: 193

The founder and owner of Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Hendrick recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as a team owner. His organization is recognized as one of NASCAR’s most successful. A longtime racing enthusiast and driver himself, Hendrick owned a championship drag racing boat team before founding, “All-Star Racing,” the team that would evolve into Hendrick Motorsports, in 1984. Hendrick’s current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable includes drivers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin.

Hendrick Motorsports owns nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner championships titles – four each with Gordon and Johnson and one with Terry Labonte. That total matches Petty Enterprises for most all-time. Hendrick also has 12 total NASCAR national-series car-owner championships, which is most in NASCAR history. Gordon and Labonte combined to win four consecutive titles from 1995-98. In 2009, Johnson won a record-setting fourth consecutive championship.

Some of NASCAR’s most prominent drivers have driven for Hendrick. Geoff Bodine was the first, snaring the organization’s first victory on April 29, 1984, at Martinsville Speedway. The late Tim Richmond, three-time series champion Darrell Waltrip and the late Benny Parsons, the 1973 series champion, also are Hendrick alumni. Ricky Craven, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Joe Nemechek and Kyle Busch are other well-known drivers who have driven for Hendrick.

Hendrick and his wife, Lynda, reside in North Carolina. Off-track, Hendrick is active in promoting awareness for leukemia research. He successfully battled the disease in 1996, establishing the Hendrick Marrow Program in 1997 to aid patients nationwide suffering from leukemia and 70 other blood diseases.

Jack Ingram

JACK INGRAM – Driver (b.12-28-36)

Hometown: Asheville, N.C.
Competed: 1965-91
NASCAR Busch Series Starts: 275
NASCAR Busch Series Wins: 31
NASCAR Busch Series Poles: 5

The NASCAR Nationwide Series has had a variety of incarnations through the years but when considered collectively, an argument can be made that Jack Ingram is the series’ all-time greatest driver.

When the series was called Late Model Sportsman, he won three consecutive championships from 1972-74. When the series was named the NASCAR Busch Series, he won titles in 1982 and ’85.

The last two championships more or less cemented Ingram’s legendary status. In the NASCAR Busch Series’ inaugural 1982 season, he edged another legend, two-time series titlist Sam Ard, by only 49 points in the final standings. In ’85 his championship points margin was only 29, over Jimmy Hensley. In ’86 Ingram nearly won another title, but those hopes were derailed by a late-season two-race suspension for a controversial rough driving incident.

In his 10 years of competition in what was called the NASCAR Busch Series, Ingram had 31 wins, a record that stood until Mark Martin broke it in 1997. All but two of Ingram’s 31 wins came on short tracks. No wonder then that Ingram has called himself, only half-jokingly, “the best short-track racer ever.”

During his NASCAR Busch Series days, Jack Ingram was nicknamed “Iron Man.” That label sticks still; at the age of 73, Ingram continues to occasionally compete at the short-track Late Model level.

A native of Asheville, N.C., Ingram didn’t grow up in a “traditional” stock car environment. His mother was a school teacher. His father worked as a revenue agent, sheriff and carpenter. But another overriding example set by his parents was followed: the importance of hard work.

Ingram was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.

Dale Inman

DALE INMAN – Crew Chief (b. 7-19-1936)

Hometown: Level Cross, North Carolina
Competed: 1958-92
Wins: 193
Poles: 129

Behind every legendary driver, there is usually a legendary wrenchman.

That was Dale Inman, without whom Richard Petty might never have been The King.

Inman, Petty’s crew chief at Petty Enterprises for nearly three decades, set records for most wins (193) and championships (eight) by a crew chief.

Inman won seven of those championships with inaugural Hall Of Fame Inductee Petty (1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, and 1979), and another one in 1984 with Terry Labonte.

Credited with revolutionizing the crew chief position, Inman’s standout year was 1967. That season, Inman and Petty won a NASCAR-record 27 races – 10 of them consecutively. All 27 victories were in the same car they built a year earlier.
Inman retired from NASCAR in 1998, and in 2008, helped unveil the first artifact at the NASCAR Hall of Fame – the Plymouth Belvedere that Petty drove to 27 wins in 1967.

Les Richter

LES RICHTER – Executive/Promoter (b. 10/6/30 - d. 6/12/10)

Hometown: Riverside, Calif.

Les Richter achieved extraordinary success as both a NASCAR executive and a National Football League defensive star.

After becoming an All-American and All-Pro as a hard-nosed lineman and linebacker, Richter, a native of Fresno, Calif., brought an incomparable work ethic to the world of motorsports. His second career began in 1959 at Riverside International Raceway, where he quickly rose to become president and general manager in 1961.

Richter, affectionately known as "Coach" throughout the motorsports industry, came to NASCAR in 1983 and evolved into one of the most important advisors to then-NASCAR Chairman/CEO Bill France Jr. as NASCAR's popularity expanded. Richter was named NASCAR's executive vice president of competition in 1986 and the senior vice president of operations in '92.

His last job in motorsports was as vice president of special projects for Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., a track he helped come into existence and then become established as a big-time facility.

Richter was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February of this year.

Richter passed away last June at the age of 79.

Fred Lorenzen

FRED LORENZEN (b. 12-30-34)

Hometown: Elmhurst, Ill.
Competed: 1956-72
Starts: 158
Wins: 26
Poles: 32

Fred Lorenzen was one of NASCAR’s first true superstars, even though he was a “part-time” driver some seasons. Example: In 1964 he entered only 16 of the scheduled 62 races but won eight, including five consecutively – and finished 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

In 1965, he won two of NASCAR’s “major” events – the Daytona 500 and the World 600.

Lorenzen was an extremely popular driver with fans, to the point that he had several nicknames – “Golden Boy,” “Fearless Freddie” and “The Elmhurst Express.”

Lorenzen, now living in Oakwood, Ill., retired in 1967 at the age of 33 but made a brief comeback from 1970-72. He didn’t win a race those last three years but he did post 11 top-five finishes along with capturing two poles.

In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers.”

H. Clay Earles

H. CLAY EARLES – Promoter (b. 8/11/13 - d. 11/16/99)

Hometown: Martinsville, Va.

One of the original pioneers of stock car auto racing, H. Clay Earles played an integral role in the early years of NASCAR's development. Earles built and opened Martinsville Speedway in 1947, and the short track remains the only facility to host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races every year since the series' inception in 1949.

The speedway held its first race Sept. 7, 1947 - three months before the creation of NASCAR. That initial race drew more than 6,000 fans to the track, which had just 750 seats ready.

Built as a dirt track, the .526-mile asphalt speedway has grown from a dusty, primitive operation into a multi-million dollar facility covering over 340 acres. It's been called "two drag strips with short turns" due to the 800-foot straights and tight turns banked at only 12 degrees.

Back in 1947, Earles originally had planned to put only $10,000 in the facility, but spent $60,000 before an engine was fired.

Martinsville also has been called "the Augusta National of auto racing." Earles had roses climbing the outhouses, azaleas in the turns and ducks roaming the grounds.

In 1964, Earles decided it was time for a "different" type of trophy for his race winners. He gave winners grandfather clocks instead of trophies, a tradition that continues today.

Earles passed away on November 16, 1999 as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the speedway.

Raymond Parks

RAYMOND PARKS – Owner (b. 6-5-14 – d. 6-20-10)

Hometown: Dawson County, Ga.
Competed: 1949-55
Starts: 18
Wins: 2

Raymond Parks is one of stock-car racing’s earliest – and most successful – team owners.

Funded by successful business and real estate ventures in Atlanta, Park began his career as a stock-car owner in 1938 with drivers Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall.

His pairing with another Atlantan, mechanic Red Vogt, produced equipment good enough to dominate the sport in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Red Byron won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title in 1949 in a Parks-owned car.

Though Parks’ team competed for only four seasons – 1949, 1950, 1954 and 1955 – his place in NASCAR history is secure. Parks’ team produced two wins, two poles, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 18 events. Drivers Red Byron, Bob Flock and Roy Hall drove his cars during the 1949 season. Byron drove for him again in 1950. Fonty Flock drove for Parks in 1954, and Curtis Turner drove for him in 1955.

Parks retired from racing in the mid-1950s. He announced in March 2009 that he will donate his trophies to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.

Benny Parsons

BENNY PARSONS – Driver (b. 6-12-41 – d. 1-16-07)

Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
Competed: 1964-1988
Starts: 526
Wins: 21
Poles: 20

Benny Parsons, an Ellerbe, N.C.-native who called Detroit home after driving a taxi for a living during his years living in the northern city, won the 1973 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in one of the most dramatic fashions in series history.

Parsons could be called an everyman champion: winning enough to be called one of the sport’s stars but nearly always finishing well when he wasn’t able to reach Victory Lane. He won 21 times in 526 career starts but finished among the top 10 283 times – a 54 percent ratio.

One of Parsons’ biggest victories came in the 1975 Daytona 500. He also was the first driver to qualify a stock car at more than 200 mph (200.176) in 1982 at Talladega Superspeedway. He was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.

Parsons also was known as a voice of the sport making a seamless transition to television following his NASCAR career. He was a commentator for NBC and TNT until his passing on Jan. 16, 2007, at the age of 65.

Leonard Wood

LEONARD WOOD – Crew Chief/Engine Builder (b. 9/22/34)

Hometown: Stuart, Va.
Competed: 1950-Present
Starts: 1,369
Wins: 98
Poles: 118

The Wood Brothers team is renowned as the innovator of the modern pit stop. Leonard Wood, brother of Glen and Delano Wood, was front and center in its development as chief mechanic - that's what they called crew chiefs in the early days - and part-owner for the Stuart, Va.-based team.

Wood was what you might call a tinkerer. He built a washing machine engine-powered go-kart from parts and pieces he found when he was 13. It still runs and can be seen in the Woods' museum.

When NASCAR began adding superspeedways - and pit stops - Wood figured out ways to get the race car serviced in the least amount of time.

One major achievement in the team's pit stop arsenal was the light-weight jack that replaced floor jacks weighing more than 100 pounds found in the repair shops of the day. With Wood's choreography the team excelled like no other. Wood continued to go over the wall to change tires well into his 50s.

In 1965, Ford and Colin Chapman hired the Woods to service Jim Clark's car in the Indianapolis 500. Another Wood innovation, an internal device allowing fuel to flow more quickly from a gravity-based fuel tank, dramatically reduced pit times and was key in Clark's victory.

Wood's accomplishments were not confined to pit road. He ran the team's engine shop that provided horsepower and longevity on a par with rivals Holman-Moody and Petty Enterprises. That was instrumental to the success NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson enjoyed as Pearson won 43 races between 1972 and 1978. Racing legends Neil Bonnett, Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney are among drivers winning in Wood Brothers-prepared and crewed cars.

Bobby Isaac

BOBBY ISAAC – Driver (b. 8/01/32 – d. 8/14/77)

Hometown: Catawba, N.C.
Competed: 1961-76
Starts: 309
Wins: 37
Poles: 49

Bobby Isaac knew one speed: Fast.

His uncanny skill at qualifying a race car proves that. His 49 career poles ranks tied for eighth all-time. Maybe more impressive: Isaac captured 19 poles in 1969, which still stands as the record for poles in a single season. Only 37 drivers have 19 or more poles in their entire career.

Isaac began racing in NASCAR's premier series in 1961. He finished runner-up in the series standings in 1968 behind NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson. In 1969 he finished sixth in the standings after posting 17 wins and those 19 poles.

In his breakthrough season, 1970, Isaac won the championship posting 11 victories, 32 top fives and 38 tops in 47 starts.

A year later, in September 1971, he set 28 world class records on the Bonneville Salt Flats in his Dodge. Many of his records still exist to this day.

Isaac won 37 races in NASCAR's top series during his career, which ranks 19th on the all-time wins list.

In 1998, Isaac was named one NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers.

Fireball Roberts

FIREBALL ROBERTS – Driver (b. 1-20-29 – d. 7-2-64)

Hometown: Daytona Beach, Fla.
Competed: 1950-64
Starts: 207
Wins: 33
Poles: 32

Glenn Roberts, who got his legendary nickname from his days as a hard-throwing pitcher in high school, is perhaps the greatest driver never to win a NASCAR title.

He was arguably stock car racing’s first superstar, an immensely popular prototype for some of today’s competitors who are stars on and off the track.

Of course, Roberts’ fame was based on what he did when he got behind the wheel. During his career he often came up big in the biggest events, winning the Daytona 500 in 1962 and the Southern 500 in 1958 and ’63. Overall, he won seven races at Daytona International Speedway, starting with the Firecracker 250 in the summer of 1959 – the year the speedway opened.

Roberts was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998; 40 years before that, he demonstrated a burst of greatness that is hard to fathom. He ran only 10 races in ’58 but won six of them – finishing 11th in the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

T Wayne Robertson

T. WAYNE ROBERTSON (b. 8-27-49 – d. 1-14-98)

Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.

T. Wayne Robertson is renowned for taking R.J. Reynolds’ sponsorship of NASCAR’s premier series – then called NASCAR Winston Cup, now NASCAR Sprint Cup – to a new level of success.

Robertson was 48 at the time of his death in a boating accident, when he held the dual roles of senior vice president at R.J. Reynolds and president of the company’s Sports Marketing Enterprises (SME) division which managed sponsorships in NASCAR, the NHRA, Senior PGA Tour and other entities. He had a distinguished 27-year career in sports marketing, the last 14 heading SME.
Robertson followed the legendary Ralph Seagraves as Reynolds’ point man with NASCAR. Among his many accomplishments was overseeing the creation of what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race – originally called The Winston.

The foundation of his marketing approach was simple – and effective. Robertson was all about partnerships and the resulting relationship that enabled all partners to benefit.

Robertson joined the R.J. Reynolds organization in 1971 as an administrative
trainee and show car driver. A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Robertson earned an associate degree from Rowan Technical Institute.

Herb Thomas

HERB THOMAS – Driver (b. 4-6-23 – d. 8-9-00)

Hometown: Olivia, N.C.
Competed: 1949-62
Starts: 228
Wins: 48
Poles: 39

Herb Thomas was truly one of NASCAR’s first superstars. He was the first to win two NASCAR Sprint Cup championships (1951, ’53). He finished second in the points standings in 1952 and 1954 giving the North Carolina veteran top-two championship finishes in four consecutive seasons. He finished outside the top two in the championship only once (fifth in 1955) between 1951 and 1956. Thomas won the 1951 championship driving self-owned cars.

Thomas won the second running of Darlington Raceway’s famed Southern 500 in 1951 and with back-to-back victories in 1954-55 was the race’s first three-time winner.

Thomas won 48 times in series competition, a number that continues to rank 13th all-time. His 48 victories in 228 starts equates to a series-record winning percentage of 21.05. Thomas won races in seven consecutive seasons from 1950 through 1956.

After retiring from competition following the 1962 seasons, Thomas went on to start a trucking company and sawmill. He was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.

Curtis Turner

CURTIS TURNER – Driver (b. 4-12-24 – d. 10-4-70)

Hometown: Roanoke, Va.
Competed: 1949-68
Starts: 184
Wins: 17
Poles: 16

Called by some the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing,” Curtis Turner was among the fastest and most colorful competitors in the early years of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. Turner posted his first of 17 career victories in only his fourth start on Sept. 11, 1949, at Langhorne, Pa.

Although many of Turner’s victories came on short tracks and dirt ovals – much of his career pre-dated NASCAR’s superspeedway era – he won the 1956 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the first American 500 at Rockingham in 1965. He also won 22 races in NASCAR’s convertible division in 1956.

Turner competed in NASCAR’s first “Strictly Stock” race in 1949 in Charlotte and was the only driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in a Nash. He remains the only series driver to win two consecutive races from the pole leading every lap. Turner drove for many legendary NASCAR owners including the Wood Brothers, Junior Johnson, Smokey Yunick and Holman-Moody.

Turner was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.

Darrell Waltrip

DARRELL WALTRIP – Driver (b. 2-5-47)

Hometown: Owensboro, Ky.
Competed: 1972-2000
Starts: 809
Wins: 84
Poles: 59

A three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (1981-82, ’85), Waltrip won all three with legendary driver/owner Junior Johnson. Waltrip is tied with Bobby Allison for third all-time in series victories with 84. His 59 poles rank fifth all-time in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. He competed from 1972-2000, another highlight being his 1989 Daytona 500 victory in a Rick Hendrick-owned Chevrolet.

Waltrip’s first series title came in 1981, when he finished with 12 wins and 21 top fives in 31 races. He won the title by 53 points over Bobby Allison. In his second championship season, 1982, he finished with 12 wins and 20 top 10s in 30 races, sweeping both races at four tracks (Nashville, Bristol, Talladega and North Wilkesboro). In his third championship season, 1985, Waltrip finished with three wins and 21 top 10s in 28 races.

Waltrip and his wife, Stevie, reside in Franklin, Tenn. He was nicknamed “Jaws” during his career because of an outspoken demeanor. He currently is a commentator on FOX’s NASCAR broadcasts. He was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.

Joe Weatherly

JOE WEATHERLY – Driver (b. 5-29-22 – d. 1-19-64)

Hometown: Norfolk, Va.
Competed: 1952-64
Starts: 229
Wins: 25
Poles: 18

Joe Weatherly won two championships (1962-63) and 25 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

But that’s only part of his story, which is long on versatility.

A decade earlier in 1952-53, he won 101 races in the NASCAR Modified division, capturing that championship in ’53. He even tried his hand in NASCAR’s short-lived Convertible Division from 1956-59.

Weatherly was one of the first drivers who attracted fans to NASCAR as much for his personality as his racing ability, thus his nickname the “Clown Prince of Stock Car Racing.”

When he won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, in 1962, he drove for legendary owner Bud Moore. When he repeated as champion a year later, he drove for nine different teams.

Moore was named one of the NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.

Glen Wood

GLEN WOOD – Driver/Owner (b. 7-18-25)

Hometown: Stuart, Va.
Competed: 1953-64
Starts: 62
Wins: 4
Poles: 14

Glen Wood laid the foundation for the famed Wood Brothers racing team as a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Competing on a semi-regular basis, mostly at tracks close to his southern Virginia home, Wood won four times – all at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. His best season was 1960 during which Wood won three times and posted six top-five and seven top-10 finishes in just nine races. He also won 14 poles during a 62-race career.

Wood, of course, is best known for his collaboration with brothers Leonard and Delano in Wood Brothers Racing. The Stuart, Va.-based team, which dates to 1950 and remains active, has amassed 97 victories in 1,353 races. The team’s all-time roster of drivers is a virtual who’s who of NASCAR and includes David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Marvin Panch, Fireball Roberts, Dan Gurney, Tiny Lund, Parnelli Jones, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen and Bill Elliott.

The Wood Brothers have excelled outside the NASCAR world as well, winning the 1965 Indianapolis 500 with Jim Clark.

Cale Yarborough

CALE YARBOROUGH – Driver (b. 3-27-39)

Hometown: Timmonsville, S.C.
Competed: 1957-88
Starts: 562
Wins: 83
Poles: 69

As competitive as the sport has always been, NASCAR has had very few dynasties. Cale Yarborough’s reign in the late 1970s, though, was one of them.

His string of three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships from 1976-78 was unprecedented – and unmatched until 2008, when Jimmie Johnson was crowned champion for the third straight year. Johnson won a fourth consecutive title in 2009.

During his three-year dominance, Yarborough won 28 races – nine in 1976, nine in ’77 and 10 in ’78. His final championship points margin in those three years was never fewer than 195 points and was as much as 474 in 1978.

Those three years made Yarborough’s career, but he enjoyed success before and after. The fiery competitor was the series championship runner-up in 1973 and ’74 and again in 1980.

Yarborough totaled 83 victories in his 31-year career, ranks fifth all-time. His 69 poles rank third all-time. And he won the Daytona 500 four times (1968, ’77, ’83-84), a mark that ranks second only to Richard Petty’s seven.

When NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” list was compiled in 1998, suffice to say that William Caleb Yarborough was a shoo-in.