The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced a history-rich list of 25 Nominees for the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of Inductees. Click on a thumbnail below to read the selected Nominee's bio.
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker established himself as one of NASCAR’s early greats, becoming the first driver to win consecutive NASCAR premier series 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 tied for 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.
Hometown: Anniston, Ala.
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 Le Mans 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.
Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
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 premier series 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. 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 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.
Hometown: Rome, N.Y.
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 and NASCAR Hall of Famer 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.
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.
Hometown: Fort Payne, Ala.
A two-time series champion of the NASCAR premier series, Flock was one of the sport’s first dominant drivers.
Flock had 39 victories in only 187 starts. His victory total still ranks 18th 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 premier series race.
Flock, who died on March 31, 1998, was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers that same year.
Hometown: Daytona Beach, Florida
A New England native, Ray Fox grew up in New Hampshire and saw his first automobile race at the 2.0-mile board track at Rockingham Park near Salem, N.H. Following service in the U.S. Army in World War II, Fox moved to Daytona Beach, Fla. to work as an auto mechanic – ultimately for Robert Fish’s Fish Carburetor.
Fox built the engine in Fish’s Buick driven by Fireball Roberts which led the 1955 race on Daytona’s Road & Beach Course wire-to-wire. Roberts, however, was disqualified after it was determined that the car’s mechanic, Red Vogt, had modified the pushrods. In 1956 Fox went to work for Carl Kiekhaefer whose Chrysler 300 cars won 22 of the season’s first 26 races driven by Herb Thomas, Buck Baker and Speedy Thompson. Baker won the championship and Fox was named mechanic of the year at season’s end.
Fox opened his own engine shop the following year. In 1960, he built the Chevrolet in which NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson won the Daytona 500 – the year Johnson discovered the secret of the draft that contributed to his improbable victory. Rookie of the year and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson won three times in 1960 driving Fox-built Pontiacs.
In 1962, Fox became a car owner. He won nine times with Johnson and twice – including the 1964 Southern 500 – with Buck Baker. Fox’s two wins with Buddy Baker included the 1967 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Earl Balmer won a Daytona 500 qualifying points race in a Fox-owned Dodge in 1966. Others who competed in Fox’s cars included NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen and Charlie Glotzbach.
Fox retired in the early 1970s but in 1990 accepted the role of NASCAR’s engine inspector, a position he held until his second retirement at the age of 80 in 1996. He continues to live in Daytona Beach.
Hometown: Nathan’s Creek, N.C.
Behind every great man…
The rest of that old adage applies perfectly to Anne Bledsoe, as she was known until she married a Washington, D.C. native named Bill France.
They met at a dance at Children's Hospital in the nation's capital, and were married in 1931. They arrived in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1934.
Bill France, aka “Big Bill,” had a mind for business, and his wife owned a knack for finance.
The pair would team to create what today is one of the largest and most popular sports in the world.
Anne France played a huge role in the family business. He organized and promoted races and she took care of financial end of the business.
She first served as secretary and treasurer of NASCAR, and when Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, she served in the same roles for International Speedway Corporation.
She also managed the speedway's ticket office. She remained active in family and business life until her passing in 1992.
Hometown: Palmer Springs, Va.
The founder and owner of Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Hendrick’s organization is recognized as one of NASCAR’s most successful. A longtime racing enthusiast and driver himself, Hendrick owned drag-racing boat teams that won three championships 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 an all-time record 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner championship titles – five with Johnson, four with Gordon and one with Terry Labonte. Hendrick also has 13 total NASCAR national-series car-owner championships, which is also most in NASCAR history. Gordon and Labonte combined to win four consecutive titles from 1995-98. In 2010, Johnson won a record-extending fifth 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, Linda, 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.
Hometown: Asheville, N.C.
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 49 points in the final standings. In ’85, his championship points margin was 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.”
Ingram was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Hometown: Catawba, N.C.
Bobby Isaac knew one speed: Fast.
His uncanny skill at qualifying a race car proves that. His 49 career poles ranks tied for ninth 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.
Hometown: Elmhurst, Ill.
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 premier 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.
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, a recent inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, joins fellow Hall of Famer Junior Johnson as masters of the two crafts.
Owens passed away Thursday morning at the age of 88.
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 Famer Lee Petty.
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 Famer 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, and in 2012 he was selected as a member of the fourth class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Hometown: Dawson County, Ga.
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, Parks 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 premier 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.
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
Benny Parsons, a Wilkes County, N.C.-native who called Detroit home after driving a taxi for a living during his years in the northern city, won the 1973 NASCAR premier 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.
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 2011.
Richter passed away in June 2010 at the age of 79.
Hometown: Daytona Beach, Fla.
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 premier series standings.
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.
Hometown: Danville, Virginia
Wendell Scott wasn’t the first African-American to compete in NASCAR’s premier division. But the Danville, Va. native, whose career on wheels began as a taxi driver, was the first of his race to become a full-time competitor in the series at a time where sponsors were few and drivers were measured by sheer determination.
Scott served three years in the U.S. Army during World War II where he honed his mechanical skills in the motor pool. Scott started racing in 1947. Scott experienced immediate success behind the wheel, he won over 100 races in the next decade at local area tracks.
Scott made his first start in NASCAR’s premier series March 4, 1961 at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He started the event ninth but was sidelined due to oil pressure after the first 52 laps. Scott went on to make 23 starts that season posting five top-five finishes.
On Dec. 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla., Scott became the first African-American to win a NASCAR premiere series event. Scott won the 100-mile feature race on the ½ mile dirt track after starting from the 15th position. His triumph marked the high point for a man who made almost 500 career starts in NASCAR’s premier division.
Over the next 13 years, Scott would make 495 starts, tying him for 32nd on the all-time list. In his distinguished career, Scott accumulated 20 top-five finishes including eight of them in the same season he won his first career race, 1964. Scott also posted 147 top-10 finishes, more than 25% of the races he entered.
Scott’s career success earned him an induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999. NASCAR currently awards scholarships in tribute to Wendell Scott. Twelve Wendell Scott Scholarships are awarded per year to students from historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions.
Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Ralph Seagraves’ life – and NASCAR’s world – changed the moment he met Hall of Famer Junior Johnson.
In the late 1960s, Seagraves, an official with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, had been searching for a means to market cigarettes after the federal government banned RJR’s products from advertising on television and radio.
Johnson, ever the entrepreneur, had an idea. How about RJR sponsor his cars?
Seagraves had a bigger idea: Why not sponsor NASCAR’s top series?
And so, in 1971, for the first time since its inception in 1949, NASCAR’s premier series had major corporate backing. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series – precursor to today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – was born. The partnership helped NASCAR launch into the national spotlight, and created a bed rock of stability for the next three decades.
The deal resulted in the formation of RJR’s Special Events Operations, which Seagraves led as president for 13 years. RJR’s Winston brand sponsored NASCAR’s top series for more than 30 years, ending in 2003.
Seagraves also landed top sponsorships with other major sporting outfits, most notably NHRA.
Under Seagraves leadership, RJR helped a number of race track operators refurbish their facilities, many of which were short tracks that ran NASCAR Winston Racing Series races, part of the sport’s developmental program.
He retired from R.J. Reynolds in 1986.
Hometown: Olivia, N.C.
Herb Thomas was truly one of NASCAR’s first superstars. He was the first to win two NASCAR premier series 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.
Hometown: Roanoke, Va.
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 premier series 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 premier series 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.
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Russell William Wallace Jr., the 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, followed his father Russ Wallace onto the race track – a path taken as well by brothers Mike and Kenny. Rusty Wallace competed at weekly tracks in Missouri before moving to Midwest-based touring series in which he was identified as a racing star of the future.
He was the U.S. Auto Club’s 1979 rookie of the year finishing third in points to champion A.J. Foyt. In 1983, he won the American Speed Association title competing against NASCAR Sprint Cup champion-to-be Alan Kulwicki and Mark Martin.
Wallace’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race resulted in his first top-five finish: second at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1980 driving for Roger Penske. He came to the series full-time in 1984 and won rookie of the year honors driving Cliff Stewart’s Pontiacs. Moving to drag racer Raymond Beadle’s Blue Max Racing in 1986, Wallace won his first of 55 races, capturing the checkered flag at Bristol Motor Speedway. His 55 victories rank tied for eighth all time. He was especially adept on the circuit’s short tracks winning 25 times at Bristol, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro and Richmond.
Wallace remained with Beadle through the 1990 season, winning the 1989 championship by a 12-point margin over Dale Earnhardt. Wallace won 18 times with Blue Max Racing, including road races at Infineon, Riverside and Watkins Glen.
Although failing to win another championship, Wallace’s most successful seasons were spent behind the wheel of Penske Racing Fords and Pontiacs from 1991 through his retirement in 2005. He won 37 times in Roger Penske’s cars finishing second in the points in 1993, the best of 11 top-10 championship rankings with the organization. Wallace currently is an ESPN NASCAR analyst.
Hometown: Norfolk, Va.
Joe Weatherly won two championships (1962-63) and 25 races in NASCAR’s premier 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 premier series championship, in 1962, he drove for legendary owner Bud Moore. When he repeated as champion a year later, he drove for nine different teams.
Weatherly was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Hometown: Stuart, Va.
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 – 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.
Images courtesy of ISC Archives/Getty Images
NASCAR controls the format for nomination and selection, but a Voting Panel consisting of various representatives throughout the industry (plus one ballot representing a collective Fan Vote) ultimately decides who gets into the Hall.
The yearly NHOF classes have five inductees selected by a Voting Panel consisting of NASCAR industry leaders, manufacturer representatives, former competitors, the media and fans. Inductees are chosen from an annual list of no more than 25 candidates.
The main criteria for nomination and induction: NASCAR accomplishments and contributions to the sport.
After a 21-member nominating committee selects its list of candidates, the Voting Panel comes together, debates and eventually casts 55 ballots, one of which is the fan vote. 21 ballots are from the nominating committee; 33 ballots are from a group consisting of former drivers, former owners, former crew chiefs, manufacturer representatives and media; one ballot represents the results of a nationwide fan vote.
Each class will have five Inductees.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame includes an opportunity for drivers, owners, crew chiefs, track operators, promoters and media. Again, the main criteria for induction are contribution to the sport for example, two entrepreneurs of the sport, Bill France, Sr. and Bill France, Jr. were inducted in the first class. Ralph Seagraves, Anne B. France, T. Wayne Robertson, Les Richter and H. Clay Earles are all on the ballot for the 2013 Class.
Nominating Committee – 21 members
21 members of the nominating committee, plus 34 media representatives, car manufacturer representatives, retired drivers, retired owners, retired crew chiefs, other industry leaders and a fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com.