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2015

NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015


Bill Elliott - Driver (b. 10/8/55)

Bill Elliott - Driver (b. 10/8/55)

Hometown: Dawsonville, Ga.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1976-2012
Starts: 828
Wins: 44
Poles: 55

There was rhyme – “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.” And there was reason – a premier series championship, enough wins to put him in the top 20 all time and the adulation of millions of fans. In a 37-year driving career, Bill Elliott’s compiled a list of accolades that put him near the top of a number of NASCAR’s all-time lists. His 44 wins rank 16th all time and his 55 poles rank eighth. But, of course, his most prestigious accomplishment came in 1988 when he won the NASCAR premier series championship with six wins, 15 top fives and 22 top 10s in 29 races. All that, combined with an affable demeanor, endeared him to fans. Fans adored him – and that adoration led to a record 16 Most Popular Driver Awards. Elliott returned that love with big stage success – and lots of it. He won the Daytona 500 twice and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway three times. And in 1985, he won both of those along with the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, earning him the “Winston Million” – a $1 million bonus for winning those three of four marquee events.

Fred Lorenzen - Driver (b. 12/30/34)

Fred Lorenzen - Driver (b. 12/30/34)

Hometown: Elmhurst, Ill.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1956-1972
Starts: 158
Wins: 26
Poles: 32

Fred Lorenzen was one of NASCAR’s first true superstars even though he was a “part-time” driver never running more than 29 of the season’s 50-plus races. Lorenzen got his start in NASCAR as a mechanic with the famed Holman-Moody team in 1960, but was elevated to lead driver by the end of the year. Lorenzen won three races in only 15 starts the following season. Lorenzen’s best overall season came in 1963 as he finished with six wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s in 29 starts. Despite missing 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings. In 1964, he entered 16 of the scheduled 62 races but won eight, including five consecutive starts. During that stretch, Lorenzen led 1,679 of the possible 1,953 laps, one of the most dominant runs in NASCAR history. In 1965, he won two of NASCAR’s major events – the Daytona 500 and the World 600. Lorenzen retired in 1967 but made a brief comeback from 1970-72. Lorenzen was an extremely popular driver with fans, to the point that he had several nicknames – “Golden Boy,” “Fearless Freddie” and “The Elmhurst Express.” In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.

Wendell Scott - Driver/Owner (b. 8/29/21 - d. 12/23/90)

Wendell Scott - Driver/Owner (b. 8/29/21 - d. 12/23/90)

Hometown: Danville, Va.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1961-1973
Starts: 495
Wins: 1
Poles: 1

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. 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 and 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, S.C. He made 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 premier series event. Scott won the 100-mile feature race after starting 15th. Over the next 13 years, Scott would make 495 starts, which ranks 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 percent of the races he entered.

Joe Weatherly - Driver (b. 5/29/22 - d. 1/19/64)

Joe Weatherly - Driver (b. 5/29/22 - d. 1/19/64)

Hometown: Norfolk, Va.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1952-1964
Starts: 229
Wins: 25
Poles: 18

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 1953. He even tried his hand in NASCAR’s short-lived Convertible Division from 1956-59 winning 12 times. 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. Those were the only two years Weatherly competed in the premier series full-time. Weatherly was named one of the NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

Rex White - Driver/Owner (b. 8/17/29)

Rex White - Driver/Owner (b. 8/17/29)

Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1956-1964
Starts: 233
Wins: 28
Poles: 36

Consistency was the hallmark of Rex White’s NASCAR career. He finished among the top five in nearly a half of his 233 races and outside the top 10 only 30 percent of the time. White was a short track specialist in an era in which those tracks dominated the schedule. Of his 28 career wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, only two came on tracks longer than a mile in length. White’s victory total ranks 22nd among all-time premier series winners. White won six times during his 1960 championship season posting 35 top 10s in 40 starts. He finished in the top 10 six of his nine years in the series including a runner-up finish in 1961. He was the fourth driver to win a premier series championship in his own equipment. White hails from Spartanburg, S.C., once the hub of stock car racing and a community that produced NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Cotton Owens and Bud Moore. White was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He resides in Forest Park, Ga.

2015 Nominees

Buddy Baker - Driver (b. 3/12/15 - d. 11/11/60)

Buddy Baker - Driver (b. 3/25/41)

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1959-1992
Starts: 699
Wins: 19
Poles: 38

At six feet, six inches tall, Buddy Baker was often called the “Gentle Giant,” however, the nickname “Leadfoot” was more apropos due to the blistering speeds he often achieved during his 33-year career. In 1980, the Charlotte, N.C., native won the Daytona 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 mph – a track record that still stands. That same year, Baker became the first driver to eclipse the 200-mph mark on a closed course while testing at Talladega Superspeedway. Although he didn’t win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in 1970, Baker won there four times throughout his stellar career. In 1979, Baker, the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker, won the inaugural pre-season event now known as the Sprint Unlimited. He won 19 wins in the premier series, including a victory in the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where he lapped the rest of the field. He also won back-to-back World 600s at Charlotte in 1972-73. After retiring in 1992, Baker made a successful transition to the television booth as a commentator for The Nashville Network and CBS, and later as a radio co-host on Late Shift and Tradin’ Paint for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Red Byron - Driver (b. 3/12/15 - d. 11/11/60)

Red Byron - Driver (b. 3/12/15 - d. 11/11/60)

Hometown: Anniston, Ala.
Premier Series Stats
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 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.

Richard Childress - Owner (b. 9/21/45)

Richard Childress - Owner (b. 9/21/45)

Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1969-present
Starts: XX
Wins: X
Poles: X

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.

Jerry Cook - Driver (b. 6/20/43)

Jerry Cook - Driver (b. 6/20/43)

Hometown: Rome, N.Y.
Modified Series Stats
Competed: 1963-1982
Starts: 1,474
Wins: 342
Poles: 26

Jerry Cook made his name in modifieds, winning six NASCAR Modified championships, including four 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 – 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 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.

Ray Fox - Builder/Owner/Race Official (b. 5/28/16)

Ray Fox - Builder/Owner/Race Official (b. 5/28/16)

Hometown: Daytona Beach, Fla.
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1962-1974
Starts: 200
Wins: 14
Poles: 16

A New England native, Ray Fox saw his first automobile race at the 2-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. Fox built the engine in the Buick driven by Fireball Roberts which led the 1955 Daytona 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 race and was named mechanic of the year. In 1960, Fox built the Chevrolet in which NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson won the Daytona 500. 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. Others who competed in Fox’s cars included NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen, Buddy Baker 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.

Rick Hendrick - Ownder (b. 7/12/49)

Rick Hendrick - Owner (b. 7/12/49)

Hometown: Palmer Sprints, Va.
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1984-present
Starts:XX
Wins: X
Poles: X

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 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 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.

Bobby Issac - Driver (b. 8/1/32 - d. 8/14/77)

Bobby Isaac - Driver (b. 8/1/32 - d. 8/14/77)

Hometown: Catawba, N.C.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1961-1976
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 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 Famer 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 top 10s 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 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.

Terry Labonte - Driver (b. 11/16/58)

Terry Labonte - Driver (b. 11/16/58)

Hometown: Corpus Christie, Tx..
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1978-current
Starts: 881
Wins: 22
Poles: 27

Terry Labonte is a two-nickname NASCAR star. Early in his career he was known as the “Iceman” for his coolness under pressure. But his demeanor belied his determination. Later in his career he became known as the sport’s “Iron Man” due to a record 665 consecutive starts in NASCAR’s premier series, a record which stood until 2002. Two more items to consider when assessing the Labonte legacy: the two premier series championships he won in 1984 and ’96. Two titles would be impressive enough; the 12-year gap distinguishes them further. No other driver has won his first two championships that far apart and Labonte is one of only six drivers to have won premier series championships in two decades. Labonte, from Corpus Christi, Texas – the first driver from outside the Southeast to win the premier series title since New Yorker Bill Rexford in 1950 – was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Great Drivers in 1998, coinciding with the sport’s 50th anniversary. He also was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 along with his younger brother Bobby Labonte, the 2000 champion of NASCAR’s premier series.

Raymond Parks - Owner (b. 6/5/14 - d. 6/20/10)

Raymond Parks - Owner (b. 6/5/14 - d. 6/20/10)

Hometown: Dawson County, Ga.
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1949-1955
Starts: 18
Wins: 2
Poles: 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, 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.

Benny Parsons - Driver (b. 7/12/41 - d. 1/16/07)

Benny Parsons - Driver (b. 7/12/41 - d. 1/16/07)

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

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 in 2007, at the age of 65.

Larry Phillips - Driver (b. 7/3/42 - d. 9/21/04)

Larry Phillips - Driver (b. 7/3/42 - d. 9/21/04)

Hometown: Springfield, Mo.
Weekly Series Stats
Competed: 1989-2001
Starts: 308
Wins: 226
Poles: N/A

The legend of Missouri’s Larry Phillips can’t be measured in wins alone. That’s because nobody can say for sure how many victories there were. He raced here, there and everywhere on dirt and asphalt and in places where record keeping wasn’t always a priority. Phillips was just happy to vanquish the competition and go on to the next track. One crew chief, James Ince, estimated Phillips won 1,000 times; maybe 2,000. Rivals expressed frustration upon seeing Phillips’ No. 75 car come through the pit gate, admitting they were racing each other for second place. What is fact is that Phillips is the only driver to win five NASCAR Weekly Series national championships. During an 11-year span – from his first title in 1989 through 1996 – the Springfield, Mo. competitor won 220 of 289 NASCAR-sanctioned starts. That’s a winning percentage of 76 percent. Phillips also won 13 track championships in three states. Phillips was named one of the 25 top drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2006.

Bruton Smith - Executive/Promoter (b. 3/3/27)

O. Bruton Smith - Executive/Promoter (b. 3/3/27)

Hometown: Oakboro, N.C.
Career Highlights
Helped build Charlotte Motor Speedway
Chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. taking them public in 1995 becoming the first motorsports company traded in the New York Stock Exchange

O. Bruton Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc., bought his first race car at the age of 17 and a year later promoted his first stock car race in Midland, N.C. Smith’s early endeavors included operating the National Stock Car Racing Association – seen as an early competitor to NASCAR – and building Charlotte Motor Speedway. CMS became the foundation of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which currently owns eight NASCAR tracks hosting 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and additional high-profile motorsports activities. Smith took SMI public in 1995 to become the first motorsports company to be traded at the New York Stock Exchange. Smith founded Sonic Automotive, a group of several hundred auto dealerships across the United States. Smith is active in child-related causes with his philanthropic foundation Speedway Children’s Charities. He was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame and National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame, both in 2006; and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Mike Stefanik - Driver (b. 5/20/58)

Mike Stefanik - Driver (b. 5/20/58)

Hometown: Coventry, R.I.
NASCAR Whelan Modified Stats
Competed: 1985-present
Starts: 449
Wins: 74
Poles: 48

At the very top of the list of all-time NASCAR championships sits two men: NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans … and Mike Stefanik. Each tallied nine in their exemplary careers, with Stefanik’s coming in both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Seven of his titles came in his primary racing series – the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. In 2003, he was named one of the Tour’s 10 Greatest Drivers, an obvious choice if there ever was one – Stefanik holds the all-time series record in championships, wins, poles, top fives and top 10s. Stefanik won two championships consecutively in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East competition, in 1997-98. That, along with a win total that still places him 10th on the all-time series wins list, earned him a spot on the Top 10 Drivers of the First 25 Years of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East list in 2011. In addition, Stefanik spent one full-time season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – and it was a successful won. He captured the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, in 1999.

Curtis Turner - Driver (b. 4/12/24 - d. 10/4/70)

Curtis Turner - Driver (b. 4/12/24 - d. 10/4/70)

Hometown: Roanoke, Va.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1949-1968
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 premier series racing. Turner posted his first of 17 career victories in only his fourth start on Sept. 11, 1949, at Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway. 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 Speedway in 1965. He also won 38 of 79 races in which he competed in the NASCAR Convertible Division. 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.

Robert Yates - Driver/Owner (b. 4/19/43)

Robert Yates - Owner/Engine Builder (b. 4/19/43)

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1989-2007
Wins: 57
Poles: 48

Robert Yates was the rare breed, exceling in any field he chose. But two in particular placed him among NASCAR’s greats – engine building (his first love) and team ownership. Yates, who began his career at Holman-Moody Racing in 1968, landed a job with NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson in 1971 – and the rest is history. He provided the power behind Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough, later leading Allison to a series championship in 1983 with DiGard Racing. In the late 1980s, Yates launched his own team, Robert Yates Racing. Success came quickly – driver Davey Allison won the 1992 Daytona 500, and finished third in that season’s championship standings. In 1996, Yates expanded to a two-car team with Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Ernie Irvan – and immediately won that year’s Daytona 500 with Jarrett. Jarrett would go on to win another Daytona 500 in 2000, a year after winning the NASCAR premier series championship – all in Yates owned Fords. His lineage continues today, as son Doug carries on his legacy as one of the top engine builders in the sport.

Images courtesy of ISC Archives/Getty Images