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NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Class of 2019 Nominees


2019 Nominees

Harry Gant

Harry Gant - Driver (b. 1/10/40)

Hometown: Taylorsville, NC
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1973-94
Starts: 474
Wins: 18
Poles: 17

Harry Gant was a man with many nicknames: “Handsome Harry” for his good looks, the “Bandit” due his long-time sponsor Skoal Bandit, “Mr. September” after his four consecutive premier series and two Xfinity series wins in September of 1991 and “High Groove Harry” because of his proficiency in taking the high line through the corner. A humble man, he could wheel a race car darn well, too. Gant won 18 premier series races, including the Southern 500 in 1984 and 1991. The North Carolinian also registered 21 wins in the Xfinity Series. In the five seasons from 1981 through 1985, Gant finished in the top five in points four times, including a runner-up championship finish to Terry Labonte in 1984. Gant maintained his racing prowess into his 50s and holds the premier series records for oldest driver to win a race (52 years old) and pole (54). He drove the first race car with a telemetry system installed in it at Talladega in 1985 and relayed the data to CBS during its coverage of the event. Gant was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest drivers.


Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon - Driver (b. 8/4/71)

Hometown: Vallejo, CA
Championships: 4 (Premier - 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001)
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1992-2016
Starts: 805
Wins: 93
Poles: 81

Blessed with once-in-a-generation talent and charisma, Jeff Gordon helped take NASCAR from a regional sport to the mainstream. Gordon took NASCAR by storm in the 1990s, becoming the youngest driver in the modern era to win a premier series title as a 24-year-old in 1995. He went on to win three more championships (1997, ’98, 2001). In 1998, Gordon led the Rainbow Warriors – named for his colorful No. 24 Chevrolet – to a modern era-record 13 wins. Overall, he won 93 races, which ranks third on the all-time wins list. Gordon is a three-time Daytona 500 champion and won the Brickyard 400 a record five times. Charismatic and gifted in front of the camera, he developed one of the sport’s fiercest rivalries with Dale Earnhardt. The confident, youthful Californian served as the foil to the wily, rugged Intimidator. Gordon was the first NASCAR driver to host “Saturday Night Live.”He retired from full-time racing as the premier series’“Iron Man” with a record 797 consecutive starts, and now delivers the sport to its passionate fans as a race analyst for FOX.

John Holman

John Holman - Owner (b. 11/9/18 - d. 1975)

Hometown: Nashville, TN
Championships: 2 (Premier - 1968, 1969)
Premier Series Owner Stats
Starts: 525
Wins: 96
Poles: 83

John Holman was considered the mastermind salesman and business manager of the famed Holman-Moody ownership duo. His foresight for the business aspect of NASCAR paired with competition-minded Ralph Moody’s mechanical and racing insights formed the foundation of a formidable – and legendary – race team. Holman-Moody won back-to-back championships from 1968-69 with the “Silver Fox,” David Pearson. In those two seasons, Pearson combined for an incredible 27 victories. The duo also powered Mario Andretti to victory in the 1967 Daytona 500. Some of the sport’s most legendary figures piloted cars owned by Holman-Moody Racing, including NASCAR Hall of Famers Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison and Pearson. Overall, the Homan-Moody partnership earned 96 wins and 83 poles in 525 premier starts.  

Ralph Moody

Ralph Moody - Driver/Owner (b. 11/9/18 - d. 6/9/04)

Hometown: Taunton, Mass.
Championships: 2 (Premier - 1968, 1969)
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1957-73
Starts: 525
Wins: 96
Poles: 83

For Massachusetts native Ralph Moody, it all started with a Motel T Ford he built in 1935 and raced on nights and weekends. After driving a tank under the command of General George S. Patton in World War II, he moved to Florida in 1949 so he could race year-round. Moody won five NASCAR premier series races from 1956-57. The mechanically skilled Moody paired with business-minded John Holman to form Homan-Moody Racing in 1957, forming the foundation of a powerhouse NASCAR team. Holman-Moody competed from 1957-73 winning consecutive championships with David Pearson (1968-69) and taking the checkered flag with Mario Andretti at the 1967 Daytona 500. Some of the sport’s most legendary figures piloted cars owned by Holman-Moody Racing, including NASCAR Hall of Famers Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison and Pearson. Overall, the Homan-Moody partnership earned 96 wins and 83 poles in 525 premier starts.


Kirk Shelmerdine

Kirk Shelmerdine - Crew Chief (b. 3/8/58)

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Championships: 4 (Premier - 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991)
Premier Series Crew Chief Stats
Competed: 1977-92
Starts: 460
Wins: 46
Poles: 15

Not many reach the pinnacle of their professions as quickly as Kirk Shelmerdine. At age 25 in 1983, Shelmerdine guided Ricky Rudd to victory at Riverside, the first of two wins during that season. And a scant three years later, he directed Dale Earnhardt to the 1986 premier series championship. More than a flash in the pan, Shelmerdine won four total premier series championships with Earnhardt (1986, ’87, ’90, ’91). Over his 16-year crew chief career with Earnhardt, Rudd, James Hylton and Richard Childress, he won 46 races and posted top-10 finishes in more than half his starts. In 1987, Shelmerdine won 11 races with Earnhardt, including four in a row and six of seven. Shelmerdine retired from life as a crew chief in 1992 to pursue a career as a driver. In the cockpit, he made 41 starts across all three NASCAR national series.

Davey Allison

Davey Allison - Driver (b. 2/25/61 - d. 7/13/93)

Hometown: Hueytown, Ala.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1985-1993
Starts: 191
Wins: 19
Poles: 14

Davey Allison was born with speed. The son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison grew up more interested in football, but could not escape the racing bug, following his father into the family profession. The younger Allison honed his skills at local Alabama tracks, getting his big break in 1987, taking over for legendary driver Cale Yarborough in Ranier-Lundy’s Ford Thunderbird. Allison spent no time continuing the family’s legacy, compiling two wins, five poles and nine top fives in his full-season debut to capture 1987 premier series rookie of the year. Allison won 19 races and 14 poles, including the 1992 Daytona 500, before his tragic death in a helicopter accident in 1993. Months earlier Allison concluded his best premier series season, running first in the championship standings until his car was collected in an accident during the final race at Atlanta. Despite winning his own Daytona 500, Allison’s favorite racing moment was finishing second to his father in the 1988 “Great American Race” as the pair became the first and only father-son combo to finish 1-2 in NASCAR’s biggest event.


Buddy Baker

Buddy Baker - Driver (b. 1/25/41 - d. 8/10/15)

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, North Carolina, native won the Daytona 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 mph – a track record that still stands. In 1970, 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. 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. In 1998, Baker was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.

Red Farmer

Red Farmer - Driver (b. 10/15/32)

Hometown: Hueytown, Ala.
Championships (4)
Late Model Sportsman: 1969, 1970, 1971
Modified: 1956

Red Farmer’s career is one long series of immeasurable accolades. For instance, it’s entirely unknown just how many wins Farmer has. One thing is for sure: It’s a lot … somewhere north of 700. His passion for the sport is likewise immeasurable. After all, he continues to race, even after eclipsing 80 years of age. But the record books do have a few things that are black-and-white and proof positive about this member of the Alabama Gang. He collected three consecutive championships in NASCAR’s Late Model Sportsman division from 1969-71, long after he won the Modified title in 1956. Though he preferred racing in the Late Model Sportsman division, Farmer did run 36 premier series races, with a best finish of fourth (twice). In 1998, Farmer’s many successes – clearly too many to officially count – landed him on the list of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. 

Ray Fox

Ray Fox - Builder/Owner/Race Official (b. 5/28/16 - d. 6/15/14)

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, New Hampshire. Following service in the U.S. Army in World War II, Fox moved to Daytona Beach to work as a 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 races. He was named Mechanic of the Year. In 1960, Fox built the Chevrolet in which Junior Johnson won the Daytona 500. David Pearson won three times that year 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. Over the years, five NASCAR Hall of Famers took the wheel for Fox, including Cale Yarborough and Fred Lorenzen. 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.


Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs - Owner (b. 11/25/40)

Hometown: Mocksville, N.C.
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1992-present (Stats as of 2017)
Starts: 2,164
Wins: 148
Poles: 113

Joe Gibbs has won throughout his entire life. The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach, started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992 and has led the organization to four premier series championships and five NASCAR Xfinity Series titles. Known as a master motivator, Gibbs’ 140 premier series owner wins rank third all-time. They include two Daytona 500 victories and five Brickyard 400 championships. His premier series titles have come with three different drivers: Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, ’05) and Kyle Busch (2016). Busch’s championship was the first one in the premier series for Toyota. In addition to the team’s four premier series champions, many accomplished drivers have taken the wheel for Gibbs, including Dale Jarrett, Terry Labonte, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Ricky Craven and Joey Logano. Referred to in NASCAR circles has simply “Coach,” Gibbs was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Harry Hyde

Harry Hyde - Crew Chief (b. 1/17/25 - d. 5/13/96)

Hometown: Brownsville, Ky.
Premier Series Crew Chief Stats
Competed: 1966-1993
Wins: 56
Poles: 88

Harry Hyde was so good, they made a movie about him. Hyde, who inspired Robert Duvall’s character Harry Hogge in the cinematic classic Days of Thunder, enjoyed a nearly three-decade career in NASCAR’s premier series. During that tenure, his incredible leadership skills translated to immense success – even to the greenest of drivers. Prior to guiding Dave Marcis, Neil Bonnett and Geoff Bodine to their first career wins and harnessing the talent of Tim Richmond, Hyde laid a championship foundation with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Isaac. In 1969, Hyde called the shots for Isaac’s 17-win season, which ranks among the most prolific seasons in the history of the sport. That year, Isaac also won 19 poles, which still stands as a NASCAR premier series record. Hyde’s crowning achievement came in 1970, when he won the NASCAR premier series championship with Isaac, winning 11 times and capturing 32 top fives in 47 starts. Hyde was also named NASCAR Mechanic of the Year.

Alan Kulwicki

Alan Kulwicki - Driver / Owner (b. 12/14/54 - d. 4/1/93)

Hometown: Greenfield, Wis.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1985-1993
Starts: 207
Wins: 5
Poles: 24

Noted Wisconsin short-track racer Alan Kulwicki moved to Charlotte in 1984 with nothing but a pickup truck, a self-built race car and the hopes of competing in NASCAR’s highest series. He had no sponsor and a limited budget. Kulwicki burst onto the scene as the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year with his self-owned AK Racing team. Throughout his career, Kulwicki received lucrative offers from powerhouse race teams, but insisted on racing for himself. That determination eventually led to his first of five career victories at Phoenix in 1988, and the unveiling of his trademark “Polish Victory Lap,” a celebratory clockwise cool down lap with the driver’s window facing the fans. His signature season was his championship-winning 1992 campaign, where Kulwicki overcame a 278-point deficit with six races remaining to capture the NASCAR premier series title. He had two wins, 11 top fives and 17 top 10s to defeat NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott by 10 points – at the time, the tightest championship margin in series history. Kulwicki never got the chance to defend his title, dying in a plane crash in 1993. Five years after his death, he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers.


Bobby Labonte

Bobby Labonte - Driver (b. 5/8/64)

Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX
Championships: 2 (Premier - 2000, Xfinity - 1991)
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1991, 1993-2016
Starts: 729
Wins: 21
Poles: 26

The ultimate grinder, Bobby Labonte raced any car he could get behind the wheel of before he got his first break as a full-time premier series driver at 28 years old in 1993. His persistence paid off with a career highlighted by 21 trips to Victory Lane and the 2000 premier series title. A success in all three of NASCAR’s national series, Labonte was the first of four drivers to win both an Xfinity and premier series championship. He is also one of 27 drivers to win a race in all three national series. The Texan showed up on the biggest stages throughout his 2000 premier championship season, earning two of his four wins in the Brickyard 400 and Southern 500. He beat out second-place Dale Earnhardt by 255 points for the series crown. Bobby and his brother, Terry Labonte, are one of two pairs of brothers (Kurt and Kyle Busch), who each boast a premier series championship. 

Hershel McGriff

Hershel McGriff - Driver (b. 12/14/27)

Hometown: Bridal Veil, Ore.
Pro Series West Stats
Competed: 1971-2012
Wins: 37
Poles: 43

Hershel McGriff exhibited a competitive passion that lasted longer than any driver in NASCAR history. His first race was the 1950 Southern 500, in the NASCAR premier series’ sophomore season, at the age of 22. His final NASCAR race was at Sonoma Raceway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – in 2012 at the age of 84. In between: Greatness, and lots of it. McGriff competed in parts of 28 NASCAR premier series seasons, capturing four wins – all in 1954. But in what is now the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, McGriff displayed an excellence that made him one of the best in series history. Competing in parts of 35 seasons, McGriff won 37 races, good for third on the all-time West Series wins list. His signature year came in 1986 when he won the series title, part of a string of 10 consecutive seasons with finishes in the top 10 in championship points. In 1991, McGriff was the recipient of the Bill France Award of Excellence. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.


Roger Penske

Roger Penske - Owner (b. 2/20/37)

Hometown: Shaker Heights, Ohio
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1972-present (Stats as of 2017)
Starts: 1,939
Wins: 107
Poles: 123

Roger Penske is known, simply, as ‘The Captain.’ A true captain of industry, Penske has steered one of the most successful motorsports ships in the sport’s history. Penske, who celebrated his 50th anniversary in racing in 2016, reached a major milestone and collected a prestigious award during the golden anniversary season. That year, he reached 100 wins in NASCAR’s premier series and capped of the season by receiving the Bill France Award of Excellence. Penske won the premier series championship in 2012 with driver Brad Keselowski, and owns two Daytona 500 wins with Ryan Newman in 2008 and Joey Logano in 2015. And from 2013-15, Penske tied a record with three consecutive owner championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Off the track, Penske likewise left an indelible mark. He built the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California in 1996, and previously owned Michigan International Speedway.

Larry Phillips

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 cannot 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.

 Jack Roush

Jack Roush – Owner (b. 4/19/42)

Hometown: Covington, Ky.
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1988-Present
Starts: 3,521
Wins: 137
Poles: 89

Once a Michigan-based drag racing owner and enthusiast, Jack Roush made his best motorsports decision when he turned south in 1988 to start a NASCAR team. Since beginning Roush Racing (now known as Roush Fenway Racing), the graduate-level mathematician turned engineering entrepreneur has won a record 322 races across NASCAR’s three national series. Overall, Roush boasts five NASCAR national series owner championships, while his drivers have won an additional three driver championships. Roush initially built his powerhouse organization by pairing with fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mark Martin who won 83 NASCAR national series races for RFR from 1988-2005. Known for his trademark Panama hat, Roush has displayed a prowess for discovering and developing talent. He helped Matt Kenseth (2003) and Kurt Busch (2004) grow into premier series champions and also jumpstarted the careers of current stars Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. Roush was the 2001 recipient of the Bill France Award of Excellence.

 Ricky Rudd

Ricky Rudd - Driver (b. 9/12/56)

Hometown: Chesapeake, Va. 
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1975-2007
Starts: 906
Wins: 23
Poles: 29

Tough. As. Nails. There is no other way to describe Ricky Rudd. Known as NASCAR’s Ironman for more than a decade, the Virginia native held the premier series record for consecutive starts (788) before Jeff Gordon broke it in 2015. His 906 overall starts rank second in NASCAR history to Richard Petty’s 1,185. During his 32-year premier series career, Rudd posted 23 wins, 194 top fives, 374 top 10s (seventh all-time) and 29 poles. One of the few successful driver / owners in the modern era, Rudd won six races for his Rudd Performance Motorsports team he operated from 1994-99, including the 1997 Brickyard 400. Rudd, the 1977 premier series rookie of the year, earned a best points finish of second in 1991. He scored at least one win in 16 consecutive seasons (1983-98), which is tied for the third-longest streak in NASCAR premier series history. In 1998, Rudd was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.

Mike Stefanik

Mike Stefanik - Driver (b. 5/20/58)

Hometown: Coventry, R.I.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Stats
Competed: 1985-2014
Starts: 450
Wins: 74
Poles: 48

At the very top of the list of all-time NASCAR championships sit 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. In 1997-98, Stefanik won back-to-back championships in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. That, along with a K&N Pro Series East win total that ties for ninth on the all-time 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 one. He captured the Rookie of the Year Award in 1999.

 Waddell Wilson

Waddell Wilson - Crew Chief/Engine Builder (b. 12/29/36)

Hometown: Bakersville, N.C.
Premier Series Crew Chief Stats
Competed:  1979-88, 1990-93, 1995
Starts: 287
Wins: 22
Poles: 32

A dual threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Waddell Wilson powered and guided cars to some of the biggest victories in NASCAR history. As an engine builder, he supplied the power that helped David Pearson (1968, ’69) and Benny Parsons (1973) to premier series titles. Overall, Wilson’s engines helped some of the greatest drivers to ever wheel a car – including NASCAR Hall of Famers Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip – to 109 wins and 123 poles. He originally gained acclaim for building the engine Roberts used to win the 1963 Southern 500. Wilson guided three cars to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 as a crew chief, winning The Great American Race with Buddy Baker (1980) and Cale Yarborough (1983-84). The famed “Grey Ghost” he assembled for Buddy Baker still holds the Daytona 500 record with an average speed of 177.602 MPH. Wilson directed his drivers to 22 wins and 32 poles as a crew chief. In 1982, Wilson built the first engine to help a premier series driver break 200 MPH when Benny Parsons turned a 200.176 MPH qualifying lap at Talladega for the Winston 500.

Landmark Award Nominees

Janet Guthrie

Janet Guthrie (b. 3/7/38)

Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Premier Series Driver Stats
Competed:  1976-1978, 1980
Starts: 33

Janet Guthrie moved on from a successful career as an aerospace engineer in the early 1960s, trading equations for a wheel to become a full-time racer in 1972. A true pioneer in motorsports, Guthrie became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race when she drove to a 15th-place finish in the 1976 World 600. The next year, she piloted cars in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, becoming the first female to participate in both events. Guthrie steered her car to a sixth-place finish at Bristol in 1977, one of five career top-10 finishes. Overall, the University of Michigan graduate made 33 premier series starts. Guthrie was a member of the first class inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. Her helmet and firesuit are on display at the Smithsonian Institution.


Alvin Hawkins

Alvin Hawkins

As Bill France Sr. began the daunting task of building the foundation of NASCAR, Alvin Hawkins was there as a foremost advisor. Hawkins, NASCAR’s first flagman, attended the momentous 1947 meeting at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, that signaled the start of what would become the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Later, France and Hawkins established NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium. The Hawkins family continues to operate the quarter-mile track, one that is an institution in the sport and a crown jewel for short track racers throughout the country. In 2015, Bowman Gray Stadium celebrated its 1,000th NASCAR race. Through the years, the Stadium has hosted a variety of NASCAR series, including the premier series from 1958-71. Its premier series winners list includes NASCAR Hall of Famers Lee Petty, Rex White, Glen Wood, Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Bobby Allison.

Ralph Seagraves

Ralph Seagraves (b. 4/21/29 - d. 9/27/98)

Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.

Ralph Seagraves’ life – and NASCAR’s world – changed the moment he met NASCAR 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 was born. The partnership helped NASCAR launch into the national spotlight, and created a bedrock of stability for the next three decades. RJR’s Winston brand sponsored NASCAR’s top series for more than 30 years, ending in 2003. Under Seagraves leadership, RJR helped a number of race track operators refurbish their facilities, many of which were short tracks that ran developmental NASCAR Winston Racing Series races. He retired from R.J. Reynolds in 1986.

Barney Hall

Barney Hall (b. 6/24/32 - d. 1/26/16)

Hometown: Elkin, N.C.

If you’ve ever listened to a NASCAR race on the radio, odds are you’ve heard the one-of-a-kind voice and storytelling of Barney Hall. Hall, known as the “Voice of MRN,” helped bring NASCAR racing to millions of listeners worldwide for more than 50 years. He was one of the original members of the Motor Racing Network (MRN) starting as a turn announcer in 1970. He moved to the booth in the late 1970s where he remained until calling his final race in July 2014. The Elkin, North Carolina native began his career at a local radio station in the 1950s, and called his first Daytona 500 in 1960. He also served as the first public address announcer at Bristol Motor Speedway before his move to MRN. In 2012, NASCAR announced the creation of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. The award, named after Hall and fellow broadcaster Ken Squier, is awarded annually. Hall was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame in 2007. 

Jim Hunter

Jim Hunter (b. 9/8/39 - d. 10/29/10)

Hometown: Charleston, S.C.

Throughout his career, Jim Hunter left an indelible mark on NASCAR and those associated with the sport. His wit and wisdom helped guide NASCAR’s growth during portions of six decades as a company executive, track president, public relations professional and journalist. Hunter broke into the motorsports business as a member of the media in the 1950s. He worked as the sports editor of the Columbia Record, was an award-winning reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and columnist for Stock Car Racing magazine. He moved to the public relations side of the business with Dodge in the 1960s before serving as public relations director at Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. In 1983, Hunter was named NASCAR vice president of administration. In 1993, he became president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corporation. He remained at Darlington until 2001 when he accepted an offer from Bill France Jr. to return to NASCAR to lead an expanded public relations effort aimed at responding to the needs of burgeoning media coverage. Many drivers and industry executives credit Hunter’s mentorship as the key to their NASCAR success.

Images courtesy of ISC Archives/Getty Images