NASCAR honors its first five

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By Lauren Garcia / Photo Editor

Mr. The King (NASCAR MEDIA)

By Lauren Garcia / Photo Editor

The long awaited NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place on May 23 in Charlotte, NC.

The first five to be inducted were Bill France Sr., Richard Petty, Bill France Jr., Junior Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

The event was covered and broadcast live by the SPEED channel and long time announcer Mike Joy served as the host for the afternoon.

The ceremony was filled with heartfelt speeches, video footage and tributes for each of the deserving nominees.

Each inductee was given a hall of fame ring with their name engraved into the metal.

France Sr. was the first to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by attorney and long time friend, John Cassidy.

Jim France received the honor for his father.

Bill France Sr. is considered one of the founding fathers of the 62-year-old sport.

He built Daytona International Speedway and was the first to produce big time facilities where motor sport racing could take place.

He was one of the main contributors in helping the sport to evolve from dirt tracks to paved tracks.

Next, was the one and only Petty, the first driver to be inducted into the hall of fame and was introduced by his son, Kyle Petty.

“(Petty is) possibly the best driver all of time,” Dick Berggren said.

Petty was the first and only driver to win seven titles, seven Daytona 500s and 200 races, including 27 in 1967.

France Jr. was the third to be inducted.

France Jr.’s daughter, Lesa France Kennedy, and son, NASCAR’s CEO and chairman, Brian France accepted the award for their father.

France Jr.’s primary achievement was securing the R.J. Reynolds Winston brand as the first securing sponsor, which got the sport up and running.

France Jr. helped organize and form what is now called the Nationwide Series, along with starting what is now known as the Craftsman Truck series.

Robert Glenn Junior Johnson, particularly known as Junior Johnson, was the fourth to be inducted into the hall of fame by the Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Winston Kelley along with Johnson’s son Robert Glenn Johnson III.

Johnson discovered the draft at Daytona International Speedway, which has become what the track is known for.

Johnson was both a successful driver, as well as a car owner.

He never drove as a full time driver, but still managed to attain 50 wins.

After accomplishing all he set out to do on the track, he became a car owner.

He led driver Cale Yarborough to win three consecutive championships followed by Darrell Waltrip.

Waltrip also won three championships for Johnson as a car owner.

The fifth and final inductee for the day was Earnhardt, most popularly known as “the intimidator.”

Car owner, and past crew chief, Richard Childress, inducted Earnhardt into the Hall of Fame.

Accepting the award on behalf of Earnhardt, was his wife Teresa Earnhardt, sons Kerry and Dale Jr., and daughters Kelly and Taylor.

Earnhardt tied Richard Petty’s astounding record of seven championships.

It took Dale quite some time to win the Daytona 500, but when he finally did, every man from every crew was out there congratulating him.

These five men inducted in the Hall of Fame shaped and molded the sport into what it is today.

Fans participated in the voting process, which was conducted via NASCAR.com, by selecting up to five of the 25 nominees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the 2010 inaugural class.

From that point, the top five nominees, based on fan voting, were submitted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel where they had the final say in the nominations.

Beginning in July, the process for the 2011 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will commence where the next 25 nominees will be announced.

The class of 2011 is scheduled to be announced in October.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame had its grand opening on May 11 in Charlotte, NC, where the new facility honors the history and outstanding contributors to the success of the sport.

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