What is the NASCAR Hall of Fame?: Opened May 11, 2010 in Uptown Charlotte, NC, the 150,000-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive, entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR. The high-tech venue, designed to educate and entertain race fans and non-fans alike, includes artifacts, interactive exhibits, 275-person state-of-the-art theater, Hall of Honor, Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, Sports Avenue retail outlet and NASCAR Media Group-operated broadcast studio. The five-acre site also includes a privately developed 19-story office tower and 102,000-square-foot expansion to the Charlotte Convention Center, highlighted by a 40,000 square-foot ballroom. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is owned by the City of Charlotte, licensed by NASCAR and operated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. www.nascarhall.com.
2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Honors Five Iconic Wheelmen: Five legendary drivers with distinct styles and contributions to NASCAR were enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina tonight during the Induction Ceremony held in the Crown Ball Room at the Charlotte Convention Center. Those who added their names to the list of now 30 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees, included: Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. The group makes up the Hall's sixth class in its history.
Bill Elliott - a fan-favorite with a record 16 NASCAR Most Popular Driver Awards - compiled numerous accolades that put him near the top of many all-time NASCAR lists. In his 37-year driving career, "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" notched 44 wins (16th in NASCAR history) and 55 poles (eighth), but his most prestigious accomplishment came when he won the 1988 premier series championship. Elliott always performed on the biggest of stages, winning the Daytona 500 twice and the Southern 500 three times. "One thing I look at out here today is one common bond with all these racers, it's the hard work and the dedication all these guys had," Elliott said. "I mean, for me to stand up here among the guys that have already been here, it's just totally incredible."
Fred Lorenzen - one of the first "outsiders" to capture the fancy of NASCAR's early southeastern crowds - was one of the sport's first true superstars, even though he never ran more than 29 of the season's 50-plus races. The Elmhurst, Illinois, native won 26 races from 1961-67, with his best overall season coming in 1963 as he finished with six wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s in 29 starts. The victor of the 1965 Daytona 500 and World 600, Lorenzen boasts the fifth-highest career winning percentage (16.86) in NASCAR history. "Dad always said, 'The sky is the limit and don't let anyone tell you otherwise,'" said Lorenzen's son, Chris, who spoke on his behalf. "That has been dad's most important saying in life, and he certainly lived by it. He also believed people made their own luck and that luck just doesn't fall upon people."
A true trailblazer, Wendell Scott was the first African-American to race fulltime in NASCAR's premier series, as well as the first to win a NASCAR premier series race. Scott posted 147 top 10s in 495 starts, as well as finished four seasons in the top 10 of the championship points standings. He won more than 100 races at local tracks before making his premier series debut, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in 1959 en route to capturing both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships. "The legacy of Wendell Scott depicts him as one the great vanguards of the sport of NASCAR racing," said the late Scott's son, Franklin, who accepted the induction on his behalf. "Daddy was a man of great honor. He didn't let his circumstances define who he was."
Joe Weatherly claimed consecutive premier series championships in 1962-63 and won 25 career races before his untimely death in January 1964 at Riverside (Calif.) Raceway. Known as the "Clown Prince of Racing" due to his jovial personality, Weatherly displayed impressive versatility beyond his premier series dominance. 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. "He loved his family and he was very generous, but I am sure there are many memories the fans could share as well, maybe ones of the practical jokes he enjoyed playing on fellow drivers," said Joy Barbee, Weatherly's niece. "He definitely had a sense of humor, he loved a good laugh and he loved to have a good time. He always had a big smile on his face; he was a character to be around and definitely lived up to the title given to him - the 'Clown Prince of Racing.'"
One of the greatest short-track racers ever, consistency was the hallmark of Rex White's NASCAR career. He finished among the top five in nearly half of his 233 races and outside the top 10 only 30 percent of the time. Of his 28 career wins in NASCAR's premier series, only two came on tracks longer than a mile in length. Driving his own equipment, 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. "Words can't express how honored I am to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame along with the other Hall of Fame members, especially my 2015 fellow inductees," White said. "No driver wins a championship by himself and nobody enters the Hall of Fame alone. I am the symbol of a team effort."
Each of the five inductees had an inductor who officially welcomed them into the hall. The inductors for the five inductees: Ray Evernham for Bill Elliott; Amanda Gardstrom (daughter) for Fred Lorenzen; Wendell Scott Jr. for Wendell Scott; Bud Moore for Joe Weatherly; and James Hylton for Rex White.
Active drivers introduced each inductee during tonight's program: Kasey Kahne for Bill Elliott; Tony Stewart for Fred Lorenzen; Jeff Gordon for Wendell Scott; Brad Keselowski for Joe Weatherly; and Kevin Harvick for Rex White.
In addition to the five inductees enshrined on Friday night, Anne B. France was awarded the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. France, paired with her husband, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., created what today is one of the largest and most popular sports in the world. Anne played a huge role in the family business. "Big Bill" organized and promoted races; she took care of the financial end of the business. She first served as secretary and treasurer of NASCAR, and when Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, served in the same roles for the International Speedway Corporation. She also managed the speedway's ticket office. France remained active in family and business life until her passing in 1992.
Prior to tonight's Induction Ceremony, long-time Charlotte Observer reporter Tom Higgins was awarded the third Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Higgins was the first beat writer to cover every race on the NASCAR schedule, a role he held from 1980 until his retirement in 1997. He started his journalism career in 1957 at the weekly Canton (N.C.) Enterprise where he covered racing for the first time. Higgins joined the sports staff at The Observer in 1964 as an outdoors writer and soon began covering stock car racing as well. He has continued to write motorsports nostalgia columns for the newspaper and its website ThatsRacin.com since his retirement.(NASCAR)(1-30-2015)
Anne B. France honored with inaugural Landmark Award: In one of the most emotional moments in Friday night's NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Lesa France Kennedy accepted the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR on behalf of her grandmother, Anne Bledsoe France.
Side-by-side with husband Bill France Sr., Anne B. France, affectionately known as "Annie B," played a pivotal role in the founding and growth of NASCAR racing. Where "Big Bill" ran the competition side of the business, Anne B. France handled the business side, keeping the books, managing ticket sales and making sure bills were paid.
"My grandfather was a visionary, but my grandmother was the one who kept everything together," Kennedy told the NASCAR Wire Service during a telephone conversation on Thursday. "Without her, NASCAR might not have succeeded the way it did." To Kennedy, there could not have been a more fitting recipient of the first Landmark Award. "I think it's appropriate, in that it's a unique award in the Hall of Fame," she said. "For her to be the first recipient is very special."
Anne B. France was the first secretary and treasurer of NASCAR, and with the construction of Daytona International Speedway, she filled the same roles with International Speedway Corporation and was active in the business of NASCAR racing until her death in 1992. In accepting the award, Kennedy, the chief executive officer of ISC, revealed to the audience that Anne B. France actually kept two sets of books. "There was the real set of books for the business, and then she had a set of books that she shared with my grandfather, Bill France Sr., just to make sure he didn't spend us out of business," Kennedy said. "I think everybody in this room today should be thankful for that."
Kennedy had told the NASCAR Wire Service, "I don't know exactly how I'm going to feel until I get up there - it's going to be a very special night." And when she began to describe her grandmother's role in the growth of NASCAR, there was a catch in Kennedy's voice as the emotion of the moment took hold. "I was fortunate enough to know her and to call her 'Grams,'" Kennedy said, "and NASCAR will always remember her as that strong-willed, pioneering woman who helped build the foundation of our sport."(NASCAR Wire Service)(1-30-2015)
Induction Ceremony and TV: the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Charlotte, NC is scheduled for Friday, January 30, 2015 and to be broadcast live at 8:00pm/et on NBC Sports Network, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Tickets on Sale Tuesday: Tickets for the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be available to the public beginning Tuesday, Oct. 7. Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White will be honored during this year's ceremony set for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. Ticket prices range from $45 for Induction Ceremony General Seats to $350 for an Exclusive Driver Dinner Package. Following the ceremony, a special NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day will take place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 31. More details on driver appearances, activities and programming for this day will be provided in the coming weeks. Individual ticket and ticket packages will be available beginning Oct. 7 at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. For more information, visit www.nascarhall.com.(10-6-2014)
Class of 2015 Inductees:
Bill Elliott In a 37-year driving career, Bill Elliott 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 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. In addition, he won a record 16 Most Popular Driver Awards, in part because of his excellence on the big stage; he won the Daytona 500 twice and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway three times.
Fred Lorenzen 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 1965, he won two of NASCAR's major events - the Daytona 500 and the World 600.
Wendell Scott One of NASCAR's true trailblazers, Wendell Scott was the first African-American to race fulltime in NASCAR's premier series, as well as the first to win a NASCAR premier series race. Scott posted a remarkable 147 top 10s and 495 starts during his 13-year premier series career. He won more than 100 races at local tracks before making his premier series debut, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in 1959 en route to capturing both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships. Part of Scott's NASCAR legacy extends to present day with NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, the leading youth development initiative for multicultural and female drivers across the motorsport industry since 2004.
Joe Weatherly 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. 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.
Rex White 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 NASCAR's premier series, only two came on tracks longer than a mile in length. Driving his own equipment, 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.
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:
Anne Bledsoe France Anne Bledsoe France, paired with her husband, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., would create what today is one of the largest and most popular sports in the world. Anne played a huge role in the family business. "Big Bill" organized and promoted races; she took care of the financial end of the business. She first served as secretary and treasurer of NASCAR, and when Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, served in the same roles for the International Speedway Corporation. She also managed the speedway's ticket office. France remained active in family and business life until her passing in 1992.(NASCAR)(5-21-2014)
2015 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class Announced: NASCAR announced the inductees who will comprise the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The five-person group - the sixth in NASCAR Hall of Fame history - consists of Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. In addition, NASCAR announced that Anne B. France won the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Next year's Induction Day is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, broadcast on NBC Sports Network from Charlotte, NC. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session in Charlotte to vote on both the induction class of 2015 and the Landmark Award. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France made the announcements this afternoon in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's "Great Hall."
Next year's class was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, which for the first time included the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion - in this case, Jimmie Johnson. The panel also included representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders and a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com - which counted for the 54th and final vote. In all, 54 votes were cast, with two additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Jerry Cook and Robert Yates). The accounting firm of Ernst & Young presided over the tabulation of the votes.
Voting for next year's class was as follows: Bill Elliott (87%), Wendell Scott (58%), Joe Weatherly (53%), Rex White (43%) and Fred Lorenzen (30%). The next top vote-getters were Jerry Cook, Robert Yates and Benny Parsons.
Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in order of votes received, were Wendell Scott, Bill Elliott, Benny Parsons, Rex White and Terry Labonte.(NASCAR)(5-21-2014)
NASCAR Hall of Fame to unveil sixth class of inductees on Wednesday: The
NASCAR Hall of Fame
will unveil its sixth class of inductees on Wednesday afternoon. Five inductees to the 2015 class will be announced at 4:00pm/et by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France in the "Great Hall" area of the hall of fame in downtown Charlotte. Also announced will be the inaugural winner of the hall's Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.
The five new inductees will be chosen from a list of 20 nominees, via a meeting Wednesday morning of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel. The panel's make-up:
· 22 members of the hall's Nominating Committee;
· 33 others, a group consisting of former drivers, former owners, former crew chiefs, manufacturer representatives, media members and community leaders;
· One ballot representing the results of a nationwide on-line fan vote on NASCAR.com (closed);
· And, for the first time, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion, in this case Jimmie Johnson;
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015 nominees
· Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Sprint Cup) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500
· Red Byron, first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949
· Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series
· Jerry Cook, six-time NASCAR Modified champion
· Bill Elliott, 1988 premier series champion, two-time Daytona 500 winner and 16-time Most Popular Driver
· Ray Fox, legendary engine builder and car owner
· Rick Hendrick, 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series
· Bobby Isaac, 1970 NASCAR premier series champion
· Terry Labonte, Two-time NASCAR premier series champion
· Fred Lorenzen, 26 wins including the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600
· Raymond Parks, NASCAR's first champion car owner
· Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR premier series champion
· Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion
· Wendell Scott, first African-American NASCAR premier series race winner
· O. Bruton Smith, builder of Charlotte Motor Speedway and architect of Speedway Motorsports Inc.
· Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships
· Curtis Turner, early personality, called the "Babe Ruth of stock car racing"
· Joe Weatherly, two-time NASCAR premier series champion
· Rex White, 1960 NASCAR premier series champion
· Robert Yates, NASCAR premier series champion as engine builder and car owner
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR nominees
· H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway
· Anne Bledsoe France, helped build the sport with husband Bill France Sr. Affectionately known as "Annie B.," she is the first woman to be nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
· Raymond Parks, NASCAR's first champion car owner
· Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
· Ken Squier, legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner / namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence (NASCAR Wire Service)(5-20-2014)
Fan Vote Opens for NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Fan voting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015 opens today on NASCAR.com and runs through Tuesday, May 20 at noon ET. The five nominees receiving the highest percentage of votes will comprise the Fan Vote ballot. This ballot will be included among the 54 submitted by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel to determine the Class of 2015. Voting Day for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is Wednesday, May 21, 2014. "The NASCAR Hall of Fame is the only hall of its kind where fans have had a voice in the induction process since its inception," said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR chief communications officer. "And the reason is simple. NASCAR fans are extremely passionate and knowledgeable about the sport and its history, and have demonstrated that with their selections for the first five classes." The twenty nominees were voted upon by the 22-person Nominating Committee at its first-ever in-person meeting Feb. 21, and will appear on the Fan Vote ballot at NASCAR.com.(NASCAR)(4-2-2014)
NASCAR Announces Nominees For 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class, Inaugural Landmark Award: Following the first in-person meeting among the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating committee in the hall's history, NASCAR today announced the 20 nominees for the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame's sixth induction class, as well as the five nominees for the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list up for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame are an eclectic - and exemplary - group of individuals whose skillsets span all levels of racing and areas of expertise.
Among them are two-time NASCAR premier series champion Terry Labonte; 1988 NASCAR premier series champion and 16-time Most Popular Driver Bill Elliott; nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik, whose titles came in both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East; Buddy Baker, a 19-time NASCAR premier series winner; and championship winning engine builder and team owner Robert Yates.
From the list of 20 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting Day for the 2015 class will be Wednesday, May 21. Fans can attend the announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
As was announced last November during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week, potential Landmark Award recipients could include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role. Award winners remain eligible for NHOF enshrinement. The five nominees for the inaugural Landmark Award are H. Clay Earles, Anne B. France, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier. Parks is the only individual who was included as both a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee and a Landmark Award nominee. This round of nominees was selected by a 22-person nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks, as well as one at-large member. The committee's votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young.
Following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, listed alphabetically:
Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Sprint Cup) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500
Red Byron, first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949
Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series
Jerry Cook, six-time NASCAR Modified champion
Bill Elliott, 1988 premier series champion, two-time Daytona 500 winner and 16-time Most Popular Driver
Ray Fox, legendary engine builder and owner of cars driven by Buck Baker, Junior Johnson and others
Rick Hendrick, 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series
Bobby Isaac, 1970 NASCAR premier series champion
Terry Labonte, Two-time NASCAR premier series champion
Fred Lorenzen, 26 wins and winner of the Daytona 500 and World 600
Raymond Parks, NASCAR's first champion car owner
Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR premier series champion
Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion
Wendell Scott, NASCAR trailblazer was the first African-American NASCAR premier series race winner, and first to be nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
O. Bruton Smith, builder of Charlotte Motor Speedway and architect of Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships
Curtis Turner, early personality, called the "Babe Ruth of stock car racing"
Joe Weatherly, two-time NASCAR premier series champion
Rex White, 1960 NASCAR premier series champion
Robert Yates, won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner
The five nominees for the inaugural Landmark Award are as follows...
H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway
Anne Bledsoe France, helped build the sport with husband Bill France Sr. Affectionately known as "Annie B.," she is the first woman to be nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Raymond Parks, NASCAR's first champion car owner
Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Ken Squier, legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner / namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence
The 22-person Nominating Committee
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim.
NASCAR Officials: Chairman/CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; President Mike Helton; Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton; Executive Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell; Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Competition Administrator Jerry Cook; former Vice President Ken Clapp. (Note: Due to Jerry Cook's inclusion on the ballot for the 2014 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, he was recused from voting for the 2015 nominee class.)
Track Owners/Operators: International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa Kennedy; Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage; Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark; former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George; Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn; Pocono Raceway board of director member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Riverhead Raceway operators Jim and Barbara Cromarty (1 vote); Rockford Speedway owner Jody Deery; Kingsport Speedway Operator Robert Pressley.
At-Large: Mike Joy, lead announcer for NASCAR on FOX.(NASCAR)
Daytona Race Viewing Party: Make plans to attend a Race Viewing Party at the NASCAR Hall of Fame this season. Races are shown live in the High Octane Theater, where you'll experience the excitement of watching the race on a 64-foot-wide screen complete with surround sound and in-car driver feeds. Admission to the race viewing parties is $10 for non-members and free for members and includes the use of a race scanner that gives you access to driver and crew dialogues. Food, soft drinks, beer and wine will be available for purchase. Doors open one hour prior to the race; all race times are ET.(2-21-2014)
Hometown: Dawsonville, Ga.
Premier Series Stats
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.
Legend Of 'Awesome Bill' Started From Meager Beginnings - Elliott's NASCAR Hall of Fame Career a Story of Perseverance: When Bill Elliott climbed into his Ford on a late-winter afternoon in 1976, little did fans at North Carolina Motor Speedway know they were witnessing the birth of a NASCAR Hall of Fame career. The 20-year-old Elliott, whose car was fielded by his father George and crewed by brothers Ernie and Dan, didn't last long in his NASCAR premier series debut. Engine problems sidelined the Elliotts early for a finish of 33rd in the 36-car field. In fact, Elliott's first campaign of eight races - four for his father and four with Bill Champion, another independent owner-driver - produced six DNFs.
First impressions, however, can be deceiving. The Dawsonville, Ga. family may have lacked resources - as did many NASCAR premier series hopefuls during the economically depressed 1970s. What wasn't in short supply was perseverance. The lanky, red-headed Elliott lasted long enough to catch the eye of Michigan industrialist Harry Melling, whose one-race sponsorship in 1981 dramatically changed NASCAR history.
Elliott, born Oct. 8, 1955, ultimately won 44 races, 16th among all premier series drivers, over a 37-season, 828-start career that ended in 2012. All but two victories came on tracks longer than a mile in length; 16 of them from a pole position start. Elliott's 55 career poles rank eighth all time. Proclaimed "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" by fans and media, Elliott and his #9 Ford Thunderbird set speed records at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. His 212.809 mph mark established at Talladega on April 30, 1987 before engine restrictor plates reduced horsepower, is unlikely to be matched.
Elliott was at his best on NASCAR's biggest stages winning the Daytona 500 twice and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway three times. In 1985 he completed an unprecedented sweep of Daytona, Darlington and the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway to capture the "Winston Million" - a $1 million bonus for winning those three of four marquee events. The driver's legion of fans voted Elliott NASCAR's Most Popular Driver an unprecedented 16 times.
While Elliott may have come from nothing in terms of economic support, his birthplace in Georgia's northern mountains provided something of a golden heritage. Stock car racing, rooted in the area's moonshine culture, ran deep and produced many of the sport's earliest stars. Some argue that the impromptu Sunday night events in a nearby river bottom, in which the liquor haulers wagered on whose cars were the fastest, represented the origins of modern stock car racing in the 1930s.
Four Dawsonville drivers - Gober Sosebee, Roy Hall, Lloyd Seay and Bernard Long - won races on Daytona's beach/road course from 1941-59. During the 1940s, 12 of 15 of those races were won either by drivers or owners hailing from the small community. NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Raymond Parks, a Dawsonville native, owned the car in which Red Byron won the inaugural NASCAR premier series championship. Elliott became the fifth Daytona winner among the "Dawsonville Gang" when he won the 1985 Daytona 500.
So it was no surprise that the Elliott brothers were enamored of cars and racing. Bill would take apart and reassemble his father's race cars; his older brother Ernie owned a speed shop. "Actually I got my boys into racing because I wanted them to say away from the back roads," said George Elliott, whose Dahlonega Ford Sales dealership backed the family's racing effort. "If they were going to be driving fast, I wanted them to do it in the right place." George Elliott's support could take his son only so far. Enter Melling, who agreed to sponsor the Elliotts in the 1981 Daytona 500. His check was minimal - it barely covered the tire bill - but it opened a history-making relationship. "It was a heck of a deal for us because that was $500 more than we had," said Elliott, who responded by finishing sixth.
Melling's automotive products graced the panels of Elliott's Ford for 13 races in 1981. Melling purchased the team in 1982 and over a 10-year period watched Elliott win 34 races and the 1988 NASCAR premier series championship after a pair of second-place points finishes. Elliott won 11 times in 1985, a season that included his "Winston Million" triumph.
Elliott won at least once in 10 consecutive seasons beginning with his first victory in 1983 at the 2.66-mile Riverside (California) International Raceway. After departing Melling's team at the end of the 1991 season, Elliott produced six victories and his third runner-up championship finish for NASCAR Hall of Fame owner Junior Johnson. He joined Ray Evernham's new Dodge organization in 2001 and won four more times - the last at North Carolina Motor Speedway in 2003, a month after Elliott's 48h birthday.
Another chapter in Bill Elliott's legacy was written in 2014 when the champion's son, Chase, won the NASCAR XFINITY Series title at age 18.(NASCAR)(1-11-2015)
Hometown: Elmhurst, Ill.
Premier Series Stats
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.
"Golden Boy" Lorenzen Reaches NASCAR Pinnacle Winning Percentage Ranks Fifth All-Time: Fred Lorenzen's NASCAR career was brief, just 158 premier series starts over slightly more than a decade. The Elmhurst, Illinois, native never ran a complete season, his Holman-Moody Ford team choosing only to compete in the schedule's most prestigious events. But when Lorenzen did buckle into his white, #28 Ford, it could be argued the rest of the field was running for second place. He was the "Golden Boy."
From 1961 through 1967 he won 26 times, posting more victories than NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (21) and David Pearson (eight). Lorenzen's 16.46 career winning percentage ranks fifth all-time and highest among drivers without a NASCAR premier series championship. Lorenzen retired after the 1967 season, made a brief return in 1970-72 but left many - including himself - wondering what could have been. "I quit way too early," Lorenzen said in a 1985 interview with Circle Track magazine. "I was good for another five or six years. I was at my prime, but I'd won about everything there was to win and I had plenty of money. I was sick with stomach ulcers and I was tired of living out of a suitcase. Most of all the spark was gone; the candle was out."
How good was Lorenzen? His crew chief, Herb Nab, asked to name the best driver in NASCAR, pointed to Lorenzen's picture on a poster. "People say Fireball Roberts is the best driver. That there is the best driver." Petty, quoted in the same Insider Racing News.com article, said, "Fred Lorenzen was total concentration before, during and after the race." Longtime friend and mechanic Jack Sullivan, quoted by Stock Car Racing in 1968, said, "Freddie ate, slept, breathed and dreamt racing, 24 hours a day."
Lorenzen also was among the first "outsiders" to capture the fancy of the partisan southeastern crowds following NASCAR premier series competition. Lorenzen was named the circuit's Most Popular Driver in 1963 and 1965. "Freddie was the first northerner I knew that all the people here liked," Charlie "Slick" Owens, a Charlotte auto parts manager told Chicagoland Auto Racing.com's Stan Kawalsinski.
The Chicago Tribune's David Condon wrote similarly in 1964. "If there is one athlete in America who is as wholesome as (baseball's) Stan Musial, it has to be stock car racing's Fred Lorenzen from Elmhurst, Illinois. Fred is the All-American hero."
"He was good-natured and got along with everybody," said fellow competitor and Daytona 500 winner Marvin Panch.
Lorenzen, born Dec. 30, 1934, followed racing from an early age once setting up a tent in his family's backyard so as to listen to a broadcast of the Southern 500 without interruption. He built a miniature car out of spare parts at age 13, a washing machine motor-powered contraption that was confiscated by police for being too fast. Lorenzen's first races came on Chicago-area dirt tracks and drag strips. He won the 1958-59 U.S. Auto Club stock car championships and caught the eye of Ralph Moody, who with partner John Holman operated Ford's preeminent NASCAR premier series program. Moody called on Christmas Eve 1960 to offer a mechanic's job - and the possibility of driving. Lorenzen accepted and couldn't believe his good fortune.
"It was like walking into a diamond factory," he said of the team's shop and resources in a 2009 interview with the broadcaster TNT. "I had the best of everything. When you've got it all, it's easier to do."
Lorenzen won three times in 1961 including Darlington Raceway's Rebel 300 in which he out-foxed NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Curtis Turner with two laps remaining to earn the nickname "Fearless Freddie." Mirror driving the second-place Lorenzen, Turner repeatedly blocked the high side of the one-groove track. Lorenzen faked a high pass and shot under the not-pleased Turner. "That race was extra special because the track is so very, very special and because I was able to beat Curtis Turner," said Lorenzen in an interview with the Charlotte Observer's Tom Higgins. "You've got to remember that for a kid like me, names like Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly and Fireball Roberts were hero stuff."
His best season was 1963 when he finished with six wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s in 29 starts. Despite winning 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings. Lorenzen started just 16 races in 1964 but won eight times including five consecutive starts. During that stretch, he led 1,679 of the possible 1,953 laps, one of the most dominant runs in NASCAR history. A year later he won two of NASCAR's major events - the Daytona 500 and World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In retirement, Lorenzen became a successful Chicago real estate developer. He was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He was previously enshrined in the National Motorsports Press Association and International Motorsports halls of fame and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.(NASCAR)(1-16-2015)
Retired Charlotte Observer motorsports writer Tom Higgins on Fred Lorenzen:
I first saw him: In the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 3, 1962. He qualified third fastest behind Fireball Roberts and Junior Johnson, but finished 24th when engine failure sidelined him after 291 of 364 laps.
My favorite memory of him: In what perhaps ranks as the most thrilling race ever at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Lorenzen engaged Curtis Turner, Dick Hutcherson and A.J. Foyt in a four-way battle for victory in the 1965 National 400. They often ran three abreast, then considered impossible at Charlotte, during the final 44 laps, with the fourth driver inches behind. Lorenzen took the lead on the 256th of 267 laps and edged Hutcherson by three car lengths at the finish line. Turner was a close third and Foyt sixth after scraping the rails in turn three.
What people might not know about him: Lorenzen was an excellent mechanic. His engine-builder at Holman & Moody, Waddell Wilson, says, "Freddie showed up daily at the shop and worked on the cars as much as anybody."
Most memorable quote: "It was like walking into a diamond factory," Lorenzen once said of joining Holman & Moody. "I had the best of everything."(Charlotte Observer)(1-24-2015)
His children still learning about modest 'Fast Freddie' Lorenzen's NASCAR racing legacy by Tom Sorensen;
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Profile: Fred Lorenzen honored for his time on the track
(b. 8/29/1921 - d. 12/23/1990)
Hometown: Danville, Va.
Premier Series Stats
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.
Wendell Scott: Legend, Trailblazer ... and NASCAR Hall of Famer: During a 13-year premier series career, Wendell Scott likely never considered he was making NASCAR history. The Virginian's sole concern was getting to the next race on a miniscule budget. Scott wasn't the only driver to struggle financially. The odds of making a good living racing stock cars were long in the 1960s and early 1970s when purses were small, large sponsors unheard of and manufacturer support came and went with the turning of the calendar's pages.
But Scott faced a challenge not shared by his fellow competitors: that of an African-American battling to succeed in a still-segregated society. Measured against that backdrop, Scott succeeded admirably. He became the first - and to date, only - black driver to win a premier series race, at Jacksonville, Florida, in 1963. He made 495 starts to rank 37th on the series' all-time list, posting 147 top-10 finishes, more than 25% of the races he entered. Scott finished four times among the top 10 in driver championship standings including a sixth in 1966.
While most of Scott's success came on shorter tracks, he logged superspeedway top 10s at Atlanta, Charlotte, Daytona Beach, Dover and Darlington. He twice finished seventh in Atlanta Motor Speedway's Dixie 400 - in 1966 finishing ahead of NASCAR Hall of Famers Buck Baker, Bobby Allison and fellow 2015 inductee Rex White. Scott also finished seventh in a Daytona 500 qualifying race - which at the time carried premier series championship points. Scott was singular of purpose, owning and preparing the cars which carried the No. 34. His Chevrolets and Fords were second hand. Without sponsorship, Scott couldn't afford to hire a pit crew, which usually was comprised of his sons. Tires and spare parts were cast offs from other teams.
Scott, however, never used that as excuse to give less than 100 percent. He finished 321 of his 495 starts. "We weren't allowed to use the words 'can't' and 'never.' He didn't believe in those words," said Franklin Scott, one of Scott's seven children and a member of his father's pit crew. "He instilled in everybody he met that if you're willing to work and do the things necessary to be successful, you can be successful."
"If he had had the proper equipment, I believe he would have been a winner a lot of times," said 1960 premier series champion White, sentiments echoed by NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett, a two-time premier series champion. If he'd had the equipment or financial backing that I and others had, he would have won more races," said Jarrett in a 2009 story published in the New York Times. Former Charlotte Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, quoted in the same article, said Scott "was obviously a much better driver than the record shows."
Wendell Oliver Scott was born Aug. 29, 1921 in Danville, Virginia. His father was an expert mechanic, a trade the young Scott quickly learned. After serving in Europe during World War II, Scott returned home to become a taxi driver, who also transported illegal whiskey. He competed in his first race at the Danville fairgrounds winning $50. Over the next decade Scott won more than 100 sportsman and modified stock car races as well as the Virginia State Sportsman championship.
Scott made his NASCAR premier series debut at age 39 on March 4, 1961 at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg, South Carolina, driving a year-old Chevrolet purchased from Baker. He continued as a series regular until 1973, his career ended by an accident at Talladega Superspeedway. Scott's signature victory in the Dec. 1, 1963 race at Jacksonville's Speedway Park in the third event of the 1964 season was fraught with controversy. Scott, who started 15th, initially was listed as finishing third behind Baker, who took part in victory circle ceremonies and headed for home with the race trophy. A subsequent scoring re-check found Scott actually had finished two laps ahead of Baker.
"I knew I'd passed Buck ... three times and only made one pit stop for gas and didn't lose a lap," said Scott, who led the final 27 laps after frontrunner Richard Petty slowed with steering problems. "I knew I had won." In 1990, Scott lost a battle to cancer at age 69. In January 2013 Scott was awarded his own historical marker in Danville, proclaiming in part, "Persevering over prejudice and discrimination, Scott broke racial barriers in NASCAR."
Scott previously was inducted into the National Sports Hall of Fame, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.(NASCAR)(1-19-2015)
Road to NASCAR Hall of Fame wasn't always easy for Wendell Scott by Jonathan Jones;
NASCAR HOF inductee profile: Wendell Scott
(b. 5/29/1922 - d. 1/19/1964)
Hometown: Norfolk, Va.
Premier Series Stats
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.
No Joke: Weatherly Earns NASCAR's Highest Honor - Brief Yet Prolific Career Lands 'Clown Prince of Racing' In Hall: Joe Weatherly's time in NASCAR's premier series was short, just two fulltime seasons. But what an impact the Norfolk, Virginia, native had on NASCAR racing in those brief, 24 months. Weatherly, previously a winner of American Motorcyclist Association and NASCAR modified titles, claimed back-to-back premier series championships in 1962-63. He posted 25 victories in 229 starts before his untimely death in January 1964 at Riverside (California) International Raceway.
"He would have been as good as any that's been along," said one of Weatherly's early car owners, the late, fellow Virginian Junie Donlavey. "He had quick reflexes and good equipment. He was just a natural born driver. He would have been right there with all the greats. He was that good."
Weatherly also was one of the sport's characters, a one-of-a-kind practical joker whose antics off the racing surface endeared him to fans and fellow competitors and earned him the nickname "Clown Prince of Racing." A friendship quickly blossomed with NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Curtis Turner, another larger-than-life figure. The 5 feet 4 inch Weatherly and the lanky Turner made the perfect Mutt and Jeff pair. They raced hard and - according to legend - partied just as wide open. Both were reputed to have been black-listed by rental car companies for racing and wrecking numerous cars."They were fearless on the track but also fearless as far as their habits and lifestyles," said NASCAR Productions archivist Ken Martin in a Nov. 27, 2014 National Speed Sport News feature written by Ben White. "No one loved to throw a party more than Curtis. Joe was more the comedian and Curtis loved a good laugh."
Earl Swift, writing in Norfolk's Virginian-Pilot in 2007, remembered Weatherly as "a rough-and-tumble Southern rogue. Weatherly was the archetype of the early NASCAR hero, an inveterate practical joker and hell raiser." No surprise, Weatherly was voted the premier series' Most Popular Driver in 1961.
Joseph Herbert "Joe" Weatherly was born May 29, 1922. He served in World War II - as did his later car owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bud Moore - with the 809th Aviation Battalion Engineers of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Discharged in November 1945, Weatherly raced motorcycles from 1946 through 1950 winning a pair of AMA championships as well as the 1948 Laconia (New Hampshire) Classic that resulted in his posthumous induction into the organization's Hall of Fame in 1998.
"Little Joe," as he'd became known, switched to stock cars telling a reporter for Consumer Guide, "I like having something between my head and the ground when I crash." Weatherly proved to be a fast learner on four wheels. Between 1952 and 1953, he won 101 NASCAR Modified races as well as the division's championships in 1953. Weatherly's first premier division start came in Darlington Raceway's 1952 Southern 500. He finished 16th driving Donlavey's Hudson.
Weatherly's initial premier series victory came on Aug. 10, 1958 in the inaugural race at Nashville Speedway. He drove a Holman-Moody prepared Ford convertible in the "Sweepstakes" event that was open to both hard and soft top cars. Weatherly was no stranger to the open top cars winning 12 times in NASCAR's short-lived convertible division. After winning the opening race of the 1961 season in Dr. Bradford "Doc" White's Ford, Weatherly gave his competitors a taste of NASCAR's future. Racing in just 25 of the schedule's 52 events - most of them in Moore's No. 8 Pontiac - Weatherly posted nine victories, good for a fourth-place championship finish behind champion Ned Jarrett, a NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2011 inductee.
The duo stepped up for a full campaign in 1962. Weatherly again won nine times including his Daytona 500 qualifying race which, at the time, carried NASCAR premier series points. With 45 top-10 finishes in 52 starts, the 40-year-old Weatherly beat NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty by more than 2,000 points to become Virginia's only premier series champion. Moore also captured his sole owner's title. Moore reduced the team's schedule in 1963 forcing Weatherly to beg and borrow cars from fellow competitors - frequently driving what politely could be called semi-competitive equipment. Weatherly persevered, winning three times and again bested Petty, who counted 14 trips to Victory Lane. What would be his last victory and 20th with Moore came at Hillsboro, North Carolina on Oct. 27.
True to form, Weatherly quipped, "I had greater luck (than Petty), rather than greater skill. I was lucky to get rides when I needed them." Weatherly's luck ran out several months later in Southern California. Laps behind due to an early race mechanical problem, his No. 8 Mercury left the track entering Riverside's Turn 6 and skidded into a steel retaining wall. Weatherly, without a shoulder harness or window net, died when his head struck the barrier.
Weatherly was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He previously was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, National Motorsports Hall of Fame and National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame. Darlington Raceway's stock car racing museum was christened in Weatherly's name upon its opening in 1965.(NASCAR)(1-23-2015)
Joe Weatherly takes his place among sport's greats by Jim Utter;
NASCAR HOF inductee profile: Joe Weatherly
driver stats at racing-reference.info
Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
Premier Series Stats
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.
Rex White: Small Stature, Giant Legend: 1960 NASCAR Premier Series Champion Earns Sport's Top Honor: Over the years, NASCAR premier series champions have come in all shapes and sizes - tall, short, muscular and lean. The single constant? It's impossible to judge a book by its cover. Based upon first impressions, Rex White - at 5 feet 4 inches, weighing just 135 pounds and with his right leg withered by childhood polio - might have seemed the unlikeliest championship contender of all. White, however, was tough as nails fearing neither competitor nor track conditions. He won the 1960 premier series title and posted 28 victories over five seasons, finishing among the top five in nearly half of his 233 starts.
"He looked more like a jockey than a race car driver," fellow competitor Buddy Baker told the Gaston Gazette, "but he lived large once they started the race. On short tracks, he was very aggressive. He didn't mind going in the turn with (NASCAR Hall of Famer and three-time premier series champion) Lee Petty and saying, 'I'm inside and if you come down we're not going to agree on stuff. He raced hard."
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, the 1983 premier series champion, said, "I admired Rex as a race driver because he was a little guy. I started out small. Seeing him winning encouraged me to chase my dream."
What might have been a handicap to many only served as motivation to White, born Aug. 17, 1929 in Taylorsville, N.C. "Most of the lessons I have learned (from childhood illness) have stayed with me all my life," said White in his autobiography "Gold Thunder," written with Dr. Anne B. Jones. "The biggest one was how to conquer fear."
White learned to drive at age six, driving a neighbor's truck in surrounding fields. Two years later he was working on his family's Ford Model T. "I was unaware the car on which I labored represented hope to people around me (and) frustration to those trying to stop illegal moonshine," said White. "I saw automobiles as transportation, not the symbol of an upcoming billion-dollar sport."
White dropped out of school, moving to the Washington D.C., area where he found employment as a cook and, after marriage, a service station job. A poster advertising stock car races took White to Lanham (Maryland) Speedway where he caught on as an unpaid crew member for 1952 NASCAR Modified champion Frankie Schneider. A year later, White returned to the track with a 1937 Ford purchased for $600 lettered "X." He won his heat race, the semi-main and the feature. "I'd never won a trophy at anything," said White.
White made his premier series debut in 1956 on Daytona's beach/road course. In 1958, he teamed with crew chief Louis Clements in an "off the books" program by GM's Chevrolet Division. They won twice in 1958 and five times the following year. The 1959 season also saw the debut of White's iconic #4 gold and white Chevrolet. The 1960 season was the first in which White ran a full schedule, going to the post only after he and Clement built a car for a competitor, the sale of which netted $2,000 for their own Chevrolet.
White won six times finishing 35 of 40 races among the top 10. White's ninth-place finish at Birmingham, Alabama on Aug. 3 was his worst performance in the year's final 15 races. The championship was a runaway, White beating NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty by nearly 4,000 points. "The thing about Rex is he thinks," said Clements in a 1960 interview with Sports Illustrated. "When he's out on the track, he's planning and figuring out which cars he has to race to stay ahead."
Car owner and engine builder Smokey Yunick, quoted in the same article, said, "Rex is not a cautious driver but he know when to use caution." White didn't disagree. "I couldn't run quite as fast as some of those other guys," he said. "So long as I was smart and kept running; if any of those other guys had trouble, I had a chance."
White nearly defended his title in 1961 winning seven times but finished second to NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. He added two more top-10 championship finishes before retiring at the conclusion of the 1964 season. Between 1959 and the 1963 seasons, White won more races than any other driver. He won 36 premier series poles - at least one in eight consecutive seasons - and finished second in NASCAR's Short Track late model championship in 1959.
In retirement, White has owned an automobile dealership and for 25 years a trucking company, both in the Atlanta area where at age 85 he continues to reside. Named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, White holds membership in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.(NASCAR)(1-29-2015)
NASCAR HOF inductee Rex White made more money selling cars than driving them by Jim Utter;
NASCAR HOF inductee profile: Rex White