NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016
- 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.
- 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Honors Five Of Sport’s Greatest: Five of NASCAR’s iconic figures – four drivers and one motorsports entrepreneur – were enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina this afternoon 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 35 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees, included: Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. The group makes up the Hall’s seventh class in its history.
Jerry Cook made his name in the modified division, winning six NASCAR Modified championships, including four consecutively from 1974-77. He joins his rival from his hometown of Rome, New York, Richie Evans, as only the second Hall of Fame driver whose career wasn’t connected to NASCAR’s premier series. Cook won 342 NASCAR Modified races in 1,474 starts. Upon his retirement, Cook stayed with the sport and helped shape the series known today as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He served as the series’ director and also served as NASCAR’s competition administrator. “For me, it’s always been NASCAR,” Cook said. “I’ve spent my entire life in the greatest sport in the world and to be honored in this way – tonight – to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame along with the greatest names in the sport – is the pinnacle of my career.”
One of NASCAR’s original speedsters, Bobby Isaac captured 19 poles in 1969 – a mark that still stands as the record for poles in a single season. His 49 career poles are the 10th-most all time. More than just a strong qualifier, Isaac won the 1970 premier series championship by posting 11 victories, 32 top fives and 38 top 10s in 47 starts. His 37 career wins rank 19th on NASCAR’s all-time list. “He died at the age of 45 doing what he loved to do,” said Isaac’s former spouse, Patsy Isaac. “But he died way too soon. Bobby would’ve loved this honor.”
Terry Labonte raced his way to two NASCAR premier series championships, the first in 1984, and the second in 1996. The Texan’s 12-year gap between titles is the longest in NASCAR history. A consummate professional, Labonte earned the moniker “Iron Man” thanks to his 655 consecutive starts in NASCAR’s premier series, a record which stood until 2002. Labonte won 22 races, bookended by Southern 500 victories in 1980 and 2003. His 361 top-10 finishes ranks 10th all time. “Before, I’d be introduced as a two-time champion,” Labonte said. “Now I’ll be introduced as a NASCAR Hall of Famer. And I think that’s a whole lot cooler.”
O. Bruton Smith finished building Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960, the facility that became the foundation of his Speedway Motorsports Inc. empire, which currently owns eight NASCAR tracks hosting 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and additional high-profile motorsports activities. He made SMI the first motorsports company to be traded at the New York Stock Exchange when he took it public in 1995. Smith is the founder of Sonic Automotive group and is active in child-related causes with his philanthropic foundation, Speedway Children’s Charities. “I appreciate you all coming. I hope you have a great season, a great racing season,” Smith said. “I’m delighted and I’m glad to be a part of the (Hall of Fame) here, this is great.”
Nicknamed the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing” for his big-time personality and talent, NASCAR pioneer Curtis Turner remains the only premier series driver to win two consecutive races from the pole leading every lap. Turner notched 17 wins, 54 top fives and 73 top 10s in 184 starts. He is the only driver to win a NASCAR premier series race in a Nash and tallied 38 victories in 79 NASCAR Convertible Division events. In 1972, NASCAR Founder Bill France said, “Curtis Turner was the greatest race car driver I have ever seen.” “At day’s end and chats catching up, Daddy would always say, anything is possible,” said Turner’s daughter, Margaret Sue Turner Wright, who accepted on behalf of her father. “And it was, and for us, so it is.”
Each of the five inductees had an inductor who officially welcomed them into the hall. The inductors for the five inductees: Robin Pemberton for Jerry Cook; Randy Isaac (son) for Bobby Isaac; Kristy Labonte Garrett (daughter) for Terry Labonte; Darrell Waltrip for Bruton Smith; and Leonard Wood for Curtis Turner.
Active drivers introduced each inductee during tonight’s program: Tony Stewart for Jerry Cook; Ryan Newman for Bobby Isaac; Kyle Busch for Terry Labonte; Brad Keselowski for Bruton Smith; and Kevin Harvick for Curtis Turner.
In addition to the five inductees enshrined on Saturday afternoon, Harold Brasington was honored as the second recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Brasington, who believed in the potential of Bill France’s fledgling NASCAR business, architected Darlington Raceway in his hometown of Darlington, South Carolina. After completing the project, he expected 10,000 fans to show up at the track, but instead 25,000 spectators showed up for the inaugural Southern 500 – NASCAR’s first 500-mile race. The race turned out to be a mega-event that is still run to this day. After building Darlington, Brasington helped create Charlotte Motor Speedway and North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham.
Prior to today’s Induction Ceremony, long-time NASCAR broadcaster Steve Byrnes was bestowed the fifth Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Byrnes’s motorsports broadcasting career spanned more than three decades. He most recently served as the play-by-play announcer for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on FS1 and was the network’s co-host of NASCAR Race Hub. Last April, Byrnes passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Throughout his career, Byrnes provided mentorship for countless young broadcasters and provided race fans with quality insight and entertainment as a pit reporter for CBS, TNN, TBS and FOX.(NASCAR)(1-23-2016)
- NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony postponed until Saturday: The historic NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Induction Ceremony will take place in the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center and will be broadcast live on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 2:30pm/et on Saturday, January 23, 2016. Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner will officially be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In addition, Harold Brasington will be honored as the second recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Induction Ceremony premium seating tickets ($80 plus applicable service fees and taxes) and general seating tickets ($45 plus applicable service fees and taxes) are still available for purchase at nascarhall.com/inductees/induction-ceremony.(1-22-2016)
- NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day (canceled) returns to the NASCAR Hall Of Fame Jan. 23 Weather UPDATE: For the third consecutive year, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will open its doors for FREE for NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day. On Saturday, Jan. 23, fans will have free access to the Hall for a full day of activities, including autographs and Q&A; sessions with current drivers and NASCAR Hall of Famers. Fans will be admitted into the Hall on a first-come, first-served basis in lieu of needing a ticket. However, tickets to autograph sessions, highlighted by 13-time Sprint NMPA Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. must be secured in advance. Vouchers for the autograph sessions will be available for free on NASCARHall.com starting at 10:00am/et on Saturday, Jan. 16. Each fan can secure up to two autograph session vouchers. In addition, up-and-coming stars of the NASCAR NEXT program and NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 inductees Jerry Cook, Terry Labonte and Bruton Smith will participate in Q&A;’s and autograph signings throughout the day. Advance vouchers are not required for these sessions. Fans in attendance will be among the first to see a series of new exhibits and facility upgrades. Artifacts from all five Class of 2016 inductees will be on display in the Hall of Honor, an exhibit that opens Friday, Jan. 22. Fans can also relive the 2015 NASCAR season with updated Memorable Moments and Champions displays.(NASCAR)(1-10-2016)
Weather UPDATE: Due to the inclement weather conditions in the Charlotte region, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will amend its Induction Ceremony and NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day activities this weekend. The NASCAR Hall of Fame will remain open on Friday, Jan. 22. Due to the anticipated ice and snow accumulations during the course of the day, the venue will close early at 2:00pm/et. The Induction Ceremony scheduled for this evening will be moved to Saturday, Jan. 23 beginning at 2:30pm/et and will be aired live on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The event will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra. The Induction Dinner will be adjusted to a luncheon format on Saturday at the Charlotte Convention Center beginning at 1:00pm/et. Activities that were scheduled for today leading up to the Induction Ceremony such as Hall of Famer autograph sessions and the Red Carpet event will be canceled altogether.
In addition, Fan Appreciation Day activities including autograph sessions and programs will be canceled for tomorrow at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The venue will have a delayed opening at 12:00pm/et and will honor the free admission that Fan Appreciation Day offers guests. The venue will close at 5:00pm/et.
For those guests who secured autograph session tickets, the venue is exploring options to accommodate fans, which will be announced by the end of next week. Due to the complexity of NASCAR and driver schedules, unfortunately the Hall will not be able to reschedule a complete day of Fan Appreciation Day programming. Please continue to check NASCAR HOF Facebook and Website.(1-22-2016)
- NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Tickets on sale Oct. 6: Tickets for the 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be available to the public beginning Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 10am/et. Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner will be honored during this year’s ceremony set for Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Ticket prices range from $45 for general seats to the Induction Ceremony to $350 for the Exclusive Driver Dinner Package. Drivers, celebrities and legends of the sport will take the stage during this premier celebration that will honor the seventh class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Prior to the ceremony, a special Induction Dinner at the Charlotte Convention Center, which is connected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, will include a special jacket presentation for the living inductees and an award presentation honoring popular FOX Sports broadcaster Steve Byrnes, the fifth recipient of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Fans also have the exclusive opportunity to purchase a seat for the dinner that puts them at a table with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. After dinner, the Induction Ceremony will take place in the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center and will honor the five Class of 2016 inductees as well as Harold Brasington, the second recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Following the ceremony, a special NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day will take place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 23. Individual ticket and ticket packages will be available beginning Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.(NASCAR)(9-30-2015)
- Steve Byrnes Named Fifth Squier-Hall Award Recipient: Popular FOX Sports broadcaster Steve Byrnes has been named the recipient of the 2016 Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Byrnes most recently served as the play-by-play announcer for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on FOX Sports 1 and was the network’s co-host of NASCAR Race Hub. He passed away in April after a long battle with cancer. Byrnes will be honored during NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony festivities on Jan. 22, 2016 and featured in an exhibit in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
“For three decades, Steve’s hard work and humanity brought NASCAR fans closer to their favorite drivers,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “His passion for the stories and people he covered was always reflected in his work. Steve was respected for his professionalism and adored for his easy demeanor.”
From 2001-14, Byrnes served as a pit reporter for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races on FOX. He also served as a studio show host and appeared on various programs. Prior to joining FOX, Byrnes hosted a variety of NASCAR programs including Inside Winston Cup Racing with Ned Jarrett and Darrell Waltrip’s Racers on TNN. He also worked as a pit reporter for CBS, TNN and TBS. His courageous battle with cancer served as an inspiration to the NASCAR industry, fans and his peers. In April, shortly before his passing, Bristol Motor Speedway named its Sprint Cup race the Food City 500 In Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand up to Cancer.
Byrnes was among eight nominees voted upon by a panel comprised of NASCAR and NASCAR Hall of Fame executives, journalists, public relations representatives and former drivers. The Squier-Hall Award was created in 2012 to honor the contributions of media to the success of the sport. Legendary broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall, for whom the award is named, were its initial recipients. Other recipients of the award include Chris Economaki (2014) and Tom Higgins (2015).
The other seven nominees for the 2016 award were:
Norma “Dusty” Brandel, the first woman to report from inside the NASCAR garage.
Russ Catlin, one of the best-known early racing writers and historians, served as editor of Speed Age Magazine.
Shav Glick, covered motorsports for the Los Angeles Times for 37 years, bringing NASCAR coverage to the West Coast.
Bob Jenkins, served as the lead NASCAR lap-by-lap anchor at ESPN from 1982-2000.
Bob Moore, spent more than 20 years as a NASCAR beat writer including stints with the Daytona Beach News-Journal and The Charlotte Observer.
Benny Phillips, spent 48 years covering NASCAR for the High Point (N.C.) Enterprise, 27 years for Stock Car Racing and 12 years on TBS.
T. Taylor Warren, best known for his three-wide photo of the 1959 Daytona 500 finish, he covered every Daytona 500 until his death in 2008.
(NASCAR Hall of Fame)(7-4-2015)
- 2016 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class Announced: NASCAR announced the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The five-person group – the seventh in NASCAR Hall of Fame history – consists of Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. In addition, NASCAR announced that Harold Brasington won the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Next year’s Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session in Charlotte to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2016 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton announced the class and Landmark Award winner, respectively, this evening in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Great Hall.
The Class of 2016 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including 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, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the second year, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (Kevin Harvick). In all, 57 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 was as follows: O. Bruton Smith (68%), Terry Labonte (61%), Curtis Turner (60%), Jerry Cook (47%) and Bobby Isaac (44%).
The next top vote-getters were Red Byron, Benny Parsons and Rick Hendrick. Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Alan Kulwicki, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin and Benny Parsons.
The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates.
Nominees for the Landmark Award included Brasington, H.Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier. It is awarded to competitors or those working in the sport who have acted as a NASCAR ambassador through a professional or non-professional role. Anne B. France won the inaugural award last year.
Class of 2016 Inductees:
Jerry Cook made his name in modifieds, winning six NASCAR Modified championships, including four consecutively from 1974-77. All the while, he was vying with another driver from his hometown of Rome, New York, nine-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans, for supremacy in NASCAR’s open-wheel realm. After retiring from racing in 1982, Cook stayed with the sport and helped shape the series known today as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Cook served as the series’ director when it began in 1985 and remains with NASCAR as competition administrator.
Bobby Isaac’s uncanny skill at drawing speed from a race car puts him on a short list of NASCAR legends. His 49 career poles ranks 10th all time. Maybe more impressive: Isaac captured 19 poles in 1969, which still stands as the record for poles in a single season. Isaac began racing in NASCAR’s premier series in 1961. He finished runner-up in the series standings in 1968 behind NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson. In 1969, he finished sixth in the standings after posting 17 wins and those 19 poles. In 1970, Isaac won the championship posting 11 victories, 32 top fives and 38 top 10s in 47 starts. Isaac won 37 races in NASCAR’s top series, ranking 19th on the all-time list.
Terry Labonte is a two-nickname NASCAR star. Early in his career he was known as the “Iceman” for his coolness under pressure. But his demeanor belied his determination. Later in his career he became known as the sport’s “Iron Man” thanks to 665 consecutive starts in NASCAR’s premier series, a record which stood until 2002. Winning two premier series championships, in 1984 and ’96, is impressive; the 12-year gap distinguishes Labonte further. No other driver has won his first two championships that far apart and Labonte is one of only six drivers with championships in two decades. Labonte’s stellar career is tucked between perfect bookends – his two Southern 500 wins, in 1980 and 2003. His 361 top-10 finishes ranks 10th all time.
O. Bruton Smith, executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., promoted his first stock car race in Midland, North Carolina at the age of 18. Smith’s early endeavors included operating the National Stock Car Racing Association – seen as an early competitor to NASCAR – and building Charlotte Motor Speedway. CMS became the foundation of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which currently owns eight NASCAR tracks hosting 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and additional high-profile motorsports activities. Smith took SMI public in 1995, the first motorsports company to be traded at the New York Stock Exchange. He was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame and National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame, both in 2006; and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Curtis Turner, called by some the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing,” was among the fastest and most colorful competitors in the early years of NASCAR premier series racing. Turner competed in NASCAR’s first “Strictly Stock” race in 1949 in Charlotte and was the only driver to win a NASCAR premier series race in a Nash. He posted his first of 17 career victories in only his fourth start on Sept. 11, 1949, at Langhorne (Pennsylvania) Speedway. Although many of Turner’s victories came on short tracks and dirt ovals – much of his career pre-dated NASCAR’s superspeedway era – he won the 1956 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the first American 500 at Rockingham Speedway in 1965. He remains the only series driver to win two consecutive races from the pole leading every lap. He also won 38 of 79 races in which he competed in the NASCAR Convertible Division.
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:
Harold Brasington, a South Carolina businessman, believed in Bill France’s fledgling NASCAR business, created the sanctioning body’s first superspeedway – a one-of-a-kind egg-shaped oval, paved on an old cotton and peanut field. Expecting 10,000 fans to show up at Darlington Raceway’s first competition on Labor Day of 1950, 25,000 spectators showed up for the inaugural Southern 500 – NASCAR’s first 500-mile race. Darlington’s success inspired Brasington to extend his reach north — to North Carolina. He employed his track building and promoting expertise, helping in the creation of Charlotte Motor Speedway and building North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, NC.(NASCAR)(5-20-2015)
- NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class Of 2016 To Be Announced: The NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 and winner of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR will be announced following a vote by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel on Wednesday, May 20 at 6:00pm/et at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. The five NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees will be selected from the list of 20 nominees: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Bobby Isaac, Alan Kulwicki, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, O. Bruton Smith, Mike Stefanik, Curtis Turner and Robert Yates.
The second Landmark Award recipient will be chosen from the list of five nominees: Harold Brasington, H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier. The announcement will air live on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and NASCAR.com.(NASCAR)(5-18-2015)
- NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Fan Vote Opens: Fan voting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 opened March 31st on NASCAR.comand runs through Monday, May 19 at 11:59pm/et. The five nominees receiving the highest percentage of votes will comprise the Fan Vote ballot.
Following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, listed alphabetically:
Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Bobby Isaac, Alan Kulwicki, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, O. Bruton Smith, Mike Stefanik, Curtis Turner, Robert Yates. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 will be voted on and announced at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday, May 20.(NASCAR)(4-1-2015)
- NASCAR Announces Nominees For 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class, Landmark Award: Legendary engine builders, crew chiefs, owners and drivers. Their roles and responsibilities may have differed, but they all have one trait in common – each made an everlasting mark on NASCAR history. On Friday, NASCAR announced the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, as well as the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list are five first-time nominees – legends all – who excelled in various disciplines, at various levels.
Among them are three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Ray Evernham; 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Harry Hyde; 1992 NASCAR premier series champion Alan Kulwicki; winner of a combined 96 NASCAR national series races, Mark Martin; and 1986 NASCAR west series champion Hershel McGriff. The nominees were selected by a nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks and the media. The committee’s votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. 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 2016 class will be Wednesday, May 20.
The five nominees for the Landmark Award are Harold Brasington, H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier (more on each below). Potential Landmark Award recipients 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 NASCAR Hall of Fame enshrinement.
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
Ray Evernham, three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief
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
Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief
Bobby Isaac, 1970 NASCAR premier series champion
Alan Kulwicki, 1992 NASCAR premier series champion
Terry Labonte, two-time NASCAR premier series champion
Mark Martin, 96-time race winner in NASCAR national series competition
Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion
Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner
Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR premier series champion
Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion
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”
Robert Yates, won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner
The five nominees for the Landmark Award are as follows:
Harold Brasington, founder of Darlington Speedway
H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway
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 are as follows:
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim.
NASCAR Officials: Chairman / CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton; Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar; Executive Vice President / Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell; Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Senior Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton; Competition Administrator Jerry Cook (Note: Due to Jerry Cook’s inclusion on the ballot for the NHOF Class of 2015, he was recused from voting for the Class of 2016 nominees.)
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 directors member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Holland Motorsports Complex operator Ron Bennett; Rockford Speedway operator Jody Deery; West Coast representative Ken Clapp.
Media: Mike Joy, FOX.
(NASCAR Hall of Fame PR)(2-21-2015)
Highlighting the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016
Jerry Cook – Driver, NASCAR Hall of Fame
Hometown: Rome, N.Y.
Modified Series Stats
- Modified great Cook joins rival in the NASCAR Hall of Fame: Jerry Cook never intended to support his family driving a modified stock car. It kind of snuck up on the young resident of Rome, NY. Cook, who built his first modified at the age of 13, took the wheel by happenstance, when his hired driver wrecked two of the race cars he owned. That was in 1963, well before Cook won his first of six NASCAR modified championships. But Cook soon discovered he had a knack for winning races – and finishing well enough to cash a decent check when he didn’t. “Every time I reached into my pocket, it had money in it,” Cook would say later. “So I kept racing.”
Cook won modified championships in 1971-72 and 1974-77. Before retiring at the conclusion of the 1982 season, Cook also posted six championship points finishes of second and two of third. He won 342 NASCAR modified races in 1,474 career starts – and countless other non-sanctioned events. Cook finished among the top 10 an amazing 85% of the time. Cook joins fellow Roman and career-long modified racing rival Richie Evans in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The late Evans, a nine-time NASCAR modified champion, was inducted in 2012 as the first Hall member whose career wasn’t connected to NASCAR’s premier series. Cook is the second. “We’ve now finished off the battle of Rome,” said Cook. “For me and Ritchie to both be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it kind of tops it off.”
Cook and Evans made upstate New York the epicenter of NASCAR modified racing in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Each driver had his legion of fans – vociferous on behalf of the merits of their favorite charioteer. Cook and Evans were respectful of each other and friends off the track, yet as different as night and day. Evans was the flamboyant one, famous for living life to its fullest with rock and roll music as the race shop’s background noise. A writer calling Cook’s home, however, would find the telephone answered by the driver’s wife, Sue, who would refer him to the backyard garage where preparing or repairing Cook’s red cars was quietly taking place.
Ray Evernham, a former modified driver, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship crew chief and television analyst had this to say about Cook: “Jerry was not a guy who raced on the edge. Jerry won his share no doubt. But if he didn’t win, he was still going to be in the top five.” In some years, Cook’s team would run nearly 100 races, at up to 19 tracks of all sizes, shapes and surfaces from New England to Virginia. Some of Cook’s signature wins took place outside New York and New England. Cook’s first major victory was the 1969 Dogwood 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. He won a trio of 200-lap races at the tough, Bowman-Gray (N.C.) Stadium quarter mile between 1977 and 1980.
The closest Cook came to the NASCAR premier series was a Daytona 500 qualifying race in 1973. His car’s engine blew seven laps from the end. Cook, with a wife and two children, took a look at what non-factory-supported drivers were winning and decided to stay in the modifieds. “So that’s why I stuck with what I did best,” he said.
Cook retired after winning the Spencer (N.Y.) Speedway championship in 1982. For more than 30 years he was a key member of NASCAR’s competition department and was instrumental in the formation of the current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N; Pro Series East. Cook, 72, was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998. He is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame.
Cook will be inducted Jan. 22 into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2016 that also includes Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. Induction ceremonies will be live on NBCSN, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio beginning at 8:00pm/et. Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at ticketmaster.com, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)(1-18-2016)
- Charlotte Observer:
Jerry Cook and Richie Evans had epic NASCAR rivalry by Bill Kiser;
Jerry Cook: Highlights at a glance by Tom Higgins
- driver stats at racing-reference.info
Bobby Isaac – Driver, NASCAR Hall of Fame
(b. 8/1/1932, d. 8/14/1977)
Hometown: Catawba, NC
Championships (1) Premier – 1970
Premier Series Stats
- Pioneering speed demon Isaac enters NASCAR Hall of Fame: In a different era, in which stock cars driven to and past their limits didn’t break with frequency, there’s no telling how many races or championships Bobby Isaac might have won. Isaac, the 1970 NASCAR premier series champion, won 37 of his 309 starts. But he was a DNF – did not finish – 129 times. His 49 poles rank 10th all-time, with 19 – a still-standing, single-season mark – coming in 1969. Only 38 drivers have won 19 or more poles in a career. Nobody ever had to tell Isaac to “stand on it.”
“Bobby was a never-give-up kind of guy,” said Buddy Parrott, a member of Isaac’s #71 K&K; Insurance Dodge crew and a 49-time winner as a premier series crew chief for NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip among others. “Bobby had no fear.” Isaac, born on a farm near Catawba, North Carolina in 1932, saw his first stock car race at nearby Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway and at age 17 bought a 1937 Ford and put roll bars in it. He flipped the car on the race’s second lap but that didn’t dampen his desire. Working at a variety of low-paying jobs, Isaac began racing the NASCAR late model sportsman circuit. He survived but sometimes just barely.
“One time I drove 200 miles to drive a fellow’s modified car with $4 in my pocket,” he once said. “I figured that I’d have enough to buy gas and get down there and eat a hot dog before the race. The gas was $3 but I had to put two quarts of oil in my car so I was broke when I left town. When the feature started my stomach was not only growling but I didn’t have enough gas to get back home. I drove that car as hard as I could and won. I had to win.”
Isaac, described by some as “mercurial,” went sportsman racing fulltime in 1958, driving for Ralph Earnhardt. He won 28 feature events, competing against the likes of NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and David Pearson. Isaac, at age 28, competed in his first premier series event in 1961. Driving a Dodge for Ray Nichels, he won his first race in 1964 – a 50-lap Daytona 500 qualifier in which he edged Jimmy Pardue in a photo finish after Richard Petty ran out of fuel. With factory-supported teams jumping in and out of the sport in the mid-1960s, Isaac went from top ride to no seat at all. His fortunes changed in 1968 when he was hired by Indiana insurance magnate Nord Krauskropf and paired with legendary crew chief Harry Hyde, whose larger than life persona was captured as Harry Hogg in the film “Days of Thunder.” Over the course of five seasons, 1968 to 1972, the trio’s “Poppy Red” Dodges won 36 times – 17 alone in 1969 when Isaac won 17 times in 50 starts. Bedeviled by 19 failures to finish, Isaac wound up sixth in the championship standings. Isaac “only” won 11 times in his championship season but the DNFs were reduced to just nine.
The K&K; team is remembered best for its winged Dodge Charger Daytona, the needle-nosed, high rear-wing version of the standard Charger. Remarkably, Isaac visited Victory Lane only once in that model, at Texas World Speedway in 1969, his 20th career win and first on a superspeedway. “We won a lot of short-races, but we couldn’t pull it all together on the big tracks until the last race of the season,” said Isaac in Greg Fielden’s book “NASCAR: The Complete History.” “Winning the championship gave me personal satisfaction, but I’d rank it second to the Texas win. “The way I look at it, it took me seven years to win a superspeedway race and only three years to win the championship.”
In September 1971 the team took its winged car to the Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah where Isaac set 28 speed records, including a 217.368 mph “flying kilometer” mark. “That car weighed 3,900 pounds and it had 650 horses in the motor,” Hyde told Car and Driver’s Bob Zeller in May 2002. “And when Bobby set it sideways, it looked like a hydroplane on water. He came by at 200 mph broadside with a big rooster tail of salt comin’ out the back.” Driving part-time schedules for a number of owners, Isaac ran his last premier series race in 1976. He returned to Hickory Motor Speedway the following year where, on Aug. 14, he pulled out of a sportsman race feeling ill and was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to heart failure at age 45.
Isaac was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1979 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1998, NASCAR honored him as one of its 50 Greatest Drivers of all time. Isaac’s accomplishments are such that he’ll join the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 along with Jerry Cook, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. Their induction will take place Jan. 22 in Charlotte, N.C. The ceremonies will be broadcast live at 8:00pm/et by NBCSN. Tickets are available for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony (limited quantities available). Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at ticketmaster.com, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)(1-18-2016)
- Charlotte Observer:
‘Fearless’ Bobby Isaac rose out of poverty to become NASCAR champion by Scott Fowler;
2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Isaac by Tom Higgins
- driver stats at racing-reference.info
Terry Labonte – Driver, NASCAR Hall of Fame
Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX
Championships (2) Premier – 1984, 1996
Premier Series Stats
- Consistency, humility, skill carry Labonte to NASCAR Hall of Fame: Some label Terry Labonte the NASCAR premier series’ least flamboyant champion. Perhaps it just seemed that way, when measuring Labonte alongside such colorful contemporaries as NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip. His calm, quiet demeanor at least partially explains why Labonte became known as “The Iceman.” The Corpus Christi, Texas driver may not have personified flash, but Labonte got the job done. Labonte won his first of two championships in 1984 and figuratively fell off the radar for a dozen years before resurfacing to claim a second title driving for Hendrick Motorsports.
His 22 premier series victories don’t accurately measure the breadth of Labonte’s career. Consistency is a much better measure: 17 different seasons among the top 10 in the championship standings along with 361 top-10 finishes, the latter ranking 10th all-time. Labonte also won in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, as well as the International Race of Champions (IROC) and shared the GTO class-winning entry in the 1984 24 Hours of Daytona.
Rick Hendrick believed Labonte’s attitude – which often put others first – may have kept him from winning more frequently. “Terry could’ve accomplished even more in his career had he been a little more selfish,” Hendrick told The Associated Press in 2006. “But there’s not a selfish bone in his body. He’s a great talent, but he’s just a great human being. He’ll always do what’s best for the team, even if it puts him in an awkward spot.”
Born Nov. 16, 1956 and raised in south Texas, Terrance Lee Labonte was introduced to racing by his father, who worked on race cars for friends. He was a quarter-midget champion by age nine and won stock car titles in Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio from 1975 to 1977. Labonte met Louisiana oilman and sports car racer Billy Hagan, who fielded the NASCAR premier series team that carried Skip Manning to the rookie of the year title in 1976. Labonte joined the Stratagraph Racing team for the final five races of 1978 and became Hagan’s permanent driver the following season in which he finished 10th but lost rookie of the year honors to Earnhardt. Labonte notched his first premier series victory in the 1980 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. With sponsorship from Piedmont Airlines, Labonte, Hagan and NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman captured the 1984 championship with victories at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway road course. Success, however, was fleeting.
“We weren’t supposed to win it and we didn’t know what to do with it,” said Inman, who left the team to rejoin Richard Petty. Labonte agreed, reminiscing after his second title, “I thought it was a pretty neat deal and we’d win it the next year. Next year took a long time coming.” Labonte departed the Hagan outfit for Junior Johnson’s Budweiser team, then went to Precision Performance followed by a second stint with Stratagraph. He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1994. “I looked at his statistics early in his career and I couldn’t believe how well he’d run with the equipment he was in,” Hendrick later told The Associated Press.
Labonte responded by winning the 1996 championship, edging Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon by 37 points. His younger brother, Bobby, won the season-ending NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the two celebrated together. Bobby Labonte became a NASCAR premier series champion himself in 2000, making the pair the first brothers to win a title in the top division. Terry Labonte continued fulltime with the Hendrick team through the 2004 season, winning for the final time at Darlington in 2003. He continued to race on a part-time basis, calling it an 890-race career at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 19, 2014.
Labonte has said his two favorite victories were those in his home state – at Texas Motor Speedway. But he may be better-remembered for a pair of slam-bang races at Bristol battling the late Earnhardt. In 1995, Labonte won a final-lap duel despite a shove by Earnhardt that sent his car into the wall. Fast-forward to 1999, when Earnhardt spun and wrecked Labonte on the final lap and famously said in Victory Lane, he was “just trying to rattle his cage.” The driver – and his fans – were livid, but Labonte admitted 15 years later in a Popular Speed Magazine interview that he was at least partially to blame for the ruckus. “If I had gotten into the corner at a better angle then he wouldn’t have got the chance to hit me. But I was passing him low and couldn’t carry the speed into the corner and he took advantage of it,” Labonte said. “I don’t think he really intended to wreck me. He wanted to move me out of the way. That was his only shot. I had four new tires and he didn’t. It was just one of those deals.”
Labonte is a member of the National Quarter Midget Hall of Fame and in 1998 was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Labonte will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina on Jan. 22, along with the other four members of the Class of 2016: Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. Ceremonies will be broadcast live on NBCSN at 8:00pm/et. Tickets are available for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony (limited quantities available). Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at ticketmaster.com, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)(1-18-2016)
- Charlotte Observer:
Solid, steady career lands 2-time champion Terry Labonte in NASCAR Hall of Fame by David Scott
- driver stats at racing-reference.info
O. Bruton Smith – Multiple Track Owner, Promoter, NASCAR Hall of Fame
Hometown: Oakboro, NC
Career highlights: Helped build Charlotte Motor Speedway … Chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., taking it public in 1995 becoming the first motorsports company traded in the New York Stock Exchange.
- Motorsports entrepreneur Smith architects NASCAR Hall of Fame-worthy career: There’s a possibility, albeit remote, that O. Bruton Smith could be entering the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a race car driver instead of a race promoter extraordinaire. Smith, at age 17, bought a race car and decided to be a professional driver. “One time, I actually beat (NASCAR Hall of Famers) Buck Baker and Joe Weatherly,” Smith said in a May 7, 2005 interview with Motorsport.com. “So I knew when I beat them I could be a contender, right?” Smith’s mother, however, believed otherwise and appealed to a Higher Authority. She prayed her son would change his mind. “She started fighting dirty,” said Smith in the same interview. “You can’t fight your mom and God, so I stopped driving.”
NASCAR stock car racing became the beneficiary of the intervention. Smith turned to race promotion, ultimately creating some of America’s greatest facilities. His eight-track Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI), anchored by Charlotte Motor Speedway, helped boost the sport to new heights in the 1950s and was the first American motorsports company to go public in 1995.
Born on a farm in rural North Carolina, Smith never considered an agricultural life. He hated the thought of being poor, which a childhood during the throes of the Great Depression appeared to suggest. “You have food, clothing and shelter but you never have any money and I never did like that. I did not like that,” said Smith in a July 2003 Car & Driver story authored by Bob Zeller. “You worked from sunup to sundown, but you never did see the rewards.”
By 1949, Smith had his own stock car racing association, the National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA), which was a direct competitor to William H.G. “Big Bill” France’s fledgling NASCAR. Both groups fought for the same drivers and neither was making much money. France and Smith discussed a possible merger in 1950 but the Korean War and U.S. Army scuttled the negotiations. Smith was drafted, served two years stateside as a paratrooper and by the time he mustered out the NSCRA was defunct. Smith began to be noticed in 1954 when he took over promotion of the half-mile track at the Charlotte Fairgrounds. Motorsports writer Russ Catlin wrote of “the genius of a 27-year-old fanatic named Bruton Smith … who took a poorly lighted, run-down half-mile track that wends around a muddy lake and built it into a spectacular speed emporium.”
In partnership with Turner and others, Smith built Charlotte Motor Speedway, completed in 1960 at a cost of $1.5 million. The first Coca-Cola 600 – then the World 600 – was the facility’s opening event. Eventually, Smith decided just owning the 1.5-mile track wasn’t enough. Boosting its profile meant adding seats, building suites and condos for VIP customers – and changing demographics of ticket buyers and sponsors. “He took a cue from the oil industry in World War II when they were trying to get women who were suddenly driving the family car to stop in and pump gas at their service stations,” said CMS’ then-general manager Humpy Wheeler. “What they did was clean up the stations and make sure they had a decent women’s rest room.” By 2000, the track’s customer base was 40% female.
“I took the position that Charlotte Motor Speedway was constantly under construction,” said Smith, a statement that describes how the now 88-year-old entrepreneur views his racing empire. Fueled in part by public stock offerings, Smith acquired Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1990 and Bristol Motor Speedway in 1996 – expanding the latter from 71,000 to 160,000 seats. SMI bought Sonoma Raceway in 1996, Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1997, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2007 and Kentucky Speedway in 2008. Smith built and opened Texas Motor Speedway – SMI’s signature project – in 1997, which rose from the prairie outside Fort Worth. The track later added Big Hoss TV, the world’s largest HD screen measuring 20l,633.64 square feet. SMI presents 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races annually, including three in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“He (is) such an innovator. He would think of something and do it,” said NASCAR Hall of Fame voter Eddie Wood, co-owner of the Wood Brothers Racing team, in a May 20, 2015 interview with ESPN’s Bob Pockrass. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France agrees. “He deserves to be in (the NASCAR Hall of Fame); he’s made a huge impact (on the sport) obviously,” France said. “He has given the fans an experience that has transformed the sport.”
The Oakboro, NC native is part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s class of 2016 that includes Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte and Curtis Turner. Induction ceremonies will be held Jan. 22 in Charlotte, N.C. and will be broadcast live at 8:00pm/et by the NBCSN. Tickets are available for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony (limited quantities available). Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at ticketmaster.com, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)(1-19-2016)
- Charlotte Observer:
Bruton Smith ready to take spot in NASCAR’s Hall of Fame by David Scott
Curtis Turner – Driver, NASCAR Hall of Fame
(b. 4/12/1924, d. 10/4/1970)
Hometown: Roanoke, VA
Premier Series Stats
- Larger than life Turner speeds into NASCAR Hall of Fame at full throttle: Curtis Turner lived life and stock car racing in the same manner – at full throttle. A bootlegger at age nine, the Virginia native was a self-proclaimed millionaire at 20 and made and lost several fortunes while becoming one of the greatest drivers – and most colorful characters – of NASCAR’s pioneer era. He won a lot but also wrecked just as often. His parties were legendary and lengthy, as were Turner’s on and off-track antics in rental cars and airplanes – which frequently involved his friend and NASCAR Hall of Famer Joe Weatherly. Called NASCAR’s first bad boy in the same-titled biography authored by Alan Hill and Dennis Treece, Turner was described as partier, playboy, innovator and entrepreneur with an edgy spirit that “drove him through one of the most cantankerous lives ever lived.”
Sports Illustrated, pointing to his 350 career victories – 17 in NASCAR’s premier division – anointed Turner the Babe Ruth of Stock Car Racing. NASCAR Founder William H.G. “Big Bill” France, who banned Turner for attempting to unionize drivers and later reinstated him, said in 1972, “Curtis Turner was the greatest race car driver I have ever seen.”
NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood, in whose Ford Turner won his final premier series race at North Carolina Motor Speedway in 1965, said Turner “was the best at controlling a car and putting it where he wanted it (as) anybody I’ve ever seen.” Recalling the days in which the two battled on dirt tracks, Wood added, “If he got a fender inside of you, you were passed.” Turner, killed at age 46 when the airplane he was piloting crashed in Pennsylvania in 1970, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 22 in Charlotte, North Carolina. along with Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte and O. Bruton Smith.
Turner was born in the Virginia mountain community of Floyd in 1924. The Great Depression soon followed and it was no surprise he had to grow up quickly. “Those were hard times back in the hills and you did things you shouldn’t to get by,” Turner said of his brief liquor-running days. “I’m not proud of my past, but I’m proud of the future I made for myself.” By the time he was 14, Turner was cutting timber for 15 cents an hour and at age 20 owned three sawmills and related equipment. He competed in his first stock car race at Mt. Airey, North Carolina in 1946. Turner finished 18th in a field of 18 but won his next start. He was known as the “Blond Blizzard of Virginia” early in his career, a nickname that was soon shed in favor of “Pops,” reflecting Turner’s frequent use of his car’s bumper to pop his rivals’ rear quarter panel to set up a pass.
Turner was in the field for NASCAR’s first race at Charlotte (N.C.) Speedway on June 19, 1949. He finished ninth in his own 1946 Buick on the .750-mile dirt track. Switching to a 1949 Oldsmobile fielded by Hubert Westmoreland, Turner captured his first victory in the season’s fourth race at the one-mile Langhorne (Pa.) dirt oval and defended the win in 1950. The 1949-50 seasons were the only ones in which Turner ran anything resembling a full schedule in NASCAR’s premier series, finishing sixth and fifth in the points standings. His four wins in 1950 – at Langhorne, Rochester (N.Y.), Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Charlotte Speedway – were a season high. Turner led every lap from the pole in consecutive starts at Rochester and Charlotte, the first and only driver to accomplish the feat in the premier series. “If you feel like you’re in control (of your car), you ain’t going fast enough,” said Turner, partially explaining his hit and miss results on the dirt-surfaced tracks of NASCAR’s early years.
Turner won twice on paved superspeedways – at Rockingham and Darlington Raceway where he captured the 1956 Southern 500. It’s fair to say Turner was at his best in NASCAR’s convertible division driving factory-backed Fords and winning 38 times. Twenty-two of those victories came in 1956 when he finished third in points. Turner’s 23 poles also marked a record for the short-lived division. Turner’s strangest victory may have come Sept. 30, 1956 at Asheville-Weaverville (N.C.) Speedway where a 14-car pileup on a dust-shrouded track resulted in the race being declared complete. Turner’s Ford was the only car still running at the red flag – a first and last in a major NASCAR event. A member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Turner was selected as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Tickets are available for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony (limited quantities available). Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at ticketmaster.com, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)(1-18-2016)
- Charlotte Observer:
2016 NASCAR HOF profile: Curtis Turner by Tom Higgins;
NASCAR HOF inductee Curtis Turner: NASCAR’s original rock star by Bill Kiser
- driver stats at racing-reference.info and
owner stats at racing-reference.info
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR
(b. 5/10/1909, d. 2/4/1996)
Hometown: Darlington, SC
- Darlington Raceway Founder Harold Brasington honored: Harold Brasington, the man who built Darlington Raceway in 1949-50, was honored by his peers on Saturday, Jan. 23, at the annual NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Charlotte, N.C. Brasington’s grandson, Harold Brasington III, accepted the award on his behalf. “Congratulations to Mr. Brasington and his family for a wonderful achievement. Harold is very deserving of the Landmark Award,” Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile said. “He is one of the great visionaries of the sport, not just for the building of Darlington, but also for his countless contributions to other facilities and being an early pioneer for the sport we all love.”
Brasington’s dream of building a track began after attending the Indianapolis 500 in the 1930’s. He returned with the vision of building a paved racetrack in his hometown of Darlington, S.C. but was delayed by financial constraints and World War II in the mid-1940’s. Brasington finally got the break he needed to begin his dream project in a very unlikely manner. It was because of a simple conversation during a poker game between Brasington and J.S. (Sherman) Ramsey that the racetrack stands where it is today. Jim Hunter’s ’50th Anniversary of Darlington Raceway’ book states that towards the end of that poker game on Sept. 4, 1948, Brasington asked Ramsey about using some of his property to build his racetrack on and, with Ramsey paying most of his attention to the poker game said, “Sure,” then added, “Now deal the cards!” Soon after, Ramsey returned from an out-of-state trip to see Brasington’s earthmovers, bulldozers and dump trucks moving dirt to make way for his track. Brasington had taken their poker game conversation more seriously than Ramsey realized. The track would take shape in 1949 and eventually host the first Southern 500 on Labor Day in 1950 featuring 75 cars in the starting field.
Following the construction of Darlington Raceway, Brasington went on to build Rockingham Speedway (then North Carolina Motor Speedway) in 1965 as well as several other tracks in the South. He was also Curtis Turner’s original partner when Charlotte Motor Speedway was conceived in 1960, before selling his interest to Bruton Smith prior to construction beginning. “Harold’s bold construction of Darlington in 1950 ushered in the superspeedway era and was the catalyst that solidified NASCAR’s early future,” Richard Petty, NASCAR Hall of Famer and one of the sport’s most recognizable figures said last May when the Landmark Award was announced. “Harold was an early pillar of racing and his many contributions and accomplishments deserve to be remembered.”(Darlington Raceway)(1-25-2016)
- Darlington Raceway founder Harold Brasington was a True Pioneer for NASCAR: Harold Brasington, the man who built Darlington Raceway in 1949-50, was honored by his peers on Tuesday, May 20, by being named the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR recipient. Brasington will be honored during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on January 22, 2016.
“Harold Brasington is very deserving of the Landmark Award,” Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile said. “He is one of the great visionaries of the sport, not just for the building of Darlington, but also for his countless contributions to building other race tracks and helping raise NASCAR to another level with the crowds his facilities attracted. He is a true pioneer and it is fantastic to see his accomplishments being acknowledged.”
Brasington’s dream of building a track began after attending the Indianapolis 500 in the 1930’s. He returned with the vision of building a paved racetrack in his hometown of Darlington, S.C. but was delayed by financial constraints and World War II in the mid-1940’s. Brasington finally got the break he needed to begin his dream project in a very unlikely manner. It was because of a simple conversation during a poker game between Brasington and J.S. (Sherman) Ramsey that the racetrack stands where it is today.
Jim Hunter’s ‘50th Anniversary of Darlington Raceway‘ book states that towards the end of that poker game on Sept. 4, 1948, Brasington asked Ramsey about using some of his property to build his racetrack on and, with Ramsey paying most of his attention to the poker game said, “Sure,” then added, “Now deal the cards!”
Soon after, Ramsey returned from an out-of-state trip to see Brasington’s earthmovers, bulldozers and dump trucks moving dirt to make way for his track. Brasington had taken their poker game conversation more seriously than Ramsey realized. The track would take shape in 1949 and eventually host the first Southern 500 on Labor Day in 1950 featuring 75 cars in the starting field. Following the construction of Darlington Raceway, Brasington went on to build Rockingham Speedway (then North Carolina Motor Speedway) in 1965 as well as several other tracks in the South. He was also Curtis Turner’s original partner when Charlotte Motor Speedway was conceived in 1960, before selling his interest to Bruton Smith prior to construction beginning.
“Harold’s bold construction of Darlington in 1950 ushered in the superspeedway era and was the catalyst that solidified NASCAR’s early future,” Richard Petty, NASCAR Hall of Famer and one of the sport’s most recognizable figures said. “Harold was an early pillar of racing and his many contributions and accomplishments deserve to be remembered.”(Darlington Raceway)