NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017
- 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.
- NASCAR Hall of Fame induction tonight; live coverage on NBCSN, MRN: NBCSN presents live coverage of the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony – celebrating the eighth NASCAR Hall of Fame class – Friday, January 20 at 8:00pm/et, from the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C. The two-hour special honors renowned car owner and former driver Richard Childress, 12-time NASCAR Premier Series Championship team owner Rick Hendrick, 40-time Premier Series race winner Mark Martin, one of NASCAR’s earliest and most successful car owners Raymond Parks, and 1973 Premier Series Champion and television commentator Benny Parsons. In addition, stock car auto racing pioneer H. Clay Earles will be recognized with the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR, and veteran motorsports journalist Benny Phillips will be celebrated with the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. NASCAR on NBC host Krista Voda and lead race announcer Rick Allen will co-host the 2017 Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Legendary NASCAR commentator Ken Squier will narrate the show open, which commemorates the 2017 Hall of Fame class and pays homage to the institution itself.(NBC Sports)
AND “The Voice of NASCAR” – will open its 2017 broadcast schedule with exclusive radio coverage of Friday’s eighth annual NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony from Charlotte, N.C. Mike Bagley and Woody Cain will anchor the network’s live broadcast from the Charlotte Convention Center with five more legends being enshrined as the Class of 2017. Air time is 8:00pm/et with the program to be heard on MRN affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Channel 90 nationwide. Digitally it will be streamed live worldwide at www.MRN.com and on the free MRN App.(1-20-2017)
- Five Legends Unveiled as 2017 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class: NASCAR announced the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017. The five-person group – the eighth since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons. In addition, NASCAR announced that Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles won the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2017 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 2017 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 third year, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (Kyle Busch). In all, 54 votes were cast, with four additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd, Robert Yates, Waddell Wilson and Ken Squier). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes.
Voting was as follows: Benny Parsons (85%), Rick Hendrick (62%), Mark Martin (57%), Raymond Parks (53%) and Richard Childress (43%).
The next top vote-getters were Robert Yates, Red Byron and Alan Kulwicki.
Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Larry Phillips.
The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Ron Hornaday Jr., Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Hershel McGriff, Larry Phillips, Jack Roush, Ricky Rudd, Ken Squier, Mike Stefanik, Waddell Wilson and Robert Yates. Nominees for the Landmark Award included Earles, Janet Guthrie, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier.
Class of 2017 Inductees:
Long before he became one of the preeminent car owners in NASCAR history, Richard Childress was a race car driver with limited means. Childress, the consummate self-made racer, was respectable behind the wheel. Between 1969-81 he had six top-five finishes and 76 top 10s in 285 starts, finishing fifth in the NASCAR premier series standings in 1975. Having formed Richard Childress Racing in 1972, Childress retired from driving in 1981. He owned the cars that NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt drove to six championships and 67 wins between 1984-2000. In addition to Earnhardt’s championships, Childress drivers have given him five others. Childress was the first NASCAR owner to win owner championships in all three of NASCAR’s national series, and his 11 owner titles are second all time. Childress also owned the vehicles driven by NASCAR XFINITY Series driver champions Clint Bowyer (2008) and Austin Dillon (2013), as the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver champion Austin Dillon.
The founder and owner of Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Hendrick’s organization is recognized as one of NASCAR’s most successful. Hendrick Motorsports owns an all-time record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner championship titles – six with Jimmie Johnson, four with Jeff Gordon and one with NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte. Hendrick also has 14 total NASCAR national series owner championships, most in NASCAR history. Gordon and Labonte combined to win four consecutive titles from 1995-98. In 2010, Johnson won a record-extending fifth consecutive championship. Hendrick also owned the car driven by 2003 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver champion Brian Vickers. Hendrick’s 242 owner wins in the premier series rank second all-time.
He is often described as the “greatest driver to never to win a championship,” but Mark Martin’s legendary career is so much more than that. He came incredibly close to that elusive title many times – finishing second in the championship standings five times. Over the course of his 31-year premier series career, Martin compiled 40 wins (17th all time) and 56 poles (seventh all time). Martin saw success at every level of NASCAR. He won 49 times in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, holding the series wins record for 14 years. He retired with 96 wins across NASCAR’s three national series, seventh on the all-time list. In 1998, Martin was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Raymond Parks is one of stock-car racing’s earliest – and most successful – team owners. Funded by successful business and real estate ventures in Atlanta, Parks began his career as a stock-car owner in 1938 with drivers Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall. His pairing with another Atlantan, mechanic Red Vogt, produced equipment good enough to dominate the sport in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Red Byron won the first NASCAR title (modified, 1948) and first premier series title (1949) in a Parks-owned car. Parks’ team produced two premier series wins, two poles, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 18 events.
Benny Parsons won the 1973 NASCAR premier series championship and could be called an everyman champion: winning enough to be called one of the sport’s stars but nearly always finishing well when he wasn’t able to reach Victory Lane. He won 21 times in 526 career starts but finished among the top 10 283 times – a 54 percent ratio. One of Parsons’ biggest victories came in the 1975 Daytona 500. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Parsons also was known as a voice of the sport making a seamless transition to television following his NASCAR career. He was a commentator for NBC and TNT until his passing in 2007, at the age of 65.
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:
H. Clay Earles
One of the original pioneers of stock car auto racing, H. Clay Earles played an integral role in the early years of NASCAR’s development. Earles built and opened Martinsville Speedway in 1947, and the short track remains the only facility to host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races every year since the series’ inception in 1949. The speedway held its first race on Sept. 7, 1947 – three months before the creation of NASCAR. That initial race drew more than 6,000 fans to the track, which had just 750 seats ready. In 1964, Earles decided it was time for a “different” type of trophy for his race winners. He gave winners grandfather clocks, a tradition that continues today.(NASCAR)(5-25-2016
- NASCAR Hall of Fame Fan Vote underway: NASCAR fans are invited to cast their votes for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 by participating in the annual Fan Vote. Fans are encouraged to vote for five of the 20 nominees for the Class of 2017. The top five vote-getters, as voted upon by the fans, will make up one of the ballots from the Voting Panel that will be used to tabulate the results for the NHOF Class of 2017 on Voting Day, Wednesday, May 25. Voting opens at 12:01am Tuesday, April 5 and closes on 12:01am Monday, May 23 at www.NASCAR.com/halloffame.(NASCAR)(4-5-2016)
- NASCAR Announces Nominees For NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017, Landmark Award: Legendary engine builders, crew chiefs, owners, drivers and the most recognizable voice in motorsports. The talents, eras and levels may differ, but all share a common thread. They shaped NASCAR, and on Wednesday, they were recognized as nominees for the highest honor the sport bestows – enshrinement into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. NASCAR today announced the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, as well as the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list are five first-time nominees, all legends who made excellence a habit through their various contributions to the sport. Among them are record-holding four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr.; the man with the most car owner wins in NASCAR national series history with 322, Jack Roush; former all-time consecutive starts leader Ricky Rudd; legendary motorsports broadcasting pioneer Ken Squier; and three-time premier series champion engine builder and three-time Daytona 500-winning crew chief Waddell Wilson. 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 2017 class will be Wednesday, May 25. Added to this year’s list of Landmark Award nominees is Janet Guthrie – the first female driver to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race. The four returning nominees for the Landmark Award are H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Squier . 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 NHOF 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
Ray Evernham, three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief
Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner
Rick Hendrick, 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series
Ron Hornaday, four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion
Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief
Alan Kulwicki, 1992 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
Jack Roush, five-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series
Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR’s premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400
Ken Squier, legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence
Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships
Waddell Wilson, won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder
Robert Yates, won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner
The five nominees for the Landmark Award, listed alphabetically, are as follows…
H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway
Janet Guthrie, the first female to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race
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
Highlighting the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017
Richard Childress – Team Owner, NASCAR Hall of Fame
Premier Series Owner
- Family: Wife Judy, daughter Tina Dillon, son-in-law Mike Dillon, grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon.
Career highlights: Childress’ drivers have won 13 championships: Six in what is now the top-level Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, four in the Xfinity Series, two in the Camping World Truck Series and one in ARCA. …. His cars have amassed 2,588 major series starts with 105 victories; 1,177 Xfinity starts with 77 wins; and 322 truck starts with 31 triumphs.
Childress himself drove in 285 top-level races from 1969-81. He never won, but posted 76 top-10 finishes with a best of fifth. … Childress gave up the cockpit in 1981 to team with Dale Earnhardt for 11 races and he next fielded Ricky Rudd in 1982 and ’83. … Rudd gave him his first big-time victory, in 1983.
Earnhardt returned to the Childress operation in ’84 and the pairing proved to be one of the greatest in NASCAR history, winning six championships and 67 races before Earnhardt lost his life in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. … They made the black No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet famous internationally. … Drivers Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Robby Gordon, Paul Menard also have won major events with Childress.
In recent years Childress has proudly fielded cars for his grandsons, Austin in the top series and Ty in Xfinity. Austin gave his grandfather a truck series title in 2011 and the Xfinity circuit crown in 2013(Charlotte Observer)
- A $20 car, a couple of great breaks and prolonged excellence sends Richard Childress to the NASCAR Hall of Fame: Journeyman stock car racer Richard Childress caught lightning in a bottle, not once but twice. NASCAR’s only driver strike, on the eve of the 1969 inaugural race at Talladega Superspeedway, gave Childress the opportunity to earn enough money to build his first race shop and lay the foundation for Richard Childress Racing, the powerhouse Chevrolet organization which to date has claimed 11 owner titles across NASCAR’s three national series.
Nearly a decade later, the Winston-Salem, N.C. native met Dale Earnhardt. Together, the pair won six NASCAR premier series championships along with 67 races between 1984 and 2000. Earnhardt entered the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a member of its 2010 inaugural class.
Childress, 71, grew up selling peanuts and popcorn at Winston-Salem’s legendary Bowman Gray Stadium. Soon after, he bought a 1947 Plymouth for $20. “That’s where it started,” he said in a Grainger.com interview. “It’s the best investment I ever made.”
Top drivers – those with factory contracts – made a decent living while independents like Childress barely scraped by. He went to Talladega in the fall of 1969 to compete in a preliminary event but was asked by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. to enter the Talladega 500 when Professional Driver Association members withdrew, citing high speeds and tire failures. “I had made three or four thousand dollars on Saturday,” Childress told The Birmingham News in 2009. “The money that (France) paid us to run – we called it deal money in those days – plus my winnings, I came back with seven, eight, 10 thousand dollars. In those days it was big money. It was my big break. Life’s all about the breaks and when you take advantage of them. That was the difference between making it and not making it.”
Childress never won a race as a driver but was able to secure enough sponsorship to keep going. His equipment generally was immaculate and pleased supporters, who ultimately would provide much greater – and crucial – financial backing. Earnhardt, who’d won his first championship in 1980, chose not to accompany Rod Osterlund’s team upon its sale to J.D. Stacy. He joined Childress for 11 races, replacing the owner in the driver’s seat. “I didn’t want to get out of the car but I knew the opportunity was there – and I didn’t want to pass it up,” Childress told foxnews.com last year. “I knew Dale was a championship driver. That was one of the biggest breaks in the history of RCR and Richard Childress. “I was maxxed out. I did everything I could do on my home. I sold everything I thought I had that I could sell just to run Dale in those (11) races.”
Earnhardt left to race for Bud Moore, and Childress – thanks to a bail-out from primary sponsor Wrangler jeans – was able to continue. With Ricky Rudd, RCR scored its first victory in June 1983 at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. Earnhardt returned to RCR the following season, capturing the team’s first premier series title in 1986. Additional championships followed in 1987, 1990-91 and 1993-94.
Longtime racing executive and Charlotte Motor Speedway promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler credited Childress for molding Earnhardt into one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers. “In his own, quiet Southern way, Richard instilled in Dale all he knew,” Wheeler wrote in “Growing Up NASCAR.” “Richard knew what to say and when to say it and he knew how to get the best out of his driver. Richard was a brilliant, brilliant coach, something most drivers never get.” Earnhardt and Childress finally won the long-elusive Daytona 500 in 1998, three years before the driver’s death on the final lap of the “Great American Race.”
Childress considered leaving the sport – “Probably all the way up until Tuesday. Sunday night, definitely,” he said – but recalled a hunting incident after which he and Earnhardt agreed each would go on if something happened to the other. RCR promoted its NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Kevin Harvick to drive its Chevrolets – retiring the iconic #3 in deference to the late Intimidator. Childress returned the number to its cars several years ago when his grandson, Austin Dillon, moved to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after winning NASCAR Camping World Truck and XFINITY titles.
To date, RCR has won 105 NASCAR premier series races. The organization counts four XFINITY owner titles and the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner championship in 1995 with Mike Skinner. RCR also captured the XFINITY Series driver championship in 2013 and the Camping World Truck Series driver title in 2011, both with Austin Dillon.
Childress, recipient of the 1986 Bill France Award of Excellence, is a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, International Motorsports Hall of Fame and North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)
- Charlotte Observer:
2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee profile: Richard Childress by Tom Higgins;
NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Richard Childress’ first job in racing paid a dollar a day by Scott Fowler
With long history in sport, Childress ready for Friday’s Hall of Fame induction by Kenny Bruce
- website: rcrracing.com
- owner stats at racing-reference.info and
driver stats at racing-reference.info
Rick Hendrick – Team Owner, NASCAR Hall of Fame
Hometown: Palmer Springs, Va.
Premier Series Owner Stats
- Residence: Charlotte.
Family: Wife Linda, daughter Lynn Carlson, son Ricky (deceased).
Career highlights: Hendrick founded All-Star Racing, which evolved into Hendrick Motorsports, in the late fall of 1983 with Geoff Bodine as driver and Harry Hyde as crew chief. Many thought the mix of conflicting personalities wouldn’t work, but Hendrick obviously knew better. Bodine gave the operation its first victory on April 29, 1984 at Martinsville Speedway. Bodine and Hyde also scored the team’s first major triumph in 1986, taking the Daytona 500. …
Hendrick’s drivers have won 16 NASCAR championships (12 in the Cup series, one in the Xfinity series, three in the Truck series). Jimmie Johnson claimed a seventh major title in 2016, tying Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt for the most all-time. Jeff Gordon won four championships for Hendrick and Terry Labonte one. …
Hendrick-fielded vehicles have an owner record 294 victories in NASCAR races (245 victories at the Cup level, 23 on the Xfinity circuit and 26 on the truck tour). The Hendrick teams have accounted for 245 poles (189 Monster Energy, 35 Xfinity and 21 in Camping World Truck). …
His drivers and crews have been at their best in the big-time tour’s five most important events-the Daytona 500, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Coca Cola 600, Talladega Superspeedway’s spring race (run under various names), Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Brickyard 400 and Darlington Raceway’s Southern 500. … Jeff Gordon scored his first victory in the 600 of 1994 and sobbed unashamedly. … Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson list multiple triumphs in all these big events. … Others contributing to the Hendrick juggernaut in these “majors” are Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Daytona; Casey Mears and Kasey Kahne at Charlotte; Ken Schrader, Brian Vickers and Terry Labonte at Talladega; Tim Richmond, Mark Martin and Labonte at Darlington. …
Hendrick has watched proudly as Gordon and Johnson have scored all their triumphs in his Chevrolets. Gordon has won 93 times, third on the all-time list behind only Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). Johnson lists 80 victories, seventh most all-time. …
After Gordon’s retirement last year, the Hendrick Motorsports lineup now includes Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kahne and Chase Elliott.(Charlotte Observer)
- From small beginnings, Rick Hendrick reached pinnacle of success in business and NASCAR: It’s said reaching the top is the easy part; staying there is more difficult. For Rick Hendrick, the climb up the mountain required a decade of hard work culminating in Hendrick Motorsports capturing its first NASCAR premier series championship in 1995. Two decades later, Hendrick’s Chevrolet team remains stock car racing’s platinum standard: a record 12 NASCAR premier series titles – including Jimmie Johnson’s record-matching seventh crown in 2016 – and 245 victories with 16 different drivers.
“It just seems like yesterday we didn’t think we’d even make it through our first year (1984) and now we’ve won 12 of these things, and it’s hard to do,” said Hendrick following Johnson’s title-winning victory last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway in south Florida. The 67-year-old Hendrick will reach yet another career milestone on Friday when he’s inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Born in Palmer Springs, Virginia, Joseph Riddick “Rick” Hendrick III envisioned a professional baseball career during high school but instead enrolled in a co-op work study program administered by North Carolina State University and Westinghouse Electric Co. in Raleigh, North Carolina. At age 23, he became general manager of a small used car lot. He tells of his boss needing a clutch for an Opel so the car could be sold for $300. Hendrick bought the car for $325, fixed the clutch and sold the Opel for $700. “That’s when I learned that you could make more money selling cars than working on them,” Hendrick said in a June 14, 1987 Los Angeles Times story.
Today, the Charlotte-based Hendrick Automotive Group is the nation’s largest privately-held dealer organization with nearly 100 outlets. Hendrick became involved in drag boat racing – “I liked racing boats; there are no speed limits on water,” he told The Times’ Shav Glick. Leaving that sport and looking for somewhere to store his boats, he came across an old warehouse in Harrisburg, North Carolina. By chance, the property was owned by Harry Hyde, an out-of-work NASCAR crew chief who had won the 1970 championship with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Isaac. Hyde proposed starting a racing team, which Hendrick agreed to do. Hendrick thought big from the outset, attempting to hire NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt but was rebuffed by both champions. All-Star Racing debuted with then-lesser known Geoff Bodine, who won in the team’s eighth start at Martinsville Speedway on April 29, 1984.
Hendrick expanded to two cars in 1986, adding the late Tim Richmond, who won seven times – the organization’s best until Jeff Gordon matched the number en route to his first championship in 1995. The team currently is a four-car operation with Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne. Hendrick’s willingness to spend top dollar for the best technology while working closely with General Motors helped separate the organization from its competitors. But Hendrick Motorsports has always been about people – finding and keeping the very best, from driver’s seat, to pit box and engine room.
Hendrick pulled Gordon, a 20-year-old California open-wheel sensation, out of obscurity. He worked a similar magic with off-road and motorcycle racer Johnson. He backed them up with talented organizers like crew chiefs Ray Evernham and Chad Knaus – all of them future NASCAR Hall of Famers. Johnson won seven titles, Gordon four and NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte added another. The team also counts three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner championships.
But Hendrick’s leadership role also is unquestioned. He has led from the front since the beginning, as exemplified by a 20-hour wind tunnel stint last August. “If you ask guys to work 20 hours in a wind tunnel, being there to support, looking at the data with them, it shows I’m willing to do what it takes,” Hendrick told NBCSports.com. “Being a servant leader … that means you’re there to support the rest of them. I’m accountable and they’re accountable.”
There have been downsides along with the success. In 1996 Hendrick was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia but has been in full remission since December 1999. The Rick and Linda Hendrick earlier began the Hendrick Marrow Program, raising funds to help find bone matches for patients. On Oct. 24, 2004, one of the team’s aircraft crashed en route to the race at Martinsville Speedway. Among the 10 who perished were Hendrick’s son, Ricky, and his brother, John. The team grieved but moved forward in the victims’ memory.
“If we didn’t have the character and the chemistry we have here it would have all fallen apart,” Hendrick told ESPN.com on the 10th anniversary of the accident. “It was a point in time that this place built more character than any group I’ve ever seen.” Hendrick Motorsports is the fourth-longest tenured current organization in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, behind the Wood Brothers, Richard Childress Racing and Team Penske. “I told somebody the neatest thing in almost 30 years are the friends I’ve got, the guys I’ve got to race against every week,” Hendrick said in the 2012 Autoweek article. “This is special. I don’t care what anybody says, this is family and the NASCAR family is special.”(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)
- Charlotte Observer:
2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee profile: Richard Childress by Tom Higgins;
HOF inductee Rick Hendrick went from down on the farm to top of NASCAR world by David Scott
Hendrick humbled by NASCAR Hall of Fame selection by Kenny Bruce
- website: hendrickmotorsports.com
- owner stats at racing-reference.info and
driver stats at racing-reference.info
Mark Martin – Driver, NASCAR Hall of Fame
Hometown: Batesville, Ark.
Premier Series Stats
- Family: Wife Arlene, son Matt, four step-children.
Career highlights: Winner of 40 races in NASCAR’s top series, now the Monster Energy Cup. … Four-time champion in both the International Race Of Champions Series (IROC) and the American Speed Association tour. …. Five-time runner-up in points races for the championship of NASCAR’s foremost circuit – 1990,’94, ’98, 2002, ’09. …
His first victory came in the 1982 AC Delco 500 at N.C. Motor Speedway and his last in the 2009 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire. … Biggest victories were in the 1993 and 2009 Southern 500s at Darlington Raceway, the 1995 and ’97 Winston 500s at Talladega Superspeedway and the 2002 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. ….
Took the 1998 and 2005 All-Star Challenge events at Charlotte and the 1999 Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. … Named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998. Inducted into Motorsports Hall Of Fame Of America, 2015.
Statistics: Martin’s 40 Cup Series triumphs in 882 starts over a 31-year career (spent mostly with Roush Racing) from 1981-2013 rank him 17th on the all-time list. … Had 453 top-10 finishes and 56 poles. Posted 49 victories, second most all-time, and 152 top-10s along with 30 poles in 236 Xfinity level races over a 23-year span. … Triumphed seven times and had 20 top-10s in 25 races during five years on the Camping World Truck Series tour.(Charlotte Observer / Tom Higgins)
- Mark Martin’s fitness regimen redefined the NASCAR athlete and prolonged a winning career: To the surprise of no one, Mark Martin continued to win races at the highest level well past an age when most competitors have hung up their helmets. With five victories past the age of 50, Martin also came within one standings position of winning the 2009 premier series championship. The phrase ‘age is just a number’ may be clichï¿½ – but it certainly applied to the diminutive Martin, whose fitness regimen of heavy weight lifting and healthy eating became legend and ultimately sent his fellow competitors flocking to gyms and nutritionists. In short, Martin lived his life like a man half his age – and drove like it as well.
“I told the guys I don’t have any problem keeping up with a 25-year-old,” he told The Associated Press in April 2009 after becoming the third-oldest winner in NASCAR premier series history at Phoenix International Raceway. “I feel really good.” Only one driver – Harry Gant – won more races after his 50th birthday. Martin polished off a 40-victory resume during a magical year driving for Hendrick Motorsports in 2009, adding to his 35 wins at Roush Fenway Raceway. That’s the most wins by a competitor without a series championship. And although Martin never won the ultimate prize, the now 58-year-old Martin finished as runner up a record-matching five times. Martin’s illustrious career spanned four decades – 1981 through 2013.
Martin’s racing career began as a teenager, competing on dirt tracks in Arkansas then moving to asphalt. Larry Shaw, a top competitor, car builder and fellow Batesville resident, predicted Martin would be a success – and not just on area tracks. “He did not want to settle for second and he was really dedicated to winning races,” said Shaw.
Martin joined the American Speed Association, a top Midwest late model circuit where he raced against NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, Dick Trickle, Jim Sauter and Joe Shear. He won 22 races and four championships, the last in 1986 that followed an abortive attempt to crack NASCAR’s premier series. He fielded his own car in 1981, finishing third at Martinsville and winning poles at Nashville and Richmond, and was runner up to rookie of the year Geoff Bodine the following year. Between 1981 and 1987, Martin drove for eight different owners with little success.
That changed dramatically when Martin signed to drive Jack Roush’s Fords. Martin won his first race in October 1989 at Rockingham, North Carolina, and finished third in series points – marking the first of 12 consecutive seasons of eighth or better in the championship. Martin battled NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt down to the final race of the 1990 season, ultimately losing the title by 26 points. Martin’s other runner-up finishes came in 1994 (to Earnhardt), 1998 (to (Jeff Gordon), 2002 (to Tony Stewart) and 2009 (to Jimmie Johnson).
Leaving Roush Fenway Racing after the 2006 season, Martin spent the following two years competing part-time prior to joining Rick Hendrick’s team in 2009. His Phoenix victory broke a 97-race winless drought but a Chase victory to begin the Chase proved to be Martin’s last trip to Victory Lane. Ultimately, Martin himself knew when his time was up. “The young guys were getting better, I was heading the other way and so it wasn’t fun anymore because I didn’t meet my personal expectations,” he said after stepping away after the 2013 season. “So if it’s not fun, stop. And that’s why it was actually easy for me to quit. On a bluesy day, finishing second those times can aggravate you. But normally, I just think, ‘Yeah but look at all the great things I got to do and the great people I got to work with.'”
Martin won races in 15 seasons on 20 different tracks along with 56 poles. Absent from the list is Daytona International Speedway and its Daytona 500, a race he lost to Kevin Harvick by 0.020 second in 2007. Martin also won the All-Star Race twice. Martin won 49 times in the NASCAR XFINITY Series holding the record for most victories for 14 seasons. He also won seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events giving Martin 96 victories across NASCAR’s three national series, ranking seventh all time. Martin owns a family of automobile dealerships in Arkansas. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2015.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)
- Charlotte Observer:
2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee profile: Mark Martin by Tom Higgns;
No Cup title? No problem for Mark Martin after NASCAR Hall Of Fame career by David Scott
Determination, focus drive Martin to Hall of Fame by Holly Cain
- website at markmartinmerchandise.com
- driver stats at racing-reference.info
- Hill presents artwork to Martin: One perk of winning the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is that Mooresville-based artist Garry Hill does a commemorative painting of each year’s key moment, and the members of the winning team get prints of the limited edition work. Hill unveiled the 2005 painting showing Mark Martin celebrating his victory in that race on Monday. “That’s probably the most meaningful victory of my career, and just because I’m getting old and it’s hard to remember the other ones,” Martin joked.(Charlotte Observer)(1-24-2006)
Raymond Parks – Team Owner
(b. 6/5/1914 – d. 6/20/2010)
Hometown: Dawson County, Ga.
Premier Series Owner Stats
- Born: June 5, 1914, Dawsonville, Ga.; Died: June 20, 2010, at age 96 in Atlanta.
Career Highlights: Played a major role in assisting Big Bill France in the formation of NASCAR in the late 1940s. … Parks is generally recognized as the first team owner in NASCAR. …
With Red Byron as driver, he won the first two championships awarded by the sanctioning body, the Modified Division title in 1948 and the major series crown in 1949. … Fielded cars in 14 races from 1949-55 at the top level, scoring two victories, both by Byron. … Hall of Famer Curtis Turner also drove for him, as did Bob Flock and Roy Hall.Charlotte Observer / Tom Higgins
- Stock car racing pioneer Raymond Parks set the standard during NASCAR’s early era: As one of early stock car racing’s most successful car owners, it is appropriate that Raymond Parks captured the first two championships offered by the fledgling National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, an organization Parks helped form in 1947. Parks and his driver, Red Byron, won NASCAR’s modified title in 1948. The pair, along with mechanic Red Vogt, became the sanctioning body’s 1949 Strictly Stock champions – the initial season of what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The Dawson County, Georgia, native and his racing team were gone from NASCAR after 1955, winning just twice. But Parks, who died in 2010 at the age of 96, was seen as one of the sport’s seminal figures and a visionary. “He set the standard. Mr. Parks brought the sport class,” said NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty in an interview shortly after Parks’ death. “It took people like Mr. Parks to lay the foundation we’re living off of. And without him, we wouldn’t have the history we have and we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Parks was born in the north Georgia mountains in 1914, the eldest of his father’s 16 children. By age 14, Parks had run away from home, landing in Atlanta where he worked at a still and later went into business for himself, bringing liquor from Dawsonville to Atlanta restaurants. He later branched out into legitimate enterprises supplying businesses with vending machines and jukeboxes. “He always kept his dignity and his kindness, always behaved more like one of Atlanta’s most sophisticated businessmen, always was dapper in his finest hats and tailored suits,” wrote Ed Hinton for ESPN.com in June 2010, shortly after Parks’ passing.
In the 1930s, Parks added stock car racing to his resume, fielding some of the region’s fastest cars with a driver’s roster that included Byron, Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Bob and Fonty Flock and NASCAR Hall of Famer Curtis Turner. He was instantly visible at the track, always dressed in wool suit, tie and fedora hat. A famous photograph shows Park changing tires on one of his cars during the inaugural Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C., still wearing his white shirt and tie. Parks served with the U.S. Army’s 99th Infantry Division during World War II, fighting in the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. Returning home, Parks resumed racing, frequently fielding two and three cars. His team won all five Daytona Beach beach-road course races in 1945 and 1946.
“He came back with a vengeance, more determined to do and accomplish things he felt like he already should have done,” said Ray Fox, a master mechanic, engine builder and NASCAR official. Parks was among some three dozen racing figures who gathered in December 1947 at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to create NASCAR, under direction of fellow driver and race promoter William “Big Bill” France. Like France, Parks believed that a rough and tumble, frequently disorganized activity could become a nationally recognized sport like baseball or football. Parks financially supported the organization during its early years and boosted NASCAR’s image apart from jalopy racing.
“He kept his cars clean and neat like they do today,” said NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood in 2010. “The rest of us just kind of beat them out if they got banged up. He would have still been around today if he had kept on until the factories got into it. “He opened a lot of doors and windows to how to do things and taught a lot of racers how to do it better.”
Fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Junior Johnson concurred. “Anywhere he showed up, he had the best cars,” said Johnson in the ESPN.com obituary. “He’s been an asset [to the sport] all his life to it.”
Parks left NASCAR to become a successful developer and owner of service stations and convenience stores. Parks was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009. He also was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)
- Charlotte Observer:
2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee profile: Raymond Parks by Tom Higgins;
Early NASCAR team owner Raymond Parks ‘brought the sport class’ with multi-team outfit by David Scott
- owner stats at racing-reference.info
Benny Parsons – Driver, NASCAR Hall of Fame
Hometown: Ellerbe, N.C.
Premier Series Stats
- Family: Wife Teri, sons Keith, Kevin (by first wife, Connie, who died in 1991.
Career Highlights: Won the 1973 Winston Cup championship in very dramatic fashion, edging Cale Yarborough, in the season finale American 500 at N.C. Motor Speedway, at the time Parsons’ “home” track. … Scored 21 victories, 283 top 10 finishes and 20 poles in 526 starts on NASCAR’s major circuit from 1964-88. …
Biggest triumph came in the 1975 Daytona 500. … Also won Charlotte’s World 600 in 1980 and posted other superspeedway triumphs at Atlanta, Darlington, Dover, Michigan, Pocono and two defunct tracks, Ontario Speedway in California and Texas World Speedway.
Was the first driver to exceed 200 mph in qualifying, logging a lap of 200.175 before the 1982 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. … Won ARCA championships in in 1968 and ’69. … Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. … Inducted into International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994 and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2005. … Became a TV racing analyst after his retirement as a driver and won an Emmy for his excellence in 1996.(Charlotte Observer / Tom Higgins)
- Stock Car racing’s ‘nice guy champion,’ Emmy-winning broadcaster Benny Parsons enters NASCAR Hall of Fame: A single word defined the late Benny Parsons: Beloved.
It mattered not whether you were fellow competitor, race fan or television viewer. Parsons was more than just a top premier series driver or broadcaster. To race with him – or just to meet him – Parsons had the aura of being the best friend you wished you had. Parsons became the NASCAR premier series champion in 1973. He won 21 times, a resume that included the 1975 Daytona 500. “Benny didn’t win a lot of races – some thought he wasn’t ruthless enough – but few drivers won more friends and fans,” wrote Larry Woody in a 2014 Racin’ Today story. “Ten minutes and you bonded with him,” said Rick Hendrick, whose Chevrolets Parsons drove in 1987.
Parsons, who died in 2007 at age 65, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC on Friday (Jan 20, 2017).
Benjamin Stewart “Benny” Parsons was born July 12, 1941 in rural Wilkes County, N.C. He grew up with his grandmother in a log cabin without plumbing or running water and remained in Parsonsville through high school, to play football at Millers Creek High School. Parsons then followed his family to Detroit, where his father ran the Metropolitan Cab Co. Parsons drove taxis – and thus would be known throughout his racing career as the “Detroit cab driver.”
Unlike today’s competitors who start young, Parsons didn’t climb into a race car until age 21. He bought a friend’s car – which was in pieces – for $50, put on new sheet metal and entered a figure-8 race, spinning out in that first attempt.
Parsons won the Automobile Club of American (ARCA) championships in 1968-69 and made his Daytona 500 debut in 1969, finishing seventh. In 1970, the Ellerbe, North Carolina, resident ran 45 of 48 races – most of them for trucking company owner and North Carolina Speedway promoter L.G. DeWitt, ending the season eighth in points. He scored his first victory May 9, 1971 at South Boston (Virginia) Speedway.
The Parsons-DeWitt relationship produced 12 victories and the 1973 championship. Parsons took the title with a single victory and consistent finishes, even though NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson was the year’s dominant force with 11 wins in 18 starts – 10 fewer appearances than Parsons.
Parsons led the point standings from May’s event at Talladega Superspeedway on and wouldn’t be derailed by a crash 13 laps into October’s American 500 at Rockingham. His 23-year-old crew chief, Travis Carter, figured the car, body torn from the right side and roll cage twisted, was finished. Parsons climbed out and walked away.
But what actually transpired is one of those examples of selflessness and unity that define racing. From every direction, mechanics from other teams – some still in the race – swarmed over the stricken Chevy. One hour and 14 minutes after the wrecker deposited the car in the garage, Parsons returned his #72 to the track – in one observer’s description – “now resembling a plumber’s nightmare.” “It was fantastic,” Parsons said later. “All the crews cheered when I went down pit road and as I went around the track I could see people waving me on. That’s the first time it ever happened and I’ll never forget it.”
Parsons went on the win for M.C. Anderson, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bud Moore and Johnny Hayes. His last victory came at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1984. Along the way, Parsons became the first driver to qualify a stock car at more than 200 mph in 1982 at Talladega. He retired following the 1988 season.
Interestingly, much of Parsons’ racing career – and success – came before NASCAR truly became a national phenomenon. Television interest in the sport helped push it to the next level and Parsons soon became the face of the sport. He was a commentator for The Nashville Network (TNN) and NBC, winning an Emmy for his work in 1996. NASCAR Hall of Famer and fellow broadcaster Darrell Waltrip said Parsons’ delivery transcended nuts and bolts. “He talked through that,” said Waltrip, in a Jan. 17, 2012 Newsday article. “He was able to deliver to the people. He just tried to be passionate about what he believed and he did a great job of explaining what people were seeing.”
Fellow broadcaster Matt Yocum said Parsons helped change television. “When Benny came in, he had (a) little bit of a southern drawl and he had his personality,” said Yocum, quoted by Michiganradio.org last June. “Whether it was shtick of ‘Buffet Benny’ talking about the different restaurants in the area … his personality really warmed up the TV audience.”
“He was exactly the way he was in real life as he was on TV,” Mark McCarter wrote this month in the Anniston (Alabama) Star. “He was a magnetic personality.”
Parsons was voted one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998 and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2005.(Owen A. Kearns / NASCAR Wire Service)
- Charlotte Observer:
2017 NASCAR HOF profile: Curtis Turner by Tom Higgins;
NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Benny Parsons’ lone Cup title almost didn’t happen by Tom Higgins
- driver stats at racing-reference.info
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR
H. Clay Earles
(b. 8/11/1913 – d. 11/16/1999)
Hometown: Martinsville, VA
- One of the original pioneers of stock car auto racing, H. Clay Earles played an integral role in the early years of NASCAR’s development. Earles built and opened Martinsville Speedway in 1947, and the short track remains the only facility to host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races every year since the series’ inception in 1949. The speedway held its first race on Sept. 7, 1947 – three months before the creation of NASCAR. That initial race drew more than 6,000 fans to the track, which had just 750 seats ready. Built as a dirt track, the .526-mile asphalt and concrete speedway has grown from a dusty, primitive operation into a multi-million dollar facility covering over 340 acres. The track’s unique paperclip shape makes it especially challenging, with 800-foot straights and tight turns banked at only 12 degrees. In 1964, Earles decided it was time for a “different” type of trophy for his race winners. He gave winners grandfather clocks, a tradition that continues today. Earles passed away on November 16, 1999 as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the speedway.(NHOF)
- Martinsville Speedway Founder H. Clay Earles is the recipient of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2017 Landmark Award: The award is given annually to a person who has made “Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.”
“It’s a great day for Martinsville Speedway,” Earles’ grandson and current Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said. “It’s an honor for my grandfather to be recognized for his contributions in the sport by his peers, as a pioneer in the sport. It’s a special day and quite an honor.”
Earles built the half-mile speedway in 1947 and held the first race on September 7 of that year. Currently hosting two Sprint Cup Series races, Martinsville Speedway is the only track that was on the schedule in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season that still hosts the series today. An innovator, Earles was known for putting top priority in the fans’ experience. “The secret to success in our business is giving the customer what he wants,” Earles said before his death in 1999. “When a man plunks down his money, he deserves the best. You try to make him comfortable, give him a great show and make sure he gets his money’s worth. And we’ve always tried to do just that. Your customers are your greatest assets and that will never change. You actually sell the customer a memory as much as a race. If their memories are good, they’ll keep coming back.” In 1988, Earles named Campbell president of Martinsville Speedway and moved to Chairman of the Board, a role he would stay in until his death at the age of 86 in 1999.(Martinsville Speedway)
- More at: Martinsville Speedway: H. Clay Earles