One of the most memorable NASCAR races I attended was in Charlotte 2007. It was the 600. It may be the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Season, but it was my favorite.
That weekend, we toured several race shops including Hendrick, RCR, Penske, and Roush, and had a great time partying on Speed Street. But, one thing was missing, and it wouldn’t open until May of 2010.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame. I missed it by three years, and it’s one of the many reasons I want to go back to Charlotte, even if it’s not on a race weekend. Even though you can take a virtual tour at nascarhall.com, it’s obviously not the same.
The inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame included Bill France Sr., Richard Petty, Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt, and Junior Johnson. The original list of candidates included 25 people who had a major influence on the sport.
So, how are the inductees chosen? This year, some changes were made, and it all boils down to a Nominating Committee, which includes the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.
According to nascarhall.com, “For the first time (in 2015), the Nominating Committee will meet in person to discuss, debate and vote to create two ballots – the NHOF ballot and the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR ballot. Previously, the committee submitted nominees via mail to an independent accounting firm that tallies the nominations in order to create the final NHOF ballot.” The committee met in person in Daytona during Speed Weeks of this year to vote on the 2015 class.
Fans are also part of the voting process. “(They) can vote as many times as they like while the Fan Vote is open. The top five nominees will be cast as one of the 54 ballots on Voting Day.”
The 2015 class was released on Wednesday of this week.
The class includes: Bill Elliot, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly, and Rex White.
This year, the Hall of Fame added another recognition called the Landmark Award, and it was awarded to Anne B. France, the wife of NASCAR founder Bill France.
Lorenzen, Weatherly, Scott, and White were instrumental in shaping the sport of NASCAR since its inception.
Wendell Scott also claimed another milestone with his nomination – he will be the first African American to be inducted into the HOF.
Perhaps the remaining driver is more known to the modern NASCAR fan: Bill Elliot.
“Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” or “Million Dollar Man,” as he is known, is the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion. He won the Daytona 500 a couple of times, and has 44 wins under his belt.
Elliot also was voted the Most Popular Driver 16 separate times, and was also inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2007.
According to their website, the HOF was created to “honor NASCAR icons and create an enduring tribute to the drivers, crew members, team owners and others that have impacted the sport in the past, present and future.”
The recently announced class does just that, and their induction will take place on January 30, 2015.