DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Five legends of stock car auto racing were enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., tonight during the Induction Ceremony held in the Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention. Four were NASCAR pioneers, building the sport during its formative years; the other ushered it into modern times and its exploding popularity.
HICKORY N.C. – With the annual appetizer known as the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction & Preview weekend now upon us we find ourselves a mere week week away from the appetizer that is the Sprint Unlimited and a mere Two Sunday’s away from the 55th incarnation of the “Great America Race”, the Daytona 500.
Almost all of the precursors have now come and went, events such as Gen6 testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, tire testing at Darlington, to the 24 hour endurance challenge of the Rolex 24. Nonetheless, as most NASCAR fans will tell you, it does not really get “real” until engines fire just after noon on the 24th of February.
In the interim the numerous storylines looming for 2013 will have to do. The 2013 season promises to be a groundbreaking year for the sport of NASCAR. From the aforementioned Gen6 car which promises to put stockcars that once again showcase manufacturer specific identities back on the track, to the full-time Sprint Cup Series run by Danica Patrick who is attempting to not be outdone by her boyfriend, 2-time defending Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Stenhouse finds himself stepping up to run with the big boys in the vaunted Roush Fenway Racing #17.
This season will see transcendent sports mega-star Travis Pastrana opting to go all-in on 4-wheels as he challenges the rigors of 33 weeks of NASCAR Nationwide Series racing.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Rusty Wallace’s ability as a driver is unquestioned.
He won 55 times – ninth most in NASCAR premier series history – during two decades against rivals named Bodine, Earnhardt, Elliott, Gordon, Jarrett, Labonte, Martin, Richmond and Waltrip.
But Russell William Wallace Jr., the 1989 series champion, did more than just drive the 900 horsepower stock car. His mechanical intuition was equally responsible for career achievements that will be capped Feb. 8 with Wallace’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame along with champions Buck Baker and Herb Thomas; championship car owner Cotton Owens and innovative crew chief, mechanic and engine builder Leonard Wood.
“It was like having on-board telemetry,” said Barry Dodson, Wallace’s championship crew chief at Raymond Beadle’s Blue Max Racing, of his driver’s phenomenal ability to judge – and correct – a vehicle’s handling.
Dodson labeled Wallace a high-strung thoroughbred. “You had to keep the bridle on,” he said. “I knew I always had (all) 100% in that seat.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A long winter’s wait is over. NASCAR Acceleration Weekend 2013 rolls into Charlotte, N.C. Friday through Sunday signaling the beginning of the new season.
Three days of activities at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and adjacent Charlotte Convention Center include the hall’s induction of the Class of 2013 and the popular NASCAR Preview 2013 featuring driver appearances, up-close viewing of the NASCAR Gen-6 race cars, autograph sessions and fan Q&As.
The event marks the final weekend before engines roar to life at Daytona International Speedway and the start of Daytona Speedweeks 2013. The Sprint Unlimited is set for Saturday, Feb. 16 (FOX, 8 p.m. ET). Ten days of practice, qualifying and racing culminates with the 55th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 24 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET).
NASCAR Acceleration Weekend 2013 kicks off with Friday night’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame of five of the sport’s legends: NASCAR premier series champions Buck Baker, Herb Thomas and Rusty Wallace; champion car owner Cotton Owens and innovative crew chief, mechanic and engine builder Leonard Wood.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.– Buck Baker personified the term “old school.”
Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker, winner of 46 NASCAR Sprint Cup races and the series’ first back-to-back champion, personified the phrase “no quarter asked and none given.”
Baker, whose NASCAR career spanned portions of four decades beginning in 1949, had one goal: to win. How he got there, well, that was up to Baker.
“He was the perfect example of how a (stock car) driver used to be; the typical Scotch-Irish driver of the past,” said H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, the former president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway and one-time sportswriter. “If you were in a corner and (it was) someplace he wanted to go, he’d be there. Either you’d be in the wall or he would.
“However fast the car would go, he’d get there in a fairly spectacular fashion. He was one of the best and certainly one of the toughest.”
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Take it from the King. Herb Thomas stood tall in an era when the stock in stock car truly defined what NASCAR’s pioneers raced.
“He was as good as they come,” said Richard Petty. “There have been very few guys who had more confidence in what he could do than Herb. He was so strong-minded that he ‘willed’ his wins and what he was doing on the track.
“He was going to beat the guys on the track no matter what was going on. That was his mind set.”
High praise indeed from a driver whose father, Lee, battled door to door with Thomas and traded NASCAR championships with him. Both Pettys, father and son, are members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Thomas is due to be inducted into the hall on Friday, Feb. 8, along with fellow NASCAR premier series champions Buck Baker and Rusty Wallace; championship owner Cotton Owens and innovative crew chief, mechanic and engine builder Leonard Wood.
Thomas, born into a farming family in Olivia, N.C. not far from where North Carolina Motor Speedway would be built, was NASCAR’s first two-time champion. He captured premier series titles in 1951 and 1953 and finished second in two other seasons including 1954, Lee Petty’s first of three championship years.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski and fellow titleholders Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte are among more than 60 drivers from three NASCAR national series set to participate in NASCAR Preview 2013 on Saturday, Feb. 9.
The NASCAR Acceleration Weekend fan event will be held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center and feature autographs from NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers, on-stage Q&As, the opportunity to get a close-up look at the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Gen-6 race car and other special events.
Tickets, priced at $20, are available at www.nascaracceleration.com. A NASCAR Preview ticket includes same-day admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. For the full driver autograph schedule, please see below.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR and HP today unveiled the new NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center presented by HP. This first-of-its-kind resource will enable NASCAR to better serve its industry, partners and fans through a cutting-edge technology platform that facilitates near real-time response and analytics of traditional, digital and social media.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and HP Enterprise Services Vice President Charles Salameh were on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the center at NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, N.C.
“The Fan and Media Engagement Center build has been a thorough process more than a year in the making, and we are excited to see it come to life,” France said. “We believe this tool has the potential to be the best of its kind in sports – the first ever to combine not only social, but also traditional and broadcast media analysis. We’ll be able to use this to help our industry and business partners and better connect with NASCAR fans across the world. It’s another example of our commitment to innovation.”