Five NASCAR stalwarts join list of NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees
By: By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
Five individuals with resounding contributions to NASCAR racing have been added to the list of those eligible for admission into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the sanctioning body and the NASCAR Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.
Track owner O. Bruton Smith, whose vision transformed the environments in which races are staged, joins 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett, Petty Enterprises engine builder Maurice Petty, short-track specialist and 1960 champion Rex White and five-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Larry Phillips among the five new nominees to the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.
Bruton Smith is the chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which currently owns eight NASCAR tracks hosting 12 Sprint Cup events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and other high-profile motorsports events. He took his company public in 1995 becoming the first motorsports company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Smith founded the Speedway Children's Charities in 1982 with the mission to care for children in educational, financial, social and medical need in order to help them lead productive lives.
Dale Jarrett, who is currently a NASCAR commentator for ESPN and ABC, drove his best when the spotlight was brightest. Three of his 32 Sprint Cup victories came in NASCAR's premier race -- the Daytona 500. He also won twice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the circuit's longest race -- the Coca-Cola 600 -- at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In his championship season, Jarrett had an astounding 29 top-10 finishes in only 34 races. He recorded six additional top-five championship finishes and won at least one race in 11 consecutive seasons (1993-2003).
Maurice Petty was the man credited with building the engines and supplying the horsepower that propelled Richard Petty to a majority of his record 200 NASCAR victories, seven NASCAR premier series championship and seven Daytona 500 victories. Maurice, the King's younger brother, was the chief engine builder at Petty Enterprises who also built winning engines for Lee Petty, Buddy Baker, Jim Paschal and Pete Hamilton. When Dodge re-entered NASCAR's premier series in 2001, the younger Petty served as a consultant for the car manufacturer.
Rex White was the model of consistency throughout his NASCAR career. In 233 starts, he finished among the top five in nearly half of them (110) and outside the top 10 only 30 percent of the time. His 28 wins in the premier series ranks him 22nd among all-time winners in the series. Only two of his wins came on tracks longer than a mile in length. In his championship season he won six times and posted 35 top 10s in 40 starts. He was the fourth driver to win a premier series championship in his own equipment.
The word "prolific" doesn't do Larry Phillips' racing career justice. He raced everywhere, and he won everywhere. Although no one knows for sure how many races Phillips won, some estimate that he won 1,000 events, and perhaps as much as 2,000. However, what can't be disputed is the fact that he won five NASCAR Weekly Series national championship (1989, '91, '92, '95, '96). During an 11-year span (1989-1999), Phillips won 220 of 289 NASCAR-sanctioned events - a winning percentage of 76 percent. He also won 13 track championship in three states.
That group of five is added to the 20 nominees from last year, who each had to be re-nominated: Red Byron, the first champion of NASCAR’s premier division (now Sprint Cup); six-time Cup champion team owner Richard Childress; six-time NASCAR Modified champion Jerry Cook; Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles; Tim Flock, twice a champion in NASCAR’s highest classification and winner of 39 races; engine builder Ray Fox; and Anne B. France, wife of Bill France Sr. and the first woman nominated for admission into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Returning nominees also include 13-time champion car owner Rick Hendrick; two-time Busch (now Nationwide) Series champion Jack Ingram; 1970 Cup champion Bobby Isaac, winner of 37 races; Fred Lorenzen, winner of 26 races, including the Daytona 500 and World 600; Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner; 1973 Cup champion and beloved broadcaster Benny Parsons; Les Richter, former NASCAR executive and former president of Riverside International Raceway; Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, winner of 33 Cup races, including the 1962 Daytona 500; T. Wayne Robertson, former senior vice president of Reynolds Tobacco Company; Wendell Scott, first and only African-American winner of a race in one of NASCAR’s top three series; RJR executive Ralph Seagraves, who helped forge the partnership between NASCAR and Winston; charismatic driver Curtis Turner; and two-time Cup champion Joe Weatherly.
From this list of 25 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 2014 class will be May 22. Fans can attend the announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.