NASCAR Hall of Fame: 2010 Class

NASCAR Hall of Fame: 2010 Class

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  1. The 2010 inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame were going to be special: as the first induction class, the five honorees would have to be the who’s-who of the sport, those who made the biggest impact on auto racing during their time involved. The voters did just that, honoring five men who left many marks on the sport, its record books, and its fans.

    Bill France Sr. was the father of NASCAR, its founder and first president. From his early life working on the beaches of Daytona as a promoter until his death in 1992, “Big Bill” was a major force in making NASCAR the popular sport it is today.

    Bill France Jr., much like his father, worked the beaches of Daytona, and later helped with the construction on Daytona International Speedway. After taking the reins of NASCAR from his father in 1972, “Little Bill” brought NASCAR to new heights, taking it from a regional southern sport to a sport in the national spotlight. He brought in the first major series sponsor, RJ Reynold’s Winston brand, in 1973, brought races to television, and saw the implementation of nascar.com in the mid-1990s.

    Dale Earnhardt was “the Intimidator.” Drivers feared him on the track, but respected him. Fans either loved him or hated him, but in the end, they, too, respected him. Earnhardt was a seven-time Cup Series champion, one of only two in the series’ history, and won 76 races in a career that lasted from 1975 to 2001. His death at the end of the 2001 Daytona 500 had a great impact on the sport.

    Richard Petty, the Cup Series’ other seven-time champ, was simply known as “the King.” The reasons why are astounding: 200 wins, 1,184 race starts, 712 top tens, and 127 poles – all records in the Cup Series. Petty was a second-generation driver whose son, Kyle, and grandson, Adam, also raced; Adam was killed in a practice accident in 2000, five weeks after Petty’s father, Lee, passed away.

    Junior Johnson was a good-ol-boy, a moonshine runner in the Carolinas, which turned out to be training grounds for his later career choice. As a driver, Johnson never won a championship, but he did tally 50 wins and 148 top tens in 313 starts. He later went on to be a very successful team owner – his drivers, who included Bobby Allison, Bill Elliott, Darrell Waltrip, and Cale Yarborough, won 139 races, and Waltrip and Yarborough each won three championships. Today, Johnson is once again running ‘shine – legally this time, as part owner of North Carolina’s Piedmont Distillers.

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