The Hall's first class
Friday, May. 20, 2011
The inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class, inducted in May 2010:
Born: April 29, 1951, in Kannapolis.
Died: Feb. 18, 2001, in a last-lap crash during the Daytona 500.
Why he's in: Won 76 races in his career, the first in 1979 at Bristol, Tenn., and the last in 2000 at Talladega, Ala. ... Won seven season championships, tied for most all-time with Richard Petty. The mark had been thought unreachable. ... Known for his aggressive, controversial driving style, which earned him the nickname "The Intimidator." ... Son of NASCAR pioneer Ralph Earnhardt, and father of popular NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Born: July 2, 1937, Level Cross.
Why he's in: Sport's all-time victory leader with 200 in 1,185 starts. ... Became a driver after working on pit crew for his father, 2011 inductee Lee Petty. ... First victory came in Charlotte in 1960, at Charlotte Fairgrounds, and the last was on July 4, 1984, at Daytona International Speedway. ... Won seven season championships, tied for most all-time with Dale Earnhardt. ... One of the most recognizable figures in American sports.
Born: June 28, 1931, near Ronda in Wilkes County.
Why he's in: Ascended from moonshine hauler in the 1950s to NASCAR's pinnacle, winning the Daytona 500 in 1960. ... Had 50 victories as a driver (1953-66), 140 wins and six series championships as a team owner (1966-95). ... Won three consecutive championships as an owner with driver Cale Yarborough (1977-79). Won three more with Darrell Waltrip (1981-82, 1985).
Bill France Sr.
Born: Sept. 26, 1909, Washington.
Died: June 7, 1992, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Why he's in: Moved family to Daytona Beach in 1935 and began promoting races on the storied Beach Course. ... Began the formation of NASCAR in 1947. ... Proposed construction of Daytona International Speedway in 1953 and opened it for a 500-mile race in 1959. ... Protected NASCAR's interests with an iron will, leading some to call the sanctioning body a dictatorship.
Bill France Jr.
Born: April 4, 1933, Washington.
Died: June 4, 2007, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Why he's in: Son of NASCAR founder "Big Bill" France Sr., Bill Jr. learned motorsports promotion and speedway construction from his father. ... Became NASCAR vice president in 1966 and president in 1972, when his father retired. ... Secured sponsorship from Winston and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1972, starting the sport's boom. ... Expanded International Speedway Corp., led by the France family, to 12 major tracks.
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