CONCORD The three living inductees of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 paid a visit to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Drivers Dale Jarrett and Jack Ingram and engine builder Maurice Petty are still thrilled at what happened last Wednesday, when they were announced as the hall’s latest class, along with the late Fireball Roberts and Tim Flock.
“It was like Christmas, wondering what Santa was going to bring me,” said Petty, the engine builder for Petty Enterprises’ seven NASCAR championships in the 1960s and ’70s. “When they called my name, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. It’s kind of like being on cloud nine and I haven’t come down yet.”
Asheville’s Ingram, who was a Late Model champion and won NASCAR’s first Nationwide Series title, was just as surprised and happy when his name was called
“(That’s when) I hit the guy on the left of me and said, ‘That’s it, I’m in here,” said Ingram. “I called my wife and I had to hang up, I was breaking up so bad. I about lost it.”
Sunday was a day for CMS to honor the U.S. military. The track started by hosting about 10,000 troops and their families at zMax Dragway, which is just down the road from the track. Papa John’s donated 3,000 pizzas for the event.
They had lots of company, including retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, driver Kurt Busch, CMS president Marcus Smith and Papa John’s founder John Schnatter.
The troops were later taken by bus to the speedway, where they took a lap around the 1.5-mile track.
Willie Robertson, one of the stars of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” also made the rounds Sunday.
Robertson came to the media center, where reporters were told by CMS spokesman Scott Cooper that Robertson would be giving the invocation before the race.
“I thought I was saying the prayer,” Robertson said.
Other duties were performed by: Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Causey (grand marshal), S.C. Sen. Tim Scott (honorary starter), Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (honorary race director), and singer Robin Meade (national anthem).