CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A legendary engine builder and car owner. The matriarch of a sport. A trail blazer who broke NASCAR’s color barrier. An influential sponsorship official who helped usher in the sport’s modern era. A champion and bonafide star driver for more than two decades.
For such a wide-ranging array of people, all have two things in common: their impact on stock-car racing and their addition to the list of nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.
Ray Fox, Anne B. France, Wendell Scott, Ralph Seagraves and Rusty Wallace were announced Wednesday as the latest names to join the 25 nominees for Hall of Fame induction. Voting day is scheduled May 23, when an appointed panel will select the five newest members for enshrinement in early 2013.
The five new nominees were revealed on “Race Hub” on the SPEED network.
The most familiar names among the quintet belong to Scott and Wallace.
Scott remains the only African-American driver to win a race at NASCAR’s top level, which he accomplished on Dec. 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Fla. In his 13-year career, the longtime privateer made 495 starts, tying him for 33rd on the all-time list. NASCAR continues to honor his legacy by awarding 12 scholarships per year in his name for minorities.
Wallace won 55 races in NASCAR’s premier series, good for eighth place in the history books. The former Rookie of the Year was crowned Cup champion in 1989 and won at least one race each season over a 16-year span that reached into the turn of the century. He remains visible in the sport as a NASCAR analyst for ESPN.
Fox’s influence on the sport was felt for more than 40 years as one of NASCAR’s brightest mechanics and car owners. The World War II veteran built engines and fielded cars for legends such as Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson and Cale Yarborough. Fox’s mechanical know-how served him well in his second career as a NASCAR engine inspector, a position he held until retiring at age 80 in 1996.
The former Anne Bledsoe married Bill France Sr. in 1931, and the family put down roots three years later in Daytona Beach, Fla. Anne France took an active role in the family business, primarily in managing its finances as NASCAR secretary and treasurer, but also in organizing and promoting the competition.
Seagraves’ lasting mark on NASCAR hit its peak in 1971, when the R.J. Reynolds official helped forge a relationship that gave the sport major sponsorship support for more than three decades. The birth of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series — now the Sprint Cup Series — helped stock-car racing grow exponentially from a regional pastime to a national spectacle.
The other 20 nominees remain on the ballot from past years. They are:
— Buck Baker, a two-time champion in the sport’s earliest days and winner of 46 races in NASCAR’s top series.
— Red Byron, a pioneer with many firsts: winner of the first race under NASCAR sanction, first NASCAR Modified champion in 1948 and first NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Sprint Cup) champ in 1949.
— Richard Childress, an hard-nosed independent driver who later achieved six Cup championships as a team owner for Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt.
— Jerry Cook, a dominant Modified driver from the Northeast with six championships and longtime foil to Hall of Famer Richie Evans; now a NASCAR competition administrator.
— H. Clay Earles, founding father of Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, a charter track which held its first race in 1947 and endures with two dates on the NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar today.
— Tim Flock, a two-champion in NASCAR’s premier series and an early star in the sport’s formative years with 39 wins in just 187 starts.
— Rick Hendrick, a Charlotte businessman who built a modern motorsports empire that has won 10 championships at NASCAR’s highest level, an all-time record.
— Jack Ingram, a short-track specialist and legendary force in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ earlier incarnations in the 1970s and ’80s with five division crowns.
— Bobby Isaac, the 1970 Cup champion and 37-time winner in NASCAR’s top series; won 49 poles in his career, including 19 in 1969 — a single-season record that still stands.
— Fred Lorenzen, “Golden Boy” of the 1960s who counts the Daytona 500 and World 600 of 1965 among his 26 wins in NASCAR’s highest division.
— Cotton Owens, a longtime competitor who enjoyed 24 years of success as a pioneering driver and car owner, winning a title with Pearson as his star driver in 1966.
— Raymond Parks, an Atlanta businessman and team owner whose racing success predates the birth of NASCAR; owned the car driven by Red Byron to the first NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Sprint Cup) title.
— Benny Parsons, the charismatic 1973 Cup champion and 1975 Daytona 500 winner who remained prominent in the sport as a popular broadcaster after his retirement from driving.
— Les Richter, a Hall of Famer already for his defensive efforts in college and pro football whose second career as a speedway manager and NASCAR executive official for more than 50 years.
— Fireball Roberts, regarded as perhaps the greatest NASCAR driver never to win a title, but who made his mark on superspeedways as the 1962 Daytona 500 champ and a two-time Southern 500 winner.
— T. Wayne Robertson, an R.J. Reynolds executive and promoter who helped to expand the sport’s reach during a period of immense growth, including the creation of NASCAR’s All-Star Race in 1985.
— Herb Thomas, the first two-time champion (1951 and ’53) in NASCAR’s premier series who piloted the legendary Fabulous Hudson Hornet to the majority of his 48 wins.
— Curtis Turner, who built his star power as much on his fun-loving personality as he did on his driving ability; won 17 races in NASCAR’s top series and 22 in the convertible division.
— Joe Weatherly, known as much for his practical joking off the track as his fierce determination on it; won championships in 1962 and ’63, a decade removed from scoring back-to-back titles in the Modified class.
— Leonard Wood, one of the sport’s most innovative and longest-serving mechanics, whose team invented the modern pit stop; currently in his seventh decade of involvement with NASCAR with the Wood Brothers organization.
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