Fan voting closed this past weekend for 2006 Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame honorees, and on Saturday, Oct. 7 during Talladega Superspeedway's upcoming UAW-Ford 500 weekend, two new names will be added to this prestigious list: Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace.
The Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame in downtown Talladega is both a focal point saluting NASCAR's greatest names and a tribute to one of racing's brightest stars - the late Davey Allison. Developed in 1994, the Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame has inducted one active driver and up to two inactive drivers since 1995 based on the fans' vote chosen from a ballot of nominees selected by strict guidelines.
This year's active driver honoree, Stewart, 35, of Columbus, Ind., is a two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion (2002, 2005). He also won the 1997 IRL IndyCar Series Championship, in addition to multiple United States Auto Club championships as a driver and team owner. In 1998, Stewart drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in NASCAR Busch Series, preparing him for his first full NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season with the organization in 1999. He won three races in NASCAR's top series that year, and earned Rookie of the Year honors. Three seasons later he won his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title, following it with his second last year and joining the ranks of only 14 drivers in series history to have won more than one championship.
In 2003, Stewart began the Tony Stewart Foundation, with the goal of raising funds to be distributed primarily to organizations that help care for critically ill children, as well as lending support to families of race car drivers who have been injured in motorsports. Stewart made the major announcement this past Friday that the foundation's second donation of $1 million to Victory Junction Gang Camp. Located in Randleman, N.C., the Victory Junction Gang Camp is dedicated to creating empowering experiences for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. The camp was founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty in memory of their son, Adam. Stewart now has cumulative unrestricted donations totaling over $2 million to the camp, of which he is a founding member along with the Petty's, actor Paul Newman and the Bahre family, owners of New Hampshire International Speedway.
Wallace, 49, originally from St. Louis, Mo., is being inducted as an inactive driver in his first year of official retirement. The 1989 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion has been named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers, having won 55 races in his 25-year career in NASCAR's top series, ranking eighth on the all-time victory list (seventh in the modern era). He made his first start in 1980 at Atlanta, but competed in his first full season in 1984, taking Rookie of the year honors. He is also the 1991 International Race of Champions (IROC) Champion. In 2004, he became owner of a NASCAR Busch Series team and most recently has joined ABC Sports and ESPN as a lead racing analyst covering IRL and NASCAR events. Wallace and his wife, Patti, reside in Cornelius, NC, and have three children, Greg, Katie and Steve. Wallace is an avid aviator who owns airplanes and a helicopter, and also enjoys spending time on the golf course in his free time.
Fan voting for the 2006 Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame began on April 3. In addition to Stewart, driver nominees this year included Michael Waltrip, Jeff Burton, Morgan Shepherd, Kurt Busch, Robby Gordon, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Sterling Marlin, Jeremy Mayfield, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Ken Schrader and Carl Edwards. In addition to Wallace, inactive driver nominees for 2006 included Jim Paschal, Bill Rexford, Jack Smith, Rex White and Speedy Thompson.
Past active driver inductees have included Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Hamilton, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, Kyle Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Kevin Harvick. Richard
Petty and Benny Parsons were the first inactive drivers to be inducted, later joined by Alan Kulwicki, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett, Buddy Baker, David Pearson, Junior Johnson, Harry Gant, Lee Petty, Tim Flock, Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Joe Weatherly, Red Byron, Bobby Isaac, Fred Lorenzen, Fonty Flock and Herb Thomas.
The first inductees - Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Red Farmer and Neil Bonnett - were inducted by decree of the board.
In the park, Davey Allison is remembered with a large marble monument, while drivers inducted into the Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame have bronze plaques placed around the park, accessible by walkways that form the shape of Talladega Superspeedway. For additional information, visit www.talladegawalk.com.
Talladega Superspeedway will welcome fans back for the UAW-Ford 500 event weekend set for Oct. 6-8, 2006, featuring 1,000 miles of racing in 3 days. The weekend begins with the Food World 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race on Friday, Oct. 6, followed by the track's inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday, Oct. 7. Then on Sunday, Oct. 8, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams will compete in the UAW-Ford 500, race four in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Kids age 11 and younger are admitted free of charge on Friday and Saturday of race weekends in the general admission grandstands at Talladega Superspeedway. To order tickets, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA (1-877-462-3342). For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available online at www.racetickets.com, or in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CDT, Monday - Friday.