Talladega Superspeedway Fan Favorite Bill Elliott Among Five Legends Named to Prestigious 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class
TALLADEGA, AL – The NASCAR Hall of Fame named five new inductees to its 2015 Class Wednesday, including the fastest man on the planet – Bill Elliott – who owns the all-time official qualifying record of 212.809 mph, set in 1987 at NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track, Talladega Superspeedway.
In addition to Elliott, the sixth NASCAR Hall of Fame Class includes two drivers who also competed at Talladega – Fred Lorenzen and Wendell Scott. Joe Weatherly and Rex White, who never took to the track’s 33-degree banking, were also named. All but Elliott, who isn’t yet eligible, are enshrined in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega.
Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, won two races at Talladega Superspeedway (1985 and 1987). In his 1985 triumph, after spending time on pit road to repair a broken oil fitting, he amazingly made up an incredible two laps under green flag conditions. The victory put him in position to win a $1 Million bonus later in the year, become known as “Million Dollar Bill” and then grace the front cover of Sports Illustrated.
Elliott is Talladega’s all-time pole winner with eight, including six straight from 1985-87 in which he swept the top starting spot for both of the track’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event weekends. He started second five times. In addition to his two wins, he recorded 10 top-five results (including four runner-up finishes) and 22 top-10s. His son Chase Elliott, who is leading this year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series championship battle as an 18-year-old rookie, made his Talladega debut on May 3 in the Aaron’s 312 and finished 19th.
Lorenzen, one of NASCAR’s first true superstars who won 26 career races, competed at Talladega five times, during the twilight of his career rom 1970-72. He claimed two fourth-place efforts and one fifth-place finish.
Scott was the first African-American to race full-time in NASCAR’s premier series, as well as the first to win a NASCAR premier race (1963 Jacksonville, FL). He, too, was in the twilight of his career when he ran at Talladega – from 1970-73. His best effort was 19th in 1971. Last year, Mobile, AL native Bubba Wallace become the first African-American driver since Scott to win a NASCAR national series race when he was victorious in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville.
The new inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included in addition to the five inductees chosen:
Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, O. Bruton Smith, Mike Stefanik, Curtis Turner and Robert Yates.
Also on Wednesday, NASCAR announced that Anne B. France won the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Next year’s Induction Day is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, broadcast on NBC Sports Network from Charlotte, N.C.
Class of 2015 Inductees:
In a 37-year driving career, Elliott compiled a list of accolades that put him near the top of a number of NASCAR’s all-time lists. His 44 wins rank 16th all-time and his 55 poles rank eighth. But his most prestigious accomplishment came in 1988 when he won the NASCAR premier series championship with six wins, 15 top fives and 22 top 10s in 29 races. In addition, he won a record 16 Most Popular Driver Awards, in part because of his excellence on the big stage; he won the Daytona 500 twice, the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway three times, and Talladega Superspeedway twice.
Lorenzen was really a “part-time” driver, never running more than 29 of the season’s 50-plus races. He got his start in NASCAR as a mechanic with the famed Holman-Moody team in 1960, but was elevated to lead driver by the end of the year. Lorenzen won three races in only 15 starts the following season. Lorenzen’s best overall season came in 1963 as he finished with six wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s in 29 starts. Despite missing 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings. In 1965, he won two of NASCAR’s major events – the Daytona 500 and the World 600.
One of NASCAR’s true trailblazers, Scott was the first African-American to race fulltime in NASCAR’s premier series, as well as the first to win a NASCAR premier series race. Scott posted a remarkable 147 top 10s and 495 starts during his 13-year premier series career. He won more than 100 races at local tracks before making his premier series debut, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in 1959 en route to capturing both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships. Part of Scott’s NASCAR legacy extends to present day with NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, the leading youth development initiative for multicultural and female drivers across the motorsport industry since 2004.
Weatherly won two championships (1962-63) and 25 races in NASCAR’s premier series. But that’s only part of his story, which is long on versatility. A decade earlier in 1952-53, he won 101 races in the NASCAR Modified division, capturing that championship in 1953. He even tried his hand in NASCAR’s short-lived Convertible Division from 1956-59 winning 12 times. When he won his first NASCAR premier series championship, in 1962, he drove for legendary owner Bud Moore. When he repeated as champion a year later, he drove for nine different teams.
Consistency was the hallmark of White’s NASCAR career. He finished among the top five in nearly a half of his 233 races and outside the top 10 only 30 percent of the time. White was a short-track specialist in an era in which those tracks dominated the schedule. Of his 28 career wins in NASCAR’s premier series, only two came on tracks longer than a mile in length. Driving his own equipment, White won six times during his 1960 championship season, posting 35 top 10s in 40 starts. He finished in the top 10 six of his nine years in the series including a runner-up finish in 1961.
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:
Anne Bledsoe France
France, paired with her husband, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., who built Talladega Superspeedway, would create what today is one of the largest and most popular sports in the world. Anne played a huge role in the family business. “Big Bill” organized and promoted races; she took care of the financial end of the business. She first served as secretary and treasurer of NASCAR, and when Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, served in the same roles for the
International Speedway Corporation. She also managed the speedway's ticket office. France remained active in family and business life until her passing in 1992.
NASCAR speeds back into Talladega Superspeedway October 17-19 for the GEICO 500 Sprint Cup Series race and fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola Camping World Truck Series event. NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), with the circuit’s steepest banking (33 degrees) and longest distance (2.66 miles), is also the most fun and fan-friendly, offering up hundreds of acres of free camping, amazing kids ticket prices and special offers for military members and college students. Talladega Superspeedway is also NASCAR’s “Party Capital” thanks to the track’s infamous infield and world renowned Talladega Blvd. The historic venue has always worked hard to enhance the fan experience in every way and now features the most comfortable seats in motorsports, large video viewing boards (a new initiative planned for future implementation at all ISC tracks) lining the frontstretch and endless activities for fans throughout its events weekends. Log on to www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 877-Go2-DEGA for more information. This is more than a race, this is Talladega!