DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The first five members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame were elected and announced on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., and all boast strong ties to Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR’s most prestigious track and home to the Daytona 500.
Included in the inaugural class are:
· Bill France Sr., the founder of NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway
· Bill France Jr., former Chairman and CEO of NASCAR and a former president of Daytona International Speedway
· Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR champion and a seven-time Daytona 500 champion as well as a three-time winner of the Coke Zero 400.
· Dale Earnhardt, seven-time NASCAR champion, Daytona’s all-time winning driver and 1998 Daytona 500 champion
· Junior Johnson, 1960 Daytona 500 champion, winner of 50 NASCAR races as a driver and six championships as an owner
“Daytona International Speedway is proud to have a strong tie to each honoree in the inaugural Hall of Fame class,” Track President Robin Braig said. “Each individual from the inaugural class made a significant and long-lasting impact on the history and success at Daytona International Speedway.”
In the 1950s, France Sr. had the vision to build a 2.5-mile tri-oval-shaped circuit boasting 31-degree banking in the turns that today is home to the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race.
France Jr. was also instrumental in the planning and construction of Daytona International Speedway along with the growth and direction of America’s premier motorsports facility that is known as the “World Center of Racing.”
In addition to his record seven Daytona 500 wins, Petty captured his 200th and final victory at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 1984 with President Ronald Reagan in attendance. It was the first time a sitting President of the United States had attended a NASCAR event.
Earnhardt is the all-time winning driver at Daytona International Speedway with 34 triumphs including the 1998 Daytona 500, which he won on his 20th attempt. With a lucky penny glued to his dashboard from a young fan, Earnhardt led 107 laps including the final 61 to earn the elusive Daytona 500 win.
Named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998, Johnson won the second annual Daytona 500 back in 1960 and was credited with the discovery of drafting on the superspeedways.
Tickets for the 52nd annual Daytona 500, which start at $55, are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.