CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr. are part of the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame that will be officially inducted on Sunday along with Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson and Richard Petty.
All five inductees boast strong ties to Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR’s most prestigious track and home to the Daytona 500.
Here's a closer look at the Class of 2010:
Bill France Sr.
Called "Big Bill," only partly because of his 6-foot-5 stature, France spearheaded NASCAR from its beginning and directed it to its present status as the world’s largest stock-car racing organization. In 1936, he helped lay out the first beach/road course in Daytona Beach; in the first race on the course he finished fifth. Starting in 1938, he helped promote races on the sands of Daytona Beach. In 1947, France became the driving force behind the establishment of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. NASCAR, it was called, resulting from a famous meeting at the Streamline Hotel on State Road A1A in Daytona Beach – a structure that stands to this day, as a racing landmark. "Big Bill" France passed away in June 1992. He left behind a lasting legacy.
Bill France Jr.
William Clifton France is remembered – and revered – as the man who followed his visionary father at NASCAR’s helm, in the process becoming a visionary himself, as he guided NASCAR to unprecedented levels of popularity.
France became NASCAR’s president in January 1972, replacing his father and becoming only the second president of the world’s largest auto racing sanctioning body. His emergence coincided with the sport’s emergence, and its eventual ascent to become America’s No. 1 form of motorsports and the nation’s second-most popular sport overall.
France, often referred to as "Bill Jr.," remained president until November 2000. At that time, France announced the formation of a NASCAR Board of Directors on which he served as chairman and CEO until October 2003 when he was replaced by his son, Brian Z. France. After that, he continued to serve the sport for the remainder of his life as NASCAR Vice Chairman.
Earnhardt co-holds the record for most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships (seven) with Richard Petty. In only his second full season, 1980, Earnhardt nabbed his first championship. He won consecutive titles on three separate occasions (1986-87, ’90-91 and ’93-94). Earnhardt’s 76 victories rank seventh all-time.
He is the all-time leader in race victories at Daytona International Speedway with 34, though the most prominent of them was a while in the making.
In 1998, Earnhardt won his most coveted race – the Daytona 500. The scene was a memorable one, forever etched in the minds of race fans. As Earnhardt’s black No. 3 rolled down pit road, a Daytona 500 winner at last, every crew member from every team lined up to congratulate one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.
Robert Glenn "Junior" Johnson is unique in NASCAR history, with tremendous success both as a driver and a car owner.
Johnson won the second annual Daytona 500 in 1960 and in the process, became credited with the discovery of "drafting" on the massive superspeedways. He won 50 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series then surprised many people by retiring from driving to become an owner. As an owner, Johnson never missed a beat; through the years, his drivers won 132 races. There also were six series championships produced with Cale Yarborough (1976-78) and Darrell Waltrip (1981-82, ’85).
Named one of NASCAR’s "50 Greatest Drivers" in 1998, Johnson resides in Wilkesboro, N.C., and remains one of the sport’s most enduring – and endearing – personalities, at the age of 78.
Known as "the King", Richard Petty’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series records are staggering: Most wins (200), most poles (123), tied for most championships (seven), most wins in a season (27), most Daytona 500 wins (seven), most consecutive wins (10) and most starts (1,185).
Petty’s success continued even after his retirement from driving in 1992. He would still hold the top spot in the family business – Petty Enterprises, and now, Richard Petty Motorsports. In all, Petty Enterprises totaled 268 victories before merging with Gillett Evernham Motorsports for the 2009 season to become Richard Petty Motorsports.
“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.”
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