NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and seven-time series champion Richard Petty were among the five inductees into the inaugural Hall of Fame yesterday in Charlotte.
France, who began as a promoter of beach racing in Daytona Beach, Fla., formed NASCAR in 1949 to create a governing body for American auto racing. Regarded as one of the most influential figures in motorsports, he ruled NASCAR from its first race in 1949 through his 1972 retirement. He died in 1992 at 82.
"No one, and I mean no one, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than Bill France Sr.," said John Cassidy, NASCAR's longtime legal counsel.
France's acceptance speech was made by his son, Jim, who said his father would be proud of NASCAR and "he would be proud of this Hall of Fame."
Petty, known as "The King," was the second inductee of the five-member class to be inducted. Clad in his trademark cowboy hat and dark black sunglasses, he was inducted by his son, Kyle, who called him "the biggest fan of the sport who ever lived."
The other inductees were Junior Johnson, and the late Bill France Jr. and Dale Earnhardt.
In Saturday's annual All-Star race, a non-points event at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch sailed past feuding teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch to win the $1 million prize.
Hamlin and Kyle Busch, teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, were racing each other for the lead in the final segment of the race. Hamlin tried to block Kyle Busch's pass, and the defensive driving sent Kyle Busch into the wall. Kurt Busch used the opportunity to sail through the traffic and into the lead, which he held over several late restarts.
While the former series champion crossed the finish line for his first All-Star victory, his younger brother was waiting inside Hamlin's team hauler after unleashing an angry tirade over his radio.