NASCAR Hall Of Fame’s 2015 Class Honored In Charlotte

NASCAR Hall Of Fame’s 2015 Class Honored In Charlotte

by January 31, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Wayme Thomas

By: Hunter Thomas
Twitter: @HunterThomas08

CHARLOTTE, NC – The NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted its 2015 class on Friday night at the Charlotte Convention Center in Uptown Charlotte.

In this year’s edition of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony it was Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Rex White, Joe Weatherly and Bill Elliott who were honored. Anne B. France was the recipient of the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

The induction of Fred Lorenzen kicked off the historical night in Charlotte. Lorenzen competed from in NASCAR’s premier series from 1956 to 1972. He retired in 1967 but later returned and competed from 1970 to 1972. Throughout the 158 starts, he captured 26 wins and 32 poles. Known for being a race car driver from the Midwest, he was remembered by family members as someone who rarely ever drove over the speed limit. That is until he had a tornado riding his bumper.

“He only broke the speed limit once,” Fred Lorenzen’s son, Chris Lorenzen said. “We were coming back from Tennessee and got caught in a terrible storm. Dad refused to pull over like every other driver on the road had. He kept telling us that he could outrun the tornado that was lurking behind us. Dad knew that road was an empty racetrack and he went for it and he won. He beat that tornado and we made it home in record time. After that Amanda and I thought, wow, he really is the fearless, Fast Freddie that we had heard about for so long.”

Wendell Scott was the next driver to be inducted. Scott is primarily known for being the first African American to win in NASCAR’s premier series, but the Danville, Va. native was known throughout the industry as a competitive driver that fought hard for every single position. There were times where a position on the track greatly influenced his quality of living off the track.

“The legend of Wendell Scott depicts him as one of the great vanguards of the sport of NASCAR racing,” Frank Scott, son of Wendell Scott said. “Daddy was a man of great honor. He didn’t let his circumstances define who he was. The Bible teaches that before a person can have honor, they must first have integrity and humility. In addition, another one of his great attributes was perseverance. There were two words that were forbidden for us to use growing up in the Scott household: Those words were can’t and never.

“In spite of the many obstacles, struggles and many hardships he faced, he persevered, and what seemed to be insurmountable odds to others, Daddy considered an opportunity. His intestinal fortitude has placed him among the greatest to ever compete in the sport he loved, racing.”

Rex White from Taylorsville, NC was the third driver to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday night. He competed in NASCAR’s premier series from 1956 to 1964. White won a championship in 1960 as a driver/owner in 1960, and throughout his career, he amassed 28 wins and 36 poles out of 233 starts. While on stage, White entertained the crowd with his personality and shared a story on how he ran out of money on the way to a race in Columbia, SC.

“The person who started this all was Frankie Schneider,” White said. “I met Frankie at West Lanham Speedway around 1952, and anyway, I wanted to get in the pits, and I took a board off the fence at the back of the racetrack and got to go in the pits, got to helping Frankie put the axles in, change tires, put the toe bar on, get ready to go. The next week I’d go back to the racetrack. So this went on for quite some time.

“Some pit crewman that was working for him got drafted into the Army, so Frankie said, do you want to go racing? I said, yeah. He said, I can’t pay you anything, I’ll buy you something to eat. So one time we was running out of West Palm Beach, Florida, to go to Columbia, South Carolina, to run an Oldsmobile, and we ran out of money. Frankie, I don’t know if you want me to tell that story, but I’m going to tell it anyway. On the way to Columbia we ran out of money and didn’t have any money except for the gas in the truck and the gas for the race car. Anyway, he bought four bananas, he hate two of them, peeling and all, told me to eat the other two, because the peeling had as much food value as the banana did.”

Up next to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame was Joe Weatherly. He competed in NASCAR’s premier series from 1952 to 1964, earning 25 wins, 18 poles and back-to-back championships in 1962 and 1963. Weatherly also captured a modified championship in 1953. Unfortunately during the 1964 season, Weatherly lost his life in a crash at Riverside International Raceway. Joy Barbee, youngest niece of Weatherly shared stories during the ceremony that were passed down by family members.

“Uncle Joe was also a very competitive driver,” Joy Barbee, youngest niece of Joe Weatherly said. “He was one of NASCAR’s first big stars, as his 25 wins and back-to-back championships in 1962 and 1963 will attest. In those days, the races were not televised in our home, and my mother would listen to them on the radio, but she sure got to know the local sportswriter at the newspaper. She knew exactly what time the races were over, and she would call the newspaper, and she would ask who won, and when she hung up the phone and she was crying and she was jumping with excitement, we knew that there was a W.

“Uncle Joe died doing what he loved, and I’ve often wondered if he had lived, would he have gotten one of us seven kids behind the wheel of a NASCAR. Who knows? It could have been me. But there’s one thing I know for sure. If he had been here this evening, he would have been humbled by this honor.”

The final driver to be inducted in the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class on Friday night was Bill Elliott, also known as “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville”. From 1955 to 2012, Elliott won 44 races and 55 poles. In 1988, he captured his one and only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. In Elliott’s speech, he thanked everyone who had helped him along the way, but the one story that really grabbed everyone’s attention on Friday night was the one of when Ray Evernham hired him.

“I’ll never forget the time Ray came up and I heard in the garage area that Ray Evernham was looking for me,” Elliott said. “It was at Loudon, New Hampshire. I thought, why is Ray looking for Bill Elliott. That’s crazy. So I walk in the hauler and Ray takes me off to the side and he said, I want to bring Dodge back in. I want you to drive my race car, and I’m thinking, you said what? And it’s like, I couldn’t believe this.

“And Ray really brought me back to the next level. It seems like the things that I lost in the late ’90s, Ray brought me back to where I needed to be, and to be able to win races and be competitive and be the part of what I remember racing was all about, and really bringing the fun back into it.”

Once again, five extremely credentialed individuals were inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The 2015 class is the 6th to be inducted. The 2016 class will be announced later this season.

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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