Susan Baker, Don Owens, Debbie Davis, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Junior Johnson, Glen Wood, Leonard Wood, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, Dale Inman, Richard Petty, Joel Thomas

NASCAR announces changes to Hall of Fame eligibility

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Multiple changes have been announced this morning by NASCAR regarding drivers’ eligibility for being elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Going forward, drivers that have competed for at least 10 seasons and have turned 55 years old on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year are eligible.

Additionally, drivers that have competed for at least 30 seasons (again, on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year) are now eligible regardless of age. Drivers also can continuing competing after surpassing those milestones without compromising eligibility.

These tweaks in particular will widen the pool of potential inductees as Sprint Cup legends such as Mark Martin, Bill Elliott, and Terry Labonte are now in line for induction.

Other tweaks were made in regards to naming nominees for the Hall of Fame. The nomination committee’s ballots will now select just 20 nominees each year, down from its previous mark of 25.

Also, the committee will now meet in-person to vote on those nominees; previously, the committee had submitted their choices to an independent accounting firm that tallied the nominations to create the final ballot. Hall of Fame nominees are now recused from the nominating and voting process as well.

The Hall of Fame will also create a new “Landmark Award,” which will go into effect with the Class of 2015. The award will recognize outstanding contributions to the sport and winners can range from competitors to those working in the sport in other roles (racing organization, tracks, media, sponsors, et al.).

Five nominees will be chosen for the “Landmark Award” and will then be voted on by the Hall of Fame’s voting panel.

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski