NASCAR Hall of Fame’s class of 2015 to be chosen tomorrow

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Who will be the next five NASCAR legends to join the sport’s Hall of Fame? We’re one day away from finding out.

The Class of 2015 will be chosen tomorrow in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Hall of Fame’s voting panel is charged with picking from a field of 20 inductees. One of the 55 ballots cast is a collective fan vote that officially closed earlier this afternoon.

As part of several changes to the Hall of Fame’s eligibility and voting process, the defending Sprint Cup Series champion now has a vote at his/her disposal.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson, who claimed his sixth Cup championship last fall, has used the opportunity as a learning experience.

“I definitely have an opinion and look forward to understanding the process,” Johnson told Yahoo Sports recently. “Some (nominees) I knew, I knew their background but I learned a little bit more.

“Others, I’m getting a nice little glimpse into their part of NASCAR and their history in NASCAR.”

The announcement will take place tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET, with NASCAR AMERICA broadcasting live at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN from the Hall of Fame.

Here’s the list of 20 potential inductees that could be chosen for induction tomorrow. Many of them are former drivers, with others having excelled in roles such as team ownership, track ownership, and engine building:

  • Buddy Baker
  • Red Byron
  • Richard Childress
  • Jerry Cook
  • Bill Elliott
  • Ray Fox
  • Rick Hendrick
  • Bobby Isaac
  • Terry Labonte
  • Fred Lorenzen
  • Raymond Parks
  • Benny Parsons
  • Larry Phillips
  • Wendell Scott
  • Bruton Smith
  • Mike Stefanik
  • Curtis Turner
  • Joe Weatherly
  • Rex White
  • Robert Yates

Also up for grabs tomorrow is the inaugural Landmark Award for outstanding contributions to the sport.

The nominees for this special honor are: TV/radio broadcaster Ken Squier; Parks, the sport’s first championship-winning team owner; H. Clay Earles, the late creator of Martinsville Speedway; Anne B. France, the wife of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.; and Ralph Seagraves, who brought R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and its Winston brand to the sport as a sponsor in the 1970s.

The Landmark nominees are also eligible for the Hall of Fame itself.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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