Elliott, Lorenzen, White, Scott, and Weatherly enter NASCAR Hall of Fame (VIDEO)


Five more NASCAR legends achieved the sport’s highest honor Friday in Charlotte, N.C.

Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Rex White, and the late Wendell Scott and Joe Weatherly were inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as its Class of 2015.

Additionally, the late Anne B. France was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Longtime Charlotte Observer reporter Tom Higgins also was recognized after accepting the Squier-Hall Award for Media Excellence earlier in the evening.

The 2015 Class is the sixth class inducted into the Hall of Fame. Here’s a look at each inductee, as well as their speeches…

BILL ELLIOTT (Presented for induction by Kasey Kahne and Bill’s former team owner, Ray Evernham)

THE CAREER: Native of Dawsonville, Ga. … 44 wins and 55 poles in 828 career premier series starts … Won the 1988 Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) championship with six wins, 15 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s in 29 races … Two-time Daytona 500 champion (1985, 1987) … Three-time Southern 500 champion (1985, 1988, 1994) … In 1985, he won the Daytona 500, the spring race at Talladega, and the Southern 500 to capture the “Winston Million” $1 million bonus … Record 16-time Most Popular Driver winner.

THE QUOTE: Bill Elliott: “One thing that I see as I look out here today is one common bond with all these racers – it’s the hard work and the dedication all these guys had. For me to stand up here among the guys that have already been here, it’s just totally incredible.”

FRED LORENZEN (Presented for induction by Tony Stewart; Lorenzen’s son, Chris; and Lorenzen’s daughter, Amanda Gardstrom)

THE CAREER: Native of Elmhurst, Ill. … 26 wins and 32 pole positions in 158 career premier series starts…Won the 1965 Daytona 500 and World (now Coca-Cola) 600 at Charlotte…Never ran a full season; most races he ran in a year was 29 in 1963…That was his best season with six wins, 21 top-five finishes, and 23 top 10s; finished third in championship standings that year despite missing 26 races…Won eight times in 16 starts in 1964 (62-race season), including five consecutive starts…His 26 wins from 1961-1967 were more than fellow Hall of Famers Richard Petty (21) and David Pearson (eight) in that same span.

THE QUOTE: Chris Lorenzen: “As a young teenager, Dad built a go-kart using a lawnmower motor. He drove it all over Elmhurst until the police took it away. He would sit in his tent in his backyard listening to some greats such as Fireball Roberts, Joe Weatherly, and Curtis Turner race their cars. Those were his idols and his heroes. And all Dad could think about was that he had to find a way to become a race car driver. He proceeded to live his life doing everything possible to make that dream come true.”

REX WHITE (Presented for induction by Kevin Harvick and James Hylton)

THE CAREER: Native of Spartanburg, S.C. … 28 wins and 36 poles in 233 career premier series starts…Won the 1960 Grand National (now Sprint Cup) championship with six wins, 25 top-five finishes, and 35 top 10s in 40 races…The fourth driver to win a premier series championship in his own equipment…A potent short track competitor, White took all but two of his victories on tracks shorter than one mile…Becomes the latest NASCAR Hall of Famer to hail from Spartanburg, joining a group that includes David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Cotton Owens, and Bud Moore.

THE QUOTE: Rex White: “Words can’t express how honored I am to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame along with the other Hall of Fame members, especially the 2015 fellow inductees. No driver wins a championship by himself. Nobody enters the Hall of Fame alone. I am a symbol of a team effort. [From] my first race in 1953 until now, this effort spans 62 years.”

WENDELL SCOTT (Presented for induction by Jeff Gordon and Wendell’s sons, Franklin Scott and Wendell Scott Jr.)

THE CAREER: Native of Danville, Va. … One win and one pole position in 495 career premier series starts … Became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR premier series race on Dec. 1, 1963 at Jacksonville, Fla. … Made his first premier series start on March 4, 1961 at Spartanburg, S.C. … Collected 20 top-five finishes and 147 top 10s in his career…Finished four times in the top 10 of the championship standings.

THE QUOTE: Franklin Scott: “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.”

JOE WEATHERLY (Presented for induction by Brad Keselowski; Joe’s niece, Joy Barbee; and Joe’s championship car owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Bud Moore)

THE CAREER: Native of Norfolk, Va. … 25 wins and 18 poles in 229 career premier series starts…Won back-to-back Grand National championships in 1962 and 1963 … Weatherly also won 101 races and the 1953 championship in the Modified Division… Also won 12 times from 1956-1959 in the short-lived Convertible Division … Fun-loving personality led him to be dubbed “The Clown Prince of Racing” … Died in a crash during a Jan. 19, 1964, race at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway.

THE QUOTE: Joy Barbee: ““He loved his family and he was very generous, but I am sure there are many memories the fans could share as well, maybe ones of the practical jokes he enjoyed playing on fellow drivers. He definitely had a sense of humor, he loved a good laugh and he loved to have a good time. He always had a big smile on his face; he was a character to be around and definitely lived up to the title given to him – the ‘Clown Prince of Racing.’”

ANNE B. FRANCE – Landmark Award (accepted on her behalf by Lesa Kennedy, Anne’s granddaughter and CEO of International Speedway Corporation)

Anne B. France was the wife of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and a former secretary and treasurer for both NASCAR and ISC. Mrs. France helped maintain the financial health of the sport in its early years and was known to keep two sets of books – one that was the real set and another she shared with “Big Bill” to ensure that he wouldn’t, in Kennedy’s words, “spend us out of business.”

“She was the epitomy of what this award represents – a great ambassador to our sport and someone who always strived to grow the business,” Kennedy said of her grandmother. “She did it her way, in an honest, often understated and pragmatic fashion. She was the glue that held NASCAR together in the beginning, and she worked tirelessly to see it succeed.”

Rolex 24 at Hour 8: Acuras, Cadillacs look strong in GTP; tough times for Tower in LMP2

Rolex 24 at Daytona
James Gilbert/Getty Images

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The premier hybrid prototype era of the Rolex 24 at Daytona began with a relatively smooth start Saturday through the Hour 8 mark.

Though two of the new Grand Touring Prototype cars fell out of contention within the first six hours, seven cars representing four big-money manufacturers were setting the pace (albeit conservatively at times) after eight of 24 hours in the endurance race classic.

The Cadillacs of Alex Lynn (No. 02, Chip Ganassi Racing) and Jack Aitken (No. 31 of Action Express) held the top two spots with a third of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship completed.

RUNNING ORDER: Standings through eight hours l By class

Brendon Hartley was running third in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura, followed by Nick Tandy in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963, Renger van der Zande in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac and Tom Blomqvist in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura.

The No. 24 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 ’s No. 24  was the first GTP car a lap down, but in better shape than its sister. The No. 25 BMW pulled off track for major repairs near the end of the first hour and was classified 133 laps down in 59th in 61 cars.

Misfortune also befell the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport, which was forced into the garage for a battery change with 18 hours and five minutes remaining. The 963 was 19 laps down in 22nd.

But all things considered, the debut of the GTPs had belied the hand-wringing and doomsayer predictions that had hung over Daytona the past two weeks. Cadillac Racing’s three V-LMDh cars had avoided mechanical problems (needing only typical body repairs for the front end of the No. 01 and rear end of the No. 31 for minor collisions in heavy traffic throughout the 61-car field).

Its stiffest competition seemed to be the Acura ARX-06s, which led more than 100 laps in the first eight hours.

Pole-sitter Tom Blomqvist built a sizeable lead in the No. 60 (which won last year’s Rolex 24) while leading the first 60 laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course.

“That was my longest time in the car since we got it,” said Blomqvist, who led the car to the IMSA premier championship last season. “We’re driving it into the unknown now. We’ve done everything we can. We know it’s a strong, fast car, but there are so many things to learn it almost feels like we’re winging it. It’s a constant learning curve, for both me as a driver but for the whole team. We’ve had a good start to the race, but there’s a lot of race to go and anything can happen.”

The No. 60 lost positions when Helio Castroneves spun just short of seven hours remaining but later soldiered back into the lead with Blomqvist.

“That was a wild ride,” Castroneves said. “I just got caught up in the moment and I’m not sure what happened. It locked the rear so unexpectedly. Certainly, the car is fast. There’s a lot of traffic. It was very, very difficult. The Acura has good pace so far, and we are learning a lot in a short time.”

Two days after predicting the race would be an “old-school endurance race” with conservative driving and setups, Simon Pagenaud said his forecast has been realized.

“Totally,” the Meyer Shank Racing said after completing his first turn behind the wheel of the No. 60 shortly before Castroneves’ incident. “It’s been rare that I’ve been saving equipment this much here. In any of my experience in sports car racing, I’ve rarely driven this cool, basically trying to protect everything. It’s what we’ve got to do. And we’ve got the advantage having pace with the Acura.

“So for us, this time of the race, we’ve just got to build the foundation of our race. There’s really no need to dive into the Bus Stop on somebody right now. Six hours to go is a whole different story. If we’re there, there’s no problem. We’ll do it. We have the capacity to do that, which is honestly such a luxury. But at this point to me, we’re just going to save the equipment, get there and see where we are because the car is extremely fast.”

Pagenaud was involved in one when he was warned by IMSA stewards for “incident responsibility” on a spin involving the No. 8 Tower Motorsports LMP2 that is being co-driven by Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin (two of the 10 active IndyCar drivers in the 2023 Rolex 24).

Tower driver-owner John Farano was in the car at the time, but Pagenaud joked he thought it was Newgarden, his former IndyCar teammate at Team Penske.

“I thought the Tower car, that must be Newgarden,” Pagenaud cracked. “Was it him? Don’t tell me. I know it was him. Doesn’t matter. Let me just take it. I’m going to say it’s him. Please tell him I said that when you see him.

The 2019 Indy 500 winner and 2016 IndyCar champion chalked up the run-in with Farano as “a misunderstanding. He hesitated passing the car ahead of him and gave me the left side, so I dove in on the outside, and he basically released the brake and hit my rear. So you could say it’s on me. You could say it’s on him. Honestly, I was confused as to what happened because I just saw him spin in the mirror. I don’t think we had contact.”

It already was a long day for the No. 8 Tower, which had to pull off the track on the first lap. A water bottle fitting leaked onto the ORECA LMP2 07’s electronic control unit, which malfunctioned. The team lost 10 laps while being towed to the pits and repaired as the first yellow flag flew less than five minutes into the race for the incident.

By the time Newgarden handed off the car to McLaughlin, the No. 8 still was nine laps down with eight hours to go.

Last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona LMP2 winner, which also featured two IndyCar stars in Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward, rallied from five laps down, but Newgarden lamented missing three opportunities to regain a lap under yellow.

“We’re trying to chip away at it; it’s just difficult,” the two-time IndyCar champion said. “I feel solid, and it’s very fun to be in the mix the first time. Very special to be out there in the action. Just wish we were on the lead lap. Our pace was solid. We were strongest on track, but that’s going to change in the later hours with the hot shoes in the car. It’s not going to be easy to pull laps back on this field. It’s a very stacked contingent. They’re all good teams, lot of good drivers. Put ourselves in a hole not a good situation to be in, keep fighting at it. Felt like our pace was good.

“It’s not looking good now. You get toward the end of race, you won’t gain laps back on pace. There are too many good teams and drivers. … We need 8 or 9 yellows to go our way. It just doesn’t look good. But never say never. What if all the GTPs just blow up? I don’t know what’s going to happen. They look really good right now. This is not what everyone predicted. Let’s see. You just never know in racing.”