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.”