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NASCAR Cup Series

EVERNHAM: Hall of Fame Induction “Really Blows Me Away”

Starting out his career as a driver, Ray Evernham believes to this day that he can still drive good enough to be in one of NASCAR’s top series. However, his career ultimately didn’t take that route, instead leaving his mark on the sport in another way.

Seeing the talent of a young Jeff Gordon, Evernham remarked “there is no way in the world I could ever drive as good as that guy,” and took his talents to the pit box.

While their time at Hendrick Motorsports began in 1993, they originally met three years early in September 1990, when Jeff Gordon was trying out a Buck Baker School car. Evernham said he saw Gordon’s “pure talent and ability” that afternoon, with the chemistry clicking immediately.

Evernham ultimately went on to lead Gordon to three of four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championships as a crew chief, before leaving Hendrick Motorsports. He then went into team ownership, winning races with Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne.

During that time, he got to celebrate his accomplishments in victory lane with his fellow team members, but never took time to fully enjoy those moments. Instead, with a focus on winning more races, it was enjoy it for the time being, before re-focusing in knowing a full field is gunning for you.

“I wish that I probably would have savored some of those things a little bit more, but I’m really thankful and I feel blessed that I’m still surrounded by many of those people and then have the opportunity to do it now,” he said.

He got some time to reflect this past Friday night when he was inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“It’s like a fire hose of emotions,” Evernham remarked. “Normally when something happens, it’s one or two emotions, but just about everything that you could possibly feel, whether that’s happiness or sadness or pride or humbleness, it happens because when you start racing like I did and like Jeff did, you never really expect to get there. You dream about it and you work hard to get there and the whole time you’re doing it you never really think that you could ever make a mark in a sport that would get you at this level.”

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Cars 3 Rolls Into NASCAR Hall of Fame

The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown Charlotte has a new and very exciting exhibit entitled “Cars 3: Inspired by NASCAR.”

The exhibit, which will run through May 31, 2018, is a collaboration among the Hall, NASCAR and Disney Pixar, creators of the Cars franchise.

Fans of Cars 3 know how closely Disney Pixar paid attention to NASCAR’s history in selecting characters both young and old, ranging from Junior “Midnight” Moon, based on Junior Johnson, and Richard Petty’s character Strip “The King” Weathers to newcomers like Chase Racelott (Chase Elliott) and Bubba Wheelhouse (Bubba Wallace).

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Cars 3 exhibit features meticulously crafted storyboards of all the film’s major characters, complete with artifacts of the actual drivers those characters represent. The Junior “Midnight” Moon storyboard, for example, features a Darlington trophy topped by a vintage Ford coupe that looks just like the character in the film.

The project was a long time in coming and the results are impressive.

“It’s the culmination of a little over a year’s work with Disney Pixar, NASCAR and our exhibits team,” Winston Kelley, the Hall’s executive director, told PopularSpeed.com in an exclusive interview Thursday.

The exhibit should help attract younger fans to the Hall.

“Having an actual Lightning McQueen here (is big),” said Kelley. “We’re one of only two non-Disney properties in the entire world that have an actual Lightning McQueen. The Petersen Museum in California and ourselves are the only two properties. We were able to work with Disney to get a Lightning McQueen that becomes a magnet.”

Kelley said the connection between kids who love the Cars franchise and NASCAR goes way back.

In the Hall’s first version of Glory Road, Richard Petty’s 1967 Plymouth Belvedere was featured. “Kids would gravitate toward that particular car and say, ‘There’s Mr. The King,’” Kelley said, referring to Petty’s character in the Cars films. “They recognized it. They gravitated to the first Hudson Hornet we had and said, ‘There’s Doc Hudson.’

“So kids recognized it from the start,” Kelley said. “It just wasn’t a formal relationship like now.”

Ray Evernham, a NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee who played the character “Ray Reverham” in the film, told PopularSpeed.com that the filmmakers paid close attention to get the NASCAR connection right.

“Really impressive that the people from Pixar took so much time to get people like me and Kyle (Petty) and Richard (Petty) and Shannon (Spake) — everybody involved, not just as characters, but behind the scenes for information,” said Evernham. “To make things as realistic as they could possibly make them and then tell accurate stories about our history.

“Whether you knew about NASCAR before the movie or you’re finding out about NASCAR after the movie, you’re not going to find anything conflicting,” Evernham said, “Because they’ve done a really good job with our history.”

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Five Icons Selected As 2018 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class

Byron, Evernham, Hornaday, Squier, Yates Comprise Hall’s Ninth Class 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 24, 2017) – NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018. The five-person group – the ninth since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ron Hornaday Jr., Ken Squier and Robert Yates. In addition, NASCAR announced that Jim France earned the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2018 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award.

The Class of 2018 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the fourth year, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion (Jimmie Johnson). In all, 54 votes were cast, with four additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd, Robert Yates, Waddell Wilson and Ken Squier). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes.

Voting was as follows: Robert Yates (94%), Red Byron (74%), Ray Evernham (52%), Ken Squier (40%) and Ron Hornaday Jr. (38%).

For the second time in Voting Day history, there was a tie for the fifth and final induction spot. Voting Panel members selected Hornaday over Alan Kulwicki after a re-vote between the two nominees.

The next top vote-getters were Buddy Baker and Davey Allison.

Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Davey Allison, Red Farmer, Kulwicki, Roger Penske and Yates.

The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Davey Allison, Buddy Baker, Red Farmer, Ray Fox, Joe Gibbs, Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Bobby Labonte, Hershel McGriff, Roger Penske, Larry Phillips, Jack Roush, Ricky Rudd, Mike Stefanik and Waddell Wilson.

Nominees for the Landmark Award included France, Janet Guthrie, Alvin Hawkins, Ralph Seagraves and Squier.

Class of 2018 Inductees:

Red Byron
Red Byron won NASCAR’s first race in 1948, on the Daytona beach road course. He went on in 1948 to win NASCAR’s first season championship – in the NASCAR Modified Division. The following year, he won NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock title – the precursor to today’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – driving for NASCAR Hall of Fame car owner Raymond Parks. The Strictly Stock schedule had eight races; Byron won two of them. Wounded in World War II, Byron drove with a special brace attached to the clutch pedal, to assist an injured leg – making his accomplishments even more impressive. That injury contributed to Byron’s relatively brief career, after which he continued to be involved in motorsports.

Ray Evernham
Crew chief Ray Evernham guided Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team to three championships in four seasons (1995, ’97, ’98), and a series-leading 47 wins in the 1990’s. Among their triumphs were two Daytona 500s (1997, ’99) and two Brickyard 400s (1994, ’98). Matching Evernham’s mechanical prowess was his innovation on pit road. Under his direction, the “Rainbow Warriors” revolutionized the art of the pit stop. In 2001, Evernham tried his hand at ownership, leading the return of Dodge to NASCAR. His drivers won 13 times, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott’s triumph in the 2002 Brickyard 400.

Ron Hornaday Jr.
One of the forefathers of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, few drivers can be mentioned in the same breath as Ron Hornaday Jr. when it comes to wheeling a truck around a race track. The second-generation racer from Palmdale, California boasts a record four Truck Series championships and 51 wins competing on the rough-and-tumble circuit. Hornaday also holds the Truck Series all-time marks for top fives (158) and top 10s (234). In 2009, Hornaday won five straight Truck Series races, a feat matched only three other times in NASCAR national series history.

Ken Squier
Ken Squier carved a massive footprint during NASCAR’s formative broadcast years. One of NASCAR’s original broadcasters, Squier co-founded the Motor Racing Network (MRN) in 1970. It was his golden voice that took NASCAR to a national audience thirsting for live coverage, giving his insider’s view of what he famously described as “common men doing uncommon things.” He is perhaps best-known for calling the 1979 Daytona 500, a milestone moment for the entire sport, as Squier’s voice on CBS welcomed millions to the first live flag-to-flag coverage of “The Great American Race” – a moniker he coined. Following that signature moment, Squier proceeded to call races for CBS and TBS until 1997 before shifting to the studio as host for NASCAR broadcasts until 2000. In 2012, NASCAR announced the creation of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, which would be housed in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Robert Yates
Robert Yates excelled in two aspects of NASCAR that put him among the sport’s greats – engine building (his first love) and team ownership. Yates, who began his career at Holman-Moody Racing in 1968, landed a job with NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson in 1971 – and the rest is history. He provided the power behind Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough, later leading Allison to a series championship in 1983 with DiGard Racing. In the late 1980s, Yates launched his own team, Robert Yates Racing. Success followed as an owner as Yates won three Daytona 500s and the 2000 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:

Jim France
James C. (Jim) France is vice chairman/executive vice president of NASCAR and is also chairman of the board at the International Speedway Corporation (ISC). A steady influence behind the scenes for decades, he helped build the sport with his father Bill France Sr., the founder and first president of NASCAR, and brother Bill Jr., NASCAR’s former president, chairman and CEO. Joining ISC in 1959, France worked in all phases of operations in his early years with the company. He was elected to the ISC board in 1970 and has served as the company’s secretary, assistant treasurer, vice president, chief operating officer, executive vice president and president. With a deep passion for the fan experience, France led the DAYTONA RISING project, a $400 million renovation that made Daytona International Speedway the world’s first motorsports stadium.

About NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR XFINITY Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

About the NASCAR Hall of Fame
Conveniently located in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, the 150,000-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR. The high-tech venue, designed to educate and entertain race fans and non-fans alike, opened May 11, 2010, and includes artifacts, hands-on exhibits, a 278-person state-of-the-art theater, Hall of Honor, Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop and NASCAR Productions-operated broadcast studio. The venue is open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. seven days a week and has an attached parking garage on Brevard Street. The five-acre site also includes a privately developed 19-story office tower and 102,000-square-foot expansion to the Charlotte Convention Center, highlighted by a 40,000-square-foot ballroom. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is owned by the City of Charlotte, licensed by NASCAR and operated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. Learn more at nascarhall.com.