Hall all about family for France
Auto racing: Brian France (pictured) spent years formulating plans to build the NASCAR Hall of Fame and holding its first induction ceremony.
It still didn’t prepare the NASCAR chairman for the overflow of emotions on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C. Seeing his father and grandfather included in the first class hit close to home.
This was about family – and a sport that had grown up.
“It was an emotional day. I didn’t anticipate that,” said France, the third generation of NASCAR’s original and only ruling family. “I do a lot of things that are within the sport and they’re all great. This was different today. It was a big celebration I didn’t expect.”
Bill France Sr., who organized bootleggers in North Carolina and the beach racing folks in Florida to create NASCAR, was the first Hall of Fame inductee.
He was followed by his son, Bill Jr., a ruthless but effective manager who helped expand the sport past its Southern roots.
Pearson willing to wait his turn
Auto racing: After all the controversy surrounding David Pearson’s exclusion from NASCAR’s inagural Hall of Fame class, the “Silver Fox” is actually willing to wait his turn to be inducted.
And if it comes before others whom Pearson deems worthy of selection, he said he’d take himself out of consideration.
“I feel like if I was going in next year and I knew Raymond Parks wasn’t, I’d withdraw my name to get him in,” Pearson said of Parks, owner of the car Red Byron drove to NASCAR’s first championship.
“He really needs to be in there. He needs to be the next main one to get in there.”
Parks, who turns 96 next month, attended Thursday night’s Hall of Fame gala with his family. In his wheelchair, the top-hat clad Parks silently nodded to all his well-wishers.
To Pearson, it’s men like Parks who are the real NASCAR pioneers.
“Raymond Parks, he owned a bunch of cars back then and even paid part of the purse,” Pearson said. “I really feel like he really ought to be in the first class.”
Pearson’s 105 wins ranked second only to Richard Petty’s 200 victories on NASCAR’s all-time win list. The three-time Cup champion had a winning percentage of 18.2 percent in a career that spanned 27 years – but never a complete season.