Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fast Facts: NASCAR's Drive for Diversity

2016 class member Enrique Baca speaks with graduate
Daniel Suarez at the D4D combine
credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Todd Warshaw
NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity (D4D) program has experienced tremendous growth and success in the last few years, with graduates Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr. both finding their way to victory lane in top-tier NASCAR competition. With the announcement of a new D4D class for 2016, this week’s Fast Facts looks at the origins of the program and other drivers who have been involved with the program.
  • In 1999, Dodge put Mexican driver Carlos Contreras in a Hot Wheels Ram in the Truck Series with Petty Enterprises, then backed Bobby Hamilton Racing’s effort from 2001-2005 featuring drivers Willy T. Ribbs, Bill Lester, Deborah Renshaw and Erin Crocker. In 2003, Joe Gibbs Racing teamed up with the late Reggie White of the NFL for a diversity program in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series featuring Aric Almirola and Chris Bristol.
  • An official NASCAR diversity program was implemented in 2004. Its current training team, Rev Racing, was formed in 2009 by Max Siegel, a music industry executive and former president of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. The team fields cars for six to 10 drivers each season in the Whelen All-American Series and K&N Pro Series East and West, and also includes a pit crew development program.
  • Larson, a 2012 graduate of the D4D program, won the 2012 K&N Pro Series East championship as well as the series’ Rookie of the Year award. He has since won three times in the Xfinity Series, once in the Truck Series and captured the Rookie of the Year awards in both the Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series (2013) and Sprint Cup Series (2014). Larson, whose heritage on his mother’s side is Japanese, is currently driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup Series.
  • Wallace Jr., part of the program in 2010 and 2011, won his first race in the K&N Pro Series East in 2010 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, becoming the youngest driver and the first African-American driver to win at the track and in the series. He also won the series’ Rookie of the Year award in 2010, the first African-American driver to do so. He later raced in the Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing and Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, where in 2013 he became the first African-American driver to win a race since Wendell Scott did it in 1963. Wallace Jr. currently drives for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series.
  • Other well-known drivers who participated in the D4D program include JGR driver Daniel Suarez, IndyCar Series team owner Sarah Fisher, Paulie Harraka, Mackena Bell, Sergio Pena and Kenzie Ruston.
  • The 2016 D4D class includes Colin Cabre, Ruben Garcia Jr., Jairo Avila and Ali Kern, all of whom will race in the K&N Pro Series East; and Enrique Baca and Juan Garcia, who will compete in the Whelen All-American Series.
  • Learn more about Rev Racing and the D4D program at revracing.net


Friday, January 22, 2016

NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremony postponed due to weather

Inductions moved to 2:30 p.m. Saturday 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 22, 2016) – Due to the inclement weather conditions in the Charlotte region, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will amend its Induction Ceremony and NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day activities this weekend.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame will remain open on Friday, Jan. 22. Due to the anticipated ice and snow accumulations during the course of the day, the venue will close early at 2 p.m. ET.

The Induction Ceremony scheduled for this evening will be moved to Saturday, Jan. 23 beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be aired live on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The event will also be streaming on NBC Live Extra. The Induction Dinner will be adjusted to a luncheon format on Saturday at the Charlotte Convention Center beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Activities that were scheduled for today leading up to the Induction Ceremony such as Hall of Famer autograph sessions and the Red Carpet event will be canceled altogether.

In addition, Fan Appreciation Day activities including autograph sessions and programs will be canceled for tomorrow at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The venue will have a delayed opening at 12 p.m. ET and will honor the free admission that Fan Appreciation Day offers guests. The venue will close at 5 p.m. ET.

For those guests who secured autograph session tickets, the venue is exploring options to accommodate fans, which will be announced by the end of next week. Due to the complexity of NASCAR and driver schedules, unfortunately the Hall will not be able to reschedule a complete day of Fan Appreciation Day programming.

For more details, visit nascarhall.com. Updates are available at facebook.com/nascarhall or by following @NASCARHall on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fast Facts: 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee O. Bruton Smith

credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Jonathan Ferrey
O. Bruton Smith has been promoting races since the age of 18 – now that passion has led him into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Smith and fellow 2016 inductees Jerry Cook, Curtis Turner, Terry Labonte and Bobby Isaac will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Here are the Fast Facts on the owner/CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc.
  • Ollen Bruton Smith was born March 3, 1927 in Oakboro, NC. Smith purchased his first race car at age 17, and began promoting races as an 18-year-old. His racing career was short-lived due to his mother’s request that he stop driving.
  • Smith worked with the National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA) in 1949, a group that was in direct competition with another organization known as NASCAR. Smith and Bill France Sr. began discussing a merger between the two groups in 1950, but Smith was drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in the Korean War early in 1951; when he returned from duty, he found that the NSCRA had dissolved.
  • In 1954, Smith began promoting races at the Charlotte Fairgrounds, but promoting wasn’t enough for Smith. He built Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1959 – with fellow Class of 2016 inductee Curtis Turner working in promotion – but went bankrupt two years later and the track was reorganized under Chapter 10 of the Bankruptcy Act. Over the following years, Smith purchased stock shares in the track and regained control of the 1.5-mile track in the early 1970s. Smith added seats, suites and condos to Charlotte Motor Speedway over the years, making it one of the most state-of-the-art tracks in NASCAR.
  • Smith later founded Speedway Motorsports Inc., the first motorsports company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. SMI’s current roster includes Charlotte, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Smith also owns zMAX Dragway, the only all-concrete four-lane drag strip in the United States, and The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway; both are part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex.
  • Smith founded Speedway Children’s Charities in 1982, and was a part-owner of the Kannapolis Intimidators minor league baseball team from 2000-2004.
  • Smith was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame and National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 2006, and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
  • Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame at www.nascarhall.com


Monday, January 18, 2016

Travel Tips: NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Fan Appreciation Day – Jan. 22-23, 2016

credit: NASCAR Media
This weekend, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, located at 400 East Martin Luther King Blvd. in Charlotte, NC, will bring NASCAR legends, heroes and up-and-coming stars together with fans as part of its 2016 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Fan Appreciation Day. Hall of Fame activities begin on Friday, Jan. 22 with the Induction Ceremony, followed by additional Class of 2016 activities and NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day at the Hall on Saturday, Jan. 23.

Schedule for the weekend (all times ET):

Friday, Jan.22
  • Members-Only Hall of Famer Autograph Session – 3:30 p.m.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Red Carpet Arrivals – 4 p.m.
  • Presentation of the Squire-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence – 6 p.m.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Jacket Ceremony – 6 p.m. – Richardson Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center, which is attached to the Hall.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – 8 p.m. – Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Select tickets are still available for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – click here for more information.

Saturday, Jan. 23 –

Visit the Hall of Fame for free from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and celebrate Fan Appreciation Day with your favorite NASCAR drivers.

Great Hall driver appearances and question-and-answer sessions (tickets not required) –
  • 9:00 a.m. – AJ Allmendinger, Brandon Jones, Ben Rhodes
  • 10:00 a.m. – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Erik Jones, Timothy Peters
  • 10:20 a.m. – NASCAR Next Drivers (TBA)
  • 11:00 a.m. – Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez, Ben Kennedy
  • 11:20 a.m. – NASCAR Next Drivers (TBA)
  • 12:00 p.m. – Brian Scott, Ryan Reed, Daniel Hemric
  • 1:30 p.m. – Aric Almirola, Ty Dillon, Tyler Reddick
  • 2:30 p.m. – Martin Truex Jr., Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell
  • 2:50 p.m. – Jerry Cook, Terry Labonte, Bruton Smith
  • 3:30 p.m. –Chase Elliott, Elliott Sadler, Matt Crafton

Hall of Honor autograph sessions (tickets not required) –

NASCAR Next Drivers
  • 11:00 a.m. – TBA
  • 11:50 a.m. – TBA

NASCAR Hall of Fame – Class of 2016 
  • 3:30 p.m. – Jerry Cook, Terry Labonte, Bruton Smith
Vouchers for driver autograph sessions in the High Octane Theater are sold out. Click here to see the driver autograph session schedule if you were able to claim vouchers.

UPDATE: Due to a winter storm in the Charlotte area, the 2016 Hall of Fame induction ceremony has been postponed to Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Autograph sessions scheduled for Friday and Saturday have been canceled. Click here for more details.

Find out more about the Hall of Fame and the Induction Ceremony at www.nascarhall.com.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fast Facts: 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Curtis Turner

credit: ISC Archives via Getty Images
Could you ever imagine driving a convertible in NASCAR competition? 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Curtis Turner did – and he holds the record for most wins in the now-defunct series. Turner and fellow 2016 inductees Jerry Cook, O. Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte and Bobby Isaac will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Here are the Fast Facts on this versatile and colorful driver.
  • Curtis Turner was born April 12, 1924 in Floyd, VA. His racing career began in 1946, and in 1949 he made his NASCAR debut in the Strictly Stock division in 1949, winning later that season at Langhorne (PA) Speedway – his first of 17 premier series victories.
  • Turner’s racing accomplishments were many, including being the only driver to win two straight Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Series from the pole and leading every lap (July 1950). In the Convertible Division, he holds the record for most career wins (38), most career poles (23), most wins in a season (22 – 1956) and most poles in a season (16 – 1956).
  • Turner drove for numerous legendary NASCAR car owners, including the Wood Brothers, Junior Johnson, Holman-Moody and Smokey Yunick. In 1967, Turner became the first driver to qualify for a Grand National race at more than 180 mph driving one of Yunick’s Chevrolets.
  • In 1961, Turner, Fireball Roberts and Tim Flock attempted to organize a union for the drivers. NASCAR looked unfavorably on the idea, and Turner was banned for life, only to have the ban lifted in 1965.
  • Turner competed in the premier division for 17 years (1949-1961 and 1965-1968), winning 17 times and earning 73 top 10 finishes in 184 races; he also raced to 16 poles.
  • Turner died in an airplane crash on Oct. 4, 1970 in Punxsutawney, PA; Turner was piloting the plane, which crashed shortly after take-off en route to Roanoke, VA.
  • In 1999, Turner was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, followed by his 2006 induction in to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
  • Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame at www.nascarhall.com


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Fast Facts: 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Isaac

credit: NASCAR Media
2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Isaac’s career could be summed up in one word: FAST. Isaac and fellow 2016 inductees Jerry Cook, O. Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte and Curtis Turner will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Here are the Fast Facts on the 1970 premiere series champion.
  • Bobby Isaac was born Aug. 1, 1932 in Catawba, NC. He was the second-youngest of nine children, and suffered through the heartache of losing his father at age 6 and mother at age 16. Isaac saw his first race in Hickory, NC at age 17, and held down jobs in sawmills, a cotton mill and a pool hall, among others, while racing whenever he could.
  • In 1956, Isaac got a full-time sportsman division ride four to five nights a week, and by 1958 he was racing the likes of Ralph Earnhardt, Ned Jarrett and David Pearson. He made his Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Series debut in 1961, and in 1964 picked up his first win in a Daytona 500 qualifier.
  • Isaac competed on a nearly full-time basis from 1968 to 1970, winning 31 times in the three-year span and amassing 35 poles, including a 17-win, 19-pole season in 1969. Isaac was runner-up in the championship standings in 1968, sixth in 1969, and took home the title in 1970, the same year he turned a lap of 201.104 mph at Talladega Superspeedway, a record that stood until 1983.
  • In addition to his 49 premiere series poles, Isaac also set 28 world-class records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in September 1971, adding more speed to his legacy.
  • Isaac passed away on Aug. 13, 1977; after pulling out of a Late Model Sportsman race with 25 laps to go at Hickory Motor Speedway, he collapsed on pit road and died later at the hospital from a heart attack.
  • Isaac was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, and is also a member of the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (1979) and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (1996).
  • Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame at www.nascarhall.com