Hall of Fame - Welcome to the Class of 2018 - South Dade News Leader: Sports

Welcome!
|
Not you?||
Logout|My Account

Hall of Fame - Welcome to the Class of 2018

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2018 1:15 am

Last Friday, the NASCAR industry came together in Charlotte, North Carolina for the induction of the Class of 2018 into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Drivers, crew chiefs, friends, family and NASCAR officials were all on hand to honor five special individuals who have contributed significantly to the growth and success of the sport.

This year’s class, which consists of two drivers, a car owner/engine builder, a crew chief and a broadcaster, is truly a diverse one. In fact, the variety is so great that one of the drivers – Ron Hornaday Jr. – made a name for himself in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is credited as being one of the pioneers in the series.

Not only are the five inductees special because of their overall performance in NASCAR, but they are also unique because of their varied backgrounds which led them into their paramount roles in the industry.

Robert “Red” Byron, who passed away in 1960, will always go down in history as the man of many firsts in NASCAR. Byron was born in 1915 and began competing in stock cars in 1932 in non-sanctioned races. Before getting his hands into competing professionally, Byron fought in World War II where he was a flight engineer and tail-gunner. After sustaining an injury to his left leg in a flight accident, he returned to racing in 1946, where he drove with a special brace attached to the clutch pedal to assist his injured leg.

In 1948, Byron won the sanctioning body’s first race, which was run on the Daytona Beach road course. That same year he went on to capture NASCAR’s first season championship in the NASCAR Modified Division. Then in 1949, Byron won NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock title, which is now known today as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Alabama native drove for car owner Raymond Parks, who was enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. Like Parks, Byron is considered a quintessential influencer on many of NASCAR’s initiatives during its early years.

On hand to introduce Ray Evernham at the ceremony was none other than NASCAR icon Jeff Gordon. Evernham was Jeff Gordon’s crew chief in the 1990s, and together the two were as dominant a crew chief-driver tandem as the sport has ever seen. Evernham helped solidify Gordon’s name in the record books by teaming up to win three championships in four seasons (1995, 1997-98) and a series-high 47 wins in the 1990s. Together they also celebrated a pair of Daytona 500 (1997, ’99) and Brickyard 400 (1994, ’98) victories.

Evernham’s motorsports journey includes much more than being a crew chief. The Hazlet, New Jersey native moved into an ownership role in 2001 where he helped lead the return of Dodge to NASCAR and led his drivers to 13 triumphs, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott’s win in the 2002 Brickyard 400. After selling majority ownership of his team in 2007, Evernham now serves as a consultant for Hendrick Motorsports’ competition department.

Like Evernham and Byron, the 59-year-old Hornaday was also inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame last Friday. In the Camping World Truck Series, there are only a few drivers who have had the opportunity to share similar successes as Hornaday. The Palmdale, California born racer holds the all-time record with four Truck Series championships (1996, 1998, 2007 and 2009), with the latter two being celebrated at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In addition to holding the Truck Series record for championships, Hornaday’s name is also at the top of many other lists in NASCAR’s record book. In total, he has accumulated Truck Series records for career victories (51), top-5 (158) and top-10 finishes (234), which includes a win the 2002 truck race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2009, Hornaday added another achievement to his collection, winning five consecutive Truck Series races, a feat matched only three other times in NASCAR national series history.

Also influential in putting NASCAR on the map, except this time with his voice and not his driving skills, was NASCAR sportscaster Ken Squier. Squier began his on-air work at age 12 and by age 14 he was commentating at dirt track races in his home state of Vermont. When Squier entered the NASCAR industry, he came in at an interesting time where the sport was transitioning into live broadcast. Quickly he became the voice of NASCAR.

In his time covering the sport, Squier co-founded the Motor Racing Network (MRN) in 1970 and used his broadcasting skills to lure the national audiences to NASCAR. Squier is best known for calling the 1979 Daytona 500, which was a monumental moment in the sport, as millions of viewers experienced flag-to-flag coverage of “The Great American Race” live on CBS for the first time. In 2012, NASCAR announced the creation of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence in his name.

Probably the most touching moment of the night came when owner/engine builder Robert Yates was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Yates passed away last October at the age of 74 after a battle with cancer. His death came just months after learning he received the most votes of the NASCAR Hall of Fame 2018 class. Before his passing, Yates penned an acceptance speech which was read at the ceremony by one of his former drivers and fellow Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett.

As both a team owner and an engine builder, Robert Yates found a way to succeed. Yates started his NASCAR career building engines in 1968 before landing a job with NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson in 1971. From there, He would go on to provide engines for Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough, which later resulted in a 1982 Monster Energy Series championship for Allison. In the late 1980s, Yates became a team owner where he won the 1992 Daytona 500 with driver Davey Allison. With Jarrett, Yates would win two more Daytona 500s (1996, 2000) and the 1999 Cup Series championship, which were all won in Yates-owned Fords.

The five inductees into the 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame class were celebrated last weekend for good reason as they’ve all played a pivotal role in the evolution of the sport. Their names will now forever be inscribed among NASCAR’s greats, as the ninth five-member group to be bestowed that honor.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Feb. 2

Fast Lane Friday Presented By The Ticket Clinic

Feb. 2

Miami Exotic Auto Racing

Feb. 3-4 Chin Motorsports Car Club

Feb. 10-11 Championship Cup Series Motorcycle Racing

Feb. 17-18

Formula & Automobile Racing Association

2018 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 16

Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 18

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship Race

This year’s class, which consists of two drivers, a car owner/engine builder, a crew chief and a broadcaster, is truly a diverse one. In fact, the variety is so great that one of the drivers – Ron Hornaday Jr. – made a name for himself in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is credited as being one of the pioneers in the series.

Not only are the five inductees special because of their overall performance in NASCAR, but they are also unique because of their varied backgrounds which led them into their paramount roles in the industry.

Robert “Red” Byron, who passed away in 1960, will always go down in history as the man of many firsts in NASCAR. Byron was born in 1915 and began competing in stock cars in 1932 in non-sanctioned races. Before getting his hands into competing professionally, Byron fought in World War II where he was a flight engineer and tail-gunner. After sustaining an injury to his left leg in a flight accident, he returned to racing in 1946, where he drove with a special brace attached to the clutch pedal to assist his injured leg.

In 1948, Byron won the sanctioning body’s first race, which was run on the Daytona Beach road course. That same year he went on to capture NASCAR’s first season championship in the NASCAR Modified Division. Then in 1949, Byron won NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock title, which is now known today as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Alabama native drove for car owner Raymond Parks, who was enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. Like Parks, Byron is considered a quintessential influencer on many of NASCAR’s initiatives during its early years.

On hand to introduce Ray Evernham at the ceremony was none other than NASCAR icon Jeff Gordon. Evernham was Jeff Gordon’s crew chief in the 1990s, and together the two were as dominant a crew chief-driver tandem as the sport has ever seen. Evernham helped solidify Gordon’s name in the record books by teaming up to win three championships in four seasons (1995, 1997-98) and a series-high 47 wins in the 1990s. Together they

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

Aug 17 | No Comments
Sep 30 | No Comments
Mar 31 | No Comments
Oct 5 | No Comments
Oct 11 | No Comments
Sep 30 | No Comments
Mar 15 | No Comments