NASCAR News

February 14, 2020

Statement from NASCAR President Steve Phelps

NASCAR and NASCAR Cup Series team owners today announced the extension of the Charter agreement through 2024.

"The Charter agreement is delivering stability and long-term value to existing team owners while providing a clear path for ownership in the NASCAR Cup Series," said Steve Phelps, NASCAR President. "We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the team owners that extends the length of the Charter system until 2024. A healthy ownership structure ensures strong, competitive racing for our fans, which is a goal the industry collectively shares."



February 13, 2020

NASCAR Cup Series Champion to Receive Bill France Cup Beginning in 2020

NASCAR Honors Founding Family’s Legacy with New Championship Trophy

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 14, 2020) – To honor the legacy of the sport’s founding family, NASCAR today announced that the Bill France Cup will be awarded to the champion of the NASCAR Cup Series, beginning in 2020.  

The renamed trophy pays tribute to Bill France Sr., who founded NASCAR in 1947, as well as his son, Bill France Jr., who elevated the sport to a national phenomenon as the sanctioning body’s chief executive from 1972 to 2003.  

“As the sport ushers in a new era, it’s fitting that my father’s name is associated with the highest mark of excellence in our sport,” said Jim France, NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “My father and brother’s vision for NASCAR has been realized, many times over, as millions of fans follow and engage each week with the best racing in the world.” 

The Bill France Cup, created by Jostens, will maintain the size and shape of last year’s championship trophy and will feature outlines of the 24 NASCAR Cup Series racetracks that comprise the 2020 season schedule. The trophy design will be updated as the race schedule evolves, and new tracks are introduced to NASCAR Cup Series competition.

Bill France Sr. spearheaded NASCAR from its beginning and directed it to its current role as the world’s largest stock car racing organization. Born in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 26, 1909, he came to Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1934. In 1947, France became the driving force behind the establishment of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The new organization was called NASCAR, resulting from a famous meeting at the Streamline Hotel on A1A in Daytona Beach – a structure that stands to this day as a racing landmark.  

Things moved quickly in the 1950s and 1960s for NASCAR. As the sanctioning body’s first president, France built two superspeedways that came to personify the sport – 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway and 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Bill Sr. passed away in 1992 at the age of 82. 

Bill France Jr. is remembered as the man who followed his visionary father at NASCAR’s helm, in the process becoming a visionary himself as he guided NASCAR to unprecedented levels of popularity. France, who passed away in June 2007 at the age of 74, grew up in the formative years of stock car racing, living and learning every detail of the sport from his own experiences, and those of his father.

Bill Jr. became NASCAR’s president in January 1972, replacing his father and becoming only the second president of the world’s largest auto racing sanctioning body. His emergence coincided with the sport’s emergence, and its eventual ascent to become America’s No. 1 form of motorsports. 

For more information on the NASCAR Cup Series and images of the inaugural Bill France Cup, please visit NASCAR.com.

 

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 and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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 FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

 



February 13, 2020

Verizon Puts NASCAR on the Fast Track

Verizon to Bring Enhanced Wireless Connectivity as Official Wi-Fi Partner of 12 NASCAR Racetracks Over Next Three Years; Verizon Named Official Wireless Telecommunications and 5G Mobility Partner of NASCAR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2020) – Ahead of the iconic DAYTONA 500, NASCAR and Verizon announced today a multi-year partnership to modernize 12 NASCAR-owned racetracks and bring race fans, drivers and teams improved connectivity to enhance the at-track experience. The partnership designates Verizon as the Official Wireless Telecommunications and 5G Mobility Partner of NASCAR, as well as the Official At-Track Wi-Fi Partner of 12 NASCAR-owned racetracks. As part of this agreement, Verizon will work with NASCAR to upgrade its in-venue wireless communications service, starting with delivering improved Wi-Fi service in 12 racetracks, over the next three years.

“There’s nothing like the thrill and excitement of attending a NASCAR race and now there are more ways than ever to capture and share that experience,” said Craig Neeb, executive vice president and chief innovation officer, NASCAR. “Partnering with Verizon will offer fans the benefits of reliable in-venue connectivity as we usher in a new era for our sport.”

“The thousands of fans attending NASCAR events across the country need reliable connectivity to share and send photos and videos of races in real-time, stay up-to-date on their favorite drivers, and connect with fellow fans inside and outside the track,” said George Fischer, Senior Vice President, 5G Ecosystems and Alliances for Verizon Business Group. “As the official wireless provider for NASCAR, we are looking forward to enhancing the fan experience today and working together to revolutionize the future of the racing experience for drivers and fans.”

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season kicks off with the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, February 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM. 

 

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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 Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) was formed on June 30, 2000 and is celebrating its 20th year as one of the world’s leading providers of technology, communications, information and entertainment products and services. Headquartered in New York City and with a presence around the world, Verizon generated revenues of $131.9 billion in 2019.  The company offers voice, data and video services and solutions on its award winning networks and platforms, delivering on customers’ demand for mobility, reliable network connectivity, security and control.

 



 

February 12, 2020

NASCAR And U.S. Census Bureau Announce Official Partnership To Encourage Nation-Wide Participation in 2020 Census

New Agreement Includes Race Entitlement Rights for NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2020) – NASCAR® and the U.S. Census Bureau announced today, during DAYTONA 500 Media Day, an Official Partnership designed to spread awareness and encourage participation in the once-a-decade national census. The 2020 Census counts every person living in the U.S., across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. Beginning in mid-March, most homes will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire – online, by phone, or by mail.

As part of the strategic partnership, the Census Bureau will become the race entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series™ race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race is scheduled to run on Saturday, March 21 and will be broadcast nationally on FS1.

“The 2020 Census is here, and we are excited to partner with NASCAR to help spread the word about the importance of the census to shaping the future of communities across the country,” said Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director of the Census Bureau. “To ensure a complete and accurate count, we need everyone. NASCAR provides us with an excellent platform to educate the public and encourage them to respond this spring.”

The 2020 Census, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, is conducted by the Census Bureau, the federal government’s largest statistical agency. The statistics can be used to inform more than hundreds of billions of dollars to states and communities for services like fire stations, schools, and clinics every year for the next 10 years. It also determines how many seats in Congress each state receives. 

“We are honored to partner with the Census Bureau to educate our fans about the importance and benefits of participating in the U.S. Census,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing and content officer. “NASCAR is a highly effective marketing platform that reaches millions of fans residing in communities across the country. We look forward to informing our fans how they will be invited to respond to the 2020 Census online, in addition to by phone or by mail, for the first time in history.”

In addition to its race entitlement sponsorship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Census Bureau will have at-track activation at Phoenix Raceway, Auto Club Speedway and Richmond Raceway. Additionally, an educational campaign will run across NASCAR’s Digital platforms and air across NASCAR programming on MRN.

“Partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau for our NASCAR Xfinity Series race gives Homestead-Miami Speedway another tremendous opportunity for our 25th anniversary,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia. “We’re honored to serve as a host track for such an important initiative that affects our entire country. We also look forward to our fans experiencing all the amenities our facility has to offer, as well the exciting racing, which will feature Dale Earnhardt Jr.”

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season kicks off with the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, February 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

 

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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’).



February 7, 2020

NASCAR And Penn National Gaming Expand Strategic Alliance With Wide-Reaching Gaming Partnership

Penn National Gaming to Become NASCAR’s First Authorized Gaming Operator; Partnership also Extends Kansas Speedway Race Title Sponsorship Through 2026

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2020) – NASCAR® and Penn Interactive, a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PENN: NASDAQ) (“Penn National” or the “Company”), announced today a new multi-year partnership that will make Penn National an authorized gaming operator of NASCAR in the United States. The partnership is Penn National’s first with a professional sports league and will center around a brand new, free-to-play, mobile game named NASCAR Finish Line, which offers users the chance to win a $50,000 jackpot every race. 

In addition, NASCAR and Penn National have extended their long-standing race title sponsorship for the “Hollywood Casino 400” at Kansas Speedway through 2026, deepening the connection between the two entertainment companies. The partnership furthers Hollywood Casino’s position as the Official Casino Partner of Kansas Speedway and the race title sponsor of the NASCAR Cup SeriesTM race that is scheduled for October 18, 2020.

“We’re thrilled to have Penn National on board as our first authorized gaming operator to strengthen our effort to increase fan engagement with a platform perfect for in-play experience,” said Craig Neeb, Executive Vice President, Innovation, NASCAR.  “Coupled with our landmark deal with Genius Sports in 2019, this partnership also positions NASCAR to take advantage of the rapid expansion of legalized sports betting across the country.”

“We are very excited to enter this long-term, strategic partnership with NASCAR,” said Jennifer Weissman, Chief Marketing Officer for Penn National. “We look forward to the opportunity to provide NASCAR fans multiple outlets for their fandom, including online on a new free-to-play mobile game and at our destination casinos and sportsbooks.”

The free-to-play NASCAR Finish Line mobile game will be available ahead of the DAYTONA 500 across iOS and Android phones and tablets and can be downloaded on the App Store and Google Play store. Players can win the $50,000 jackpot by accurately predicting the race winner and the highest finishers across six different groupings of six drivers.

“I’m excited that we have extended our title race sponsorship agreement with Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway and as a company, that we are expanding our relationship with Penn National,” said Kansas Speedway President Patrick Warren. “Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway has been able to entertain thousands of their customers, not only from the Kansas City area, but also from around the country during the “Hollywood Casino 400″ the last several years. I look forward to continuing to help them entertain and reward their patrons for the next few years.”

Penn National is the nation’s largest regional gaming operator with 41 facilities in 19 states, including the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway that overlooks Turn 2 of the Speedway, which opened in 2012. The partnership with NASCAR reflects the Company’s strategy to continue evolving its business, with a focus on becoming a best-in-class omni-channel provider of retail and online gaming and sports betting entertainment. As part of that strategy, Penn National recently announced an exclusive gaming partnership with Barstool Sports to utilize its brand for all of the Company’s online and retail sports betting and iCasino products, subject to the closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur within the First Quarter. 

As an authorized gaming operator of NASCAR, Penn National will take an active role in promoting NASCAR across its properties and on its soon-to-launch sports betting app. Genius Sports, NASCAR’s exclusive provider of NASCAR data to licensed sportsbooks, rolled out several new in-race bet types in 2019 and is set to expand upon that with an additional eight in time for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Last year, NASCAR announced a series of partnerships to prepare the industry and its fans for the rapidly growing sports betting landscape in the U.S., including an integrity deal with Sportradar, an exclusive data distribution deal with Genius Sports, and content deals with Action Network and VSiN. Additionally, the sanctioning body granted all teams and tracks the ability to sell marketing sponsorships to sports betting companies and licensed sportsbooks.

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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 Penn National Gaming

Penn National Gaming owns, operates or has ownership interests in gaming and racing facilities and video gaming terminal operations with a focus on slot machine entertainment. The Company operates 41 facilities in 19 jurisdictions. In total, Penn National Gaming’s facilities feature approximately 50,500 gaming machines, 1,300 table games and 8,800 hotel rooms. The Company also offers social online gaming through Penn Interactive and has a leading customer loyalty program with over five million active customers.

About Penn Interactive

Penn Interactive (PI), the interactive division of Penn National Gaming,  operates retail sportsbooks at Penn National properties and manages the Company’s  portfolio of innovative real-money and social iGaming products, including HollywoodCasino.com and HollywoodRaces.com. Penn Interactive expects to launch its online sports wagering platform under the Barstool Sportsbook brand later this year, subject to the closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur within the First Quarter. 

About Kansas Speedway

Kansas Speedway is a premier motorsports facility in the Midwest. The track, which opened in 2001, hosts two NASCAR Cup Series weekends each year, along with approximately 200 other event days each year. The Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which opened in 2012, overlooks Turn 2 of the track.

Forward-looking Statements

All statements included in this press release, other than historical information or statements of historical fact, are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the transactions with NASCAR and Barstool Sports and the expected financial returns from the transactions with NASCAR and Barstool Sports are subject to risks, uncertainties and changes in circumstances that could significantly affect the Company’s future financial results and business. Accordingly, Penn National cautions that the forward-looking statements contained herein are qualified by important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those reflected by such statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: (a) the Company may not be able to achieve the expected financial returns due to fees, costs and taxes in connection with the Company’s roll out of its own online and retail sports books and iCasino products; (b) states may not pass legislation approving online and retail sports books and iCasino products;  (c) the closing of the transaction with Barstool Sports may be delayed or may not occur at all, for reasons beyond our control; (d) the ability to satisfy the closing conditions to the transaction with Barstool Sports in a timely basis or at all; (e) the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 related to the Barstool Sports transaction; and (f) other risks, including those as may be detailed from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). For more information on the potential factors that could affect the Company’s financial results and business, review the Company’s filings with the SEC, including, but not limited to, its Annual Report on Form 10-K, its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and its Current Reports on Form 8-K. The Company does not intend to update publicly any forward-looking statements except as required by law. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events discussed in this press release may not occur.

 



February 7, 2020

NASCAR and K&N Engineering Announce Multi-Year Official Partnership Renewal

New Partnership to Evolve Longstanding NASCAR Relationship

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2020) – NASCAR and K&N Engineering announced a multi-year extension, continuing the company’s designation as the “Official Performance Filter of NASCAR®.” The renewed agreement solidifies K&N Engineering’s activation across the sport while evolving the longstanding partnership.

K&N Engineering’s presence in NASCAR can be traced back to the 1970s when the company began providing filters to NASCAR Cup Series™ teams at California’s old Riverside Speedway. Since then, K&N Engineering has fueled NASCAR’s regional and touring series for more than a decade, previously serving as the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, now the ARCA Menards Series East and West™.

“Our renewed partnership with K&N Engineering is reflective of long-standing collaboration that has helped grow our regional and touring series,” said Michelle Byron, vice president, partnership marketing, NASCAR. “K&N Engineering remains a trusted product throughout the garage and this partnership will continue to validate K&N Engineering to our brand loyal fanbase.” 

The company will maintain its contingency sponsorship and decal program within the NASCAR Cup Series through 2021 and will evolve its support of grassroots racing by becoming an Official Partner as well as a contingency sponsor within the ARCA Menards Series. K&N Engineering will continue to work with NASCAR teams to engineer the best performance filters in the industry. In addition, teams and tracks across the NASCAR Cup Series and ARCA Menards Series will have access to an exclusive industry preferred pricing program.

“K&N and NASCAR share the same core values driven by their combined passion for motorsports,” said JR Badian, CMO, K&N Engineering. “For K&N, we’ve had great success through our partnership with NASCAR, and look forward to continuing the relationship.”

K&N Engineering became an Official Partner in 2011, one year after it began sponsoring the K&N Pro Series. Since then, the leading filter company has utilized its platform in the sport to drive B2B opportunities and market products to consumers nationwide. In addition, K&N Engineering has helped crown notable champions such as William Byron (2016) and Kyle Larson (2012) during its time as a series entitlement sponsor in grassroots NASCAR.

For over 50 years, K&N Engineering has been an industry leader in automotive filtration and technology – offering products to increase performance, protection and longevity in thousands of vehicle applications for consumers worldwide.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season kicks off with the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, February 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

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 and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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 K&N Engineering

K&N® has been an industry leader in automotive filtration and technology for the past 50 years, with a reputation for exceptional quality and customer service that millions of customers trust. K&N® products offer increased performance, protection, and longevity in thousands of vehicle applications for consumers worldwide. K&N® has maintained active involvement in racing and motorsports throughout its history, and has sponsored championship-winning teams in most sub-disciplines of motorsport. A long and storied racing heritage continues to contribute to the development of products for all types of vehicles and engines. For more information about K&N®, visit www.knfilters.com.

 



February 6, 2020

Enter & Win: The NASCAR Foundation Debuts Fundraising Initiative With 2020 Toyota Camry Giveaway

  • Camry is 2019 Championship Edition, Celebrating Toyota’s NASCAR Cup Series Title

  • Winner Announced During Coke Zero Sugar 400 Weekend at Daytona International Speedway

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 2020) – A stunning car and an innovative fundraising initiative were simultaneously unveiled Thursday by The NASCAR Foundation, in Victory Circle at the ONE DAYTONA lifestyle and entertainment destination across from Daytona International Speedway.

    This is no ordinary fundraiser. A 2020 Toyota Camry TRD will be given away with proceeds benefiting The NASCAR Foundation. This “2019 Championship Edition” Camry celebrates the winning manufacturer’s NASCAR Cup Series Title. It is an extended celebration; the giveaway will last until the Coke Zero Sugar 400 race weekend on Aug. 27-29 at Daytona International Speedway.

    The giveaway will run on NASCARfoundation.org/CarGiveaway, with a minimum $25 donation to enter. Prior to the Coke Zero Sugar 400 weekend, five finalists will be determined; they will attend the race as the foundation’s guests. The car will be on display throughout DAYTONA Speedweeks at The NASCAR Foundation hauler in front of the speedway, near the Toyota injector.

    This is no ordinary Camry, either, evidenced by these features:

    ·   301 HP D-4S V-6 Engine
    ·   TRD piano-black front splitters, aero side skirts and rear diffuser with red pin striping
    ·   19-in. TRD matte-black alloy wheels
    ·   TRD cat-back dual exhaust with polished stainless steel tips
    ·   TRD track-tuned suspension
    ·   Larger 12.9-in. front brakes with red-painted front and rear calipers
    ·   TRD piano-black rear spoiler
    ·   Sport SofTex®-trimmed seats with red seat belts, red stitching and fabric insert
    ·   Red-stitched custom NASCAR headrests
    ·   Custom graphics
    ·   WeatherTech floor mats with custom logos

    The NASCAR Foundation Chairman Mike Helton and NASCAR Vice Chair Lesa France Kennedy assisted with the unveiling of the Toyota Camry today, prior to the NASCAR Hauler Parade at One DAYTONA.

    “This fundraising concept was presented to us by foundation board member and area automobile dealer Randy Dye and we immediately knew it was a winner,” said Nichole Krieger, executive director of The NASCAR Foundation. “We want as many NASCAR fans as possible to enter and in the process, support our many programs that assist children in need in the Daytona Beach area and nationwide.”

    About The NASCAR Foundation

    The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Inc. (NASCAR) established The NASCAR Foundation in January 2006 to support initiatives that positively affect the lives of children throughout the United States. The 501(c) (3) non-profit entity partners with medical experts and other charitable organizations to fund children’s health care programs. The NASCAR Foundation has cumulatively donated more than $36 million to reach more than 1.4 million children. For more information on The NASCAR Foundation, visit NASCARfoundation.org. Follow The NASCAR Foundation on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/NASCARFoundation or on Twitter at @NASCAR_FDN.



February 6, 2020

NASCAR Announces Key Leadership Promotions

Kennedy, Martin, Rogers and Schwartz to Vice President

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 6, 2020) – NASCAR announced today several leadership promotions across the breadth of its business. Ben Kennedy has been promoted Vice President, Racing Development; John Martin has been promoted to Vice President, Media and Event Technology; Patrick Rogers has been promoted to Vice President, Marketing Services; and Chris Schwartz has been promoted to Vice President, Media Properties.   

Kennedy oversees strategic racing development initiatives for each of NASCAR’s series, including development of future national series’ schedules and international expansion. Having competed in both the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series, as well as previously serving as General Manager of the Truck Series, Kennedy plays a key role in working with NASCAR senior leadership to develop long term racing development strategies.  Kennedy will remain based in Concord and will continue to report into Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer.

“Ben is a true racer at heart and has a tremendous understanding of what contributes to a strong race from a driver and a fan’s perspective,” said O’Donnell. “His love of motorsports and his commitment to delivering great racing for our fans comes through in everything he does. The sport is fortunate to have a rising leader like Ben and I look forward to his future leadership in this important area.”   

Martin will oversee all technology related to the fan and industry at-track experience and across NASCAR’s media platforms and products.  Martin has previously served in a variety of leadership roles across NASCAR Productions and NASCAR Digital and he was instrumental in the initial roll-out of NASCAR.com.  Martin will remain based in Charlotte and will report into Craig Neeb, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer.

“John brings extensive experience and passion to this position,” said Neeb. “His spirit of innovation, coupled with his success working across the industry and driving collaboration and partnership, makes him an ideal fit to lead this group into the future.”

Rogers will oversee all marketing services across Teams, Drivers and Tracks, serving as the main point of leadership with industry stakeholders in implementing NASCAR’s integrated marketing strategy and maximizing the potential impact of all industry assets. Rogers has led the sanctioning body’s collaborative marketing work with race teams and drivers and will take that work to another level with his new, broader duties. Rogers will remain based in Charlotte and will continue to report into Pete Jung, Senior Vice President, Marketing. 

“Patrick has developed strong relationships throughout the garage and has a track record of success in developing marketing opportunities for our drivers, teams and tracks that deliver for our fans,” said Jung. “His leadership in bringing the industry together cannot be overstated and I am excited about the impact he and his team will have as we seek new and innovative ways in bringing our fans closer to our drivers, teams and racetracks.”

In his elevated role, Schwartz will continue to lead MRN and Racing Electronics and work closely with NASCAR’s media functions to integrate that technology across NASCAR media platforms. His focus will be working with NASCAR’s media partners and senior leadership to build upon strategies to distribute live audio content and dynamic in-venue technology to race fans both at-home and at the track. Schwartz will be based in Charlotte and will report into Brian Herbst, Senior Vice President, Media and Productions. 

“Chris is a seasoned industry executive that understands the opportunities that exist for our sport and our fans as we develop engaging media platforms and content across our industry,” said Herbst.  “He has a proven track record in developing strong, innovative media partnerships with multiple stakeholders that will position our sport well as the media landscape evolves.”

 

###

 

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 and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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 FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

 



February 5, 2020

NASCAR Announces Changes to NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Process

Annual class will now consist of three inductees; Honors Committee to evaluate pioneers

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2020) — NASCAR today announced changes to the NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination and induction processes, including reducing the annual number of inductees from five to three and splitting potential nominees into two ballots – one for contemporary stars and one for the sport’s pioneers.

Starting with the upcoming Class of 2021, the existing Nomination Committee will provide 10 nominees for the Modern Era Ballot.  A new Honors Committee – largely comprised of all living Hall of Famers, Landmark Award winners and Squier-Hall Award winners – will evaluate and provide five nominees for the Pioneer Ballot. The Voting Panel will meet in Charlotte on Wednesday, May 20 to debate, discuss and ultimately vote for the three-member Class of 2021 – two from the Modern Era Ballot and one from the Pioneer Ballot. All three are inducted equally, there will be no distinction between inductees from either ballot.

Competitors are eligible for the Modern Era Ballot if their career started within the past 60 years (1961 for Class of 2021). Nominees can stay on the Modern Era Ballot for up to 10 years. Those whose careers began more than 60 years ago or who have been on the Modern Era Ballot for 10 years will be eligible for the Pioneer Ballot.

“When we opened the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010, we had to catch up on more than 60 years of NASCAR history,” said NASCAR President Steve Phelps. “Our plan has always been to evaluate the process as the Hall of Fame matured. With 55 of the sport’s greatest competitors enshrined, we felt the time was right to move to three inductees which will help maintain the high standard of enshrinement that’s been set.”

“From the time I first learned of the selection process NASCAR developed in 2009 and through the evolutions implemented as we gained valuable experience, I have been a huge proponent of our process,” said NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley. “I feel our process is as strong as any Hall of Fame, sport and entertainment alike. I am equally enthusiastic about these changes to our process and concur wholeheartedly that now is the right time to transition to fewer inductees and establish a process dedicated to NASCAR’s iconic pioneers.”

Twelve representatives from the Honors Committee, including seven new voters – Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Ron Hornaday Jr., Dale Jarrett, Roger Penske, Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace – will serve on the Voting Panel.

Changes have also been made to crew chief eligibility to align it with driver eligibility. In addition to the requirement to participate in NASCAR for 10 years, crew chiefs must now also be retired for two years. Competitors with 30 years NASCAR experience and those aged 55 or higher are also eligible.

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), 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. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

 

About the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Conveniently located in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, the 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 NASCAR Hall of Fame is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for summer hours and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for winter hours. On designated Group Hot Pass Tuesdays, the facility is open for scheduled group visits and events only. An attached parking garage is available on Brevard Street. The 5-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. For more information, visit nascarhall.com.

 



February 4, 2020

MotorTrend Group And NASCAR Join Forces For The All-New Sports Docuseries NASCAR ALL IN: BATTLE FOR DAYTONA

NASCAR ALL IN: BATTLE FOR DAYTONA to World Premiere on MotorTrend’s Subscription Streaming Service Monday, February 10, 2020

(Los Angeles and Charlotte) MotorTrend Group, a Discovery company, and NASCAR announced today a new partnership to create NASCAR ALL IN: BATTLE FOR DAYTONA, a bold new sports documentary series chronicling the commitment, struggles and sacrifices of drivers, their teams and families in the chase for greatness at the biggest race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series™ season, the DAYTONA 500®. The all-new, limited series produced by NASCAR Productions will world premiere every Monday beginning Monday, February 10, 2020, on the MotorTrend App, the only subscription streaming service dedicated entirely to the motoring world.

Viewers will receive exclusive, inside access to NASCAR Cup Series drivers’ preparation for the DAYTONA 500 from the vantage point of the athletes, their race teams and families with one goal in mind – taking the checkered flag at the iconic Daytona International Speedway. Beginning Monday, February 10, 2020 on the MotorTrend App, NASCAR ALL IN: BATTLE FOR DAYTONA will go off the track in near real-time for an emotional, behind-the-scenes look at the highs and lows of real-life NASCAR racing for drivers including: Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing and Corey LaJoie of Go Fas Racing.

“MotorTrend is pushing the boundaries of storytelling,” said Alex Wellen, global president and general manager, MotorTrend Group. “Our first sports documentary series is an intimate look at the ‘humans under the helmet’ as they push the limits professionally and sacrifice personally for a victory at this year’s DAYTONA 500. Working with NASCAR, this series will give our fans a never-before-seen look at the Great American Race.”

“Together with MotorTrend, NASCAR is thrilled to showcase the biggest spectacle in racing – the DAYTONA 500 – through the unique lens of the drivers and their race teams,” said Tim Clark, chief digital officer, NASCAR. “The journey leading up to the DAYTONA 500 is one filled with emotion, drama and intensity, all to be captured by NASCAR Productions and delivered straight to race fans on the MotorTrend app.”

The MotorTrend App offers nearly 8,000 episodes and roughly 4,000 hours of world-leading automotive series and specials including the most complete collection of classic TOP GEAR (200+ episodes and specials spanning seasons one thru 25), the upcoming all-new TOP GEAR AMERICA and every season of WHEELER DEALERS, ROADKILL, FAST N’ LOUD, OVERHAULIN’, BITCHIN’ RIDES, the upcoming reality competition spin-off series BITCHIN’ BOOT CAMP and many more. The MotorTrend App is available for Prime Video customers in the U.S. on Prime Video Channels and on Amazon FireTV in addition to other media players and streaming devices including Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast and on the web, as well as across iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile devices.

NASCAR ALL IN: BATTLE FOR DAYTONa is produced for MotorTrend Group by NASCAR Productions. Tim Clark, Tally Hair and Matt Summers are the executive producers for NASCAR. For MotorTrend Group, David Lee is executive producer and Mike Suggett is head of programming and development. Alex Wellen is global president and general manager for MotorTrend Group.

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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 MotorTrend Group

MotorTrend Group is the largest automotive media company in the world, bringing together Discovery’s fast-growing MotorTrend TV, formerly Velocity, and a vast automotive digital, direct-to-consumer, social, and live event portfolio, including MOTORTREND, HOT ROD, ROADKILL, AUTOMOBILE, and more than 20 other industry-leading brands. With a monthly audience of 26 million across web, TV, and print, and 110 million social followers, culminating in 2 billion monthly content views across all platforms, the company encompasses television’s #1 network for automotive superfans, a leading automotive YouTube Channel, and the MotorTrend App, the only auto-dedicated subscription video-on-demand service. MotorTrend serves to embrace, entertain, and empower the motoring world.

About Discovery

Discovery, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is a global leader in real life entertainment, serving a passionate audience of superfans around the world with content that inspires, informs and entertains. Discovery delivers over 8,000 hours of original programming each year and has category leadership across deeply loved content genres around the world. Available in 220 countries and territories and nearly 50 languages, Discovery is a platform innovator, reaching viewers on all screens, including TV Everywhere products such as the GO portfolio of apps; direct-to-consumer streaming services such as Eurosport Player, Food Network Kitchen and MotorTrend OnDemand; digital-first and social content from Group Nine Media; a landmark natural history and factual content partnership with the BBC; and a strategic alliance with PGA TOUR to create the international home of golf. Discovery’s portfolio of premium brands includes Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the forthcoming multi-platform JV with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports and Home of the Olympic Games across Europe. For more information, please visit corporate.discovery.com and follow @DiscoveryIncTV across social platforms.

 



February 4, 2020

NASCAR, Cometic Gasket Announce Expanded Partnership

Cometic Gasket to Sponsor Pole Award in NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2020) – NASCAR and Cometic Gasket, Inc. announced today an expansion of their multi-year official partnership, designating the company the sponsor of the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™ pole award. The Cometic Gasket Pole Award will be awarded to the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver with the fastest qualifying time each week, starting at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 14.

“For years, Cometic Gasket has been a committed partner and has supported all levels of NASCAR racing,” said Scott Miller, senior vice president, competition, NASCAR. “Their expanded relationship to sponsor the Cometic Gasket Pole Award will enhance the value of the program and elevate their brand in our sport.”

Cometic Gasket’s relationship with NASCAR dates back nearly a decade when it became the “Official Gasket of NASCAR®.” In addition, the global leader and innovator in the engine marketplace began sponsoring a contingency program in the ARCA Menards Series™, then known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, as well as sponsoring billboards in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series™. Today, Cometic Gasket is the preferred engine gasket supplier for a significant majority of teams in NASCAR’s three national series.

“Assuming the role as pole award sponsor in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series is a natural progression of our partnership,” said Bob Gorman, CEO & founder, Cometic Gasket. “As a longtime partner, we’ve seen the value of NASCAR, its competitors and brand-loyal fanbase. We’re excited to further integrate ourselves into the sport and amplify our presence at the national series level.”

Competitors will be eligible for the Cometic Gasket Pole Award by displaying a decal on the front fenders of their trucks. At the culmination of the season, the driver who has accumulated the most Cometic Gasket Pole Awards in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will be awarded the season-ending Cometic Gasket Pole Award.

As a part of the expanded partnership, Cometic Gasket will continue to support grassroots racing, maintaining its designation as the “Official Gasket of the ARCA Menards Series®” as well as its billboard program in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series.

The 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season kicks off with the NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM Radio.

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 and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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 Cometic Gasket

Cometic Gasket, Inc., is a leading worldwide supplier of gaskets and engine sealing solutions for the Powersports, Automotive Performance, Marine, Original Equipment and Remanufactured Engine Industries. Housed in a 70,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art R&D and manufacturing center in Concord, Ohio, Cometic Gasket has maintained its deep roots in the powersports industry while expanding to service the Domestic Automotive, Sport Compact, V-twin, Marine, Diesel, Agricultural, Industrial and Stationary Power markets. Today, Cometic Gasket offers over 85,000 SKUs, shipping gaskets and engine sealing solutions across the globe. Cometic is dedicated to customer satisfaction and provides quality products, delivered on time at a competitive price, designed for each customer’s specific application. Cometic’s gaskets are the industry standard for championship-winning teams across multiple disciplines of both professional and amateur motorsports. Cometic Gasket is a wholly owned family business and has grown into a global leader and innovator in the highly competitive engine supplier marketplace. For more information, please visit Cometic.com and follow Cometic on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 



January 31, 2020

2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Honors Five NASCAR Legends

Baker, Gibbs, Labonte, Stewart, Wilson Officially Enshrined

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2020) – Five of NASCAR’s legendary competitors – three drivers, an owner and an engine builder/crew chief – were enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, tonight during the Induction Ceremony held in the Crown Ball Room at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson comprise the 11th Class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame – now home to 55 inductees.

Standing at 6 feet 6 inches tall, Buddy Baker was known as “The Gentle Giant.” During a test at Talladega in 1970, he became the first driver to eclipse 200 MPH on a closed course. Baker won the 1980 DAYTONA 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 MPH – a track record that still stands. He won 19 NASCAR Cup Series races, including the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where he lapped the entire field. He also won consecutive World 600s at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1972-73.

A Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach with three Super Bowls rings, Joe Gibbs boasts five NASCAR Cup Series owner championships. His 176 Cup Series owner wins – including three DAYTONA 500 victories – rank third all-time. Three drivers have earned Cup Series titles for Gibbs: Labonte (200), Stewart (2002, 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019). Busch’s 2015 title the first in the Cup Series for Toyota. Gibbs claims two NASCAR Xfinity Series championships (2009, 2016) and is the winningest in owner in series history.

“The NASCAR family is just unreal,” Joe Gibbs said, describing his original concerns about being accepted in NASCAR when he left the NFL and joined the sport in 1992. “Everyone stretched out their arms. The fans, the fellow competitors … that meant so much as we took off in racing.”

Bobby Labonte was the first of four drivers to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series (1991) and NASCAR Cup Series (200) championship. In 729 NASCAR Cup Series starts, he recorded 21 wins, 115 top fives and 203 top 10s. During his 2000 Cup championship season, Labonte exceled on the biggest stages, earning two of his four wins in the Brickyard 400 and the Southern 500. He finished 255 points ahead of second-place Dale Earnhardt for the series crown. Labonte joins his brother Terry – a 2016 inductee – in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“I must thank the France family and NASCAR, because as far back as I can remember, I wanted to race in NASCAR,” Labonte said. “I didn’t race to be in the Hall of Fame, I just wanted to race.”

Nicknamed “The People’s Champion,” for his blue-collar attitude toward racing, Tony Stewart earned three NASCAR Cup Series championships. Two of his titles came for Joe Gibbs Racing ((2002, 2005). His third title, in 2011, came as a driver-owner with his co-owned Stewart-Haas Racing team. A versatile driver, Stewart racked up 49 Cup wins – visiting Victory Lane on every style of track. He is best known for his clutch performance in 2011, when he won five of the 10 Playoff races – including the season finale – to win his third championship via tiebreaker over Carl Edwards. Stewart added a second owner championship with Kevin Harvick in 2015.

“I’m one of just 55 people to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” Stewart said. “And, considering that NASCAR has been around for more than 70 years, that’s kind of nuts. It truly is an elite group, and it’s incredibly humbling to be a part of it.”

A dual-threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Waddell Wilson provided the power to some of the greatest drivers to ever live, including NASCAR Hall of Famers Baker, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. As an engine builder he won three Cup championships (David Pearson, 1968 and 1969; Benny Parson, 1993), 109 races and 123 poles. As a crew chief, Wilson guided his drivers to 22 wins, including three DATONA 500 victories (Buddy Baker, 1980; Cale Yarborough, 1983 and 1984).  

“I love racing and I appreciate the fans and all their support throughout these years,” Wilson said. “It’s an unbelievable honor to go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it’s a humbling night for me and my family.”

In addition to the five inductees enshrined today, Edsel Ford II was honored as the sixth recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

A member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors and longtime executive of the company founded by his great-grandfather Henry Ford, Edsel Ford is always at the track checking on the Ford teams. His support of NASCAR has helped increase the level of competition throughout the industry. His leadership at Ford includes time as president and chief operating officer (May 1991-1998) and a director of International Speedway Corporation (Nov. 2007-Oct. 2015). Edsel is known as “The Godfather” of Ford’s racing program. He is on the Voting Panel for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Prior to tonight’s Induction Ceremony, former pit reporter and magazine editor Dick Berggren was presented the eighth Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.

A college professor by trade, Berggren reported from the NASCAR garage on television from 1981 through his retirement in 2012. He started his broadcast career as a reporter for ESPN and appeared on CBS, TBS and TNN NASCAR coverage before finishing his career with a 12-year stint as FOX’s lead pit reporter. A passionate supporter of grassroots short-track racing, Berggren also served as the editor of both Stock Car Racing and Open Wheel magazines. He founded Speedway Illustrated, which coined itself as “America’s favorite monthly short-track racing magazine.”

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), 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. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

 



January 29, 2020

The NASCAR Hall of Fame gets its ‘Coach’ Joe Gibbs

 

By Holly Cain

Last November, on the eve of his team fielding an unprecedented three of the four cars eligible for the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy, Joe Gibbs sat alongside his team’s former driver – now championship rival team owner –  Tony Stewart and reminisced about their time together as they previewed the next day’s season finale.

Stewart won two of his three Cup titles driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and the two men smiled and patted one another on the back as they shared their fondest memories of working together with an audience of rapt media members. They laughed. They told tales. They spoke about the many triumphs and happy times and teased about overcoming the inevitable challenges of their large personalities.

And of course, each of these two great competitors wanted to beat the other.

The next day Gibbs raised his fifth NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy after Kyle Busch drove to his second Cup title with his JGR teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin finishing runner-up and fourth.

Next week all of NASCAR will be celebrating Gibbs again, this time as a new member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame during the Jan. 31 formal induction ceremony in Charlotte, N.C. As it turns out, Gibbs will – perhaps fittingly – have the three-time Cup champ Stewart and Bobby Labonte, who won the 2000 Cup title driving for Gibbs, as Hall of Fame classmates. Waddell Wilson and the late Buddy Baker round out the Hall’s 2020 class of five.

“Well obviously, it’s a thrill for me and what you think about when something like this happens is, I get pushed out front, but I think about all the people that built the race team and are a part of it,” Gibbs said upon receiving his selection news last May – deferring as usual to those who work on his team.

“I think about the people and I am thankful.”

This year has been particularly challenging for Gibbs and his family. He lost his son JD, 49, who served as the team president, last January after a lengthy illness. But Gibbs and the team have already been lifted by JD Gibbs’ legacy.

Busch’s championship is the organization’s fifth and it was a fitting conclusion to a season that featured a third Daytona 500 trophy to open the year and ultimately the most wins (19) earned by a single team in a single season in the Modern Era (1972-Present). Gibbs now has 341 national series wins – the most by any team in NASCAR history. And all four JGR Cup Series drivers – Busch, Truex, Hamlin and Erik Jones – hoisted trophies last year.

The 2019 season was certainly the exclamation point to a humble beginning in the sport. Dale Jarrett, a 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, was the first driver Gibbs hired in 1992 when the former Super Bowl-winning coach decided to launch a NASCAR career too. Jarrett earned the JGR team the first of its 176 Cup wins in the 1993 Daytona 500 – one of the most iconic moments in NASCAR.

It was a momentous afternoon providing the former Washington Redskins head coach the assurance that his racing venture was the right call.

“He might be the first person to come into the sport as a car owner and had a sponsor lined up before he had anything done,” Jarrett recalled. “Not many do that.

“That tells you just how good he is and how motivated he is once he gets to that point he wants to make something happen.

“You talk about humble beginnings. He sat [Jarrett’s crew chief] Jimmy Makar and I down and said, ‘Look, I’ve borrowed $800,000 and that’s all I’m borrowing. If we can’t make this thing get up and going … I’ll shut this down and chalk it up to a bad investment. But hopefully we make it happen.’

“And he has built this 500-plus employee business up from literally 18 people that first year and an $800,000 loan. It’s just incredible.”

Added Jarrett, “Once you get to know Joe Gibbs you realize he’s going to be successful at whatever he does but this was a venture he had no idea really how to go about things. So, he was relying on people – just as he did when he was coaching – he had good people around him to get the best players and put his plan in place.

“It was kind of the same thing with this when he got into racing.”

The approach – Gibbs’ philosophy and his great faith – soon transitioned from new venture to championship caliber standard-setter. After Jarrett, who competed for the team’s first three seasons (1992-94), Gibbs hired the 1991 Busch Grand National [now Xfinity Series] champion Bobby Labonte in 1995.

Labonte spent 11 years with Gibbs winning the 2000 NASCAR Cup Series championship and their fellow 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame classmate Stewart contributed another two titles to the Gibbs organization in 2002 and 2005.

With Labonte and Stewart, Gibbs’ team during those seasons from the mid-1990s to late 2000s were perennial championship favorites – claiming race trophy after race trophy. It was high octane performance in some of the sport’s most celebrated days. And it remains so today.

It was also good preparation – a test for the coach who was enjoying great results but managing a team of big personalities.

“I used to try and get to the hauler as fast as I could if he [Stewart] had a bad night because he was going to tear up the inside of the hauler,” Gibbs joked with Stewart in that championship pre-race news conference at Homestead.

The two exchanged stories, long looks, laughter and pats on the back while sharing tales of their pairing. And then Stewart got serious.

“I learned a lot from this guy in the years I was there,” Stewart said, turning in his seat to speak directly to Gibbs. “I’ve said it a million times, if I didn’t work for him, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now.

“I wouldn’t be doing the things that I’m doing now. I wouldn’t be in debt like I am now,” he said allowing a smile. “And I blame it all on you Joe.

“But it’s great to have worked with somebody like him because he has worked with so many great people. It’s not something you always see at the race track.

“A lot of it pertains to everyday life, too and when you get a chance to sit with him long enough and when you shut your mouth and listen, spend more time listening than talking you can learn a lot from this guy and I promise you, it helps.”

Certainly with Gibbs’ upcoming NASCAR Hall of Fame induction and his 1996 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, this 79-year-old natural born leader from tiny Mocksville, N.C. – where Daniel Boone’s father Squire once served as Justice of the Peace – has proven the kind of leader that great drive, abundant faith can produce.

With Jarrett already in the great Hall, Labonte and Stewart joining Gibbs, next week’s honor will likely feel as comfortable as it is so deserved.

“You couldn’t write a book and have this happen,” Labonte said of this Hall of Fame class. “I just sit back and reflect on the times with Joe and it’s awesome we’re all three going in at the same time.

“You just couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”

For all the record number of trophies, major races won and championship celebrations, Gibbs’ most endearing legacy to the sport may well be his philosophy and leadership. His heart and mind – his ability to motivate and to embrace the joy in a job well done.

“He helped me as a driver and I’m pretty sure that Bobby [Labonte], Tony [Stewart], Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin would tell you he just makes you a better person,” Jarrett said. “He gives you the tools to be a better driver but just conversations with him – if you listen, pay attention and just watch his reactions – then you become a better person.”

 



January 29, 2020

Bobby Labonte lives up to family name with NASCAR Hall of Fame induction

By Holly Cain

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The indications were there from that first green flag he took as a little boy growing up in small town Texas. Bobby Labonte was perhaps simply destined to be a winner, a champion. And on January 31, he will officially become a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Even from those early laps he turned trying out a quarter-midget on a short track near his family’s Corpus Christi home, the elementary-aged Labonte left no doubt about his competitive frame of mind or his talent behind the wheel. There was something special there. Unmistakable.

“When he first started out in quarter-midgets he was either going to wreck or win,’’ Labonte’s older brother Terry recalled with a slight chuckle. “He was wide open.

“He did good though. We had quarter-midgets and I remember the first time my dad made him go out and follow me and he wouldn’t even follow me. I was just going to show him the line, but no, he wanted to pass me.

“I knew from the start he was going to be competitive.’’

Competitive and Hall of Fame-worthy. As it turns out, all those years ago on that South Texas short track, Terry was actually watching and guiding a Hall of Famer in training…his brother.

Bobby Labonte, now 55, went on to become one of the most successful drivers of his generation, earning two national series championships – the Grand National (now NASCAR Xfinity Series) title in 1991 and answering that with the 2000 Cup Series championship. He was the first driver in NASCAR’s long and storied history to win both titles.

He also earned the prestigious 2001 IROC championship and was the first driver to win races in all three major NASCAR racing divisions – Cup (2002), Xfinity (1992) and the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series (2005) – at a single track (Martinsville, Va.).

In 1994, Bobby won a second Grand National title – this time as a team owner with driver David Green.

And now Bobby will formally join Terry, a two-time Cup Series champion, in the sport’s grand NASCAR Hall of Fame in two weeks. Labonte’s former Cup Series team owner Joe Gibbs and his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart will also be inducted in this Hall of Fame class of high achievement. Joining them are celebrated engine builder and crew chief Waddell Wilson and the late, hugely-popular driver-turned-broadcaster, Buddy Baker.

The Labonte brothers become only the second pair of siblings to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, joining Glen and Leonard Wood.

As with the Wood Brothers, the Labonte brothers have a celebrated history now marked with a rare and coveted Hall of Fame exclamation point.

While Bobby Labonte and his wife Kristin couldn’t be more genuinely honored or excited to attend the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction gala in Charlotte next month, he admittedly still gets a kick thinking of how he got the big news.

A year prior – Labonte’s first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, the couple got dressed up and attended the selection announcement at the Hall. However, Labonte’s name was not among the five chosen for the 2019 class.

So last spring, for his second year of eligibility, Labonte changed the vibe and opted not to attend the formal Hall of Fame announcement in downtown Charlotte. Instead he and Kristin went for a bike ride at the time the news was to be revealed. The two are avid riders and say it just felt like a good way to deal with the natural tension of a potential life-changing moment.

“We’re about halfway into our 20-mile ride and I see on my phone – which is connected through a little computer on my bike – the word ‘Congratulations’ as a text message,’’ Labonte vividly recalled. “Then all of a sudden, a phone call comes, then another, so we just had to stop on the road and answer the phone and the texts. And I called my mom and dad.”

“They told me,’’ he continued with a hearty laugh. “‘You’re not the first to call.’’’ 

Labonte said the pride, the memories and the overall great sense of accomplishment he was able to share with family and friends that afternoon was palpable. After all, so much of his career was family-centric. When his brother Terry – eight years his senior – got a chance in NASCAR’s big leagues in the 1980s, the entire Labonte family relocated from Texas to North Carolina for support.

And it was there that Bobby Labonte really began to flourish, first working in the pits then as a competitor earning that first opportunity to immerse himself and his dreams in the NASCAR culture.

Both Labonte and his father Bob helped work on the Billy Hagan-owned NASCAR Cup Series team that Terry won his first Cup championship with in 1984. But two years later Terry Labonte left the Hagan team to drive for NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson – and his younger brother and father were let go from the team.

Instead of that being a major setback for Bobby Labonte, however, it really turned into a career send-off.

He and his father worked together to form and fund their own late model team and Labonte began turning heads as he raced throughout the Carolinas – earning a dominating 10 wins en route to the 1987 Caraway (N.C.) Speedway track title, which was a huge highlight of that time. With the prize money he began to earn, Labonte was able to fund occasional starts in the NASCAR Grand National series. And before long, his talent and determination turned humble mid-pack showings into championship caliber headlines.

Labonte soon began capitalizing on the increased opportunity and burgeoning confidence.

He fielded his own team fulltime in the Grand National Series winning the 1991 championship over another future NASCAR Hall of Famer, Jeff Gordon. The following year Labonte lost the series title to Joe Nemechek by a heart-breaking three points.

Labonte’s hard work and impressive results landed him a full-time job with the Bill Davis Racing Cup Series team in 1993. He earned his first career Cup Series pole (at Richmond, Va.) that fall and finished second to Gordon for the season’s Rookie of the Year honors.

In 1995, Labonte was hired by Joe Gibbs Racing to take over for Dale Jarrett in the famed No. 18 Interstate Batteries car. Labonte won his first Cup Series race that Memorial Day weekend in the series’ longest event, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He finished runner-up to Jarrett in the 1999 Cup championship and then answered with a mega 265-point edge over the late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt for the 2000 Cup title. Labonte finished eighth or better in the championship six times in a seven-year span between 1997 and 2003.

Labonte won 21 career races at 11 different tracks and 26 pole positions at 16 different tracks. Notably, his last pole position came in his home state at Texas Motor Speedway.

And he did it competing against a list of fellow Hall of Famers from iconic champions like Earnhardt, Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin and Bill Elliott to Gibbs teammate Tony Stewart and those undoubtedly future selections such as Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.

“The competition was tough,’’ Labonte said. “It really was in that era.’’

Of course, highest among that great list of legends that Labonte sparred with on-track will always be his brother Terry. They finished first and second in multiple races.

One of the most noteworthy races for them, however, was 1996 in the Atlanta Motor Speedway Cup season finale when Bobby won the race and Terry, who finished fifth, clinched his second Cup title. They celebrated with a victory lap around the track together.

“You can’t write it any better than that,’’ Terry Labonte said. “That was a pretty special day.

“Usually the last race of the year is the only time two people get to go to victory lane and to be able to do that with my brother was pretty special.’’

In many ways it was the only fitting way to celebrate a family that left such a bold mark on the sport. Some would find it intimidating to have an older sibling excel in the career you shared. But Bobby Labonte was inspired by it and learned from it. And he went on to earn his own stripes and celebratory hardware.

In two weeks, the sport and entire industry will honor Labonte’s impressive Hall of Fame-worthy accomplishments. And no one will be prouder than his family, who guided, cheered and took great pride in a career well spent and now again, duly celebrated.

“I think about how I watched my brother race since I was a kid,’’ Labonte said. “We always raced in different divisions growing up so I was always watching his racing, following him. Whatever he did, I was the little brother, I guarantee I was the nuisance brother. But I was always wanting to be like my brother.

“So for all this to have taken place with the NASCAR Hall of Fame, in my head, I’m thinking I got to be like my brother. That is cool and I never would have thought that would happen and it did.

“It’s so awesome for our parents. We were all like the steady boat over the high seas. Never drifted.’’

And now essentially, their family “port” is the NASCAR Hall of Fame – alongside the best of the best.

 



January 29, 2020

Buddy Baker’s gifts to NASCAR will be enshrined with Hall of Fame induction

By Holly Cain

To a whole generation of NASCAR fans, Buddy Baker was for years the gentle voice and big personality on television race broadcasts and a popular SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show. He loved to laugh and lift the audience and his knowledge of the sport was second-to-none.

He had that enviable perspective because he was such an important force as a NASCAR driver – winning 19 times despite running only two full seasons in 35 years of NASCAR Cup Series competition. He hoisted a Daytona 500 trophy, won four Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway races, was the first to turn a 200-mph lap (in testing) and steered cars for an A-list of owners – many NASCAR Hall of Famers in their own right – running the gamut from Ray Fox to Petty Enterprises to Bud Moore and the Wood Brothers.

And on Jan. 31, seven years after helping induct his champion father Buck Baker into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the late Buddy Baker will have his own place in the great Hall alongside Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson as the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees.

“I’ve always been proud to call Buck Baker dad,” Buddy Baker said as he emotionally spoke at his late father’s 2007 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction. And now the Bakers will be joined again permanently among the sport’s most celebrated legends.

Buddy Baker passed away from cancer in August 2015 but his love of the sport and the sport’s adoration of him is clearly evident from drivers he competed against to fans that adored him to the media he worked alongside.

“I don’t know if it’s possible to separate the driving portion of his career from the TV portion of his career because it’s all a part of the Buddy Baker story in racing,” longtime NASCAR television announcer Allen Bestwick said of his former broadcast partner.

“You could put [fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers] Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons in that category with Buddy. When the sport was rocketing through the growth period, they were the people that were the experts that educated people who were watching at home in their living room and newer to NASCAR. They were the people who gave them enjoyment and introduced them to the characters and the stories.

“And people that came into the sport during the tail end of his driving career, maybe did not understand what a force Buddy Baker was in his driving career.”

One of the most noteworthy characteristics of Baker’s driving career was that he was so successful despite running only partial schedules for 33 of 35 years, including the majority of the time in the 1970s when he established himself as a renowned force on some of the sport’s most iconic tracks in Daytona, Talladega, Darlington (S.C.) and Charlotte.

He was particularly good on the superspeedways at Daytona and Talladega, which during the peak of Baker’s career in the 1970s, were still considered relatively new forms of competition.

Before the late Dale Earnhardt’s famously fickle relationship pursuing a Daytona 500 trophy, Baker was the poster child for near misses in the sport’s most famous event. The 1970s were a classic heartbreak storyline at Daytona for Baker, who for example, led 156 of the 200 laps in 1973 only to suffer an engine blow with 10 laps remaining. He finished runner-up in 1971 by 10-seconds to Richard Petty. Baker was third in 1977.

During a 20-year period from 1967-87, Baker had 14 top-10 finishes in the Daytona 500, highlighted, by his win from the pole position in 1980. That February afternoon Baker led 143 of 200 laps and his average speed of 177.602 mph remains one of the fastest Daytona 500s in the 61-year history of the “Great American Race.”

In 64 total races at Daytona International Speedway, Baker earned an amazing 31 top-10 finishes and is in rarefied company to have won both the Daytona 500 and the 400-mile mid-season race at the track.

His work on the Talladega high banks was no less impressive. He won three straight Talladega races in the 1975-76 seasons – the first to string together that many wins on the sport’s biggest track. He added a fourth trophy there the same year he won the Daytona 500 (1980).

“In the early era of superspeedway racing – which we kind of forget that a lot, that these tracks were just built in the ‘60s – they were a brand-new thing,” Bestwick said. “And Buddy was so good at it and adapted so quickly to it. He was one of the dominant forces of the big tracks when the big tracks became ‘a thing.’

“That was new ground for everyone. And Buddy was a master at it.”

Perhaps one of Baker’s most important contributions to the sport as a driver was his work with no trophy on the line: testing tires, and specifically, developing tire inner liners. It was high speed, high danger work but Baker was willing to do it because he knew the outcome would potentially save so many lives. And it has.

“All the things he did, developing the [tire] inner liner, I mean blowing out tires and hitting the wall on purpose in tests – those are just things people don’t do anymore,” three-time Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip recalled of Baker, someone who was both friend (off-track) and foe (on-track).

“So, he was a rare breed and a really great race car driver. When it came to Daytona and Talladega, especially, I’d take him over anybody. He was that good.”

In all, Baker earned 19 Cup Series wins, celebrating in Victory Lane at least one time in 11 different seasons. He won 38 pole positions, including a career-best six poles in 1980. He finished with an even 700 starts finishing top five in 202 races and top 10 in 311 races.

He only competed fulltime in the 1976 and 1977 seasons. Perhaps his best season statistically came in 1973 when he ran 27 of 28 races and finished in the top-five a personal best 16 times, and top 10 in 20 of the 27 races. He won twice and earned five pole positions that year.

His best finish in the Cup Series championship was fifth in 1977. Three times he finished in the top 10 in the championship without running a full season’s slate of races. His final trophy hoist came fittingly enough at Daytona International Speedway in the summer of 1983, when he scored a 29-second victory over Morgan Shephard.

Baker’s run of surpassed expectations and shake-your-head achievements essentially came to an end following a severe head injury in 1988 after competing in the prestigious Charlotte Motor Speedway 600-miler. Baker was involved in a crash but didn’t realize the extent of his injury immediately after the race. Three months later, he required emergency brain surgery.

While Baker made a few more random race starts, he soon discovered a second career – broadcasting.

Fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Waltrip appreciates Baker’s unique place in NASCAR lore. Both Waltrip and Baker moved from the driver’s seat to the television commentating chair after their racing careers and then blossomed in the heyday of NASCAR’s big media personalities.

“A lot of people don’t even know I drove, they think all I’ve done is television,” Waltrip said. “It’s fascinating to me, but that’s a fact. I’ll mention something I did back in my heyday, and someone will say, ‘I didn’t know you did that. I didn’t know you drove.’”

Ask any of the numerous radio and television broadcasters Baker worked with what it was like to call a race alongside him and inevitably they smile. There is always a warm laugh. Not at Baker but because of Baker. He had such a way of putting people at ease. He was candid in his broadcast descriptions, oftentimes eliciting a “that is exactly what I was thinking” feeling from his audience.

His tall 6-foot-5 stature may have given off an intimidating vibe, but Baker was actually unfailingly warm and kind to people and had a way of putting people at ease. His presence on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio was a key connection between Baker and an adoring audience that respected his past and appreciated his present.

“He had a connection with people and a passion for the sport,” Bestwick said.

“Broadcasting really, to go on television, is a whole new world from driving a race car,” Bestwick reminded. “Nowadays, guys grow up being media-trained. That didn’t exist back then. But Buddy’s love for the sport and his natural enjoyment and his gregarious nature at the racetrack was able to shine through on television.

“People can tell right away if you’re faking it or you’re real and Buddy was as real as they got. He loved the sport, he loved talking about it and he loved being around it. And that all came across through television and radio.”

The connection between Baker and NASCAR fans was absolutely real. So real, that in the summer of 2015, he decided to share his most personal news with his adoring media audience. He revealed his cancer diagnosis during his final SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show.

“Do not shed a tear,” Baker calmly asked of his audience. “Give me a smile when you say my name.”

He died a month later, Aug. 10, 2015, at the age of 74. But in these next weeks – especially as the sport celebrates Baker’s achievements on-track and off – there will indeed be not just smiles, but wide grins saying his name and remembering his great presence in the sport.

 



January 29, 2020

Crew chief Waddell Wilson’s storybook career takes him to the NASCAR Hall of Fame

By Holly Cain

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Listening to Waddell Wilson share cherished stories about his NASCAR career – his humble start and his most celebrated moments – it all sound like pages from a NASCAR Hall of Fame novel or movie script. But this is real life from a bona fide legend. And he is now a NASCAR Hall of Famer.

Raised on a farm in rural Bakersville, North Carolina, Wilson started his career at the legendary Holman-Moody engine shop as a young man after working briefly as a diesel mechanic. He finished his career as one of the most acclaimed crew chief and mechanical minds in the sport – earning three Daytona 500 victories.

This week, Wilson, 83, will become only the fourth crew chief formalized into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He joins drivers Buddy Baker, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart and team owner Joe Gibbs in the esteemed 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.

“It never crossed my mind I would receive anything like this and I was okay with that,’’ Wilson said of his NASCAR Hall of Fame nod. “I never did things for the spotlight. But to get this, this is an unbelievable honor. It’s something I never thought about, but it is so big for my family and I. Just unreal.’’

For Wilson and so many of the sport’s early crew chiefs, understanding race cars was a self-taught trade with a lot of hard knocks lessons. But word got around pretty quickly that Wilson was an exceptional talent.

“I guess the main thing was I was a perfectionist and wanted everything as perfect as I could make it,’’ Wilson said. “I was raised on a farm and my grandfather was like that and he taught me to be like that.’

Wilson’s days at Holman Moody were akin to racing’s version of a Harvard education back “in the day,” as they say.

Wilson’s first job as crew chief in NASCAR’s premier Cup Series was a one-race shot in 1979 with Harry Rainier’s team. Fittingly, fellow 2020 NASCAR Hall of Famer Buddy Baker was the driver of that team’s No. 28 Chevrolet, winning the pole position in the high-profile Daytona International Speedway summer race that marked Wilson’s crew chief debut.

The next year Wilson got a second shot and was Baker’s crew chief at the 1980 Daytona 500. The two won that race from pole position and it remains, understandably, one of the greatest afternoons of Wilson’s life. His genuine love of the sport is evident when he re-tells stories like these. Asked if he had just one memory that stands out in his storied career and Wilson conceded, that would be impossible.

But winning his first race as crew chief – in the sport’s biggest race – seems certainly among Wilson’s most cherished times in the sport.

He remembers all the small details – like, for example, that there were only three people working in the Harry Rainer team shop during the offseason leading into the 500. That means a lot of work for the small group and Wilson’s first big project was getting the body of the car ready. He sent it off to a local body shop with some specific instructions on contouring it.

“But, I picked it up from the shop and they sent me a bill for $10,000,’’ Wilson recalled. “I thought, now that will get me fired.

“And the thing about it was, they were not doing it right and I should have never paid the bill. You could have bought four or five race cars for that kind of money back then. So it really ruined my week when we went to Daytona.

“But, the car was as fast as I was hoping it would be.’’

The hood of that No. 28 was painted with bright Day-Glo colors, Wilson recalled. “Because we’d be coming up so fast on drivers they wouldn’t see us coming.’’

He remembers specifically, Baker coming into the pits during a caution in the waning laps. Wilson calmly leaned all the way in the window and told the veteran Baker to have patience – the team was going to do a quick fuel-only stop but Baker, in position to score his first Daytona 500 victory, reminded his friend, “I’ve been patient for 19 years.’’

The team’s biggest competition that afternoon, Bobby Allison, pitted at the same time to get two tires and fuel. The fast stop put Baker back out front. Then a caution came out with two laps to go with Baker leading. The race finished under yellow and Baker and Wilson got to hoist their first Daytona 500 trophy.

The pair’s efforts resulted in Baker leading a race-best 143 of the 200 laps and that engine that Wilson fine-tuned provided an average race speed of 177.602 mph – a Daytona 500 record to this day.

“We get in victory lane and [team owner] Harry Rainier was in there with me and one of the NASCAR officials walked over and said, ‘You guys set a record and you’ve won $103,000.’

“I said, ‘No Harry, you’ve won $93,000 because we paid for that race car,’’’ Wilson says, able to laugh at the situation all these years later.

It would be the first of three Daytona 500 trophies for Wilson as a crew chief. He led another NASCAR Hall of Famer driver Cale Yarborough to back-to-back Daytona 500 wins in 1983 and 1984.

In all, Wilson earned 22 wins as a crew chief spread over 14 seasons. In 1981, he set a personal season-high mark leading Bobby Allison to five race victories.

During his career, he served as crew chief on cars driven by Hall of Famers such as Baker, Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip (1987), and Ricky Rudd (1990-91). His last victory as crew chef came at the legendary Darlington (S.C.) Raceway with Rudd in 1991.

He served as crew chief for Indy 500 champion Al Unser Jr.’s 1993 Daytona 500 start and he closed out his crew chief career working with Ricky Craven for the first five races of 1995.

Wilson’s drivers combined to win 32 pole positions – the first in Wilson’s Cup debut as crew chief in 1979 and the last with Rudd at Sonoma in 1991.

“Waddell could do anything,’’ said NASCAR Hall of Famer, three-time Cup champion Darrell Waltrip. “He was an engine builder first. He could be the crew chief, he could be the team manager, he just understood the sport.

“He and [fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer] Robert Yates and a bunch of those guys learned under Hulman-Moody, so they learned how to do everything. They were generalists, not really specialists. Although they had areas they could specialize in, there were other things they could do just as well.

“I think when you have a racing mentality and a high IQ like a lot of those guys do, you know what it takes to be successful with people and equipment and also how to call a race. There’s not that many people like that around anymore, the people that can do it all.’’ 

 



January 29, 2020

Tony Stewart’s love of racing will be treasured in NASCAR Hall of Fame

By Holly Cain

For those that ever watched him race; saw him win and win and win; watched him hoist NASCAR’s cherished Cup Series championship trophy, again and again and again – Tony Stewart’s place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame certainly seemed an inevitability.

And on Friday evening, Stewart, 48, will be enshrined with a group of the sport’s highest achievers in the NASCAR Hall of Fame – joining his former team owner Joe Gibbs and former teammate Bobby Labonte along with legendary crew chief Waddell Wilson and the late, multi-talented Buddy Baker.

Perhaps fittingly this Class of 2020 is one of the most diverse representations in the sport – including a team owner, championship drivers, a heralded crew chief and driver-turned-broadcaster extraordinaire.

For all his career, Stewart has proven to be among the most diversely talented competitors – winning in every form of racing, in whatever kind of car he drove.

Stewart dazzled fans and impressed fellow competitors in a three-time NASCAR Cup championship driving career (2002, 2005, 2011). He is the only driver in history to have won both a premier NASCAR Cup Series title and an IndyCar championship (1997). And Stewart is also the only driver to have won a NASCAR championship under the longstanding former points system (2002, 2005) and the new playoff system (2011).

His 2011 NASCAR Cup Series title came as both driver and team owner. And he added another owner’s trophy in 2014 when his Stewart-Haas Racing team earned the Cup championship with driver Kevin Harvick.

“Tony’s career, I look at on paper and he’s my true hero as far as what he’s been able to do,” fellow inductee Labonte said of his former teammate.

After becoming the first driver to earn all three of USAC’s top championships – in Midgets, Silver Crown and Sprint Cars – then taking the IndyCar title in 1997, Stewart was ready and primed to give NASCAR a real go.

Although he had plenty of credibility and a long resume already – Stewart actually began his Cup career after only 36 sporadic starts over three seasons in the Xfinity Series; some of that time overlapping with his IndyCar schedule. The open-wheel master did not win a race in a stock car while learning the new craft in the Xfinity Series – although he had a pair of runner-up finishes at Rockingham, N.C. and New Hampshire in 1998.

His natural talent and ability to learn quickly, however, provided all the promise and confidence Joe Gibbs needed to give Stewart a shot in NASCAR’s big leagues. Stewart made his Cup Series debut in 1999. And never disappointed.

He earned 15 top-10 finishes in his first 24 Cup races and then put an exclamation point on that first-year effort with a win at Richmond, Va. in only his 25th start – leading a dominating 333 of the race’s 400 laps. With the incredible effort, he became the first Cup Series rookie to win a race since Davey Allison more than a decade (1987) earlier.

He answered his maiden win with back-to-back victories at races at Phoenix Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway that November to close out the stunning rookie campaign. He became the first Cup Series rookie to win three races – a top-mark he and seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (2002) still share today.

The next season, 2000, going door-to-door with other NASCAR Hall of Famers such as seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett, Stewart went on to win a career-high single-season total of six races as his Joe Gibbs teammate and fellow 2020 Hall of Fame inductee Labonte won the Cup title.

Two years later – in 2002 – Stewart was hoisting his first Cup championship trophy and added another in 2005. He had won 24 Cup Series races in just those first six seasons.

It was a time of great success and happiness for Stewart, who today readily recognizes how special it is for him to be inducted right alongside his former team owner (Gibbs), teammate (Labonte) and former Xfinity Series crew chief (Wilson).  He even attended the Buck Baker Driving School and recalls having Buddy Baker on-site during his beginnings in a stock car – so this year’s class feels particularly familiar and esteemed to him.

As with another NASCAR Hall of Famer, Jeff Gordon, Stewart’s presence and success in NASCAR helped people look at the sport differently. And it opened up a broad spectrum of career possibilities for drivers. From off-road racer Jimmie Johnson to fellow USAC driver Kasey Kahne, who soon became stars as well, Stewart trailblazed an unexpected opportunity.

“It was such an honor, from where I come from, racing with him,” said the seven-time champion Johnson.

“Finding drivers that had a non-traditional route to NASCAR, those guys were a notch up for me. I can recall going and watching Tony race a midget at Ventura (Raceway). I was probably 16 or 17 years old, so it goes way back knowing who he was and watching his career in IndyCar. And then to go toe-to-toe with him was a huge honor.”

Johnson also acknowledged the honor of racing Stewart was simultaneously one of the biggest championship challenges he faced in his own decorated career.

“At times I knew I could frustrate him and use that to my advantage,” Johnson said with a slight laugh. “But the bulk of the time, I knew I had to be on my game. I mean the guy’s tenacious. If you left the slightest opening, he was going to take it.

“I just respected that and enjoyed it. I knew in the day, when that orange hood was coming, plus I had the [competing sponsor] pressure of Lowe’s versus Home Depot. I knew when that orange hood was coming, I was fighting for my life.”

The harder they raced, the closer they actually became as friends. Their sponsors were direct competitors and Johnson and Stewart were deciding Cup Series titles year after year after year. But the respect they gained – on and off-track – has been life-lasting.

“We were expected to be such fierce rivals that we joked about it and kinda formed a friendship off of it,” Johnson said.

“On my side, I just always felt when we would have a few beers and have a chance to connect. He really valued my opinion and being a young guy new to the sport trying to find my way, to have somebody really listen was new for me and really special to me in ways. This is Tony Stewart and he’s really listening to me. So, for me, maybe that was the start of it.”

As the seasons went on, Stewart developed a reputation similar to his racing idol, the legendary A.J. Foyt. He was uber-talented, but also no-nonsense on-track. And highly spirited. He left nothing on the table, in regard to his feelings. Emotion was as much a part of Stewart’s at-track presence as was his great talent to wheel any type of car to victory.

At times, it appeared any perceived conflict or underestimation seemed to energize Stewart. This champion “underdog” was perhaps most threatening in that he was a master of surpassing expectation. It was something he learned early in his life, overcoming and exceeding a lot of expectation as he made his way up the ranks in the USAC classes. He earned a shot in racing’s big-time because of his immense talent, never because of a fat family checkbook.

And that grit and gumption was on full display in his incredible 2011 championship run.

After being winless the entire 26-race regular season, Stewart reeled off victories in the first two Playoff races at Chicago and New Hampshire – his third season in the dual role of driver and team owner. A month later, he won back-to-back races at Martinsville, Va. and Texas Motor Speedway and showed up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the championship race a mere three points behind Carl Edwards.

The two had fun in the week leading up to the championship finale dropping verbal barbs like a pair of boxers before the championship fight. And as compelling a storyline as they created leading into the race, the race itself proved to be unlike no NASCAR title events previously or since.

Twice the race was stopped for rain and Stewart’s No. 14 Ford had to overcome a couple of mechanical issues that arose. But he took the lead on the final restart and held point for 36 laps, beating Edwards to the line by 1.306 seconds.

The one-two result meant the two drivers were technically tied in points. However, Stewart had won five races and Edwards had only one trophy meaning the title went to Stewart by tiebreaker. The only time in NASCAR history the points standings finished in a tie.

That dramatic and compelling championship run remains the most memorable for Stewart.

“So many things happened that night,” Stewart said, recalling the challenges.

“All the things that happened were setbacks and to be able to come back from that. That’s definitely the highlight for me.”

Stewart closed his Cup driving career out in 2016 in a fitting manner – earning a win in his last season with a last-lap pass on the Sonoma (Calif.) road course. He finished with 49 victories and 308 top-10 finishes in 618 starts – a hefty 50 percent of the time he suited up, he finished in the top 10.

Stewart remains a very engaged team owner – having won a title with Harvick. And fittingly, his team is perpetually championship-eligible, challenging for NASCAR trophies while its namesake continues to suit up in short tracks across the country – finishing his driving career right where he started it.

But with a whole lot of success in between.

“Not many people are still doing what they love to do and getting inducted in the Hall of Fame at the same time,” Stewart acknowledged.

But Tony Stewart is. And he did it his way.

 



January 29, 2020

eNASCAR Heat Pro League Returns for Second Season

Draft Qualifying To Begin Jan. 30 with an Increased Prize Pool of more than $200,000

The eNASCAR Heat Pro League® (eNHPL) announced today the return of its second season, now with a total prize pool of more than $200,000. The news follows a successful first season where the eNHPL produced over one million live views on its race broadcasts and hosted numerous live events throughout the year, such as its draft a Phoenix Raceway, a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the finale at NASCAR’s Arena 43 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The highly anticipated second season will once again offer the opportunity for gamers to become an affiliated esports driver for one of 14 official eNHPL teams. This year’s draft qualifying will be open to all NASCAR Heat 4® players on Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One systems and will seek to find the best gamers across the United States and Canada over a span of six-weeks on a variety of different racing circuits. The draft qualifying period will open on Jan. 30 and will run until Feb. 26.

Following the draft qualifying, there will be a live-streamed invitational pre-season containing three weekly exhibition events slated to begin on March 4. The Pre-Season will showcase the top qualifiers in live head-to-head racing where teams and fans can closely monitor the progress of new competitors ahead of the official team draft in April.

Changes have also been made to the regular season, which now features three segments of four races, and offers a greater variety of tracks and series compared to Season 1. Each Regular Season segment will see one driver qualify per platform for the championship race, and an additional Wildcard race winner will complete the driver Championship line up for the live finale, which will be held in the summer.

More information on the eNASCAR Heat Pro League’s second season will be announced over the coming weeks.

Stephen Hood, President, 704Games commented: “The eNASCAR Heat Pro League has already proven to be an incredibly exciting series, engaging players, viewers and industry alike. With our partners at the RTA and NASCAR, we’ve worked hard to create a new structure that will again engage our already passionate player base and audience. We’re proud to be taking eNASCAR to ever greater heights.”

Tim Clark, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, NASCAR said, “Last season proved our eNASCAR platforms provide action-packed racing with some of the most talented gamers in esports, bridging the gap from one race to the next. In collaboration with 704Games, the RTA and the entire NASCAR industry, the eNASCAR Heat Pro League cemented itself in season one as a must-watch racing series in this rapidly evolving space.”

Full information on eNASCAR Heat is available at www.nascarheat.com/esports

About eNASCAR Heat Pro League

The eNASCAR Heat Pro League is a collaboration between 704Games, the Race Teams Alliance and NASCAR. The series features 14 teams from the real-world NASCAR series and continues their competition in the digital world of the NASCAR Heat video game franchise. This esports racing series aims to be as open as possible to competitors and fans while promoting stock car racing, through gaming.

About 704Games:

704Games, NASCAR’s exclusive esports partner for simulation-style video games on console platforms, was founded in January 2015 by industry veterans. The mission was to rebuild the NASCAR video game franchise and the team we assembled has worked on the best NASCAR games in history. Our goal is to focus on the fun, engaging, and competitive racing that captures the lifestyle and excitement NASCAR brings to the track each and every week.

In 2018, international media and technology company Motorsport Network made an investment in 704Games through its video games and esports company, Motorsport Games. With the investment came a license extension from NASCAR through 2029.

About Race Team Alliance:

The Race Team Alliance was formed in the summer of 2014 to preserve, promote and grow the sport of stock car racing and to advance the long-term interests of the racing teams. The RTA membership consists of 13 organizations which field 32 cars in stock car racing premier series.

The RTA is a forum for open dialogue among the members about issues of common interest, provides a point of contact for those who wish to engage with the teams collectively and a vehicle through which the teams can speak with a single, common voice. The RTA works collaboratively for the betterment of the sport and to create value for its members and their partners.

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 and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, 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’).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.