2001 Hall of Fame Class Inducted
Darlington South Carolina
The National Motor Sports Press Association inducted its class of 2001 Hall Of Fame inductees in a ceremony at the Darling Country club, Darlington South Carolina.
The annual event is a gathering of media members, Nascar officials, track owners, drivers and team owners dedicated to honoring the lifetime achievements of the sports greatest competitors.
This years inductees included AJ Foyt, Glen Wood, Bill France Jr, and Dale Earnhardt.
Foyt, who's career accomplishments span a multitude of series, highlighted by his four wins at the Indianapolis 500, a win at the Daytona 500, twenty four hours at Lemans, and two IROC championships was the first recipient.
Hall of fame member Benny Parsons who accepted the award on behalf of the racing Legend inducted Foyt, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to a commitment with his IRL team.
"He was the most dominant driver I have ever known. Richard Petty was dominant in Stock cars, but AJ was dominant in all forms of racing", commented Parsons during the presentation.
The next honoree was Glen Wood. As a driver he won four races, and fourteen poles in sixty-two starts in NASCARS top division, but his most significant contribution to the sport is as a team owner. Glen guided the family business and developed it into a dynasty. In starting cars in over one thousand races, Wood Brothers cars have accumulated 97 wins and one hundred and sixteen poles. 17 of the 50 greatest drivers in NASCAR history have driven cars for his team. Glen Wood is also the innovator of the modern pit stop.
In accepting the award, Wood thanked his family, NASCAR, and all the drivers who have every driven for him.
Following Wood into the hall was Bill France Jr. France, who's father founded NASCAR and who has guided the sanctioning body through it's period of most expansive growth and popularity was inducted by his brother Jim. France, who stepped down as president of NASCAR late in 1999, graciously accepted the honor remembering his father and noting, "Over the years we have had to make a lot of tough decisions. But NASCARS strength has always been its ability to move on, to move forward, to get better. That strength will remain with NASCAR, long after I'm gone."
In what was certainly the most emotional moment of the evening, France remained at the podium to induct the late Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt, a seven time Winston Cup champion who was killed on the final lap of this year's Daytona 500 became the first nominee eligible for immediate induction to the Hall Of Fame.
Current NASCAR president Mike Helton accepted the honor on behalf of the Earnhardt family, reading a statement from the late drivers widow, Teresa. The driver's sister Kay Watkins who had difficulty containing her emotion during the tribute joined Helton at the podium.
"I have been to these ceremonies before with Dale, that night he attended as a son and a brother, and we were all very proud of this honor for our Dad, (Ralph Earnhardt was inducted in 1989), and we all knew, someday we would honor our brother because of the contributions and sacrifices he was making to the sport. I wish it had not come this soon, but that does not change the honor or pride that we feel as a family".
NMPA President David Poole closed the ceremonies borrowing a remark form Aristotle, noting, "There is no dignity that comes in assessing honors, but in deserving them".