Racing Legend Dale Earnhardt, Olympians Jim Beatty, Jeff Mullins And Floyd "Chunk" Simmons Named First Inductees Of Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 17, 2004 - The late stock car racing legend Dale Earnhardt has been named as one of four inaugural inductees of the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame. Earnhardt dominated NASCAR tracks around the country for more than two decades, winning seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships and more than $40 million during his career.
Born on April 29, 1951 in Kannapolis, N.C., he grew up in the sport learning from his father Ralph on short track races in the area and eventually became one of the sport's most successful and celebrated drivers before his untimely death as a result of an accident during the final moments of the Daytona 500 race in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Feb. 18, 2001.
Joining Earnhardt as the first laureates of the new Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame are three of the Charlotte region's greatest athletes, all of whom competed in the Olympic games and distinguished themselves in their respective sports:
Jim Beatty - Beatty, 69, was a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team and on February 11, 1962 achieved international fame as the first man to run the indoor mile in less than 4 minutes (3:58:9). His performance was covered live on ABC-TV's "Wide World of Sports" before a national audience. Beatty broke 11 American and three world records in 1962, compiling the greatest distance running record ever achieved by an American, and subsequently received The Sullivan Award as the Amateur Athlete of the Year in the U.S. He grew up in Charlotte, attended Central High School, and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a star member of the track team and a five-time All-American. He resides in Charlotte and is president of Jim Beatty & Associates, a management and executive search firm.
Jeff Mullins - After a highly successful collegiate and professional basketball career, Mullins, 61, joined the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as head basketball coach in 1985 and over the next 11 years led his 49ers team to three league titles, three NCAA and two NIT tournament bids and a record 182 victories. He subsequently served as UNC Charlotte's athletic director from 1985 until his retirement in 1990. At Duke University, Mullins was an All-America selection in 1963 and 1964 and received the ACC Player of the Year honors and the McKevlin Award and ACC Tournament MVP accolades as a senior. He teamed with Art Heyman to lead the Blue Devils team to its first NCAA Final Four appearance. Mullins was a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic team that captured the gold medal in Tokyo, Japan. He was the fifth pick overall in the 1964 NBA draft (St. Louis Hawks) and was a three-time NBA All-Star during his ten years with the Golden State Warriors.
Floyd "Chunk" Simmons - Charlotte-native Simmons, 80, played tailback on the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill football team, but distinguished himself internationally in track and field. An outstanding decathlete, Simmons won bronze medals at the 1948 London Olympic Games and the 1952 Helsinki, Finland Olympic games. (The legendary Bob Mathias won the gold medal at both events.) Simmons graduated from Staunton Military Academy in Virginia before enrolling at UNC-CH. Following graduation, Simmons spent many years as a movie actor in California and has been a commercial photographer in Charlotte for the past 38 years. Sports Illustrated named Simmons UNC's best all around athlete in a recent ranking of all-time North Carolina athletes.
Members of the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame's selection committee that chose the honorees include Jim Babb, Jim Beatty, Jeff Beaver, John M. Belk, Dell Curry, Bill Hensley, Max Muhleman, Judy Rose, Dick Thigpen, Charles Waddell and H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler.
"We're pleased to announce the first laureates of the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame," said Jeff Beaver, executive director of the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission and selection committee member. "The inductees were chosen from a long list of candidates who deserve this special honor and recognition. We wanted this inaugural group to be the best of the best among Charlotte's great athletes and sports figures over the years."
The inductees will be honored and officially inducted into the Hall at an induction dinner on April 17, 2004, at the Panthers' Den at Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte. O. Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Lowe's Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., and Jerry Richardson, founder/owner of the Carolina Panthers are the honorary co-chairmen of the event. The event will benefit the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Senior Centers, Inc. (CMSC).
About the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame
The Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame was established last fall as an entity to recognize and honor outstanding sports figures from the Charlotte region and to create greater public awareness of the area's rich sports history and heritage.
The Sports Hall of Fame will induct up to five members annually. Inductees must be 50 years old or older, have distinguished themselves through their exemplary sports achievements and good character, and have brought positive recognition to the greater Charlotte region. The honorees must be from the region (Mecklenburg County and contiguous counties) and/or have resided here for an aggregate of 10 years or more. Deserving sports figures may also be inducted posthumously. Living honorees must agree to attend the Sports Hall of Fame induction event.
"The purpose of the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame is to inform and educate everyone about the fascinating sports history of the Charlotte region and to pay respect and homage to our great athletes and sports heroes," said Dan Owens, chairman of the Sports Hall of Fame organizing committee and member and former president of the CMSC board of directors. "As Charlotte enjoys its prominence as a nationally recognized sports city with NFL and NBA teams and a variety of outstanding sports organizations and athletes, it's important to remember our roots and pay tribute to those who paved the way for this success. The Hall of Fame is a worthy endeavor that will help preserve and promote the rich sports history and heritage of our region.
"The vision and long term goal of the Sports Hall of Fame is to spotlight individuals who have brought recognition and fame to themselves and the Charlotte region through their sports achievements, and eventually to have a permanent exhibit dedicated to preserving the memory and telling the stories of these athletes."
Tickets for the dinner are $150. For information or reservations, call 704-369-0383 or go to www.charlottehalloffame.com.
Other CMSC board members serving on the Hall of Fame Organizing Committee are: Frank Bryant, Bill Hodgin, Jonathan Howard, Nicholas Leone and Darrell E. Williams.
About the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Senior Centers, Inc. (CMSC) The mission of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Senior Centers, Inc. is to enrich the lives of older adults in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, according to CMSC President Fran Mathay. The 20-year-old non-profit organization sponsors educational and social programs and provides a variety of resources for seniors from its main location at 2225 Tyvola Road and a branch location on Shamrock Drive near the Aldersgate Retirement Community. Examples of CMSC programs that are making a positive difference in the lives of Charlotte/Mecklenburg seniors include:
Grand Care: assists grandparents and other kin in raising children Telephone Reassurance: provides daily contact to homebound isolated elderly Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP): recruits and places volunteers Senior Employment Program: job counseling, training and placement Senior Respite Caregivers: provides sitters to grandparents raising grandchildren Friendly Visitors: recruits and places volunteers to visit homebound elderly Senior Nutrition program: provides low-cost meals to seniors daily Multicultural program: outreach to Latin American, Chinese, Russian and Asian immigrants Education: computer classes, drama and arts, English and Spanish classes Health and Wellness: exercise classes, fitness suite, health screenings and workshops
For more information: www.charlotteseniorcenters.org.
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