Darlington Record Club induction banquet

UNOCAL/DARLINGTON RECORD CLUB INDUCTION BANQUET The annual induction banquet for the Unocal/Darlington Record Club was held Friday night at the Darlington Country Club. The 1996 inductees, the fastest qualifier from each make of car in the ...

UNOCAL/DARLINGTON RECORD CLUB INDUCTION BANQUET

The annual induction banquet for the Unocal/Darlington Record Club was held Friday night at the Darlington Country Club. The 1996 inductees, the fastest qualifier from each make of car in the previous year's Mountain Dew Southern 500, were John Andretti (Ford), Dale Earnhardt (Chevrolet) and Ward Burton (Pontiac). Record Club members present were outgoing President Geoff Bodine, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, H.B. Bailey, Buck Baker, Dick Brooks, Neil Castles, Bill Elliott, Bobby Hillin, Ernie Irvan, Junior Johnson, Bobby Labonte, Elmo Langley, Dave Marcis, Ed Negre, Cotton Owens, Benny Parsons, David Pearson, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Lake Speed, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough. The inductees from the 1996 Mountain Dew Southern 500 will be Busch Pole winner Dale Jarrett (Ford), Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet) and Rick Mast (Pontiac). All three first-time inductees set qualifying records for their respective makes of car.

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 37 Kmart/Little Caesars Ford) -- This is the biggest thing to happen to me since I've been in Winston Cup racing. I've won just about everywhere, but this is the first thing I've won in Winston Cup. This has been a tough year and I needed something like this to remind me that not all is bad -- there's plenty of good things there, too. (Andretti was elected president of the club for 1997. As such he will conduct rookie drivers' meetings at each NASCAR Winston Cup venue.) I think this is one more notch of acceptance. This is a small club, an elite club. There's some great champions in this club and some great champions who aren't. I didn't follow NASCAR that close coming up, because I was in open wheelers and with my uncle (Mario Andretti) and all. But I knew these guys' names and their histories, and I never thought I'd be in a club that those people were a part of. I don't know what I'm going to say to the rookies -- I'm the only guy who's been president lately who hasn't won a race (in fact, 1995 President Bobby Labonte had not won a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race when he was elected president in '94). It hasn't been that long ago that I was a rookie so I think I can tell 'em the ins and the outs, how tough it can be and what they can do to make it smoother. I guess I'll tell 'em when they're heading for the wall to close their eyes and buckle down! GEOFF BODINE (No. 7 QVC Ford) -- This club was a great idea (told that Unocal's Dick Dolan had originated the club in 1959). It was a real learning experience for me -- first I had to learn how to get up early! I learned how to talk to the rookies, and how to be a story teller. I had to make up a lot of stories!

WARD BURTON (No. 22 MBNA America Pontiac) -- This is neat. Hopefully we'll get back in this thing somewhere in the future. That's what we come to Darlington for -- to run good. Whether it'll be next year or the year after that, I don't know. But we'll be back at this (head) table. This is what we come to the races for -- to be the best. Darlington is a neat place!

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Ken Schrader , Mario Andretti , Dave Marcis , Rick Mast , Benny Parsons , Junior Johnson , Donnie Allison , Cale Yarborough , David Pearson