NMPA Inductee Otto helped pave way for NASCAR Winston Cup Racing at Watkins Glen. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 8, 2002) - Ed Otto, a motorsports pioneer and former NASCAR official, is one of four people who will be inducted into the National ...
NMPA Inductee Otto helped pave way for NASCAR Winston Cup Racing at Watkins Glen.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 8, 2002) - Ed Otto, a motorsports pioneer and former NASCAR official, is one of four people who will be inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame this month.
It is appropriate to recall Otto's accomplishments this week.
When the green flag drops for Sunday's Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen (NBC, 1 p.m. ET, live), it will be 45 years and one week to the day since Otto promoted the first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International.
In memory of his late father, Ed Otto Jr. has entered the No. 9 National Healing Corporation Ford for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup race at Watkins Glen. Shane Lewis, an experienced road course racer, has been tabbed to drive the car.
"This weekend is just about honoring my dad," said Otto Jr."I thought it would be neat to enter a car in his memory and as a way of saying' Thank you' to my father for all the memories. He devoted his whole life to the sport. History is important and we shouldn't lose it."
Watkins Glen was not the start of Otto's career as a race promoter. Otto began promoting auto racing events as early as 1927 and continued for a half-century. He is credited with promoting more than 1,100 auto racing events, including 25 NASCAR Winston Cup events between 1949-1965.
"Ed was a pioneer in promoting stock car events in the early days of NASCAR," said NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr." His methods were innovative and he was instrumental in helping NASCAR's growth."
Otto was present when Bill France Sr. convened with auto racing promoters and leaders from around the country on that historic day in December 1947 at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to help form what is now NASCAR.
Born in Newark, N.J. in 1903, Otto became NASCAR's first vice president in 1952. He was a great spokesman for NASCAR not just in the Northeast, but also in the West and Midwest where he helped gain a footing for stock car racing.
Otto's early days in promoting included bringing night motorcycle events to Miami (at the future site of the Orange Bowl) in 1936 and Yankee Stadium in' 37, plus the first NASCAR race at the Polo Grounds in New York City where the (baseball) New York Giants played. Otto is credited with promoting the race in which Lee Petty scored his first victory in Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1949. He also promoted the race in Toronto, Canada in 1958, where Richard Petty made his first NASCAR Winston Cup start. Petty finished 17th after"hitting the fence," courtesy of his father (Lee) who went on to win the race.
Otto also was known as an early safety advocate, and an ethical promoter who never let a driver go home empty handed.
"He always paid his bills," said Chris Economaki, sports editor of National Speed Sport News. "He did a lot for the sport of auto racing. He deserves to be in the NMPA Hall of Fame."
Otto's strong grasp on the needs of the sports media helped the sport grow in popularity.
"Today, auto racing is accepted commercially, socially and by the media. Otto was a part and parcel of that transition," added Economaki.
Otto was 92 when he died in Delray Beach, Fla. in 1996. He will be inducted into the NMPA Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 31 in Darlington, S.C. along with Bud Moore, Leonard Wood and Dale Inman.
NASCAR NOTE: (Editor's note: This is the first of a four-part series of releases by NASCAR Public Relations on this year's National Motorsports Press Association Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame inductees, who will be enshrined Aug. 31 in Darlington S.C.... Ed Otto, the subject of this release, will be inducted posthumously.)