NASCAR names 2016 Hall of Fame Class

Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte, Jerry Cook, Curtis Turner and Bobby Isaac among the inductees.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France announced the 2016 Hall of Fame Class on Wednesday. 

O. Bruton Smith — Bruton Smith has dedicated the last five decades to not only building Speedway Motorsports but helping to build the sport of NASCAR. 

In 1960 along with Curtis Turner, Smith created what would be the hub of the SMI empire — Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Over the years, Smith revolutionized the fan experience at the track and set the standard for has come to be expected from facilities from short tracks such as Bristol Motor Speedway to the state-of-the-art Texas Motor Speedway and a modern day road course such as Sonoma Raceway.

Smith earned 68-percent of the vote.

Terry Labonte — Texas Terry won two NASCAR championships 12 years apart throughout more than three decades of competition. 

When you start out racing, one of your goals is not to make it to the Hall of Fame. You just go out and do the best you can every week, every season.

Terry Labonte

“It’s quite an honor,” Labonte told NBC Sports. “Naturally, it was really a surprise. I didn't know whether I would be selected or not. When you start out racing, one of your goals is not to make it to the Hall of Fame. You just go out and do the best you can every week, every season.

"This is quite an honor to me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with so many great people who have already been inducted. Just to be a part of it is really something special.”

The Corpus Christi native amassed 22 wins, 27 poles, 182 top fives and 361 top 10 finishes in 890 starts. He earned the “Ironman” moniker for recording 665 consecutive starts. Ricky Rudd broke that record in 2002. Among Labonte’s accomplishments are his two Southern 500 wins (1980, 2003) and his career 361 top-10 finishes which ranks him 10th among all Cup competitors. Labonte received 61-percent of the vote.

 Curtis Turner — Curtis Turner was a legend on the track and off. In 1949, the Floyd, Va. native participated in NASCAR’s first “Strictly Stock” race in Charlotte. He finished ninth. Three races later, Turner won his first of 17 career victories on the tour stop at Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway. In the following race at Martinsville Speedway, he earned his first of 16 poles. 

How dominant was Turner? He won five races from the pole including consecutive victories in 1950 at Rochester (Monroe County Fairgrounds) and Charlotte, where he led every lap and remains the only driver to pull off the feat. Turner also led every lap at Hillsboro (N.C.) in 1953 and again at Charlotte in 1958.  

Turner won the sixth-running of the Southern 500 and the inaugural American 500 at North Carolina (Rockingham) Speedway. In the 79 convertible races Turner entered, he won 38. In 1970, Turner died in a plane crash two years after his final race. He was 46. 

Jerry Cook — A six-time Modified champion with over 300 victories, Jerry Cook shared the track and the spotlight with his fellow Rome, New Yorker Richie Evans. 

Cook won four consecutive titles from 1974 to 1977. After Cook  retired, he worked tirelessly to transform the NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour and served as the series director in 1985. He’s continued with the sanctioning body as a competition administrator.  

After all I’ve done and all the years of racing and with NASCAR, this is the ultimate.

Jerry Cook

“I’m as happy as I can be,” Cook said. “After all I’ve done and all the years of racing and with NASCAR, this is the ultimate.”

Bobby Isaac — Catawba, N.C.’s Bobby Isaac won the 1970 NASCAR championship with 11 wins, 32 top fives and 38 top 10 finishes in 47 starts. The previous year, Isaac set the record for most poles (19) in a season — a statistic that has yet to be broken. He amassed 49 career poles which still ranks 10th all-time. Isaac raced from 1961 to 1976 and earned 37 victories (19th all-time), 134 top fives and 170 top 10s in 308 starts. Isaac was 43 when he retired. He died of a heart attack the following year. 

The NASCAR Landmark Award — Harold Brasington earned the Landmark Award for overseeing the construction of Darlington Speedway, NASCAR’s first superspeedway, in 1950 and North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham) in 1965. 

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Drivers Terry Labonte
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