LIVING LEGENDS: The three living members of the newest class of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees visited the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center Sunday, each humbled and surprised by his selection. Dale Jarrett, Jack Ingram and Maurice Petty will be inducted into the Hall of Fame Jan. 29, 2014, along with Fireball Roberts and Tim Flock, who will be inducted posthumously.
“It was a great honor to be part of the list (of nominees),” said Jarrett, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, two-time Brickyard 400 winner and the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. “But as I looked at that list, you could make a case for everyone on there. I couldn’t even imagine going through that process of trying to pick out just five out of those 25. I am very honored, but I was … I think shocked is a good word. Once I knew I was on the list, I knew it would come one day, but was ready to accept that would be down the road.”
Petty, the chief engine builder at Petty Enterprises and the man who supplied the horsepower for many of Richard Petty’s record 200 NASCAR wins, became the first engine builder inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“My story’s a lot like Dale’s,” Petty said. “I said, ‘There ain’t no way, but I’m gonna go on over there.’ But much to my surprise, both of us got in. I was totally shocked. It was like Christmas, wondering what Santa was gonna bring me. When they called my name, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. As far as I’m concerned, it’s kinda like being on cloud nine, and I ain’t come down yet.
Ingram was a highly successful driver in the NASCAR Nationwide (then called Busch) Series, where he won two championships and 31 wins, and its precursor, the Late Model Sportsman Division, where he won three straight titles. He was well known for his short-track prowess, and Brian France’s introduction of a “short-track ace” helped tip him off about his impending induction.
“(That’s when) I hit the guy on the left of me and said, ‘That’s it, I’m in here,’ because there was no one else sitting around that would fit that bill,” Ingram said. “I called my wife and I had to hang up, I was breaking up so bad. I about lost it.”
X MARKS THE SPEEDWAY: Charlotte Motor Speedway knows how to host first-rate, world-class events like this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600, and speedway officials are hoping that truth is evident to ESPN as the network considers who will host the summer X Games for three years beginning in 2014.
Charlotte is among four finalists – including Austin (Tex.), Chicago, and Detroit – in the running to host the action-sports contests, which range from skateboarding and BMX to Rally Car and Moto X.
CMS officials are making a final, concentrated push for their bid this weekend, sending a crew out to talk to race fans, hand out X Games T-shirts and drum up support. There is also an X Games logo in the infield grass.
“In many respects, Charlotte Motor Speedway was one of the original action sports venues, having hosted world-class NASCAR and NHRA events that have drawn the attention of international audiences for more than 50 years,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “These events combine extreme action sports entertainment with the ESPN brand for more than 100,000 fans on site and tens of millions watching worldwide. Like the annual running of our NASCAR races or last year’s Democratic National Convention, the X Games would bring a tremendous spotlight to the greater Charlotte region and on the great state of North Carolina.”
ESPN will visit each of the site finalists in the next few weeks and plan to announce the new host city by Aug. 1.