But before the engines are fired next month at Daytona International Speedway, there’s unfinished business – the celebration of those who built the foundations of the sport.
The 2013 NASCAR racing season officially begins on Friday, Feb. 8 with the induction of five legendary men into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. – NASCAR premier series champions Buck Baker, Herb Thomas and Rusty Wallace; championship car owner Cotton Owens and crew chief extraordinaire Leonard Wood.
Baker and Thomas won two championships apiece in the rough and tumble 1950s. Wallace, now an ESPN analyst, became champion in 1989 as the sport’s footprint broadened through the medium of network and cable television.
Owens supplied the cars and horsepower that carried many famous drivers into Victory Lane – and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson to his first of three championships in 1966.
Wood, the architect of the lightning quick pit stop, follows his older brother Glen into the NASCAR Hall of Fame – a pioneer whose family has fielded winners through five generations of NASCAR Sprint Cup cars.
And – for the first time – media members who have contributed to the growth of NASCAR over more than six decades will be honored by NASCAR. This year’s induction events will feature the presentation of the first Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence – named in honor of its first recipients, pioneer NASCAR industry radio and television personalities Ken Squier and Barney Hall.
Squier and Hall’s careers have been intertwined since intersecting with the creation of the longtime Voice of NASCAR, the Motor Racing Network in 1970. Their expert observations on the sport have thrilled generations of NASCAR fans for more than 40 years and continue to do so today.
Vermont native Squier began his career as a race track public address announcer at the age of 14 and is a longtime New England radio station and track owner. Squier joined the Motor Racing Network in 1970 and for nearly two decades anchored NASCAR on CBS broadcasts before shifting to the studio as host for NASCAR broadcasts until 2000.
Squier, who called CBS’ first flag-to-flag coverage of the Daytona 500 in 1979 – and the post-race fight involving Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison – is credited with naming the event the “Great American Race.” He continues to enlighten NASCAR fans through periodic appearances on SPEED.
Hall, a native of Elkin, N.C., began his broadcast career in the 1950s working at local radio stations in North Carolina. He served as Bristol Motor Speedway’s first public address announcer when the track opened and called his first Daytona 500 in 1960 – missing only three broadcasts in the 54-year history of the classic event.
Hall joined the Motor Racing Network as an original announcer at the network’s inception in 1970, first as a turn announcer and then moving to the broadcast booth in the late 70s – from which he continues to provide word pictures for NASCAR’s many radio fans. Hall is widely known for his calm voice and unmatched story telling.
Induction of the fourth class brings the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s membership to 20. Ceremonies will take place at 7:30 p.m. ET in the Crown Ball Room at the Charlotte Convention Center and will air live on SPEED. The event is the first half of NASCAR Acceleration Weekend followed on Saturday, Feb. 9 by NASCAR Preview 2013.
Appearances by members of the classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012 are set for 4 p.m. at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, followed by 5 p.m. Induction Reception and 6 p.m. NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Jacket Presentation, the latter two events taking place in the Charlotte Convention Center Ballroom.
Tickets for the ceremonies start at $45 (available atwww.nascaracceleration.com) and the NASCAR Hall of Fame box office. In addition, a $20 ticket will gain fans all-day access into NASCAR Preview 2013 and the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Fame on Saturday, Feb. 9.
More than 50 drivers across NASCAR’s three national series – NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – are scheduled to participate in the all-day NASCAR Preview 2013 event. Fans will have the opportunity to interact with drivers and secure autographs, participate in driver Q&A sessions, get a first-look at the new sixth-generation NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race cars and paint schemes and check out various interactive displays, among other activities.
Drivers include 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, five-time premier series winner Jimmie Johnson and NASCAR’s 10-time Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, three-time series champion Tony Stewart,two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series most popular driver Danica Patrick, and 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher also will be on hand.
The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season kicks off Saturday, Feb. 16 with the Shootout at Daytona, a non-points race for 2012 Coors Light Pole winners. The 55th Daytona 500 is scheduled for 1 p.m. ETC Sunday, Feb. 24 at Daytona International Speedway with coverage by FOX Sports, MRN and SIRIUSXM.
Via the NASCAR Media site