The 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class includes five people who made significant contributions to the sport. Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White were voted into the Hall of Fame in a closed voting session in Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to the five newly inducted members, Anne B. France won the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. One of these members made history by being the first African-American to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Bill Elliott (87%) was near the top of several all-time records when he retired after a 37-year career. Elliot‘s 44 wins rank 16th all-time, and his 55 pole sittings are 8th all-time. In 1988, he won the NASCAR premier series championship with six wins, 15 top-five finishes and 22 top-10 finishes in 29 total races. Elliot‘s excellence on the big stage (wining the Daytona 500 twice and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway thrice) helped him earn a record 16 Most Popular Driver Awards.
Wendell Scott (58%) is the first African-American NASCAR driver to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was the first African-American to race full-time for NASCAR, and was the first to win a NASCAR premier series race. Scott achieved 147 top 10 finishes and 495 starts during his 13-year premier series career. He earned both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships in 1959, with more than 100 wins at local tracks before making his premier series debut, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia. NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, leading the youth development initiative for multicultural and female drivers across the motorsport industry since 2004, is a lasting part of Scott‘s legacy. Wendell Scott‘s impact on motorsport diversity cannot be ignored, and his induction has shown the growth of the sport outside of the racetrack as well as on it.
Joe Weatherly (53%) won 101 races in the NASCAR Modified division, capturing the championship in 1953, won 12 races in the Convertible Division from 1956-59, but is most notable for winning 25 races in NASCAR’s premier series and 2 championships in 1962-1963. Weatherly drove for owner Bud Moore in 1962, and nine different teams in 1963.
Rex White (43%) finished among the top five in more than half of his 233 races. and outside the top 10 only 30 percent of the time, resulting a career of consistency. Of White‘s 28 career wins in NASCAR’s premier series, only two came on tracks longer than a mile in length, making White a short-track specialist. In White‘s 1960 championship season, he posted 35 top 10’s in 40 starts, while driving his own equipment. In the 1961 season, he finished as the runner-up, and finished in the top 10 six of his nine years in the series.
Fred Lorenzen (30%) was a “part-time” driver that gained superstar recognition. Lorenzen never competed in more than 29 of the season’s 50-plus races, and started as a mechanic with the famed Holman-Moody team in 1960, which he ended as a lead driver. In the next season, he won three races in only 15 starts. Lorenzen‘s best season was in 1963 when he finished with six wins, 21 top five finishes, and 23 top 10 finishes in 29 starts. He missed 26 races that season and still finished 3rd in the standings. Two seasons later, he won both the Daytona 500 and the World 600.
Anne Bledsoe France, Landmark Award Winner
Anne Bledsoe France was the financial oversight of NASCAR as secretary and treasurer. She and her husband, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., both helped bring NASCAR to the heights it has reached. When Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, she served in the same roles for International Speedway Corporation and worked in the ticket office. Anne remained active in family and business life until her passing in the early 1990s.
These new members of the Hall of Fame bring different aspects to why they were inducted, but there are no wrong decisions with any of these people being honored as such.