The induction ceremony airs beginning at 7PM Eastern Standard Time on NBCSports network.
I must begin with Wendell Scott. As you may have seen previously on my blog, Wendell Scott is someone I idolize. He overcame massive amounts of discrimination to do what he loved to do, which is drive race cars. He is the only driver I know of to not be allowed to enter a racetrack simply due to the color of his skin. He is the only driver to not win Rookie of the Year for the same reason. He is the only driver to not get credited with his win for the same reason. I believe he most likely has more than the one major win he is credited with as well.
Some people argue that he only has one recognized victory- but it's awfully hard to win races when they don't even let you into the track. That's a simplification of the struggles he went through, but it gets the point across. What he overcame, what he accomplished, he is without a shadow of a doubt Hall of Fame Worthy. Also, it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Wins.
Aside from his one recognized Grand National victory, which came December 1st, 1963 at Jacksonville, Florida, he also won several lower level championships and an unknown- but high number- of races. Unfortunately records were not kept that I know of.
He raced 495 GN/Winston Cup races, from 1961-1973, and would likely have raced longer if not for injuries he suffered at Talladega. Unfortunately he passed away in 1990, from cancer.
Wendell Scott Career Statistics /// Wendell Scott's Trading Cards /// Wendell Scott's Diecast replicas
Mr. Scott has not received many trading cards. He got several in the early 1990s, and two were issued in his lifetime- one was a topic of a previous post- but then he went from 1994 to 2010 without a single card. I just learned the 2010 card existed today, as I was getting the links to create this post, so it is not credited to him on the Database as yet. He was not included in any of the Legends issues Press Pass produced from 2005 through 2013.
I have a bit of a personal connection to Mr. Scott and his entry into the Hall of Fame, although small. Back in either 2008 or 2009, I discovered that there was not a single page on Facebook honoring him. So, I created one, and it became THE place to go for Wendell Scott information and pictures on Facebook, which eventually led to being the place to organize his fans for voting in the Hall of Fame fan balloting, which he won. It's a light connection, to be sure, but it is a small connection. What's even better though is the fact that I've since become friends with many of his other fans, and even two of his children and one of his grandchildren. That's the most rewarding aspect of all.
NASCAR Legend Wendell Scott on Facebook
Joe Weatherly, aka Little Joe or the Clown Prince of Racing, was the only multiple Championship winning driver not yet enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Of the 5 going in, I know the least about him, mainly due to the fact that he was killed in an accident more than 20 years before I was born. He ran 230 Grand National races, winning 25 of them, along with the 1962 and 1963 Championships. He was running with the same team in 1964, when a crash at Riverside ended his life on January 19th of that year. Unfortunately the most well known fact about Mr. Weatherly is not a fact at all, but a myth- he did NOT, absolutely under any circumstances, hit his head on the wall, as has been making the rounds for years and even appears on NASCAR.com. I've seen pictures of the accident (and wish I hadn't) but his helmet was fine- not even scratched. He was known as a practical jokester- and his fun with Curtis Turner is legendary. (As an aside, I fully expect and hope Curtis Turner will be in the class of 2016)
Joe Weatherly Career Statistics /// Joe Weatherly Trading Cards /// Joe Weatherly Diecast Replica
Mr. Weatherly has very little in the way of cards. The Database turns up a paltry 7, 5 of them coming from the Galfield Press Pioneers of Racing set, as shown below.
Rex White, 1960 NASCAR Champion, is the oldest living former Champion of NASCAR's top division, and holds the mark of winning the closest race ever held to my home, roughly 35 minutes away, at a track visited by NASCAR only once, during 1960. Mr. White ran 233 races between 1956 and 64, winning 28 of them, mostly on short tracks. The majority of his races were in cars he co-owned with Louie Clements. Mr. White is currently enjoying his retirement, and has been spotted at many get togethers of the sport's past, which unfortunately for me are held nowhere close to where I am.
Rex White Career Statistics /// Rex White Trading Cards /// Rex White Diecast Replica
Mr. White has appeared on many cards, over 100, including many of the Legends sets produced by Press Pass.
Shown here is 1991 Pro Set Legends and his autograph from 2009 Press Pass Legends.
Next comes Fred Lorenzen, winner of the 1965 Daytona 500. Illinois born Lorenzen is one of few northerners to be accepted whole-heartedly by many southern fans (I've actually been on the receiving end of a few rather unpleasant remarks by some rather unintelligent people due to being a NASCAR fan from New York state), and picked up the nickname "Golden Boy" due to his success at a young age and yellow hair (which sometimes appears to be brown or even black in black and white photos). Before moving to NASCAR, Lorenzen raced in the USAC stock car series. He ran 158 races between 1956 and 1972, and won 26 of them. He never ran a full schedule so he never had a chance to win the Championship. The most he ever ran in one year was 29 of the 55 races, in 1963 (he won 6 of them). He retired during the 1967 season but made a comeback in 1970, however, he never won again. After he hung up the helmet for good after 1972, he dealt in real estate. He is currently in extremely poor health, living in an Illinois nursing home. I saw on Facebook that he was able to get to the Hall of Fame for tonight's ceremonies, which I am happy to see.
Fred Lorenzen Career Stats /// Fred Lorenzen Trading Cards /// Fred Lorenzen Diecast replicas
He has been a popular subject for trading card releases, appearing on over 200. He is one of the few early drivers to have cards released during his career, getting two cards in the 1972 STP set, which is not too surprising considering they were his sponsor that season. They are quite rare and expensive, and I don't have any in my collection to show.
Last comes Bill Elliott, who while certainly has a Hall of Fame worthy career, I don't think should be in yet. For this year, NASCAR waved the 5 year retirement rule, and Elliott raced as late as 2012. I think he should not have been eligible until 2017, but...I don't make the rules. Let me state again, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, without question. Not to take anything away from Mr. Elliott, he has actually put up the best numbers of any of the Class of 2015, appearing in 828 races over 37 years (!) and winning 44 of them. He also won the 1988 Winston Cup Championship and the 1985 Winston Million, which is winning three of NASCAR's Crown Jewel events in the same season- one of only three drivers to do so. (LeeRoy Yarbrough, Jeff Gordon). Elliott also holds the record for the fastest pole speed in NASCAR, putting up a staggering 212 mile per hour lap at Talladega in 1987. (granted, without restrictor plates, they would be going around 230 MPH there now, or more) Elliott was still winning in 2003 when he decided to not race full time anymore, and finally decided in 2012 to concentrate on helping his son Chase Elliott move up in NASCAR's world- which was apparently a good choice, as Chase became the first ever rookie Champion in 2014, and we learned yesterday he will be moving to Cup full time in 2016. Bill Elliott also won the Most Popular Driver award 16 times, most of them consecutively. It's been a truly amazing career, and entire generations of fans- myself included- don't know a NASCAR without Bill Elliott. After all, he's been involved since 1976.
Bill Elliott Career Statistics /// Bill Elliott Trading Cards /// Bill Elliott Diecast Replicas
Bill Elliott also has more cards than all the rest of the 2015 Inductees combined, nearly 1500 cards. And that is even with the fact that he was not signed to Press Pass from 2001-2009!
The Hall of Fame is the recognition of a life's work - the highest honor NASCAR can bestow on it's contributors - and all five men in the Class of 2015 are certainly worthy of being memorialized forever.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you join me in the television audience tonight.