Latest NASCAR Hall-of-Fame Class Has Strong Ties To Bristol
The class of 2015 for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday and the impact of Bristol Motor Speedway on the careers of the new members - and their impact on Bristol - cannot be overlooked.
Even with a career that went beyond the definition of domination on superspeedways, million-dollar bonuses and gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville launched pursuit of his 1988 NASCAR Cup title with the first short-track win of his career on the high banks of Bristol. He solidified his run to the title by returning to Bristol that August to finish second. In 14 career top-10s at Bristol are solid numbers.
But Elliott's ability to take care of his equipment was evident in his career at The Last Great Colosseum. At a place where just finishing a race is a challenge, Elliott was still running at the finish in 39 of his 44 career races at BMS.
The first "Dominator" at Bristol, Fred Lorenzen earned three of his 26 career wins and four of his 32 poles in the Northeast Tennessee Hills.
Despite staring only 12 races at Bristol, Lorenzen's performance in the Holman-Moody Ford was legendary.
Lorenzen only completed 3,607 laps at Bristol but led 1,119 of them. In five races from 1962-64, "Fast Freddie" won three and finished second in the other two. In four of those races, he led 1,115 of 2,000 laps run, despite leading just a single lap in one of those races.
In the 12 races, he qualified lower than eighth just once and on the front row (first or second) eight times.
Always underfunded with resources and overfunded with desire, Wendell Scott did more with less at Bristol Motor Speedway than nearly any other driver in history.
In 20 races at Bristol, 17 in machines prepared and paid for by him and a crew made up mostly of family, Scott posted five top-10 finishes. But that is only part of the story.
Looking a bit deeper and one sees that in 18 of those races, Scott finished better than he started and in 12 of those 20 Scott's finishing position was in improvement of more than 10 spots. His best run at Bristol came in a three-race stretch in 1965-66 when Scott's average start was 24.7 and average finish was 6.7.
Two-time NASCAR premier series champion Joe Weatherly's brilliant career, and thus his time at Bristol, was cut short. But Weatherly made the most of his time.
Weatherly drove in just six races at Bristol, his best run coming in the second event at the Speedway in 1961. Leading 84 laps, Weatherly was ready to take advantage of Junior Johnson's problems to give NASCAR Hall-of-Fame car owner Bud Moore a win at Bristol.
In his six races here, Weatherly posted five top-10 finishes - his lone miss being an 11th-place run. He never started a race at Bristol deeper than 13th in the field.
In seven career races at Bristol, 1960 NASCAR champ Rex White posted four top-10 finishes. Running six times in his own equipment, White's best year at Bristol came in the track first year in 1961 as the man who finished in the top-10 in 70 percent of the races in his career was defending his title. Two top-10 qualifying efforts led to a runner-up finish to Joe Weatherly in October of that season.