Hall of Fame's inaugural class made its mark at Bristol
The NASCAR Hall of Fame announced Wednesday its first class of five to be inducted, and while the Hall itself may be in North Carolina, the roots run all the way to the mountains of Northeast Tennessee.
Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson were revealed as the inaugural class for the new Hall and the results were felt three hours away.
Three large grandstand areas rising above the famed high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway pay homage to Petty, Earnhardt and Johnson for the success they found as drivers and owners at "The World's Fastest Half-Mile."
Earnhardt scored nine wins as a driver, including his first career win in NASCAR's elite series. Petty captured three BMS wins and Johnson one. But Johnson racked up 21 wins as a car owner as well, fielding cars for Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip during their domination at BMS in the 1970s and ‘80s.
The France family believed enough in what Bristol businessmen Larry Carrier and Carl Moore were building on the site of a dairy farm in Northeast Tennessee to give two races to the facility in 1961.
Since then, through the vision of O. Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., BMS has grown into one of the world's most recognized sporting venues and has posted 55 consecutive NASCAR Cup sellouts. Bristol Motor Speedway will host its 100th Cup race in 2010.