The daily concerns facing major sports entities are commonplace: ticket sales, sponsorships, television ratings. Up until Wednesday, not having a hall of a fame was the NASCAR special.
Thanks to a $195 million investment by the city of Charlotte, auto racing heroes and enthusiasts alike will now have their spot. Without an official hall of fame since its inception in 1948, the sport finally opened its doors — to a raucous following.
“We haven’t really had that in a formal way all these years, and this is going to change that overnight,” chairman Brian France told the AP.
Overnight was an understatement. Look no further than the inaugural Hall of Fame class, which sported two legends both well into their seventies.
Richard Petty pulled into the ceremonial setting in his 1974 Dodge Charger, whose commercials could have aired during coverage of Watergate. Junior Johnson followed behind in his 1940 Ford, beating the arrival of interstate highway system by more than two decades. The class also includes two late greats: NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and seven-time racing champion Dale Earnhardt Sr.
To Petty, the delay only makes for a better shrine.
“NASCAR is just 60 years old, so it took them a while to accomplish history,” he told the AP. “If they had one 25 years ago, they wouldn’t have had a lot of stuff to put in it.”