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Induction Honors Spectrum of Skills
During a ceremony that celebrated talents and personalities from a wide array of eras and racing levels, five legends added their names - and astounding legacies - to the list of inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Their induction - the fifth in the hall's history - now puts the number of inductees at 25.
Those inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., tonight included Maurice Petty, Fireball Roberts, Jack Ingram, Tim Flock and Dale Jarrett.
Maurice Petty, chief engine builder for Petty Enterprises, powered his brother Richard Petty to most of his NASCAR premier series record 200 wins and all seven of his championships. Petty, who has the honor of being the first engine builder inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, became the fourth member of the Petty family to be enshrined - joining Richard, father Lee Petty and cousin Dale Inman.
"It's an honor and a privilege for me to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame," Petty said. "Who would have thought growing up that there would be guys, four of us, out of a small, rural country community that would be in the (NASCAR) Hall of Fame."
Glenn "Fireball" Roberts, who was inducted by his grandson Matt McDaniel, was considered by many as the first superstar of NASCAR. A seven-time winner at his home track of Daytona International Speedway - including the 1962 Daytona 500 - Roberts earned his nickname as a hard-throwing pitcher in high school. Roberts passed away in 1964.
"We are proud that our grandfather, who sacrificed his life to racing, is being honored by NASCAR, the organization that set the scene for a life well lived," McDaniel said. "There is no doubt that our grandfather would have shared this special night with everyone who influenced and had an impact on him during his career, including his family, friends, colleagues and fans."
Jack Ingram, arguably the greatest driver in NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series history, won championships in two different series throughout his prolific career. From 1972-74, he won three consecutive Late Model Sportsman - the precursor to the current-day NASCAR Nationwide Series - and two NASCAR Busch Series titles, including the inaugural championship in 1982. Overall, Ingram racked up more than 300 NASCAR wins and 12 track championships.
"I'm honored to be here tonight …it's beyond words," Ingram said. "This is a major lifetime achievement for me. While I've won driving the car, I had plenty of help and support along the way; otherwise I wouldn't be here tonight."
Tim Flock, another member of a successful racing family, raced during NASCAR's formative years - and became only the second driver to win multiple championships. Along with titles in 1952 and '55, Flock scored 18 victories in 1955 - a single-season record until Richard Petty broke it with 27 wins in 1967. Flock, with brothers Fonty and Bob and sister Ethel Mobley, are the only four siblings to start a NASCAR event (Daytona Beach & Road Course, July 10, 1949). Flock passed away in 1998.
"I bet my darling and all the passed drivers are having one huge race up in heaven tonight," said Frances Flock, Tim's widow. "My darling passed away 16 years ago. He would be so proud and humbled to receive this honor tonight and is still remembered for his racing career."
Few exceled on the big stage like Dale Jarrett, the 1999 NASCAR premier series champion. Among Jarrett's 32 career premier series victories were three Daytona 500 wins (1993, '96 and 2000) and two Brickyard 400 victories at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (1996 and '99). With his induction, Jarrett joins his father Ned as the fourth father-son combination in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The others are Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr., and Lee and Richard/Maurice Petty.
"I'm honored to accept this induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame," said Jarrett. "I have always considered it a privilege to represent NASCAR during my career. … I am honored that many of you could join me here tonight. Just know that if we worked together during my 31 years of driving or the last six years in the world of television, I have thought about you and appreciate the opportunity we had to work together. Your efforts and sacrifices are the reason I'm here tonight."
Each of the five inductees had an inductor who officially welcomed them into the hall. The inductors for the five inductees: Maurice was inducted by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty; Fireball Roberts was inducted by his former engine builder Waddell Wilson; Jack Ingram was inducted by fellow competitor Harry Gant; Tim Flock was inducted by Humpy Wheeler, with whom he worked at Charlotte Motor Speedway for 30 years; and Dale Jarrett was inducted by country music superstar Blake Shelton, with whom he has been friends for the past decade.
Active drivers introduced each inductee video during tonight's program. The list of drivers who participated: Aric Almirola for Maurice Petty; Jeff Gordon for Fireball Roberts; Jimmie Johnson for Jack Ingram; Kevin Harvick for Tim Flock; and Tony Stewart for Dale Jarrett.
Prior to tonight's Induction Ceremony was the presentation of the second Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, awarded to Chris Economaki.
Known as the "Dean of American Motorsports," Economaki, who died in 2012 at age 91, was the editor, publisher and columnist for National Speed Sport News for more than 60 years, a weekly racing publication he began selling at race tracks at the age of 14. He began his television broadcast career with ABC in 1961 and with CBS Sports helped make the Daytona 500 one of racing's marquee events.