After 60 years of racing, months of speculation and a final, spirited discussion among voters, the five men named Wednesday as the first inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame – Bill France Sr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bill France Jr. and Junior Johnson – came as no surprise [said the Charlotte Observer].
The sport's founding father and his son (the Frances), the sport's all-time winningest driver and seven-time champion (Petty), another seven-time champion (Earnhardt) and one of the most successful driver/owners ever (Johnson) will be inducted into the new uptown Hall of Fame on May 23, 2010.
Petty is the pride of Randleman and Randolph County; a statue of Earnhardt stands sentinel over Kannapolis; and Johnson ran 'shine in the N.C. hills before running to greatness in the sport.
The building that will house the hall is owned by the city of Charlotte and operated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
The $195 million hall will feature a theater, NASCAR memorabilia and interactive exhibits. The city is paying for most of the building construction through a hotel/motel tax. The rest of the funding comes from bank loans backed by sponsorships and sales of commemorative bricks.
It is scheduled to open in May.
Fore more, check out these Observer profiles:
(For some enjoyable reading -- and fantastic reporting -- check out Tom Wolfe's profile on Johnson from the 1965 issue of Esquire.)