The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America welcomed the distinguished seven-member Class of 2016 into its Hall of Fame Wednesday night in the first ceremony to be held in Daytona Beach.
The 28th annual MSHFA Induction Ceremony Presented by Bridgestone is one of the highlights of a packed week of action leading to Saturday night’s 58th annual Coke Zero 400. The MSHFA’s new hall facility, located in the Ticket and Tours Building at Daytona International Speedway, will open to the public for the first time on Sunday, with hall visits included as part of all speedway fan tours.
This year’s class includes 14-time NASCAR national series champion and two-time Daytona 500-winning owner Richard Childress; Chip Ganassi, the only car owner to have won the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Brickyard 400 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans; former racer, broadcaster and essayist Sam Posey; 15-time AMA nationals winner Everett Brashear; racetrack executive, NHRA public relations director and “Voice of the NHRA” Dave McClelland; Gary Gabelich, who chased speed records on land and water as a former Apollo test astronaut(posthumous); and Bob Sweikert (posthumous), the first driver to sweep the Indianapolis 500, AAA “Big Car” National Championship and the Midwest Sprint Car Championship in the same season.
Childress remembered a thought he had about the Hall of Fame while it was in its previous Detroit location.
“I was just telling Rusty (Wallace), going up to Detroit when they put Dale [Earnhdart] in, man you just saw all the greats of motorsports,” he said. “To be put in this hall of fame is pretty special. In the NASCAR world, it doesn’t get any bigger than to be chosen to go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. But in the motorsports world, this is the top.”
“Your heroes, guys you grew up emulating, are all in this thing,” Ganassi said. “”It’s just great to get to see and meet all those guys. And I’m shocked that they know me. They say, ‘Hey, congratulations,’ when I’m trying to introduce myself and they go ‘I know who you are.’ It’s kind of dumbfounding.”
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America held its first induction ceremony in 1989; the facility moved its headquartered from Novi, Michigan to Daytona Beach this year. The MSHFA, which is operated by the nonprofit Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame of America Foundation Inc., is the only hall of fame that encompasses the full spectrum of American motorsports: cars, motorcycles, off-road, powerboats and airplanes.
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Quotes courtesy Kenny Bruce, NASCAR Digital Media