Hall of Fame Welcomes Class of 2016

NASCAR

Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner were inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Saturday.

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The NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 - Bobby Isaac, Jerry Cook, Curtis Turner, O. Bruton Smith and Terry Labonte - were inducted on Saturday during a ceremony in uptown Charlotte.

After inclement weather conditions moved the Induction Ceremony from Friday to Saturday, the festivities started with a luncheon where the presentation of custom Hall of Fame jackets were given to inductees and family members. Also, Bryson Byrnes accepted the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence on behalf of his father Steve, who lost his courageous battle with cancer last April.

The seventh Hall of Fame ceremony began with Ryan Newman introducing a video presentation for Bobby Isaac, who captured 49 poles, 37 race wins and the 1970 championship.

"Winning a pole in NASCAR's premier series means you've taken your racecar right to the edge of mayhem," said Newman, who currently has 51 career poles. "One false move equals disaster. Perfection equals glory, and our next inductee did it better than anyone. His 19 poles in 1969 still stands as NASCAR's single season record. I know I've tried to beat it."

Isaac, who passed away in 1977, was inducted by his son, Randy, and his wife, Patsy, accepted in his honor.

"Bobby began his racing career at Hickory Speedway in 1949 at the age of 17," Patsy Isaac said. "He ended his career at Hickory Speedway on August 13, 1977. He died at the age of 45 doing what he loved to do, but he died far too soon. Bobby would have been so proud of this honor."

Jerry Cook, winner of six NASCAR Modified championships, including four consecutively from 1974-77, took to the stage next after he was inducted by former NASCAR VP of Competition Robin Pemberton and introduced by Tony Stewart.

"I am proud that I have been a part of the growth of NASCAR for over 20 years as a car owner and driver and now 34 years on the administrative side helping the sport to grow into what NASCAR is today," Cook said. "For me, it's always been NASCAR. I've spent my entire life in the greatest sport in the world, and to be honored in this way today, to be here and be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, along with all the greatest names in the sport, is the pinnacle of my career."

Cook had his family in attendance, including his wife Sue.

"Sue and I met at Utica Rome Speedway in New York in 1964, and now she's been the best friend and partner," Cook said. "Sue, you have been a large part of our success, and happy birthday."

Kevin Harvick introduced the video tribute for the late Curtis Turner.

"Known as the Babe Ruth of stock car racing, this pioneer entertained NASCAR's earliest fans with not only his ability to whip a car around the track but also with his colorful personality away from the wheel," Harvick said. "More than 45 years since his final race, this sultan of speed remains the only driver to win two consecutive races from the pole leading every lap."

Leonard Wood, 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, presented the Hall of Fame ring to Turner's daughter, Margaret Sue Turner Wright.

"Curtis Turner was really many things to many people," Margaret Sue Turner Wright said. "He was a star to some people, a great race car driver to many people, a track president, a track promoter and an owner, and an entrepreneur, and we just called him Dad or Daddy."

Bruton Smith, executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., was inducted by Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip. Smith was introduced by Brad Keselowski and was joined on stage by his son, Marcus, who is SMI's chief executive officer.

Smith built Charlotte Motor Speedway and the track became the foundation of SMI, which currently owns eight NASCAR tracks.

"Being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame is truly an honor," Smith said. "For nearly 60 years, my life's work has been to build first-rate facilities and host world-class events for fans around the country. Along with thousands of my employees, I have worked hard for the fans in hopes of providing each of them a truly unforgettable experience every time they walk through the gates. When I say, 'we work for the fans,' I really take it to heart. I look forward to seeing Speedway Motorsports continue to lead the way in innovation and fan fun for many years to come."

Two-time Cup Series champion Terry Labonte was the last to get inducted during Saturday afternoon's ceremony with reigning Cup champion Kyle Busch introducing him on stage. 

"My first full time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, I had the pleasure and pressure of following in the footsteps of a living legend," Busch said. "Saying I had huge shoes to fill was an understatement. Early in his career, the two-time series champion, known as the 'Ice Man', for his coolness under pressure."

Labonte's daughter, Kristy Garrett, presented her father with his Hall of Fame ring.

"I got to do a lot of cool things, got to go a lot of places, and be introduced as a two-time NASCAR champion," Labonte said. "But I'll tell you what: It's going to be a whole lot better introduced as a NASCAR Hall of Famer."

Harold Brasington won the Landmark Award for outstanding contributions to NASCAR. Brasington, a South Carolina businessman, believed in Bill France’s fledgling NASCAR business, created the sanctioning body’s first superspeedway, Darlington Raceway – a one-of-a-kind egg-shaped oval, paved on an old cotton and peanut field.

"It's such an honor to be here to honor such a great man," said Brasington's grandson, Harold III. "I'm going to share some words with you that the man wrote himself. One of the inalienable rights of every American citizen is the privilege of indulging in that delightful and inexpensive pastime, daydreaming. This is the opening sentence of the letter of welcome that Harold Brasington wrote to race fans in the program for the first Southern 500.

"Humpy Wheeler once said, 'A race fan with a bulldozer is a dangerous man,' and he was right. Such a man can cause a lot of trouble, or he could change the world."

Byrnes was also honored during the ceremony with a video tribute before Bryson spoke again to the people in the room and to the radio and television audience.

"It's just great to be here today," Bryson Byrnes said. "It's just outstanding, and it's really - it seems like he's really lived out his legacy today."

The ceremony concluded with the tradition of welcoming all members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in attendance on stage.

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  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Terry Labonte
  • Class of 2016: Curtis Turner
  • Class of 2016: Curtis Turner
  • Class of 2016: Curtis Turner
  • Class of 2016: Curtis Turner
  • Class of 2016: Curtis Turner
  • Class of 2016: Curtis Turner
  • Class of 2016: Curtis Turner
  • Class of 2016: Curtis Turner
  • Class of 2016: Bobby Isaac
  • Class of 2016: Bobby Isaac
  • Class of 2016: Bobby Isaac
  • Class of 2016: Bobby Isaac
  • Class of 2016: Bobby Isaac
  • Class of 2016: Bobby Isaac
  • Class of 2016: Bobby Isaac
  • Class of 2016: Bobby Isaac
  • Class of 2016: Bruton Smith
  • Class of 2016: Bruton Smith
  • Class of 2016: Bruton Smith
  • Class of 2016: Bruton Smith
  • Class of 2016: Bruton Smith
  • Class of 2016: Jerry Cook
  • Class of 2016: Jerry Cook
  • Class of 2016: Jerry Cook
  • Class of 2016: Jerry Cook
  • Class of 2016: Jerry Cook
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