NASCAR's 1st Hall of Fame class
Dale Earnhardt 76 Cup wins as a driver; 7 Cup championships The Intimidator made his black No. 3 a larger-than-life symbol in NASCAR with an aggressive driving style that rattled competitors and enamored fans. Shares the record for most Cup series championships (seven) with Richard Petty. Won his first title in 1980, his second full season. Won the 1998 Daytona 500. Died in an accident on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. --- Bill France, Sr. NASCAR founder Known as "Big Bill," France is regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of American motorsports. Began as a promoter of beach races in Daytona Beach, Fla., and was the driving force behind the establishment of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. His iron fist leadership was challenged just once, in 1969, when NASCAR's top drivers pushed France to postpone the race at Talladega Superspeedway over tire concerns. France didn't budge and survived the driver walkout by finding 36 others to race. Turned over control to his son, Bill France, Jr., in 1972. Died in 1992 at the age of 82. --- Bill France, Jr. NASCAR president 1972-2000 "Bill Jr." replaced his father as NASCAR president in 1972 and spent the next 28 years helping NASCAR become America's No. 1 form of motorsports. His leadership was viewed as a benevolent dictatorship, where France had the final word. He stepped down as president in 2000 during a fight with cancer but ruled as chairman of a new board of directors until 2003, when he transferred control to son, Brian. Died in 2007 at the age of 74. --- Junior Johnson 50 wins as a driver; 6 championships as a car owner Johnson is in an elite group of participants to find success as a driver and car owner. He won the second Daytona 500 in 1960 and was credited with discovering drafting at superspeedways. Retired in 1966 after just 14 seasons as a driver to become a team owner. Won 132 races as owner, and championships with Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. Began as a moonshine runner, forever making him the symbol of NASCAR's roots. --- Richard Petty 200 victories as a driver; 7 Cup championships The King holds the record for most wins (200), most poles (123), most wins in a season (27), most Daytona 500 wins (seven), most consecutive wins (10) and most starts (1,185). His seven Cup titles is tied with Dale Earnhardt for most in NASCAR history. Retired in 1992 but is still an at-track presence as a team owner. Petty Enterprises won 268 races before its January merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, and Petty has two wins this season as co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports.