Five Legendary Figures Comprise 2017 NASCAR Hall Of Fame class

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Hall of Fame logoCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two phenomenally successful contemporary car owners, a champion driver-turned-beloved-broadcaster, a driver with a prolific winning history and the man described as NASCAR racing’s “original car owner” are the newly elected members of the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France introduced the new inductees on Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, calling this group of five perhaps “the greatest class yet.”

The new members, selected from a group of 20 nominees, include 1973 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and 1975 Daytona 500 winner Benny Parsons, who later became one of the most revered television broadcasters in the sport’s history; team owner Rick Hendrick, who has notched a record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles; driver Mark Martin, whose 96 career victories across NASCAR’s three national touring series are sixth all-time; car owner Raymond Parks, whose cars won the first NASCAR modified title in 1948 and NASCAR’s first premier series title a year later; and car owner Richard Childress, whose pairing with Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt produced six championships and 67 victories in NASCAR’s top division.

Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles is this year’s recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Parsons, who succumbed to lung cancer on Jan. 16, 2007, was named on 85 percent of ballots cast by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Committee. Parsons had been on the ballot for eight years.

“This is the biggest honor of Benny’s life,” said Terri Parsons, his widow. “It summarizes everything he has ever worked towards. Every job he has ever had, be it as a race car driver in all divisions, host of NASCAR radio shows, NASCAR color commentator for TV networks each were just as important to him as the next.

“He lived his life for NASCAR fans and helping to make the sport of auto racing a better sport for them to enjoy. I know he is smiling his big smile tonight saying, ‘Unbelievable!’”

In a career that spanned 25 years, Parsons won 21 Sprint Cup races in 526 starts, but he was a top-10 machine, recording 283 for a staggering percentage of 53.8.

Hendrick, who received 62 percent of the vote, has won car owner titles in the Sprint Cup Series with three different drivers – six with Jimmie Johnson, four with Jeff Gordon and one with fellow Hall of Famer Terry Labonte. Hendrick’s 242 owner wins in the premier series rank second all-time.

“I’m extremely proud to go in with Benny Parsons and Mark Martin, who drove for me, and then Richard Childress, who’s one of my closest friends in the sport. Parks… I watched the video on him, and he kind of helped the sport get started.

“So I’m really humbled to be in the positon I’m in. I’ve been doing it now for 33 years, and I hope that we’ve got some more things to accomplish, but I’m very, very appreciative of the fact that I got voted in while I’m still racing.”

Martin, who garnered 57 percent of the vote, boasts the highest Sprint Cup victory total (40) of any eligible driver not already indicted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In addition, Martin has 49 NASCAR XFINITY Series wins to his credit (second all-time), along with seven wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

His 56 Sprint Cup poles rank seventh on the all-time list.

Martin, who was runner-up in the final Sprint Cup standings on five occasions, most recently in 2009 at age 50, described his selection to the Hall of Fame as the “crown jewel of my career.”

“I didn’t expect it,” Martin said. “And I’m so grateful to the people who helped me get there… I have so many great memories of the sport. The class that I’m being inducted in, I’m humbled to no end.”

Parks, named on 53 percent of the ballots, funded his racing operations through his successful real estate ventures in Atlanta. With mechanic Red Vogt tuning his cars, Parks dominated stock car racing in the 1940s and 1950s, teaming with Red Byron to win the inaugural modified title in 1948 and the first premier series championship in 1949.

Also included on Parks’ roster of drivers over the years were Bob Flock, Roy Hall, Fonty Flock and NASCAR Hall of Famer Curtis Turner. Park, has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for eight years, passed away in 2010 at age 96.

Childress, who was included on 43 percent of voting panel ballots, started his career as a driver but found considerably more success in the sport as an owner. In addition to the races and titles he won with Earnhardt, Childress holds 11 owner’s championship trophies in NASCAR’s top three series, second only to Hendrick’s 14.

Childress performed the posthumous induction of close friend and driver Dale Earnhardt into the first NASCAR Hall of Fame Class.

“I was really, really honored and proud that day,” Childress said. “I didn’t really expect to get in because I was told that the only way you were going to get in was to retire or be deceased — and I sure liked the first one better, and I haven’t got plans to retire yet either.”

Landmark Award winner Earles had a simple business philosophy that made Martinsville Speedway one of the most pre-eminent short tracks in the country.

“The secret to success in our business is giving the customer what he wants,” Earles said before his death in 1999. “When a man plunks down his money, he deserves the best. You try to make him comfortable, give him a great show and make sure he gets his money’s worth. And we’ve always tried to do just that.

“Your customers are your greatest assets, and that will never change. You actually sell the customer a memory as much as a race. If their memories are good, they’ll keep coming back.”

Note: Hendrick and Childress will field a combined seven cars in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX).


  1. Notright says

    I don’t believe that Stefanick should have been over looked this year. No offense to the inductees as they all have a place in the sport but having Hendrick and Childress inducted while they are still active in the sport competing is wrong. Mark Martin has never won a championship or Daytona. Stefanick is tied for most NASCAR championships of all time and won two of them in the same year. He is being over looked because it was done in the modifieds and Busch East divisions. I just hope that next year when I watch this announcement again he will have better luck with the voting committee. They say it’s a hall of fame for everybody in NASCAR not just the cup level. I’m starting to find it hard to believe that when they keep over looking a true legend of the sport.
    Just my thoughts on this….

  2. It would be a travesty if Mike Stefanik is not elected into the hall of fame. What a sham! Come on Nascar

  3. Its a complete JOKE that “mighty” mike is not in. BS.

  4. darealgoodfella says

    WHAT!???!??!! Mark Martin is a nice guy, no doubt. But as a driver, he is at best a bridesmaid. He has no place in the HoF. What about Charlie Jarzombek? Charlie is far more important to racing than Mark Martin.

    Stefanik should be in already. I think it was the hockey HoF that did away with the mandatory waiting period so Wayne Gretzky could be admitted immediately. Same should happen with Stefanik. Stop fooling around and put Stefanik in already.

  5. MARK MARTIN, are u kidding me.Bridesmade is a nice way of putting it.By no means a HOFamer.Not a super talent.

  6. Fast Eddie says

    Second all-time on the Xfinity win list. seventh all time for Sprint Cup poles, and five time runner-up for the Nextel Cup championship… Looks like a pretty strong resume to me. However, Mike Stefanik HAS to voted in at some point, hopefully next year. Interesting that three owners and only two drivers were elected this year.

  7. Some of you are displaying why many people think the fans of the WMT are complete and utter lunatics. Mark Martin has 40 Cup wins. That is more than some drivers who did win titles. Plus, he surely would have won 1 championship if NASCAR had not handed out some bogus points penalty to him because they likely still considered his owner Jack Roush an “outsider” at the time. And although it is not NASCAR, he won like 5 ASA titles against competition nobody in the WMT or Busch North had ever had to face. As for the owners like Childress and Hendrick getting in, that is not out of line with what other sports hall of fames do. Unlike players\coaches, owners are often inducted while they are still active. That is because owners sometimes don’t retire and are involved right up to the time of their death.

  8. JMB…are you saying Stefanik does not deserve this honor?

  9. He deserves to get in for the future classes, but no need for everyone to rundown all the people who got in this year just because he did not this year.

  10. Andy Boright says

    Benny Parsons doesn’t deserve to be in the HoF. He was a nice guy that everybody liked, but he isn’t HoF material unless everyone who ever won a race or a championship is getting into the HoF.

    Owners hardly ever get in the other HoFs, those spots would have been better served buy taking down the backlog that exists.

  11. Jack Tors says

    I think Andy Boright should be in the Hall of Fame… No one in the history of mankind knows more about racing than him.

  12. Chris D. says

    Ryan Preece should be in. He is the all time winningest driver of the Modified Touring Series and is also the 2016 Modified Touring Series champion!

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