May 11, 2010
After three years and $195 million, the NASCAR Hall of Fame officially opened on Tuesday. Before the doors were opened, there was an hour-long ceremony outside the facility which culminated with inaugural class inductees Richard Petty and Junior Johnson arriving on the ceremonial plaza in replicas of the cars they are most associated with. For Petty, it was the 1974 No. 43 STP Dodge Charger (above). Johnson arrived in a 1940 Ford like the one he used to run moonshine through North Carolina.
Now, let's take a look inside, beginning with Jack Smith's 1960 Pontiac Catalina sits on the floor of The Great Hall. It is believed to be one of the few remaining cars from the inaugural 1960 World 600:
Then and Now Trophies located in The Great Hall. The first trophy is Mike Klapak's NASCAR National Champion Sportsman Class from 1950. Next is Kyle Busch's 2009 Nationwide Series championship trophy. The third is Richard Childress' 1995 Truck Series owner championship trophy. The last one is Ron Hornaday Jr.'s 2009 Truck Series driver championship trophy.
Here is Herb Thomas' "Fabulous Hudson Hornet" located on Glory Road in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Thomas' famed car was a staple of NASCAR's first decade, and was later immortalized in the movie "Cars."
Bobby Isaac used this Dodge Daytona in 18 races during his 1970 championship season. This car was primarily used on speedways longer than 1-mile and road courses. The car is on Glory Road. This car set 28 speed records - many of which still stand today - at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1971.
This Junior Johnson-owned car was used by Cale Yarborough not only in the 1979 season, but also in the championship seasons of 1977 and '78. The rule then was that a car could be used for three seasons. No. 11 Oldsmobile sits on Glory Road.
This is heading up Glory Road toward the 33 degree Talladega banking between the first and second floors of the Hall of Fame. Glory Road is lined with 18 cars spanning 1948 to 2008.
The 33-degree banking of Talladega Superspeedway at the top of Glory Road. Guests at the Hall of Fame can experience the effects of the severe slope in this interactive exhibit. (Don't wear heels!).
Guests at the Hall can visit the "Race Week Experience" and participate in many of the actual duties during a pit stop. Here, a guest changes a tire on the No. 48 Chevrolet under the direction of a Hall of Fame staff member.
Qualifying lap in the Race Week Experience. Here, fans can see if they can set the fastest time of the day on iRacing simulators. (Same as what Dale Earnhardt Jr. does late at night!).
This is Junior Johnson's moonshine still. Originally, the Hall asked Johnson to build a model of his family-designed still. Johnson instead built a full-sized still, and the area had to be redesigned to fit the pieces. Johnson arrived, wrenches in hand, and assembled the still himself.
A replica of Red Vogt's shop on Marrietta Street in Atlanta. Red Vogt, the sport's first superstar mechanic, came up with the name NASCAR. The shop includes flat-head Ford engine parts, a welder, a grinder, a toolbox and a set of welding torches. One of the Hall's neater items is an old-style shop phone, which rings and guests are surprised to hear a recording of Raymond Parks asking for Vogt to have "all three cars ready for Lakewood on Friday."
The simulator on the third floor of the Hall. It features eight cars, the Hall of Fame car is naturally on the pole, followed by the top seven in points from 2009. The cars, you'll notice, have wings instead of spoilers.
Milestone Moments. This exhibit contains the window netting that Richard Petty's mother made for him after he flipped his car at Darlington in 1970 and she realized the drivers needed something to keep them inside their vehicles. Her basic design is still used in cars today. Also included is a "cool suit" from the 1960s that was adapted from Air Force equipment, as well as one of Johnny Bruner's flags from a race on Daytona Beach.
And finally, the Kid Zone in the Hall features photos of young Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. In these three, Earnhardt is shown racing a Legends car, Stewart is shown in 1992 and Gordon is shown in a 1984 photo at a Sprint Car race. Above them is a picture of Gordon racing a sprint car at Phoenix in 1993. The room also features Gordon's first racing helmet and leather jacket, Jimmie Johnson's motocross equipment from when he was 10 years old, and Mark Martin's first helmet, and T-shirts from when he was 14. There's also Kyle Petty's Pinewood Derby racer and winning trophy, as well as a child-sized racing seat that guests can sit in.
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