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President's Blog: NASCAR Hall of Fame

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hey everyone, this is Ed Clark, President and General Manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Major League Baseball has Cooperstown. The NFL has Canton. Now, NASCAR has its Hall of Fame in Charlotte. This past weekend, the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame was inducted. We’d like to send our personal congratulations out to the members of NASCAR’s inaugural Hall of Fame Class – Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Junior Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Sr.!

Sunday was, without question a proud day for our sport, whether you are a driver, crewmember, track official or most of all, a fan of NASCAR! Not only did we recognize the lives of five men who have helped craft the sport into what it is today, but it also gave many of us a wonderful reminder of the hard work of many over time that has made NASCAR so great.

One of our staff members told me about a quote made by Kyle Petty during the weekend that really, I think, underscores the importance of recognizing the history of the sport through the Hall of Fame. Kyle was quoted at one point during the weekend that the Hall of Fame is important so that younger fans today will know that Richard Petty did more than just be in the movie “Cars.”

That is one of the best things about having a NASCAR Hall of Fame that fans can now celebrate the sport’s past and always be reminded of the sport’s beginnings. 

As for the induction ceremony itself, it did not disappoint. There were some lighthearted moments. You had Rick Hendrick recalling the meeting in Daytona Beach that was portrayed in “Days of Thunder” between himself, Bill France Jr., Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Geoffrey Bodine with Childress also recalling Earnhardt’s famous line about ‘kerosene rags.’ You also had Junior Johnson’s anecdote about the difference between being committed and involved.  And you can’t forget Richard Petty ending his speech by quoting Gomer Pyle – “Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.”

But there were also some heartfelt moments. Kyle Petty’s speech about his father, Richard Petty was certainly heartwarming, as was Richard Childress’s time when he spoke about Dale Earnhardt Sr. It was very touching to see, during Earnhardt Sr.’s on-stage induction, that the entire Earnhardt family was together on-stage.

Without question, NASCAR hit the ball out of the park with this Hall of Fame. I’ve already had a handful of people tell me that they are already making plans to go to the Hall of Fame this summer. After seeing Sunday’s festivities, it’s hard to blame them!

The summer is almost here, and things are heating up both on the track and within our office here at Atlanta Motor Speedway! In June, we will start our summer legends racing series, Thursday Thunder.

In this time of families looking for economical ways to find entertainment, it’s hard to top the value of Thursday Thunder! Adults get in for $5 and kids ages 6-11 are admitted for $1. Levy Restaurants will also be here giving fans affordable food offerings while at the racetrack.

We have numerous activities for kids and families planned for Thursday Thunder this summer such as the kids candy and coin scramble on June 3! In addition, there’s also the racing itself on the Thunder Ring.

If you grew up going to a local short track, then this racing is right up your alley. At Thursday Thunder you’ve got seasoned veterans plus some of the South’s best rising stars on the track! Joey Logano, David Ragan and Reed Sorenson each started their racing careers at Thursday Thunder. You never know what future racing star you may see at Thursday Thunder, so come on out for some great family entertainment and racing all at the same time!

Question of the week: Will you be doing any contests this summer or be having some prize giveaways?

I’m glad someone has asked this, actually. We’ve got a lot of exciting contests and promotions that we are planning on for this summer in advance of night racing return to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend. And yes, contests are part of that! In fact, we had a meeting last week about some of the prizes we’re giving away, and I’ve got to tell you, if I wasn’t working at a racetrack, the chance to win these prizes would have me very excited!

I hope to see you at the track very soon! If you see me, be sure to say hello and feel free to pass along any suggestions of what we can do a better job of!

See you at the track!

Ed

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