France family, Johnson earned NASCAR honors
Published 7:38 pm, Wednesday, June 2, 2010
For the May 28 edition of The Spectrum, I wrote about two of the five men recently inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Here are my thoughts about the other three inductees:
Bill France Sr. was a co-founder of NASCAR on Feb. 21, 1948.
The cars raced then on the beach but "Big Bill" thought it was time NASCAR had a track of its own to call home, so Daytona International Speedway.
The first Daytona 500 was held in February, 1959.
The race had such great success he decided to build another track similar to Daytona.
So, in 1969, the Talladega Super Speedway was built and, as the say, "The rest is history."
In a nutshell, that's how NASCAR got started.
Next came Bill France Jr.
He took over as chairman and CEO from his dad, Bill Sr. in January, 1972.
The younger Bill helped to build the Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway by driving a bulldozer, a compactor and a grader.
He also did some racing in the off-road motorcycle series and helped pave the way to the creation of the Daytona Supercross and Daytona Bike Week, held in February every year.
In 2000, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, so he handed over the reins of NASCAR to Mike Helton.
Bill Jr. died June 4, 2007.
And last, but not least, is Junior Johnson.
Johnson got hooked on going fast back in the 1950s when he ran moonshine for his father. He gave that up after serving 11 months in prison for working at his father's still.
He joined NASCAR soon after and won 50 races, including the Daytona 500 in 1960. He retired as a driver in 1966.
He never won a championship as a driver but he won three as owner with Cale Yarborough and three with Darrell Waltrip.
The Sprint Cup guys are at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, starting at 1 p.m.
Whip City Speedway: Peter Dance (4th).
Lebanon Valley Speedway: Sportsman division -- Kyle Armstrong (9th); pro stocks- Bill Deak (10th).