On Thursday, April 26, 2007, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (IMHOF) will induct its first official NASCAR Busch Series champion – – “Ironman” Jack Ingram.
Before winning the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division championship in 1982, Ingram had already established his dominance in the Late Model Sportsman Division, claiming titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Currently, Red Farmer is the only IMHOF member with a title in that series (1969, 1970, 1971), and two other IMHOF members have claimed titles in its preceding short track Sportsman division – – Ralph Earnhardt (1956) and Ned Jarrett (1957, 1958).
However, what is known as the Busch Series today officially began in 1982, when in the 29-race season the Asheville, N.C.-born Ingram posted 23 top-five finishes – including seven victories – on his way to that inaugural title. Chief rival Sam Ard finished a scant 49 points behind Ingram that year and returned just as formidable a contender the next. Despite Ingram’s five wins, 23 top-5’s and 29 top-10’s in the 35-race season, Ard managed to top it with 10 wins and 30 top-10’s. In 1984, the two waged a similar battle, but Ard emerged the champion once again.
However, in 1985, Ingram took his second Busch Series championship, with five wins and 22 top-10’s in 27 starts, edging Jimmy Hensley by 29 points – a margin tied for fourth closest in series history. That was his last championship in the series, yet during the seasons from 1983 through 1990, he finished in the top five of points standings six times. When he retired as of 1991, he was Busch Series’ all-time win leader with 31, and to this day holds the record for short-track wins in the series with 29. Ingram was also the first driver to win more than $1 million in the Busch Series.
It wasn’t Ingram’s consistently strong record alone that earned him the moniker “Ironman,” but that he accomplished it with relatively little help and took a tough but fair approach on and off the track, according to NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter.
“We always called him ‘Ironman’ Jack Ingram because he raced all over the country and spent many a sleepless night towing to the next race. Jack’s record was phenomenal because he was the driver, crew chief, car owner and chief bottle washer on his team for most of his career,” Hunter said. “He was a no-nonsense, get-in-your-face, hard-nosed, fender-scraping, flat-out racer who took no prisoners on the track. He raced other drivers however they raced him. Sort of, ‘You wanna beat and bang? I’ll beat and bang with you. You want to race hard but clean? I’ll do that too.’ Jack is soft-spoken but you always know where you stand with him. He’s also a straight-shooter. In spite of his hard-nosed temperament, Jack was and still is very popular among his peers.”
Hunter gave another example of Ingram’s solid reputation for fairness and respect to fellow competitors – – he recently donated one of his championship rings to an auction benefiting former on-track rival Sam Ard.
Ingram has been named among NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, the Western Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and was recently honored during the Busch Series’ 25th Anniversary, among many other honors and accomplishments. Ingram is now 70 years old but still heavily involved in racing. Since retiring from driving, he has stayed busy operating a Late Model team and developing young drivers.
Ingram will join fellow members of the IMHOF Class of 2007 – Wayne Rainey, Bruton Smith, Warren Johnson and Junie Donlavey – to be inducted on Thursday of spring race week at Talladega Superspeedway.
About the International Motorsports Hall of Fame & Museum
Opened in April of 1983, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports. Each year, the annual International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held on the grounds of the museum to honor those men and women chosen for induction from among the greatest names in all of motorsports. This year’s black-tie ceremony consists of a reception, banquet and awards ceremony and is set for Thursday, April 26, 2007. Individual tickets are $125 and a table for eight may be reserved for $1,000 by calling (256) 362-5002. Visa, Mastercard and Discover are accepted. The IMHOF and Museum and Pitshop Retail Store are open from 9 to 4 p.m., 7 days a week with the exception of major holidays. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $5 for kids age 7 to 17 and free for kids age 6 and younger. Tours of Talladega Superspeedway are also available at a cost of $5 for adults, $4 for kids age 7 to 17 and free for kids age 6 and younger. A discounted combo tour of both facilities is also available.
About Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway officials are preparing to welcome back fans for its first races of the 2007 NASCAR season during the Aaron’s Dream Weekend, featuring the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Busch Series and Aaron’s 499 NEXTEL Cup Series races, set for April 27-29. Tickets for and more information about the Aaron’s Dream Weekend are available by calling 1- 877-Go2-DEGA (462-3342) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT, or by logging onto www.racetickets.com. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). You may also purchase tickets in person at Talladega Superspeedway’s Ticket Office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT, Monday – Friday.