The past and present of NASCAR will converge on stage during the International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 24.
Standing side-by-side will be Raymond Parks, owner of the car driven by Robert “Red” Byron to the first NASCAR championship in 1949, and Jimmie Johnson, the driver who won the most recent NASCAR Cup title in 2007. Both Parks and Johnson will have their championship trophies with them during the presentation.
The moment will be the highlight of a special tribute honoring the 60th anniversary of NASCAR’s formation. After a short video tribute, all of the past champions who are members of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame – both drivers and car owners – will be recognized.
Those who will be present for the ceremony include NASCAR legends Ned Jarrett, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson, Ray Fox, Red Farmer and Everett “Cotton” Owens, who is also being inducted into the IMHoF that night as a member of the Class of 2008. Past Inductees that will also be in attendance include Carroll Shelby, Johnny Rutherford and Mel Kenyon.
“Twenty-five years ago, Bill France Sr. had the vision to create the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum; a place to honor legends from all venues of motorsports, “said Talladega Superspeedway President and IMHoF Executive Director Rick Humphrey. “It’s befitting that on the 60th anniversary of his greatest vision (NASCAR), we honor its past champions. This will be a special evening indeed and one that I believe would make Mr. France very proud.”
Parks was an active car owner from 1938 to 1955 and one of the most successful owners during the early days of NASCAR. Parks’ teams won all five beach races held at Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1945 and 1946, as well as the first NASCAR-sanctioned race in 1948.
A native of Georgia, Parks teamed up with a number of stock-car racing’s driving pioneers, including Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Bob Flock, Fonty Flock, Ed Samples, Jack Smith, and Gober Sosebee.
But it was Parks’ relationship with Byron that proved to be the most successful. In 1949, Byron competed in six of the eight official NASCAR races held that year, winning two and finishing in the top-five in two others. He won $5,800, earned 842½ points and went into the record books as the first NASCAR champion, beating out eventual three-time champ Lee Petty.
Ironically, Byron is one of the six people being inducted into the IMHoF this year. He and Owens are joined in the Class of 2008 by land speed record breaker Art Arfons, drag racing guru Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, car fabricator Frank Kurtis and Winston promoter Ralph Seagraves.