CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett headlined the 25 nominees announced Wednesday for next year’s Hall of Fame class — a list that finally includes track magnate Bruton Smith.
Only five nominees are new to the list, with the other 20 carrying over from last year. Joining Jarrett and Smith as the new nominees were engine builder Maurice Petty, five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion Larry Phillips and 1960 NASCAR champion Rex White. Five people will be selected for induction into the fifth Hall of Fame Class in May 22 voting by a 54-member panel.
The panel will finally get to consider Smith, who many believed had been snubbed by not being among the nominees the last four years. Smith promoted his first race at 18 years old, and later ran the National Stock Car Racing Association, which was seen as an early competitor to NASCAR.
He built Charlotte Motor Speedway, the anchor property in a portfolio that now includes eight tracks hosting 12 Sprint Cup races, the All-Star race and several high-profile motorsports activities.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. went public in 1995 and became the first motorsports company to be traded at the New York Stock Exchange. Smith’s Sonic Automotive includes several hundred auto dealerships across the country.
Jarrett was NASCAR’s 1999 champion and his 32 wins rank 21st all-time. Among those victories include three Daytona 500s, two Brickyard 400s and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.