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NMPA inducting stellar 2010 Hall of Fame class this weekend

By admin | January 14, 2010

By Richard Allen

On Saturday night an outstanding class of three racing team owners and one driver will be inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame. The inductees are known world wide not only for their accomplishments in auto racing but also for their achievements in the automobile industry and as business leaders.

The NMPA Hall of Fame is located in a facility adjacent to the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

Here are the 2010 inductees to the NMPA Hall of Fame:

Roger Penske: Although probably best known for his accomplishments in racing, Roger Penske’s name is one that is recognizable world wide as an automotive innovator and business leader.

In NASCAR, Penske’s cars have won 61 races with such well known drivers as Mark Donahue, Bobby Allison, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and fellow 2010 HoF inductee Rusty Wallace.

In 2008 Ryan Newman gave ‘The Captain’ his first ever triumph in NASCAR’s most prestigious event, the Daytona 500.

Aside from his outstanding record in NASCAR, Penske has compiled an unmatched list of accomplishments in open wheel racing. In that form of racing’s marquee event, the Indianapolis 500, Penske’s achievements are unrivaled. His teams have celebrated in racing’s most coveted victory lane a remarkable fifteen times. Some of the most legendary names in racing history have wheeled his cars around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on their way to victory.

Donahue, Unser, Mears and Castroneves, among others, have triumphed at Indy in Pneske cars.

But Penske’s achievements are not limited to racing. He has reached heights as a businessman that few can match. In 2009 he was listed by Forbes Magazine as the 296th richest person in America. His companies have succeeded in industries such as trucking, leasing and automobile sales.

At virtually everything he has ever attempted Roger Penske has been a winner. Through hard work, innovation and determination he has set himself apart in many fields.

Jack Roush: Before he ever came to NASCAR racing Jack Roush was one of the best known names in the automotive world. After a few years of working for Ford Motor Company, Roush set out to start his own engineering firm. Eventually, he started to apply the innovations of that company to racing. He fielded winning teams in drag racing for several years. And along with that, his company became known for constructing and building the best parts for that form of racing.

Later, Roush ventured into the arena of sports car racing where he again succeeded wildly. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s his teams won races and championships in Trans-Am and IMSA with some of the sport’s best known drivers and crew members.

In 1988, Roush showed that no matter what the form of racing he could succeed. He partnered with driver Mark Martin to step into the NASCAR arena. To say he has had success in that arena would be an understatement.

In his years as a NASCAR car owner his teams have won 116 races with drivers named Martin, Kenseth, Busch, Edwards and Biffle among others. In 2003 Matt Kenseth delivered the ‘Cat in the Hat’ a championship which was followed up one year later with another title by Kurt Busch.

Jack Roush has spent a lifetime in racing and he has made an indelible mark in the sport. His innovations have bettered racing as well as lead to improvements in the performance of the cars driven on the streets of America and the world.

Robert Yates: As a young man Robert Yates established himself as one of the top engine builders in racing. His engines powered cars owned by other people to numerous race wins.

However, Yates’ desire was to someday have his engines power his own cars to race wins and championships. In 1988 he achieved that dream by purchasing his own race team. Paired with the Ford Motor Company and drivers such as Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan, Ricky Rudd and Dale Jarrett Yates’ cars won the biggest events the sport has to offer. Trophies from Daytona, Charlotte and Indianapolis are among those to adorn the cases of Yates Racing.

Yates’ cars won a total of 57 times and in 1999 Yates captured the biggest trophy of all when Dale Jarrett won the NASCAR Sprint Cup(Winston Cup) championship.

Robert Yates is one of the most successful engine builders and car owners in NASCAR history. His record speaks for itself as a deserving member of the Hall of Fame.

Rusty Wallace: The only person to make this year’s HoF class for his exploits as a driver is Rusty Wallace.

In his younger days, Wallace toured the Midwestern United States competing and winning in the old ASA Series. After much success there, he made the move to NASCAR and became one of the sport’s all time greats.

Although he was known for his brash and outgoing personality it was Wallace’s driving talents that truly set him apart. Over the course of his career he became a frequent visitor to victory lanes all across the NASCAR circuit. He won a total of 55 times in the sport’s top division. In the 1993 season, while driving for fellow inductee Roger Penske, he amassed a total of ten wins.

After narrowly losing out to Bill Elliott in 1988, Wallace came back in 1989 to win his only Sprint Cup(Winston Cup) championship.

His short track background allowed him to dominate at tracks such as Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond where he won a combined total of 22 times.

Now, like his mentor Penske, Wallace has become a successful businessman. He owns a number of auto dealerships in the east Tennessee area as well as owning a NASCAR Nationwide Series team.

As is easily seen, the four men being inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame in 2010 are among the most recognizable names in racing and are clearly deserving of the honors being bestowed upon them.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

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