By admin | January 20, 2010
By Richard Allen
Every year in mid-January the National Motorsports Press Association convenes just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina for a weekend of meetings and festivities. Many members agreed that this yearâ€™s convention was the best the group has had in quite sometime.
As is always the case, the weekendâ€™s activities started off on Saturday night with the induction of new members into the NMPAâ€™s Hall of Fame. The four honorees for the class of 2010 stood out as one of the finest groups ever inducted.
Driver Rusty Wallace was joined by car owners Roger Penske, Jack Roush and Robert Yates as the new entries into the Hall of Fame. As remarkable as the lifetime achievements of each of these men have been and for all the notoriety each has received throughout his lifetime, each seemed truly humbled by the honor.
Wallace wasÂ obviously pleased to have been recognized. “Since I retired this is one of the biggest things that’s happened,” he said. “This is gonna be a special night to me for a long time.”
Yates had a slightly different viewpoint. â€œI was really surprised when they called me and told me about this,â€ he declared. â€œI didnâ€™t think the press liked me that much because every time I saw them coming I got up under the car so I wouldnâ€™t have to talk to them.â€
This event is one of the highlights of the year for me every year. To think that I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with such legendary figures as the previously mentioned honorees as well as the likes of Bobby Allison, Rex White, Ned Jarrett, Barney Hall and the Wood Brothers is mind boggling to this high school history teacher.
Sundayâ€™s events only added to the highlights of the weekend. During a luncheon to recognize the upcoming seasonâ€™s rookie drivers and to award the previous seasonâ€™s driver of the year, legendary competitor Richard Petty was on hand. He presented the â€˜Richard Petty Driver of the Yearâ€™ award to Jimmie Johnson. The presentation was not without a bit of flaw as the two men with a combined total of eleven NASCAR championships mishandled the trophy just bit, but all was well in the end.
The final event of the weekend was a dinner in which the top writers, broadcasters and photographers were recognized.
This annual weekend of activities provides a great opportunity for members of the motorsports media to get together, tell stories, renew friendships and make new ones. It serves as an appropriate beginning of the racing season for these professionals who cover the sport of auto racing.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
Click the link below to view photos from the NMPA Hall of Fame ceremony:
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