Hall of Fame opens

Published 9:09 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

After many years of planning, three years of construction, massive increases in the construction budget, and much fanfare, the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in mid-town Charlotte this week.

As the only major sport without an official Hall of Fame, this occasion is long overdue. After seeing the television specials airing on The Speed Channel over the past week highlighting some of the exhibits and features of the building, I can’t wait to make the trip to Charlotte.

Owned by the City of Charlotte and marketed by NASCAR, the Hall of Fame is 150,000 square feet with numerous exhibits, a theater, artifacts, a restaurant and retail space. A 19-story privately held commercial office building is also on the site.

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This seems like the ultimate playground of fun for racing fans. There are various racecar simulators, tours of the big 18-wheel haulers, an exhibit highlighting the early days of racing, and a glass-enclosed vault with various artifacts and historical cars.

The inaugural induction ceremony for the first five inductees into the Hall will be on May 23. Announced back in October, the Class of 2010 includes Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson. At a pace of five per year, some very deserving owner, drivers and crewmembers will have to wait longer than they deserve for induction. But the process will be fun.

Looks like Joe Gibbs Racing has the new spoiler figured out. At Martinsville, the sixth race of the season, NASCAR mandated that the “wing” of the racecar would be replaced with the more familiar spoiler.

JGR drivers have won four of the six races since the change was made with Denny Hamlin winning three and Kyle Busch winning the other. Gibbs’ third driver, Joey Logano, has been strong as well during this stretch.

NASCAR is a game of inches, or more specifically thousands of seconds, and when a team can stumble a tip to gain a little extra advantage, the benefits are huge.

Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, was admitted to a Washington, D.C., hospital this week and will miss this week’s race at Dover. During a scary episode, Vickers experienced severe chest pains and blood clots were discovered around his lungs and in one of his legs.

Veteran driver Casey Mears will replace Vickers this week at Dover and team gave no indication as to when Vickers would return. Too bad for a good young driver who made the chase last season and was still solidly in the hunt this year. Let’s hope his health improves and he can return to the track.

The one-mile concrete track at Dover, Del., is the site for this week’s race.

Three Hendrick drivers, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, have won five, five and four career races here, leading all active drivers.

But, I think Gibbs drivers will continue their streak this week, and Joey Logano will win on his home track at Dover.