NASCAR Announces Hall of Fame Class for 2021
The NASCAR circuit has been around for more than seven decades, as it was founded in 1948. NASCAR’s first race was run in the Strictly Stock category on June 19, 1949 with Jim Roper taking the checkered flag after Glenn Dunaway was disqualified for altering his rear springs. The first champion of the circuit was Red Byron, who was enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2018. All told, 50 individuals have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since it was created in 2010, including luminaries like Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jeff Gordon, Bill Elliott, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip, among others.
On Tuesday, that hallowed group found out that they will add three more members to their esteemed membership next year. Red Farmer was named from the Pioneer ballot, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mike Stefanik earned the nod from the Modern Era ballot. Meanwhile, Ralph Seagraves, who was a driving force in getting Winston to sponsor the premier series of the NASCAR circuit beginning back in 1971, earned the Landmark Award for outstanding contributions to the sport. Earnhardt Jr. earned votes on 76 percent of the Modern Era ballots while Stefanik was tabbed on 49 percent of ballots. Farmer came up on 71 percent of ballots for the Pioneer Era.
As it stands, the Earnhardts become the sixth father-son duo to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. They’ll join the Bakers (Buck and Buddy), the Allisons (Bobby and Davey), the Frances (William H.G. and Bill Jr.), the Jarretts (Ned and Dale) and the Pettys (Lee and Richard) as father-son pairs to hold that honor. Earnhardt Jr., who finished fifth at the Hooters 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday in his first race of the year, was selected in his first year of eligibility. He won 26 times on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit, 24 on the Xfinity Series circuit, claimed a pair of Daytona 500s and a pair of NASCAR Cup Series titles in his career.
Stefanik may not be as well-known to most NASCAR fans as he didn’t race much on the top circuits in NASCAR. He won seven NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titles and two K&N Pro Series East crowns to give him a total of nine championships. That ties him with Richie Evans for the most championships by a driver on the NASCAR circuit. Stefanik made just 26 starts on the Xfinity Series in his career while never racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. He did earn 74 victories in 453 career runs in the Whelen Modified Tour, including 13 wins in 1998 and 10 more in the 1997 season. Stefanik will be inducted posthumously as he passed away on September 15, 2019.
Farmer is part of the famous “Alabama Gang” that included such luminaries as Bobby, Davey and Donnie Allison along with Neil Bonnett. He wasn’t as prevalent on the top circuit of NASCAR, running a total of 36 races over the course of his career. His best finish was a fourth-place showing at the 1972 Talladega 500. He did win the Late Model Sportsman class, which eventually became the circuit now known as the Xfinity Series, three straight years from 1969-71. In addition, he was named the most popular driver on the entire circuit four times in his career. Farmer was content to run on local tracks and circuits, preventing him from being more prevalent on the NASCAR circuit.
Congratulations go out to the individuals that were elected to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Their accomplishments are worthy of being remembered and make them among the elite that stock car racing has had to offer over the years.