NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
May 23, 2010
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We did a press conference yesterday where this conference is being held, Rick and I formed a company and we're going to bring Darrel Waltrip back as a driver.
But, no seriously, today was a great, great day in the history of NASCAR to have the inductees into the Hall of Fame and the five that they picked, the voting panel picked, could not have picked a better side to represent our sport, the family who brought NASCAR racing to us, made NASCAR what it was, the great drivers that were involved in, it's great.
THE MODERATOR: Rick, your thoughts.
RICK HENDRICK: I think Richard summed it up. When you walk into the Hall of Fame, you become a fan and when you have a chance this morning when you've got David Pearson and Darrel and all of those guys, the Allison brothers, all in one room, with Junior and Richard, it's almost humbling when you think about the sport and where it comes from, and the Hall of Fame is such an unbelievable place for anybody. Even if you've been involved with it 25 years, you become a fan all over again.
It's got so much history, and I think it's so neat that we got something to showcase the people like Dale Earnhardt or the France family or Junior or Richard, that the new fans can go in and see that history for years and years to come. So I just don't think we could have had it at a better place. I don't think the city of Charlotte could have done a better job of -- and a partner with NASCAR to produce something that's spectacular.
THE MODERATOR: D.W.
DARREL WALTRIP: One thing that I sit there and I observed was the people in our sport -- I've been in the sport for a long time and I recall being asked to go maybe to speak to a group of businessmen or to go to New York and go on some morning shows or any number of things, and I always remember how people looked at us and how they quite honestly made fun of us, that we were a regional sport with a bunch of rednecks, wore ball caps and uniforms with patches all over them.
My point is, when I look at what Bill France, Sr., and Jr. and Brian and Lisa have done with this sport, to take it from where it was then to where it is today, and I saw these men and women, they're common men. Mike just said common men and women. Get up out of their seats, go stand on stage and deliver emotional remarks about something that they love so much and do it so eloquently and do it so well, it makes me very proud to be a part of this sport.
It made me proud to be a part of the -- made me proud to be a driver. It makes me even prouder just to be a part of the community, the NASCAR community. We have come so far and done so much, and this Hall is just indicative of the growth of this sport and how it has changed through the years.
And that's what I love about the Hall. It's got the history, it's got the presence, and it has the vision to see the future and that makes this place unique to any place I've ever been.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for these three gentlemen. Please raise your hands. We've got two helpers with microphones.
Q. Darrel, the analogy between Earnhardt and Petty is the seven championships, but were they alike when it came to giving you a piece of their mind, sort of illustrate, if there was a difference, what it was like?
DARREL WALTRIP: Did I understand you to -- what was the difference? I'm not sure I understood.
Q. When you all had disagreements, how they approached you. We were talking about the long fingers in the chest for his dad. But what was it like -- how was it like to be chewed out by the both of them?
DARREL WALTRIP: With Richard, Richard was rather straightforward. He liked to confront you right away. And he has -- there's no question. I think E.T. stole his index finger.
It's the longest index finger I've ever seen. And it's kind of bowed a little bit where he poked people in the chest so many times. Me probably being one of the main ones.
Richard would come to you and say, "Boy, you don't know what you're doing. You're going to hurt somebody or wreck somebody. Just calm down. You just need to calm down."
Dale, on the other hand, Dale would just pretty much let you know, once you got on the racetrack, if he was happy with you or not.
Dale was -- he treated everybody the same. He didn't care who you were. You could be his best friend. If Richard Childress was driving a race car, he would put the fender to him to move him out of the way to win the race.
That's who Dale was. I didn't appreciate it at the time. But as I looked back, I respect that. A lot of guys try to make excuses about things that happen. Dale made no excuse. You were in my way, you weren't going fast enough, and I moved you. Get over it.
Q. For all three of you, today five men were honored today. But in reality NASCAR was honored today. And that ultimately is the Frances. It's Big Bill and Bill, Jr. And what do you think it's like for their family today, for Brian and Lisa and Jim? I mean, this is a really big special day for their family and for what their family did for auto racing.
DARREL WALTRIP: I can even take it a step further. Here's a man that lost his son, has a good driver for him that lost his dad. And Richard lost Dale, his best friend. I'd love to hear -- I'd like to hear a comment from them on that. Because they're a lot more invested in today emotionally than maybe I was.
RICK HENDRICK: I think for the France family, you know, number one, I was probably sweating this induction more than any of the championships that I've done, because I knew how this was a one-time inaugural deal. And this was the first five.
And I think it weighed on everybody and you go on about life sometimes and you think about today and tomorrow and what you have to do to get all the things done this week. And this has brought back so many memories of how fortunate we all are and how it was not easy to bring it from where it was on the beaches of Daytona, a lot of people sacrificed and a lot of people made the ultimate sacrifice, gave their lives.
And so I know how I felt when I went in the little area where they talk about people like Davey Allison had a shot at my son when he won the race. And I can't imagine what Richard Childress went through.
I mean, I can imagine it from my son and the people I worked with. And I had the same thing happen to me in boat racing, and I quit. I couldn't go back and do it anymore.
And I can't imagine what emotions Richard's gone through and is going through today. But I think it's just a tribute to -- this Hall's a tribute to everybody. It leaves nobody out.
And I'm just real thankful that they've done it as professionally as they have. And I believe that it's going to stir a lot of emotion from all of the pioneers and the people today to try to even make it better and to help grow it. So this was a celebration to me of a lot of things. NASCAR. The history, those people. The fans.
I talked to some fans this morning that were from Switzerland. I knew they weren't from this part of the world because I couldn't understand them. I asked them where they were from.
And so when you have that kind of interest from around the world, it's special. And I think today was just a celebration of everybody.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: If I understood your question right, I think we've all had an emotional roller coaster ride throughout the support of this history from great wins and championships to losses. And to have and see the people that's in there today, it's rewarding.
But one thing, I look back on the Hall, to touch on what Rick said with the fans, when I was in this sport, I can remember us having maybe a million or two or three fans back in the mid '60s, and today we've got 75 million race fans. And this is going to give them an opportunity to come and see what built the sport they love to become so great.
I think it's a tribute to all the pioneers how Mr. France both Sr. and Jr. built our sport where it is today. It's going to give fans that are new fans an opportunity to come in and see firsthand what it's all about.
Q. I'm wondering, real briefly, if each of you could touch on, if you have a favorite moment today in the ceremony that maybe touched you or surprised you more than you expected?
RICK HENDRICK: I thought when Kyle Petty said that Richard had a successful career working half a day a week, I kind of liked that. A lot of race drivers I think are guilty of that. But I thought it was funny when Kyle pointed that out about Richard.
I think there were just so many things. I've learned a lot in the last couple of days that I really didn't know when I watched the videos, listened to people tell stories. And it's been like a history lesson for me. So I enjoyed every piece of it.
I learned things about Junior that I didn't know. Everyone. So to me it was just really neat to have all that come together and hear some of the stories and honor those people.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I go along with Rick. There were so many. I couldn't sit out any one, it was just amazing to listen to some of those stories, especially from people you grew up as -- not that we're that much younger, but that you grew up admiring Richard Petty and Junior Johnson and the France family.
It was just great to hear those stories and be part of Dale Earnhardt history.
Q. For any of you guys who would like to take this. All three of you are multiple champions of long histories, will be in the Hall some day. On the business side you're all used to dealing with big companies and sponsors and some of the structured events we have in NASCAR. Were you surprised at how emotional today was? Because it seemed like -- real stark contrast to the banquet where it's everybody gets up and gives the same speech. Today was just raw emotion from start to finish.
DARREL WALTRIP: I think today was a humbling experience. Today we had everything -- I've said this a couple times, but we have everything under one roof. And until you see -- we have the sum of all these parts come together. And I was sitting there thinking about just myself how dare me criticize things that NASCAR has done.
Because when I look at the size of this venue, look at what's been accomplished here, it really kind of brought it all together for me to realize how NASCAR and how the France family envisioned this sport all along.
We all -- I think most of us -- I don't know about all of us -- but a lot of us kind of think that the things they do and the way things go are directed right at you. You know, it's like that's a bad rule, I don't like that rule because it affected me or it's a bad decision. And I don't like that decision because it affected me.
But I've said this before -- and today brought it all too clear to me -- was that it's about all of us. It's not about one of us. It's not about Rick, Richard, any of the five that got in today, it's all of us have helped NASCAR build something as big as this is. And this is big.
RICK HENDRICK: Can I add to what he said a minute ago? I think the difference between this and the banquet is that at the banquet you've got one person that won the championship and you've got a lot of people that are sitting there wanting to win the championship. And kind of getting fired up to go back. Because second place is not fun to sit there. Third place. And watch all the festivities.
So you've got one happy champion and everybody else is motivated to go whip him. Today, everybody was on the same team. Everybody here was celebrating our sport and recognizing everybody was on the same team today. There was nobody disappointed that they weren't winning or getting the championship trophy. We all won today.
Q. Question for Mr. Hendrick. As a person who led the charge, the pitch to get this Hall of Fame in Charlotte, I'm wondering if you envisioned someday back then what that day would be like, this day. And now that it's in the books, how it compared to what you may have envisioned back then?
RICK HENDRICK: I always felt like this was the only place for the Hall of Fame to be because of the teams located here. And I was so proud of our city because I have never seen the city of Charlotte round as hard and work as hard as they did to bring this here, from trying to be creative to figure out how financially raise the money, but the presentation that they put on blew everybody away.
And I had no idea it was going to be as magnificent as it is. I had no idea that I would walk into a building with my wife yesterday and just couldn't get enough of it. Wanted to see more of it. Wanted to learn more. Wanted to look at the interactive areas.
But really to look at the memorabilia and just be so proud that we have something this fantastic in our sport. So I'm proud of our city. I'm proud of our sport. But it is way more than I ever dreamed it could be?
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.
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