CONCORD, N.C. — On May 24, 2017, five new inductees were announced for the 2018 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Three of the future Hall of Famers, Ron Hornaday Jr., Ken Squier, and Robert Yates, visited Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon to speak with the media.
Hornaday has a record four Truck Series championships with 51 wins. He also holds the all-time record for top fives, with 158, and top 10s, with 234. Dale Earnhardt gave the Californian native his first opportunity in the Truck Series and he has continued the tradition by allowing young drivers to stay at his home while they pursue racing, most notably, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
He was humbled by his nomination.
“I am the one person who shouldn’t be here,” Hornaday said. I quit racing three or four times. But Lindy (wife) always found enough money to go to the next race. In 1994, (Dale) Earnhardt called me to drive his truck. I have got a lot of people to thank – the sponsors, the people who put a lug nut on the car, the receptionist, all of the owners. This is just quite an honor. This is unbelievable.”
Squier was one of NASCAR’s original broadcasters in its formative years. He transformed calling a race into an art form, painting a picture with his words as he captivated his audience. He began his career with Motor Racing Network in 1970 but is probably best-known for his coverage on CBS of the 1979 Daytona 500, a pivotal moment in NASCAR’s history.
He went on to work with both CBS and TBS until 1997 before becoming the host for NASCAR broadcasts until 2000. In 2012 NASCAR created the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Squier and Motor Racing Radio’s Barney Hall were the inaugural winners.
Squier seemed surprised by the nomination and began by saying, “Being honored in this way by the people who support this sport is beyond belief. I’m just overwhelmed with the fact that the media gets this kind of play. And, it does play an important factor in growing this sport. To think that I represent (the media) is a bit overwhelming.”
Robert Yates excelled at both engine building and team ownership. He won 77 races as an engine builder and 57 as a team owner. He began his career at Holman-Moody Racing in 1968 and got his “big break” in 1971 when Hall of Famer Junior Johnson hired him. He provided engines for Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough before putting together his own team in the late 1980s.
He found success with driver Davey Allison who won the 1995 Daytona 500 and finished third in the standings that year. Yates expanded to a two-car team in 1996 with drivers Dale Jarrett and Ernie Irvan with Jarrett winning the Daytona 500 that year. In 1999, Jarrett won the series championship. Today, his son, Doug, continues the family tradition as a top engine builder. Last year Doug announced that his father has been diagnosed with liver cancer.
Yates said the nomination was unexpected, “I would have bet money that I would have had to wait another year. When they called me first, my heart must have missed one beat. I didn’t know it could miss three beats. I think if I was a driver like Richard Petty who won 200 races, I would have said, sure, they should be here. I didn’t expect this.”
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