Wallace among Hall inductees
BY JENNA FRYER Associated Press
Saturday, February 09, 2013
2/09/13 at 5:39 AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Rusty Wallace touched on his early days trying to make it as a professional race car driver, the lessons he learned from NASCAR's pioneers and his relentless push to drive for Roger Penske in an energetic acceptance into the Hall of Fame.
Then Wallace, winner of 55 races and the 1989 championship, called Friday night's induction "the biggest day of my driving career."
Wallace was the headliner of the fourth Hall of Fame class, which included innovative mechanic and crew chief Leonard Wood, former series champions Buck Baker and Herb Thomas and former car owner Cotton Owens. Wallace and Wood are the only two living members of this year's class.
"The thing I learned, and I said it the driver meeting in 2005 the day I retired and walked out, I said 'This is a privilege. This is a privilege to race in NASCAR. You don't have to do it, we're not making you do it. It's a privilege to race in NASCAR, and it's a blessing for me to be in this sport and do what I've done,'" Wallace said.
Wallace has been a tireless ambassador for NASCAR, taking a hands-on role in promotion after winning his championship that continued into retirement. He's currently an analyst for ESPN.
Baker was the first driver to win consecutive NASCAR premier series championships.
Owens won nine races as a driver, then transitioned into ownership. He was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998.
Thomas, the first driver to win two NASCAR championships, died in 2000. A two-time champion at NASCAR's top level, he also finished second in points twice.