Vice President of Race Operations for USAC, Jason Smith, announced on his Twitter account (@Jason_usac) on Friday night that USAC will create a Hall of Fame. With the announcement, comes plenty of debate among USAC fans on which drivers will become the inaugural class.
Many NASCAR drivers have crossed over from USAC and there are plenty of alumni in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now, including the 2011 champion, Tony Stewart.
The success of NASCAR drivers is a testament to the talent that lies within USAC to this day.
Current USAC champion, Bryan Clauson has discussed coming back into NASCAR after a rough experience sent him to USAC. Clauson has also thought about running in the 2012 Indianapolis 500 in the IndyCar Series as well.
Who will be in the first class of USAC heroes inducted into the Hall of Fame? Many forget that USAC also had their own stock car division for many years and some of the best drivers spent time in NASCAR as well. The following are just some drivers who spent time in NASCAR and will definitely be in the USAC Hall of Fame sooner rather than later.
A.J. Foyt is a no-brainer for the first USAC Hall of Fame Class. Foyt’s first stock car win occured on February 25, 1962 at the flat half mile dirt track, Ascot Park in Gardena, Calfirnoa. He drove the No. 51 stock car to three USAC stock car championships in 1968, 1978, and 1979. He also won the 1972 Daytona 500, a year after running out of gas and losing to Richard Petty.
Parnelli Jones won in every type of car he ever strapped into and raced. Jones scored four NASCAR Cup wins in his 34 race career. He also won the Indianapolis 500 in 1963 and several Baja 1000 off-road events. Jones is also remembered for brinign the stock block engine to the USAC as one of the “Chevy Twins” with Jim Hurtubise. He also won the USAC chmapionships in 1960, 1961, 1962, and 1964. It’s a matter of when, not if, gets inducted into the USAC Hall of Fame it will the seventh Hall of Fame to contain his image.
While he has three NASCAR Sprint Cup titles, Tony Stewart’s heart will always belong to USAC. In 1995, he won the USAC Triple Crown championship. He is now a USAC owner as well as a track owner. When he isn’t competing in NASCAR’s highest level, he often races USAC sprint cars, midgets, and silver crown cars. s.