On Thursday, NASCAR announced significant changes related to NASCAR Hall of Fame eligibility requirements and the selection process. Also, a new award was created to recognize contributions to the sport.
“We’re very proud of how the NASCAR Hall of Fame has evolved and believe the first five classes reflect the strength of the nominating and voting procedures, with voices from every corner of our industry included in the selection process,” NASCAR Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes said. “Based on feedback from voters, industry insiders, media who cover our sport, and the fans, we believe the changes announced today are a strong recognition of the uniqueness of our sport and will make the overall selection process even stronger in how we honor those who have driven NASCAR to great success on and off the track.”
The previous eligibility criteria called for drivers to have competed in NASCAR for at least 10 years and been retired for three years to be eligible for NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination. For the most part, that rule still stands, with a couple of exceptions. Now, once a driver turns 55, he/she is immediately eligible for Hall of Fame consideration the nominating year after turning 55, as long as he/she has competed in the sport for a minimum of 10 years. Also, a driver who has competed for at least 30 years becomes immediately eligible for consideration, regardless of age.
Another change is the number of nominees per year. Previously, the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating committee selected 25 nominees per year from which the five inductees were chosen. Beginning with the selection process for the 2015 class of inductees, though, that number will decrease to 20.
NASCAR has also decided to change the make-up of the nominating and voting committees. Nominees from the previous year’s ballot will not be allowed to return to the nominating committee the following year, and nominees will not be allowed to be on the voting committee when he/she is a nominee. Also, the reigning Sprint Cup champion will be added to the voting panel.
In addition, NASCAR has created the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The award will honor “significant contributions to the growth and esteem of NASCAR,” according to the statement released by the sanctioning body.
Award recipients may be competitors, race team members, track officials, sponsors, media, or general ambassadors of the sport. The award winner will be chosen from among five yearly nominees. The nominees will be chosen by the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating committee and voted on by the voting panel at the same time as the Hall of Fame nominees and inductees.
The nominating committee will meet to determine nominees for 2015 induction on Feb. 21, 2014, and the voting committee will decide the inductees on May 21, 2014, for official induction in early 2015.