On Friday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating committee met at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway to select the 20 individuals from whom the 2015 class of five NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees will be chosen.
Previously, Hall of Fame inductees were chosen yearly from a list of 25 nominees, but in December, the Hall changed its induction process to include only 20 nominees per year. Also, eligibility requirements were changed, allowing drivers who have competed for at least 10 years and reached his/her 55th birthday prior to Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year to be eligible for consideration. The recent changes also made immediately eligible competitors who have competed in NASCAR for more than 30 years.
With the aformentioned changes in place, NASCAR added new nominees two-time Cup level champion Terry Labonte, 1988 Cup champion and 16-time Most Popular driver Bill Elliott, Whelen Modified and K&N Pro Series nine-time champion Mike Stefanik, 19-time race winner Buddy Baker and championship winning engine builder and team owner Robert Yates to the nominee list to be considered for Hall induction.
The list of 20 nominees is rounded out by 15 others who have been nominated before, including 1949 NASCAR champion Red Byron, 11-time national level car owner champion Richard Chilress, six time Modified champion Jerry Cook, legendary engine builder and car owner Ray Fox, 14-tim national level champion car owner Rick Hendrick, 1970 champion Bobby Isaac, 26-time race winner Fred Lorenzen, champion car owner Raymond Parks, 1973 champion Benny Parsons, five-time Whelen All-American national champion Larry Phillips, Wendell Scott, Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s Bruton Smith, Curtis Turner, two-time champion Joe Weatherly, and 1960 champion Rex White.
The five inductees will be selected on May 21 by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, along with a ballott of results from a fan vote conducted on NASCAR.com. The official induction will come in early 2015.
Also chosen on NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day will be the recipient of the first Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Nominees for that Award were also announced on Friday. They include: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway founder H. Clay Earles, Bill France Sr.’s wife Anne Bledsoe France, Parks, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company executive Ralph Seagraves, and TV broadcaster and winner of the Squier-Hall Award For NASCAR Excellence Ken Squier. The winner will also be officially recognized during the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Here’s is a gallery of photos of the five newest NASCAR Hall of Fame nomiees (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR):