Alabama’s Red Farmer, Neil Bonnett among 15 nominees to NASCAR Hall of Fame

Alabama’s Red Farmer, Neil Bonnett among 15 nominees to NASCAR Hall of Fame
The late Neil Bonnett (left) and Red Farmer are two of 15 nominees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021. (contributed)

NASCAR announced April 7 a list of 15 nominees to be considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2021.

The list includes Red Farmer and the late Neil Bonnett, members of the famed “Alabama Gang” from Hueytown, and six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The nomination process was different this year. Nominees were selected either on the Pioneer ballot, designed to honor those whose careers began more than 60 years ago, or the Modern Era ballot. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 will consist of two inductees from the list of Modern Era nominees and one from the list of Pioneer nominees – for a total of three new inductees in 2021.

Farmer is a three-time champion of the NASCAR Late Model Sports Division (1969, 1970, 1971), as well as the 1956 NASCAR Modified champ. A member of the “original” Alabama Gang along with Bobby Allison and Donnie Allison, the 87-year-old has won two ARCA races at Talladega (1984, ’88) as well as hundreds of short track races in his career. A member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Farmer still competes at Talladega Short Track (dirt).

After getting his start in motorsports by working on Bobby Allison’s race cars, Bonnett had a 20-year driving career for some of the sport’s legendary team owners like the Wood Brothers and Junior Johnson. He had a total of 20 victories, including one at Talladega in the 1980 summer event when he held off Cale Yarborough and his good friend, Dale Earnhardt Sr. One of the most respected people in NASCAR, he was also successful in the TV booth as a commentator.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove in his first NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in the mid-1990s. He scored his first Talladega Superspeedway Premier Series win in October 2001, igniting a stretch of victories unlike anything ever seen in the history of the 2.66-mile venue. Between the fall of 2001 and fall of 2004, Earnhardt Jr. won five out of seven races, including four straight, while the other two races ended in runner-up finishes. His most recent Dega triumph came in the 2015 GEICO 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks about his last race at Talladega, his next career in broadcasting and more from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

NASCAR also announced nominees for its Landmark Award, given to competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or nonprofessional role. Former Talladega Superspeedway (1988-93) President and current NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton is one of five Landmark Award nominees for 2021.

NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 nominees and Landmark Award nominees are:

 

Modern Era Ballot

  • Neil Bonnett won 18 times in the NASCAR Cup Series including his home track of Talladega Superspeedway in 1980, along with consecutive Coca-Cola 600 victories in 1982-83.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr., 26-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, including six at Talladega Superspeedway, 15-time NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver and two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion.
  • Jeff Burton, won 21 times in the NASCAR Cup Series including the Southern 500 and two Coca-Cola 600s.
  • Carl Edwards, winner of 28 NASCAR Cup Series races and 2007 Xfinity Series champion.
  • Harry Gant, winner of 18 NASCAR Cup Series races, including one at Talladega Superspeedway in 1991, along with two Southern 500 victories.
  • Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR Cup Series championship crew chief for Bobby Isaac.
  • Larry Phillips, first five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion.
  • Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400.
  • Kirk Shelmerdine, four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief.
  • Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships.

 

Pioneer Ballot

  • Red Farmer, three-time NASCAR Late Model Sportsman champion, 1956 Modified champion.
  • Jake Elder, three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief.
  • Banjo Matthews, built cars that won more than 250 NASCAR Cup Series races and three championships.
  • Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR West Series champion.
  • Ralph Moody, two-time NASCAR Cup Series owner champion and mechanical genius of Holman-Moody.

 

Landmark Award

  • Mike Helton, named third president of NASCAR in 2000; career included track operator roles at Talladega Superspeedway (president from 1988-93) and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
  • Janet Guthrie, the first female to compete in a NASCAR Cup Series superspeedway race.
  • Alvin Hawkins, NASCAR’s first flagman; established NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium with Bill France Sr.
  • Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder of Pocono Raceway.
  • Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

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