Finally, Nascar has a Hall of Fame
These days, it seems like every sport, no matter how unpopular or esoteric, has a hall of fame. Long a sign of legitimacy for every sport with a long history, the phenomenon has become almost a joke at this point. I won’t besmirch any of the less popular sports by pointing which ones have possibly undeserved halls of fame, but let’s just say that the U.S. (not to mention countries around the world) is dotted with dozens upon dozens of halls of fame that 99% of us never even knew existed.
So it’s a little odd that Nascar, easily one of the most popular sports in the U.S., has never had a centralized location in which to celebrate its history. Veteran Richard Petty explained this by commenting that, “To have a Hall of Fame, you’ve got to have some history,” but he was clearly just being needlessly modest on behalf of his sport. Nascar’s been around for 60 years now, and some of its all-time greats have been out of the sport for three or four decades at this point.
And with the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and the aforementioned Petty in the sport’s history, how could they not erect some kind of monument in honor of these greats? It would almost be a crime not to have something to give fans a way to remember their heroes.
For these and many other reasons, Nascar finally opened its Hall of Fame earlier this year in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many towns were in the running for the facility, but Charlotte ultimately won due to its central role in the history of the sport.
The $195,000 million structure covers 150,000 square feet and features a variety of exhibits, including a number of cars from past eras, interactive racing exhibits, and loving memorials for many of the sport’s greats who have passed away. The Dale Earnhardt exhibit is particularly touching, including items from his great career, plus the official accident report from his fatal 2001 crash.
And the Hall of Fame doesn’t shy away from some of the sport’s more controversial aspects. Of course, it’s widely known that stock car racing began with the souped-up cars North Carolina bootleggers designed to outrun the law during the Prohibition years. In acknowledgement of this, the Hall of Fame includes a moonshine still that perfectly replicates the stills used by the sport’s founding fathers.