Parsons' 10-step list finally complete after Hall's call
RELATED: Five legends unveiled for 2017 Hall of Fame Class When Benny Parsons had learned that his recent cancer diagnosis was a terminal one, he made a plan for his wife, Terri, to carry out after his death in January 2007. On Wednesday, May 25 -- Voting Day for the NASCAR Hall of Fame -- Terri Parsons checked the last box on that 10-item list. "I know when Benny knew that he wasn't going to make it, his biggest fear was he was going to be forgotten. And I think this cements that," Terri Parsons said. "He will never be forgotten now, and I think his final wish ... he gave me a list of 10 things to do, and as of today, all 10 are done." Benjamin Stewart Parsons will forever be remembered as a NASCAR champion, a Daytona 500 winner and a blue-collar competitor behind the wheel. But he'll also be known as a brilliant, engaging commentator for stock-car racing from the TV booth. After Wednesday, if either of those memories were ever to fade, he'll now be forever known as a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. Mostly, Parsons will also be known simply as Benny, an everyman ambassador for the sport known as much for his driving and broadcasting skills as for his ability to bond with fans in the stands. That enduring popularity is what produced a groundswell of fan support on social media and an overwhelming show of approval by the 54-member voting panel, which named him on 85 percent of its ballots, leading all 20 Hall of Fame nominees. "It always meant a lot to Benny what people thought of him because Benny loved everybody," said Phil Parsons, Benny's younger brother and himself a longtime TV broadcaster. "From the fans to the competitors to the owners, sponsors, NASCAR, ARCA, whoever it might've been, they always meant a lot to him. So it was important that people liked him because he genuinely liked everybody in return. And I think he would be very pleased today knowing that this honor was bestowed upon him." Fellow Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett , whose bond with Parsons dates back to his earliest experience in NASCAR, shared the sentiment. Parsons made his first start in NASCAR's top divison in August 1964 at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway in western North Carolina. Jarrett won that Sunday in dominating fashion, but took time out of the race weekend to welcome the newcomer. That first chance meeting forged a friendship that extended beyond their driving careers and into television, where the two often shared a role as color commentator. "To have worked with him for so long on television and to see his dedication to the sport and the love for the fans, and the reaction of the fans over the years -- he was a people person," Jarrett said. "People could relate to him because he was one of them, just a down-to-earth type of individual who wanted the best for them, and they sensed that. With all of that, we became great friends." Jarrett said he had a strong gut feeling about Parsons on Wednesday, pointing also to the support he received in the voting room. Terri Parsons had a similar feeling, one that was somehow different than the previous seven votes -- all of which she faithfully attended. Maybe it was the overwhelming response she said she received from her persistent campaigning for her husband, reminding people every day to participate in fan balloting. Maybe it was her welcome upon her arrival at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday afternoon. "There was a man waiting for me at the parking place that said, 'Are you Mrs. Parsons? Hurry, hurry,' " she said with a laugh. "I felt a little different about that. They didn't care last year if I had a parking place or not." Benny Parsons now has a permanent place, one that will become official with his enshrinement in January 2017, close to the 10-year mark since his passing at age 65. "Somewhere tonight he's saying 'fantastic,' I'm sure, and we all know the smile that he'd have on his face, and there's certainly one on mine because I've been here for nine years waiting for this," Terri Parsons said, noting the time it's taken to cross the last item from her list. "All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you."
Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett cancer-free after treatment for melanoma
Ned Jarrett , a two-time champion in NASCAR's premier series, said Thursday that he is cancer-free after surgery and four weeks of recent treatment for melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Jarrett , 82, said he was diagnosed with the disease this winter but that his health prognosis was encouraging. The NASCAR Hall of Famer said he was able to participate in last weekend's festivities at Darlington Raceway without restriction, joining the NBC Sports booth to broadcast a portion of Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500. "It is very positive and I feel good," Jarrett told NASCAR.com. "In fact, I feel the best I've felt in a couple of years at least. Getting my immune system built up and getting toxins out of my body and the cancer, I'm really feeling good and feeling good about the whole situation. I know now how to better take care of my body, so hopefully, it won't come back." Jarrett said that a biopsy was performed in January after dermatologists discovered a spot on his left arm during a check-up. After the diagnosis, he had successful surgery Feb. 20 to remove the cancerous areas. After further consultation and tests at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Clinical Research in Cornelius, North Carolina, Dr. Rashid Buttar discovered additional melanoma and prescribed a four-week course of treatment in July. Jarrett was declared cancer-free after completion of the program. "There are no limitations," Jarrett said. "I'll be a little bit more careful about what I eat and the sun exposure that I get, although I'm not going to stop playing golf or going to the races or wherever I need to go. I'll just be a little bit more careful about exposure for my skin to the sun." Jarrett said that skin cancer wasn't even an afterthought growing up in the rural North Carolina foothills, but that cancer was part of his genealogy. He lost seven family members, including his father, to the disease during a six-month stretch in 1983. "Of course, I grew up on a farm and worked in a sawmill," Jarrett said. "We didn't know anything about cancer or how it worked or that sun could do damage, and we went without shirts most of the time working on the farm. Then all of the years that I raced, I was outside and didn't even know about sunscreen. I feel very fortunate, especially since there has been a lot of cancer in my family, back in '83 in particular. So I was fortunate that it went as long as it did without showing up." Jarrett said the purpose of making his story public was to raise awareness for cancer treatment, but the revelation is part of a much longer-running mission. Jarrett has helped raise more than $1 million for the American Cancer Society as host of a charity golf tournament in his home state for more than 25 years. "I want to encourage people at the first sign of cancer, get something done about it," Jarrett said. "We were very proactive on this situation as far as I'm concerned and I feel like that helped us to treat it and get rid of it quick and I would encourage others to do the same. If there are suspicions, check it out, get a handle on it and get it taken care of." Jarrett -- nicknamed "Gentleman Ned " for his kind, calm disposition -- scored 50 Grand National (now Sprint Cup) victories in his brief career, becoming one of the sport's earliest stars in a period of substantial growth for stock-car racing. He was crowned premier-series champion in 1961 and 1965, and also won titles in 1957 and '58 in the fore-runner to the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Jarrett was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011, the second group of five chosen for enshrinement. He was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. After his retirement at age 34, Jarrett moved on to business ventures, a role as track promoter at Hickory Speedway and a seamless transition to broadcasting, where his voice became a familiar sound on MRN Radio and television networks CBS and ESPN. Jarrett's two sons -- Dale and Glenn -- followed his career arc from the track to the world of broadcasting. Dale Jarrett , premier-series champion in 1999, won the Daytona 500 three times with his father watching and making an emotional call of his first triumph in the Great American Race alongside the legendary Ken Squier in 1993. Dale Jarrett is currently part of NBC Sports' broadcast team. Glenn Jarrett , Dale's older brother, made 77 NASCAR national series starts and currently serves as a reporter for MRN Radio. Ned Jarrett and Squier were reunited in the broadcast suite Sunday night at Darlington, with Dale Jarrett joining in as part of NBC Sports' participation in NASCAR's throwback weekend. Their vintage call of the 500-mile classic drew rave reviews across social media, but ranked as a special personal moment for the 82-year-old Hall of Famer. "We've truly been blessed in a number of different ways over the years through the sport," Jarrett said, recalling his career highlights on the track and in the booth. "This last weekend ranks up there in the top five of highlights of my life, whether it was professional or just things that happened along the way. I'm very thankful for that."
Hall of Fame: Ned Jarrett
A family man, driver and broadcaster, Ned Jarrett participated in many careers, but now he is forever a hall of famer.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Ned Jarrett NASCAR Hall of Fame: Ned Jarrett
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Ned Jarrett
Hall of Fame Induction: Ned Jarrett
An emotional Ned Jarrett comments on his many racing and broadcast accolades.
Throwback Thursday: Jarrett's first win
Ned and Dale Jarrett remember Dale's first NASCAR Cup Series win for the Wood Brothers in the 1991 Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Darlington Raceway wins NMPA Myers Brothers Award
LAS VEGAS -- Darlington Raceway moved forward by going back in 2015. NASCAR's first paved superspeedway paid homage to stock car racing's past when it launched a "throwback" program for this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 , and the move proved to be one of the most talked about, most popular events of the year. So much so that the program has earned the track the National Motorsports Press Association's 2015 Myers Brothers Award. The award was announced Thursday during the annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers luncheon at the Wynn Las Vegas. Presented annually by the NMPA, the Myers Brothers Award is named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers. Its' purpose is to recognize individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. Others receiving votes for this year's award were four-time series champion Jeff Gordon and 2015 Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch . Darlington Raceway has hosted one or more NASCAR premier series events since 1950. The Southern 500, which returned to its long-held Labor Day weekend date this past season, is considered one of the series' "crown jewel" events. RELATED: Best throwback images " See all the Darlington paint schemes More than 30 cars in this year's 43-car field featured throwback schemes, honoring everything from long-time sponsors to drivers and popular paint schemes from the early 1970s. Several teams got in the act by wearing crew uniforms similar to those worn at the time; concession stand fare included items that were offered at the time and tickets in some sections were even priced similar to that specific time period. Even television partner NBC got in the act, bringing back former announcers Ken Squier and two-time champion Ned Jarrett to call a portion of the race from the broadcast booth. Jarrett ’s son, Dale -- a former series champion as well -- joined his father in the booth, marking the first time the two had called a race together. RELATED: Legends in the booth " How Darlington idea came together Track President Chip Wile said at the time that the throwback program is "a five-year platform; this isn't a one-year deal. "We felt like if we could get eight or 10 teams on board to really showcase what we're trying to accomplish, we felt like in 2016 we could get more, in 2017 we would get more and so on," he said. "But the response that we've gotten from everyone in the industry has been incredible." Myers Brothers Award Winners 2015, Darlington Raceway ; 2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr .; 2013, Tony Stewart ; 2012, Jeff Gordon ; 2011, Drs. Joseph & Rose Mattioli; 2010, Jim Hunter; 2009, Barney Hall; 2008, Thomas Taylor Warren; 2007, Bill France Jr.; 2006, Benny Parsons; 2005, Rusty Wallace; 2004, Kyle and Patti Petty; 2003, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 2002, Mike Helton; 2001, Dale Earnhardt; 2000, Kyle Petty; 1999, Junie Donlavey; 1998, T. Wayne Robertson; 1997, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1996, Rick Hendrick; 1995, TNN: The Nashville Network; 1994, Brickyard 400/ Indianapolis Motor Speedway ; 1993, Goody’s Manufacturing Co.; 1992, Richard and Lynda Petty; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990; Dick Beaty; 1989, Bill France Jr.; 1988 Richmond International Raceway ; 1987, ESPN; 1986, Hayride 500; 1985, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1984, Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 1983, CBS-TV; 1982, Motor Racing Network; 1981, Junior Johnson; 1980, STP & Champion Spark Plug Co.; 1979, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1978, Busch Beer; 1977, First National City Travelers Checks; 1976, Junior Johnson; 1975, Bill France Sr.; 1974, H. Clay Earles; 1973, Wood Brothers; 1972, Winston Cigarettes; 1971, Richard Petty; 1970, Richard Howard; 1969, David Pearson; 1968, Wood Brothers; 1967, Richard Petty; 1966, Norris Friel; 1965, Ned Jarrett ; 1964, Richard Petty; 1963, Marvin Panch; 1962, Hank Schoolfield; 1961, Ned Jarrett ; 1960, Russ Catlin; 1959, Lee Petty; 1958, Bob Colvin.
FOX Sports reveals special Daytona programming
FS1 wraps its first evening of Daytona coverage with a special programming block on Friday, Feb. 12 , opening day at Daytona Speedweeks, offering race fans a trio of NASCAR specials, capped one week later by the third installment of the groundbreaking, crowd-sourced documentary 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 ( Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 PM ET). Following FS1's live coverage of the first glimpse of cars on the track at Daytona International Speedway during NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PRACTICE (beginning at 5:00 PM ET on Feb. 12), the network’s Daytona specials, produced by NASCAR Productions, include: UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA The one-hour UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA offers a fresh perspective and details on several pivotal stories in the history of NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway , including: the 1994 Daytona 500 and Sterling Marlin going to Victory Lane for the first time in 17 years; racing icon Mario Andretti and the obstacles he overcame to win the 1967 Daytona 500 ; the infamous "Aero Wars" that pitted Ford against Chrysler in 1969-1971; the legend of Smokey Yunick, the colorful mechanic, car owner and innovator from Daytona; and Tiny Lund's story at the 1963 Daytona 500 , when he went from outsider to hero, 500 champion and Medal of Valor recipient. UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA premieres Friday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 PM ET on FS1 following the network’s live coverage of SPRINT UNLIMITED final practice. NASCAR RACE CLASSIC: 1993 DAYTONA 500 NASCAR RACE CLASSIC: 1993 DAYTONA 500, hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr ., airs on FS1 on Friday, Feb. 12 at 8:30 PM ET, featuring a 30-minute, cut-down version of the 1993 edition of the "Great American Race" and supplemented with interesting "pop-up trivia" facts regarding the race and pop culture at that time. The legendary 1993 race marked FOX NASCAR analyst Jeff Gordon 's first DAYTONA 500. Dale Jarrett held off Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the win while his father, Ned Jarrett , called the victory from the television broadcast booth. BEYOND THE WHEEL: SHORT FILM SERIES SPECIAL BEYOND THE WHEEL, a 90-minute special comprised of four short documentaries, offers an inside look at some of the sport's most interesting traditions and fascinating historical characters. Airing at 9:00 PM ET, the films focus on the stories of Robbie Allison, son of former NASCAR driver Davey Allison, short track legend Dick Trickle, the iconic trophy girls and their legacy, and the reunion of journalist Tom Wolfe and Junior Johnson on the 50th anniversary of Wolfe’s landmark Esquire article. NASCAR RACE HUB SPECIAL NASCAR RACE HUB SPECIAL: DAYTONA RISING highlights the new features and innovations of the revitalized Daytona International Speedway while also detailing the track’s rich history with NASCAR. Premiering on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 5:00 PM ET, the special gives fans an inside look at the Daytona Rising project through interviews with Lesa France Kennedy, track president Joie Chitwood III and the architect behind the mega-structure set to host its first race of the NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES season on Feb. 13. 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 premieres on FS1 on Saturday, Feb. 27 (6:30 PM ET) following the network’s live coverage of the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES race from Atlanta Motor Speedway . This 30-minute special, the franchise’s third, weaves together fan and driver-generated video to tell the story of the 2016 DAYTONA 500, the first “Great American Race” held at Daytona Rising, from every conceivable angle, regardless of location. The crowd-sourced documentary captures the ‘life in a day of NASCAR’ and how the sport connects people and communities at the track and around the world. Fans across the world are invited to share their DAYTONA 500 story by using cameras and mobile devices to capture the race, as well as the hours preceding and following it, whether from Daytona’s stadium, on a road trip to the track, while tailgating or watching from home or a neighborhood bar. Using the hashtags #100KCams and #NASCAR, fans simply upload videos to their social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Facebook or YouTube) during or immediately following the race. The high-energy special also features additional and specialty camera angles and content not seen in the live FOX broadcast of the DAYTONA 500 ( Sunday, Feb. 21 ), as well as driver and team radio scanner sound. Fans shooting video using a cell phone are encouraged to shoot horizontally for best results. For more tips and information on how to take and submit video, please visit www.foxsports.com/100KCams . FS1 and NASCAR Productions premiered the first two editions of the cutting-edge 100,000 CAMERAS to critical acclaim following the 2014 NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE and the May 2015 race at Talladega Superspeedway . FOX Sports kicks off the 2016 NASCAR season by offering nearly 100 hours of multi-network, multi-platform coverage from Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway , culminating with live coverage of the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 21 live on FOX with pre-race coverage on FOX NASCAR SUNDAY (12:00 PM ET).
Bobby Isaac joins NASCAR Hall of Fame Class 2016
RELATED: Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame In a different era, in which stock cars driven to and past their limits didn't break with frequency, there's no telling how many races or championships Bobby Isaac might have won. Isaac, the 1970 NASCAR premier series champion, won 37 of his 309 starts. But he was a DNF -- did not finish -- 129 times. His 49 poles rank 10th all-time, with 19 -- a still-standing, single-season mark -- coming in 1969. Only 38 drivers have won 19 or more poles in a career. Nobody ever had to tell Isaac to "stand on it." "Bobby was a never-give-up kind of guy," said Buddy Parrott, a member of Isaac's No. 71 K&K Insurance Dodge crew and a 49-time winner as a premier series crew chief for NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip among others. "Bobby had no fear." Isaac's accomplishments are such that he'll join the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2016 along with Jerry Cook, Terry Labonte , O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. Their induction will take place Jan. 22 in Charlotte, N.C. The ceremonies will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET by NBCSN. Isaac, born on a farm near Catawba, North Carolina in 1932, saw his first stock car race at nearby Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway and at age 17 bought a 1937 Ford and put roll bars in it. He flipped the car on the race's second lap but that didn’t dampen his desire. Working at a variety of low-paying jobs, Isaac began racing the NASCAR late model sportsman circuit. He survived but sometimes just barely. "One time I drove 200 miles to drive a fellow's modified car with $4 in my pocket," he once said. "I figured that I'd have enough to buy gas and get down there and eat a hot dog before the race. The gas was $3 but I had to put two quarts of oil in my car so I was broke when I left town. When the feature started my stomach was not only growling but I didn’t have enough gas to get back home. "I drove that car as hard as I could and won. I had to win." Isaac, described by some as "mercurial," went sportsman racing fulltime in 1958, driving for Ralph Earnhardt. He won 28 feature events, competing against the likes of NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and David Pearson. Isaac, at age 28, competed in his first premier series event in 1961. Driving a Dodge for Ray Nichels, he won his first race in 1964 -- a 50-lap Daytona 500 qualifier in which he edged Jimmy Pardue in a photo finish after Richard Petty ran out of fuel. With factory-supported teams jumping in and out of the sport in the mid-1960s, Isaac went from top ride to no seat at all. His fortunes changed in 1968 when he was hired by Indiana insurance magnate Nord Krauskopf and paired with legendary crew chief Harry Hyde, whose larger than life persona was captured as Harry Hogg in the film "Days of Thunder." Over the course of five seasons, 1968 to 1972, the trio's "Poppy Red" Dodges won 36 times -- 17 alone in 1969 when Isaac won 17 times in 50 starts. Bedeviled by 19 failures to finish, Isaac wound up sixth in the championship standings. Isaac "only" won 11 times in his championship season, but the DNFs were reduced to just nine. The K&K team is remembered best for its winged Dodge Charger Daytona, the needle-nosed, high rear-wing version of the standard Charger. Remarkably, Isaac visited Victory Lane only once in that model, at Texas World Speedway in 1969, his 20th career win and first on a superspeedway. "We won a lot of short-races, but we couldn't pull it all together on the big tracks until the last race of the season," said Isaac in Greg Fielden's book "NASCAR: The Complete History." "Winning the championship gave me personal satisfaction, but I'd rank it second to the Texas win. "The way I look at it, it took me seven years to win a superspeedway race and only three years to win the championship." In September 1971 the team took its winged car to the Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah where Isaac set 28 speed records, including a 217.368 mph "flying kilometer" mark. "That car weighed 3,900 pounds and it had 650 horses in the motor," Hyde told Car and Driver's Bob Zeller in May 2002. "And when Bobby set it sideways, it looked like a hydroplane on water. He came by at 200 mph broadside with a big rooster tail of salt comin' out the back." Driving part-time schedules for a number of owners, Isaac ran his last premier series race in 1976. He returned to Hickory Motor Speedway the following year where, on Aug. 14, he pulled out of a sportsman race feeling ill and was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to heart failure at age 45. Isaac was inducted into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1979 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1998, NASCAR honored him as one of its 50 Greatest Drivers of all time. Tickets are available for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony (limited quantities available). Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at ticketmaster.com, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.
Darlington's throwback weekends tap into NASCAR nostalgia
MORE: Buy Darlington tickets now RELATED: See all of the 2015 Darlington throwback paint schemes Darlington Raceway is hopping in the wayback machine again for the 2016 Southern 500, with this year's throwback theme focusing on the 1975-1984 era for the Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 2-4, 2016). More than 30 cars in the field for the 2015 Southern 500 featured paint schemes honoring drivers and popular livery from the 1970s. The event spurred memorable moments such as Kyle Larson driving the Mello Yello Chevrolet and morphing into Kyle Petty and Aric Almirola sporting a mustache fit for "The King." And Ned Jarrett and Ken Squier returned to the broadcast booth to call part of the race. RELATED: Best throwback images, from duds to logos to 'staches The 2015 throwback event was the first of a five-year campaign, and drivers, teams and fans all enjoyed it so much that the program won the National Motorsports Press Association's 2015 Myers Brothers Award. "We felt like if we could get eight or 10 teams on board to really showcase what we're trying to accomplish, we felt like in 2016 we could get more, in 2017 we would get more and so on," track president Chip Wile said. "But the response that we've gotten from everyone in the industry has been incredible." RELATED: Darlington takes home NMPA Myers Brothers Award Dale Earnhardt Jr ., for one, is pretty excited about the 2016 throwback program. After honoring Cale Yarborough in his 2015 throwback ride, Junior has strongly hinted that he'd like to drive a version of the "Gray Ghost" driven by Buddy Baker. RELATED: 'Gray Ghost' coming to Darlington this year?