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.
RELATED: NASCAR 101 NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Known for its passionate fan base, one-of-a-kind playoff format, development of the modern sports sponsorship and commitment to enhancing auto racing through technology, NASCAR produces many of the most highly attended sporting events in the world. NASCAR did not gain the success or popularity it has today overnight. The sport has evolved to entertain its fans and continuously prosper. Early stock car racing In the years immediately following World War II, stock car racing was experiencing the greatest popularity it had ever seen. Tracks throughout the country were drawing more drivers and bigger crowds. Nonetheless, there was a serious lack of organization. From track to track, rules were different. Some tracks were makeshift facilities, producing one big show at a county fair or something similar to capitalize on the crowds flocking to the events. Other tracks were more suited to handle the cars, but not the crowds. Some could manage both, but did little to adhere to rules set by other tracks. Bill France Sr. organizes NASCAR In December of 1947, Bill France Sr., of Daytona Beach, Florida, organized a meeting at the Streamline Hotel, across the street from the Atlantic Ocean, to discuss the problems facing stock car racing. France had come to Florida from Washington, D.C., in 1935. He operated a local service station and also promoted races on the city's famed beach-road courses, often racing himself. He was a man of strong will -- and ambition. Thus, by the time that meeting at the Streamline Hotel was completed, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was born. Few knew when the meeting adjourned if the organization would be successful. In fact, there were skeptics who believed it never would work. Not even France, who believed a sanctioning body was exactly what stock car racing needed, could have envisioned what NASCAR has become today. Things came together quickly. The first NASCAR-sanctioned race was held on Daytona's beach-road course Feb. 15, 1948, just two months after the organizational meeting. Red Byron, a stock car legend from Atlanta, won the event in a Ford Modified. Six days later on Feb. 21, 1948, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was incorporated. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is born It was 1949, however, when what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , the premier racing division in America, was born. Jim Roper of Great Bend, Kansas, was the winner of the first ever NASCAR Grand National event, held at the Charlotte Fairgrounds on June 19, 1949. A tremendous crowd attended the event to see race cars that looked like passenger cars compete door-to-door. The new racing series was off-and-running. And it was an immediate success. Plans were made to bring bigger, faster races to bigger, hungrier crowds and less than a year later (1950), the country's first asphalt superspeedway, Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, opened its doors for the new division. The first decade for the premier series was one of tremendous growth. Characters became heroes and fans hung on every turn of the wheel, watching drivers manhandle cars at speeds fans wished they could legally run themselves. Names like Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Herb Thomas, the Flock brothers, Bill Rexford, Paul Goldsmith and others became as well-known to race fans as Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider were to baseball fans. Daytona International Speedway ushers in a new age of speed Looking to the future, and invigorated by the success of Darlington, Bill France Sr. began construction of a 2.5-mile, high-banked superspeedway four miles off the beach in Daytona Beach. France had helped lead the fight to keep racing affiliated with the city. When those looking to set land speed records began opting for the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah so the incoming and outgoing tides at Daytona Beach would not be a factor, the city wanted to maintain one of its main attractions -- fast cars and the beach. By the end of NASCAR's first decade, the city not only had held on to its racing roots, but had outgrown the beach and, in 1959, moved events to Daytona International Speedway . With its long back straightaway and sweeping high-banked turns of more than 30 degrees, the 2.5-mile tri-oval was one of the largest speedways in the world. The first Daytona 500 In the first race, fans were treated to something that each year still brings millions of fans to NASCAR races -- close competition. The first Daytona 500 didn't end, technically, for three days. It took that long for NASCAR officials to study a photograph of the finish between Petty and Johnny Beauchamp before declaring Petty the winner. The hook had been set. The following year (1960), superspeedways were opened just outside Atlanta and Charlotte. ABC televised the 1961 Firecracker 250 from Daytona Beach as part of its "Wide World of Sports." As the sport expanded, new heroes emerged. Lee Petty's son Richard, who would eventually be referred to as "The King" of stock car racing, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett , David Pearson and Bobby Allison led NASCAR racing through an era that featured a schedule of more than 60 races a year on tracks from Florida to California to Maine. Fan interest grew and the demand for bigger, faster tracks was heard. In 1969, France opened the 2.66-mile Alabama International Motor Speedway (now known as Talladega Superspeedway ), the largest and fastest motorsports oval in the world. New tracks sprang up in Brooklyn, Michigan, (70 miles Southwest of Detroit), Dover, Delaware, (between Philadelphia and Baltimore) and Pocono, Pennsylvania, two hours from New York City). Bill France Jr. becomes NASCAR President The decade of the 1970s brought further change, including one at the top when Bill France Sr. passed the torch of leadership of NASCAR to his son Bill Jr. on Jan. 10, 1972. Corporate sponsorship of the series by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company through its Winston brand began in 1971 and NASCAR's premier division became known as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Reynolds' involvement later led to the NASCAR Winston West Series and the NASCAR Winston Racing Series (now NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series) -- weekly events held at tracks nationwide with drivers vying for 10 regional titles and a national championship. In 1976, NASCAR's premier division took the lead in worldwide motorsports attendance for the first time with more than 1.4 million spectators making their way to events, according to figures from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. That lead never has been relinquished. Television exposure grew as well. The 1979 Daytona 500 became the first 500-mile race in history to be telecast live in its entirety. In 1981, NASCAR moved its annual awards ceremony to New York City from Daytona Beach for the first time. By the mid 1980s, Fortune 500 companies not only were involved in sponsoring NASCAR, but individual races and teams as well. Drivers such as Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott and others were rising to challenge Petty and Allison and Yarborough, displaying the colors of detergents and coffees and cereals on the hoods of their cars while doing it. Major consumer packaging companies like Kellogg's, General Foods, and Procter & Gamble were realizing what Bill France knew in the late 1940s -- stock car racing had a fervently loyal fan following. The XFINITY Series debuts In 1982, NASCAR consolidated the Late Model Sportsman Division into a new series. Since rising costs had made weekly racing for the Late Model stock cars difficult, the idea behind the creation of the series was to build big races, and to bring all of the regional-stars of the series together for all of the races. Anheuser-Busch, Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri, became the sponsor of the new NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series. In 1984, the Busch brand took over the sponsorship in what would become the NASCAR Busch Series. Starting in 2007, the series became known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series, via a new sponsorship deal with one the world's largest insurance providers. At the start of 2015, the series changed to the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Expansion continues through the 1990s, includes Indianapolis By 1989, just 10 years after the first 500-mile race to be broadcast live flag-to-flag, every race on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule was televised, nearly all of them live. As the decade of the 1990s began, perhaps no one but the sports visionaries could have imagined the growth NASCAR would undertake. Without question it was an exciting time. NASCAR began its meteoric rise by expansion in 1993 to New Hampshire International Speedway -- 70 miles north of Boston -- and in 1994, to the famed "Brickyard," Indianapolis Motor Speedway . The Camping World Truck Series starts up In May of 1994, NASCAR introduced a new series, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, involving full-sized, full-bodied pickup trucks. After several exhibition events, the first points event in the new series was held in February of 1995 in what would become the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The NASCAR Lifestyle becomes a national phenomenon At the same time, NASCAR's at-track attendance was growing monumentally. The NASCAR Lifestyle was becoming a national phenomenon with cover stories in Forbes and Sports Illustrated. To help feed the tremendous growth, NASCAR launched its official website in 1995 ( www.nascar.com ) and in 1997, NASCAR branched out again, adding races in top 10 markets like Los Angeles, Dallas/Ft. Worth and a second date in New Hampshire. The 1998 season marked the celebration of NASCAR's 50th anniversary, honoring NASCAR's past, present and future. NASCAR's top division expanded once again, this time to Las Vegas. From 1993 to 1998, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ' at-track attendance alone grew 57 percent (by 2.2 million) to over 6.3 million and its top three divisions combined grew a staggering 80 percent (by 4.1 million), to over 9.3 million. Topping off NASCAR's explosion in the '90s was the announcement in November 1999 of a consolidated television package with FOX Sports/FX and NBC Sports/TNT for NASCAR's top two series beginning in 2001. At the same time, DaimlerChrysler announced intentions to return its Dodge nameplate to NASCAR's top division for 2001, after a 15-year hiatus. In 2007, a new TV package was introduced, with ABC and ESPN returning to the NASCAR fold. As the sport's fan base grew, NASCAR grew internally as well. In November of 2000, Mike Helton became the third president in NASCAR history as the torch of leadership passed to a non-France family member for the first time. Bill France became Chairman and CEO, leading the newly created NASCAR Board of Directors. By the turn of the century, new stars emerged such as Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte and second-generation driver Dale Jarrett . NASCAR's drivers, teams and tracks once again saw unprecedented exposure, this time with the aid of an expanded 36-race schedule and its new television package in 2001. The TV story was proving a remarkable success as viewership for the Daytona 500 grew 48 percent (over 6 million) to 18.7 million viewers between 1993 and 2002. When FOX Sports aired its first Daytona 500 in 2001, viewership increased 32 percent (4.1 million) to over 17 million from the 2000 broadcast. Brian France becomes NASCAR Chairman and CEO In 2003, NASCAR made two major announcements to help the dawn of the new era become even clearer. NASCAR announced in June that Nextel would become the new series sponsor in 2004, replacing R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand after 33 years. Three months later in September, Brian Z. France was named as NASCAR's CEO and Chairman of the Board replacing his father, Bill France. A steady parade of changes has followed. The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup was announced at the start of 2004, ushering in a new format to determine the champion of NASCAR's premier series. In 2006, Toyota announced a move into all three of NASCAR's national series. In 2007 it was announced that the premier series' name would be changed to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2008. In addition, Nationwide Insurance was announced as the replacement for Anheuser-Busch as main sponsor of NASCAR's series born from Late Models in 1982. The 2007 season also marked the beginning of NASCAR's new car in premier series competition, a car designed to be safer than ever while also reducing costs to compete -- all the while enhancing the racing itself. The new car could not slow down Jimmie Johnson who captured a record five consecutive championships from 2006-2010, becoming only the second driver to win three consecutive titles (Cale Yarborough 1976-1978). During the late 2000s, NASCAR began further expanding by creating series internationally. The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and the NASCAR Toyota Series (Mexico) launched their inaugural seasons in 2007. The sanctioning body extended its reach across the Atlantic when it founded the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2012. Today, NASCAR runs three national series, four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. Winning formula: Gen-6 car, new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format, new series sponsorship In 2013, NASCAR continued enhance its racing, debuting its Gen-6 car that enhanced body designs to better resemble the cars found in showrooms across the United States and improve on-track performance. NASCAR also secured its television rights through 2024 by agreeing to a 10-year rights deal with NBC Universal and an eight-year rights extension with FOX. To emphasize winning races, NASCAR created a new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff format for 2014 and unveiled its new grid format for advancing drivers. In 2015, XFINITY replaced Nationwide as the title sponsor for the series "Where Names are Made." Late in 2016, France would introduce Monster Energy as only the third premier series entitlement sponsor in league history. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series would help usher in a new era of NASCAR, which included an enhanced-race format that saw each race run in three stages. Resources NASCAR on Facebook NASCAR on Twitter NASCAR on YouTube
Darlington Raceway now hosts 'Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR'
RELATED: See all of last year's paint schemes DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (Jan. 10, 2017) -- It's now official! Darlington Raceway and its Labor Day race weekend are now being recognized as “The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR." The designation ensures that the official historical celebration of the sport will continue to take place at the famed 1.366-mile superspeedway in Darlington, South Carolina. "We have worked closely with NASCAR to ensure that Darlington Raceway now has the exclusive rights to the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR for promotions and advertising of our event," said Kerry Tharp, Darlington Raceway president. "Our return to Labor Day weekend, coupled with the Throwback theme has elevated our event across the entire sport and this move only solidifies that among our fans, race teams, sponsors, broadcast partners and media, among others." The track's award-winning throwback campaign has earned rave reviews throughout the industry since its inception in 2015. The campaign has aligned all key stakeholders in the sport and provided a historical celebration that has earned much praise from fans and corporate partners. It was because of this collaboration over the past two seasons that NASCAR recognized the importance of the track's throwback weekend and in turn will now celebrate The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR at the sport's original paved superspeedway, which opened and began hosting NASCAR events in 1950. The track's 2016 throwback campaign last season featured a celebration of 1975-84 including the following highlights: • Over 35 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race teams competed with throwback paint schemes for the Bojangles' Southern 500 , the most in any single NASCAR event in the sport's history. • Over 18 NASCAR XFINITY Series teams competed with throwback paint schemes. • Use of NASCAR's famed "NASCAR International" logo for the second consecutive year. • For the second straight year, Goodyear put the original white lettering on its race tires specifically for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . • NBC did another throwback broadcast of the race featuring old station logos and graphics. NASCAR legends Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett did a special throwback broadcast during the race for the second straight year. • Honored 14 NASCAR Hall of Fame members at the Bojangles' Legends Breakfast. • 2017 NHOF inductees Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress and Mark Martin served as the Bojangles' Southern 500 grand marshals. • Unique food offerings from the 1975-84 time period, including the pimento cheese sandwich. • Pre-race concert by rock legends KANSAS and national anthem performance by Barry Williams (of Brady Bunch fame). The Tradition Continues on Labor Day weekend as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 ® is set for Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. The NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 will race on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. You can keep up with all of the latest news from Darlington Raceway at DarlingtonRaceway.com , on Facebook at Facebook.com/DarlingtonRaceway and on Twitter at Twitter.com/TooToughToTame . &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Betty Jane France named Myers Brothers Award Recipient
RELATED: Full schedule for Champion's Week DARLINGTON, S.C. (Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016) – Betty Jane France, whose philanthropic endeavors away from the race track rivaled those of the well-known family business of NASCAR, has been chosen as the 2016 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's prestigious Myers Brothers Award. France, who passed away Aug. 29, 2016, is the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy. She was the widow of former NASCAR Chairman and CEO William C. France. While auto racing has been the cornerstone of the family profession, Betty Jane France's reach far exceeded the boundaries of the track. Kind and compassionate, France was the guiding force behind the formation of the NASCAR Foundation, the charitable arm of the sanctioning body that seeks to improve the lives of children most in need. She served as chairwoman of the Foundation upon its inception more than a decade ago and was later named chairwoman emeritus. In 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, presented by Nationwide, was established in her honor. Each year, the award recognizes outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of NASCAR fans. Active in her Daytona Beach community as well as abroad, France also helped establish the Speediatrics children's care unit at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach as well as Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla. The Myers Brothers Award is named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers. Determined by a vote of the NMPA membership, it recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. It has been presented annually since 1958. Myers Brothers Award Winners 2016, Betty Jane France; 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, T. 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, MRN; 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. Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon : · NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Betty Jane France · Buddy Shuman Award: Jack Roush · NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Comcast XFINITY · Chevrolet Cross Flags Award: Tony Stewart · American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick · Coors Light Pole Award: Carl Edwards · Duralast Brakes "Brake in the Race" Award: Kyle Busch · Goodyear NASCAR Series Champion Award: Jimmie Johnson · Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award: Dave Rogers, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Crew Chief · MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Scott Vester, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team · Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team · Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kyle Busch · MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Alan Gustafson, crew chief No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team · Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Kyle Busch · Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Jimmie Johnson · Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Chase Elliott · Champion Sponsor Award: Lowe's · Champion Crew Chief Award: Chad Knaus · Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide: Andy Hoffman &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Parsons' 10-step list finally complete after Hall's call
RELATED: Five legends unveiled for 2017 Hall of Fame Class CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- 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."
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