• Petty, Hamlin, Johnson, Gordon, Busch And Blount Also Honored
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 7, 2011) – Legendary NHRA Funny Car champion John Force added yet another accolade to his career resume when he was inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. Force, a 15-time champion, was honored during the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala Thursday evening at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway.
Force’s induction highlighted an evening that honored some of the biggest names in motorsports. Seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty, defending Samsung Mobile 500 and AAA Texas 500 champion Denny Hamlin, five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch and veteran motorsports journalist Terry Blount were recognized for their accomplishments.
Force becomes the 13th member enshrined into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame joining A.J. Foyt (2003), Johnny Rutherford (‘03), Terry Labonte (‘04), Lee Shepherd (‘04), Kenny Bernstein (‘05), Jim Hall (‘05), Eddie Hill (‘06), Mark Martin (‘07), Jim McElreath (‘07), Bobby Labonte (‘08), Bruton Smith (‘08) and Joe Gibbs (‘09).
The Lone Star State has been the site of many of Force’s milestones. He has tallied 13 of his 132 career victories in Texas and earned his 100th victory in Houston in 2002. Texas also was the site of a near career-ending accident. In 2007 Force blew a tire that sent his car careening into Bernstein’s. Force was hospitalized and underwent six hours of surgery and months of rehabilitation. He returned for the start of the 2008 season and last year he became the oldest NHRA champion when he earned his 15th Funny Car championship.
“I love racing. It has been my whole life,” Force said. “I wasn’t born in Texas but I nearly died here. I have to say thank you to the NHRA, to my sponsors Castrol, Ford, Mac Tools, Auto Club, and Brandsource for sticking by me and most of all to the fans. That is why I do what I do, for the roar of the crowd.”
NASCAR’s legendary figure, Petty, was honored with the Bruton Smith Legend Award. Petty has been an enduring figure in the sport for more than 50 years as a driver and now as owner of Richard Petty Motorsports. His 200 career victories are most by any NASCAR driver and his seven-championships is tied for the most with Dale Earnhardt.
Texas Motor Speedway’s most dominant driver in 2010, Denny Hamlin, received the Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year. Hamlin mastered “The Great American Speedway!” last year as joined Carl Edwards as the only Sprint Cup Series drivers to sweep both races at Texas Motor Speedway. His two victories at Texas were the highlights of a career season for Hamlin. He finished a career-best second in the point standings and tallied a season-high eight wins.
“This has always been a very special race track for myself,” Hamlin said. “We all know that Texas is a big race on our schedule. It’s obviously one of the most prestigious race tracks you can possibly win at. It’s a great honor to win one race in a lifetime or a career at this race track, but to win two in one year is a great accomplishment.”
Hamlin’s teammate, Busch, was honored with the top moment from the 2010 Texas Motor Speedway season. More than 10,000 fans submitted their vote online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com to select one of three moments. The top moments included Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon’s fight on the backstretch; Hamlin’s sweep of Texas; and Busch’s record fifth-consecutive Nationwide Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Johnson was honored with the Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award for his work both on and off the track. Johnson’s effort with the Jimmie Johnson Foundation has helped raise more than $3.5 million for charitable organizations.
Johnson’s teammate and owner, Gordon, received the Maj. General Thomas Sadler Humanitarian Award for his work with Speedway Children’s Charities. Gordon has been a major player in Speedway Children’s Charities mission to care for children in education, financial, social and medical need in order to help them lead productive lives. His work with the Jeff Gordon Foundation Corvette Raffle has helped raise more than $400,000 for Speedway Children’s Charities at Texas Motor Speedway.
Veteran motorsports journalist Terry Blount was honored with the Excellence in Motorsports Journalism Award. Blount’s career has spanned more than 30 years and has included stops at some of the country’s largest newspapers. He has worked at the Houston Post, Houston Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News and he currently is a motorsports writer/columnist for ESPN.com.
Race fans can visit the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame during the Samsung Mobile 500 weekend and throughout the year. The hall of fame, located in the outdoor atrium adjacent to The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway, features special pedestals of all the inductees highlighting their career stats and accomplishments.
The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame ceremony benefits Speedway Children’s Charities at Texas Motor Speedway. Since the organization was established in 1997 it has raised more than $7.5 million in funding to help non-profit organizations in the four North Texas counties it serves – Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.