Tha Sports Junkies 101

2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Recap



Perhaps the most diverse class was immortalized in the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday night. It was a very fitting induction celebration for the legacies of all 5 members and their paths to NASCAR. TSJNASCAR was on hand at the festivities and was able to interview the inductees or their representatives.

The 5 inductees into this year’s class were Red Byron, Ron Hornaday Jr., Robert Yates, Ken Squier, and Ray Evernham. These 5 men represented drivers in the Cup and Truck Series, an engine builder, a broadcaster, and a crew chief.

Other honors given out on Induction Night included the Landmark Award and the Squier-Hall Award for Media Excellence. These decorations went to Jim France and Norma ‘Dusty’ Brandel respectively.

A feature article detailing Ken Squier is soon to be posted, while both Evernham and Hornaday were explained at length in a previous article. 

I was able to personally interview Evernham, Squier, as well as Robert Yates’ son Doug. Highlights of each interview are below.

Ray Evernham

One of the most successful crew chiefs in history, Ray Evernham remains humble despite his many accomplishments. “When you start racing like I did or like Jeff did you never really expect to get to the top level. You dream about it and you work hard to get there, but the whole time you’re doing it you never think you’ll make a mark in a sport that would get you at this level. I can tell you it still really blows me away. It’s still very surreal. It’s like being in a movie, I now know how Rocky felt. I’m beyond thankful for everyone who’s helped me along the way.”

On a side note, I asked Evernham if he thought he could still be a successful crew chief today. I cannot repeat his quote, but the answer was yes, “If I wanted to.”

Ken Squier

For baseball it’s Vin Scully, in basketball it’s Bob Ryan and Dick Vitale, in football there’s the likes of John Madden; in NASCAR, the voice who brought the sport to millions of fans is Ken Squier. Known as ‘The Golden Voice,” Squier has had a lengthy (and still continuing) career covering NASCAR for television and radio. He has also set the standard for all in the motorsports journalism world. The Vermont native summed up his legendary career by stating the following. “I really like motorsports and I love the people in it, always have. I treat them all with a great deal of respect because I feel that they have a lot of merit that never gets touched.” The massive footprints set by Squier have been a standard for everyone in NASCAR and the world of auto racing journalism to try to live up to.

In addition, I told Ken Squier that I wish to someday be in his position covering NASCAR. He said to me “It’s a lot of pressure, few can live up to it. You have to really commit yourself to serving the sport.”

Ron Hornaday Jr.

4-time champion, 51 wins, and the first Truck Series driver enshrined into the Hall of Fame. These stats describe Ron Hornaday Jr. Nicknamed ‘The Weapon’ by Dale Earnhardt, Hornaday leads the Truck Series record books in nearly every category. “Earlier today, I finally started thinking about what exactly tonight means. I still didn’t know what it meant until I started seeing friends, family, peers, and Hall of Famers. It really just got me in a different mood and a different element. It’s the fricking Hall of Fame!”

When asked if he could still be a Truck driver today, Hornaday told me “No, I don’t have the patience to handle all these kids anymore.”

Doug Yates

Known for building power plants for Ford Racing and owning a very successful team, Robert Yates was a Hall of Fame candidate in every aspect. Unfortunately, the elder Yates lost a lengthy battle with liver cancer in October. Although he was not at the induction ceremony in person, Dale Jarrett recited his induction speech. Jarrett and Yates were able to win the 1999 Cup Series championship, and the Daytona 500 twice. On hearing his father’s words, Doug Yates said “To know he was a Hall of Famer meant everything to my dad. It was certainly a crowning achievement to everything he had done in NASCAR. Tonight was definitely special, my family and I had not heard the speech until Dale read it, and it was just typical for my dad. I couldn’t ask for anything better than to have Dale, Edsel Ford II, and Brad Keselowski there.”

Next month in Daytona Beach, the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee will meet to determine the 20 nominees for the 2019 Hall of Fame Class.

In conclusion, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is an annual event for remembering the legacies of the true legends of the sport. The Hall of Fame has just gained 5 more members in its 9th class. The NASCAR offseason is nearly over, as Daytona Speedweeks is now less than 3 weeks away.