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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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David Lewkowict

Atlanta, GA

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NASCAR Hall of Fame Roars into Charlotte

May 11, 2010 - 2:41 PM | by: David Lewkowict

From its gritty roots running moonshine to a shining new Hall of Fame in the uptown section of Charlotte, NC – NASCAR has a new venue for fans to explore.

The NASCAR nation is one of the most loyal – spending millions to attend races, buy souvenirs and wear the colors of their favorite driver. The city of Charlotte, NC hopes that loyalty and passion will translate into some $60 million of economic impact annually through the new NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The facility is part museum, part experience and part pilgrimage for fans.

“I wanted to see the opening of the Hall of Fame because I’m a big NASCAR fan,” said an excited Dawn Corbin who traveled from Arlington, TX in order to be one of the first to enter.

A section of the facility named Glory Road, features famous cars from different eras of NASCAR racing, along a stretch of “track” with a thirty degree incline, allowing visitors a sense of what the driver feels rounding the corner at Talladega.

John Findore of Statesville, NC described it this way “One word – Awesome. They did a fantastic job. Very impressive.”

Fans can participate in a pit crew challenge, or take a drive in a simulator. At nearly $200 million dollars, the state of the art building is geared to both the NASCAR fan and the city’s convention and tourist populations.

“Whether you’re a die hard NASCAR fan or never been around it, we believe we’ve got something for everybody,” Winston Kelley, NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director said. “We’ve really worked hard to have something for everybody.”

Hall of Fame

On May 23, 2010, the first five NASCAR legends will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Some fans didn’t agree with all the choices but Kelley defended the selections.

“The debates that you’ve seen out there online and that you saw on the radio shows are exactly the same debate that we had in the voting panel. Should it be someone that’s a driver like a David Pearson or somebody like a Bill France Jr?” Kelley said. “These five are about what they did for the sport. The next five may be more likely what they did in the sport.”

2010 Inductees

Richard Petty, who won more championships and races than any other driver. Glory Road features one of Petty’s signature blue number 43 cars.

Junior Johnson, started running moonshine for his father’s illegal whiskey business, spent nearly a year in jail and later started racing cars. Junior, now a team owner, built a replica still for an exhibit showing the sport’s roots.

Bill France, Junior and Bill France, Senior are credited for making the sport into the force that it has become. From the first race in 1959 at Daytona, to the building of Talladega Motor Speedway in Alabama, the sport’s fastest track, to a 39 race season – the father son team built an enterprise that in 2007 signed a $4.5 billion (yes billion) eight year television contract.

Dale Earnhardt, died doing what he loved most, driving fast. The racing legend’s signature number 3 Chevy is prominently displayed for adoring fans to see.

Photo Gallery
NASCAR Hall of Fame Grand Opening
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  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Grand Opening
  • NASCAR Car Seat
  • Daytona
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