Bill France Sr. probably never imagined in his wildest dreams the sport he started 62 years ago would someday house the stars of his fledgling organization within the walls of a multi-million dollar facility.
His dream began in 1947 at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Fla., when he and about a dozen racers and promoters gathered in hopes of trying to organize a much disorganized sport.
“Big Bill” as he was known around his peers and business associates had a vision, and that vision was to keep the not-so-trustworthy promoters and track owners from taking the prize money and putting it into their own pockets.
France felt that the sport was headed downward unless someone took control of it and gave the drivers some sense of security that when the night ended, the prize money would be theirs and not in the pockets of some shady characters.
Little did France know was that someday the sport that he organized would be one the most popular motorsports organizations in the world today, with fans from over 150 countries viewing on a weekly basis.
In 2005, five cities began vying to become home to the newest addition to the NASCAR family—the NASCAR Hall of Fame—with Charlotte winning out over Atlanta, Kansas City, Richmond, and Daytona Beach.
With the Hall Of Fame opening ceremonies that took place on Tuesday afternoon, the fans can finally see history come to life which at one time was not possible.
As the fireworks exploded, the tears from heaven sent a message that the 195 million dollar facility was ready to allow the fans a chance to see history come to life before their very eyes.
Hall of Fame inductee and seven-time Winston cup champion Richard Petty arrived in a replica car that made him famous.
Petty was not short on words when he described what the Hall means to the sport.
"This is to help keep the fans we have, and to help get new fans into the sport as well. This is just like baseball history or football or any history for that matter,” said Petty.
Petty also added that, “It gives you a background of why you see things the way they are today. Without the history behind it, there would be no today.
"I think having the new fans learn, having them appreciate where we came from.”
Junior Johnson, who will also be inducted with the inaugural class, drove up in a replica car he had used in the 1940s to run moonshine.
“The technology of them being able to get the stuff of the past, the mid part of NASCAR and the later part—I just can’t believe they could pull all of that history to show people how it started,” said Johnson.
"It really brought back a lot of great memories for me because I have been around the sport for awhile," former championship driver and current television analyst Dale Jarrett said.
Jarrett also added that, “But this is going to be something not just for the true race fans that have been around for the last 20, 25 years. There are plenty of football and basketball fans who may want to come through and spend a few hours learning about our sport. It's not going to be just for race fans alone."
NASCAR was long overdue for its own structure where some of the sport's fondest memories could be housed, along with the relics which could tell a story of just how far the sport has come.
"I think we did really need to have this. I think a lot of the artifacts that were collected are important, and I think the real beneficiaries are the fans," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing who was also on hand for the day's events.
Gibbs also added that, “Now families can come to Charlotte to visit and they can come here, they can tour race shops, they can go to Charlotte Motor Speedway. They can do so many things. I think this is going to be a huge attraction for our fans. It kind of captures the sport and where we are."