2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Lee Petty. Photo by Getty Images.
Hometown: Randleman, N.C.
Petty became the sports first three-time series champion after winning titles in 1954, ’58 and ’59. He was also the winner of the first Daytona 500 in 1959. It took a while – three whole days – for officials to declare Lee Petty the winner of the first Daytona 500. So in many ways, we have Petty to thank for the yearly spectacle that is “The Great American Race.” That’s because he created the very first spectacle.
On the final lap, Petty and Johnny Beauchamp barreled toward the finish line, in what would become one of the closest finishes in the prestigious race’s history. So close, in fact, that race officials put a hold on the results for three days. A photo snapped at the finish line confirmed Petty’s win, his first in another championship winning season.
His 54 career victories stands ninth on the all-time list and he never finished lower than fourth in points from 1949-1959.
And up until the time his own son, Richard, caught and passed him, Lee won more races than any other driver – 54. That number still ranks ninth all-time.
Petty is the founder of Petty Enterprises and as an owner had more than 2,000 starts and 268 wins.
In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers.”
2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee, David Pearson. Photo by Getty Images.
Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
David Pearson, a.k.a. The Silver Fox, was the model of NASCAR efficiency during his career.
Pearson is a three-time NASCAR champion whose career total of 105 victories is second on the all-time list. Pearson won his titles in 1966, ’68 and ’69. He also won the sport’s biggest event, the Daytona 500 in 1976.
In a career that spanned 27 years, Pearson never once ran every single race in a given season. When he came close to running the full schedule, he won a championship – or came darn close.
In 1966, Pearson ran 42 of 49 races to win his first championship. In his 1968 championship winning campaign, he ran 48 of 49 races. And in 1969, he ran 51 of 54 en route to his third and final title.
His consistent greatness might best be defined by his 1974 performance, a season he did not win the championship. He finished third that year behind Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough – but raced only 19 of 30 races.
In 1998 he was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers.”
2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee, Bud Moore. Photo by Getty Images.
Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
A decorated World War II infantryman, Bud Moore became a successful NASCAR Sprint Cup owner almost immediately upon fielding a team in 1961. Moore won back-to-back championships in 1962-63 with Joe Weatherly. Earlier, in 1957,
During 37 seasons in NASCAR’s premier division, Moore’s cars won 63 times and finished 298 and 463 times respectively among the top five and top 10. His cars also won 43 poles in the team’s 959 starts. Moore-owned cars have visited Victory Lane in most of the sport’s biggest events including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500.
Moore’s cars, both fast and dependable, attracted the sport’s top drivers. They included Weatherly, Dale Earnhardt, Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Billy Wade, Darel Dieringer, Bobby Isaac, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons, Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd and Geoffrey Bodine.
Moore – who referred to himself as “a country mechanic” – was crew chief for champion Buck Baker. In 1974, Moore field Ford Torinos.