DTH visits the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Dale Wilkerson                                                                 November 2010

Last Saturday was a big day for myself and the crew of Droppin’ the Hammer, the locally based radio show which airs on WSPG radio 97.1 FM and 1400 AM, each Saturday morning from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon, as we were invited to broadcast our show from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Race fans, if you have not been yet, what are you waiting on?
The Glory Road display is perhaps the first thing that catches your eye. This display has cars from Red Byron’s 1939 Ford to Jimmy Johnson’s 2009 Chevrolet. As you walk up the ramp beside the cars, you will find information about each car and about different tracks in the NASCAR system. I did ask Bill Logan to walk past several cars to get my picture beside the 1971 Purolator Mercury of David Pearson. Pearson was always my favorite driver and if I didn’t get another picture, I wanted that one.

Dale standing beside the #21 Purolator Mercury piloted by NASCAR's Greatest Driver David Pearson          Photo by Bill Logan

Britt Wilkerson, my brother, worked to get the equipment set up with help from Danny McAbee, Derrick Bell and Johnny Bell. Show Producer Ronnie Black called back to the studio to check with in-studio producer Nate White while Devon Holder checked the range of a wireless microphone inside this facility.
Johnny Bell, who races locally at Cherokee and Harris Motor Speedways, was our first guest and he previewed upcoming events at Cherokee, which include the Blue-Gray 100 this Sunday afternoon. Next up was 2010 ARCA Champion Patrick Sheltra.

Sheltra Racing, 2010 ARCA Champions, Team managers Brandon Hinson, Crew Cheif Jon Wolfe, Dale, Britt, Ronnie and Patrick Sheltra.                     Photo by Bill Logan

Sheltra has tested the NASCAR waters and hopes to make an announcement in the coming weeks as to which series he will compete in during 2011. I asked his crew chief if he would like to race some of the older cars , like Lee Petty’s Oldsmobile that won the 1959 Daytona 500. He responded, “If we had to race one of those, I would need to crawl under Lee Petty’s car to get an idea on how to set one up.”
Wolfe has shown the ability to adapt as he and Sheltra picked up wins on both dirt and paved tracks this year on their way to the ARCA title.
Sheltra walked around the facility before going on with us and he picked out his favorite car right away. “If I could drive one of those, it would have to be that black #3 of the late Dale Earnhardt.”
Author Perry Allen Wood of Spartanburg joined us next and he spoke of the historic displays found throughout the building. “Have you been upstairs yet?” Wood asked me as he sat down.
With an extra hour, our legends segment was the highlight of the day. First, Bobby Allison sat down with us and spoke of the day the announcement was made for the Class of 2011. “They called out Pearson first, then my name. I am just proud to be a part of this,” Allison said.
Bud Moore, who will join Allison, Pearson, Ned Jarrett, and the late Lee Petty in the Class of 2011, along with the Hall of Fame Historian Buzz McKimm, sat down and the stories only got better. Allison drove Moore’s Thunderbird from 1978 through 1980, picking up 14 wins including the 1978 Daytona 500. As I turned from Bobby Allison to listen to Bud Moore, I could not help but see Buzz McKimm’s mile-wide grin.
“Every day I get to work at the NASCAR version of Disney World, and having these two legends of the sport here today, just makes me realize how lucky we have been to see these men build this sport we love over the years, then to have them here today is just icing on the cake for me,” McKimm said.

Both Moore and McKimm spoke of Allison’s tenacious ability behind the wheel of any racecar. “Bobby could take any car and win with it,” Moore said of his former driver. As Britt ran the controls for our equipment at the Hall of Fame, he found a picture that truly backed up those words about Bobby Allison. It was of the AMC Matador that Allison raced in the mid-seventies. And yes, Bobby Allison won races in that underpowered car. Bobby looked at the picture and smiled during a commercial break. He looked over to Britt and said that car was fast.
During the show, Devon Holder checked in with us from different areas of the Hall of Fame. McKimm commented that he could make Devon a spokesman for the facility as he really gave folks a good description of the different displays.
Devon toured a hauler, the pit crew challenge, the Room of Honor, the displays of driver owner, and NASCAR officials’ uniforms, and he even crawled up inside the Union 76 Ball that was used by NASCAR officials at Daytona.
I am already planning my next trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it will be enjoyable I am sure as I will get to soak in all of the history, the sites, and take part in the interactive displays that make the NASCAR Hall of Fame a must see for any race fan regardless of age. The price of admission is a bargain for all the sights you will see.
But my first trip will always be my favorite, because I was able to spend that day with Bud Moore and Bobby Allison, and a day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame talking with Bud Moore and Bobby Allison is priceless.