Motorsports Hall of Fame to induct six in 2008

A diverse group of drivers is going to be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall o

updated: December 08, 2007 09:09 IST
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Robert "Red" Byron, the first driver to win a NASCAR points championship, is among a diverse group to be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

The six-person Class of 2008, announced on Thursday, also includes Art Arfons, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, Frank Kurtis, Everett "Cotton" Owens and Ralph Seagraves. They will be enshrined on April 24.

"This induction class is a perfect example of what makes the International Motorsports Hall of Fame so unique," said Talladega Superspeedway President and IMHOF executive director Rick Humphrey.

"With this class we are honoring drivers, an owner, a fabricator, an engine builder and a promoter. These men comprise the building blocks of all motorsports."

Byron, who died in 1960, got his start in the early 1930s in unorganized races in Talladega. He won the first NASCAR-sanctioned race on the Daytona beach road course in 1948.

Byron ran in six races in 1949, winning two and earning 842.5 points to win the first NASCAR championship.

Arfons, who died on Monday at age 81, was best known for setting the unlimited land speed record three times in his "Green Monster" racers.

He also made significant contributions to drag racing, tractor pulling and powerboat racing during a five-decade career.

In the mid-1950s, Jenkins produced many of drag racing's most successful vehicles. Considered the "Father of Pro Stock," Jenkins built engines for 61 National Hot Rod Association Eliminators, producing five championships and three ARHA championships.

As a driver, he won 13 NHRA national Pro Stock events from 1965-75 with one championship as a driver.

Kurtis never drove in a race, but his Kurtis-Kraft firm produced about 550 midgets in kit and "ready to run" forms.

The combination of the Kurtis chassis powered by a smaller version of the famous Offenhauser engine was highly successful for more than 20 years.

Owens won more than 100 NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour races during the 1950s before making the transition to the NASCAR Grand National series.

As a car owner and driver, Owens' career statistics include 41 wins and 38 poles in 487 races.

Seagraves, who died in 1998, helped initiate the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco sponsorship of motorsports in the 1970s.

Seagraves was president of Reynolds' Special Events Operations, now known as Sports Marketing Enterprises, from 1972 until his retirement in 1985.