Fred Lorenzen and Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, two star drivers from stock car racing’s building years, have been nominated for election to the 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.
Today and Thursday, NASCAR will release the names of two Hall nominees at Noon ET. The first two nominees – Modified drivers Jerry Cook and Richie Evans – were announced Tuesday.
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The other 19 names – a total of 25 – will be released during a live SPEED broadcast at 8 p.m. ET Thursday in a special live television show from Daytona Beach, Fla. Five of the 25 will be chosen for the Hall’s second class. They will join Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bill France Sr., Junior Johnson and Bill France Jr. in the hall.
Roberts was a nominee for the inaugural 2010 Hall class. This is Lorenzen’s first nomination.
Historians of the sport often label Roberts as NASCAR’s first superstar. He not only was talented on the track but also had a virbrant personality that made him a star with fans off track.
Part of his fame was produced by the fact that he was very visible in NASCAR’s big events. He won the fourth Daytona 500 in 1962 and conquered the tough Southern 500 in 1958 and 1963.
A native of Daytona Beach, Fla., Roberts was splendid overall at Daytona International Speedway, where he won seven races.
In 1958, Roberts ran only 10 races but won six.
Roberts, who picked up the “Fireball” nickname because of his speed as a high school and American Legion baseball pitcher, was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998. He won 33 Cup races in a career that began in 1950. Although he never won the Cup title, he finished in the top 10 in points six times.
Roberts died in 1964 from injuries suffered in a crash at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Lorenzen won 26 Cup races in a career that began in 1956 and ended in 1972. He retired at the age of 33 in 1967, but he returned to drive with limited success from 1970 to ’72.
Lorenzen raced with style and flash. He picked up a pair of nicknames: Golden Boy and Fearless Freddie.
A resident of Elmhurst, Ill., Lorenzen won the Daytona 500 and the World 600 in 1965. During the middle 1960s, he won five races in seven appearances at Martinsville Speedway, showcasing his ability not only to run well at NASCAR’s biggest tracks – where he built his name – but also at short-track venues.
In 1998, Lorenzen was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers. In 1963, he became the first NASCAR driver to win $100,000 in a season.
Roberts and Lorenzen are members of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala. and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in Darlington, S.C.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEEDtv.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.