Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Bill Elliott, a former Cup Series champion, and Wendell Scott, the first African-American to win a race in NASCAR's premier racing circuit, were among those selected into the 2015 class of inductees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Joe Weatherly, a two-time Cup champion, Fred Lorenzen, who won 26 races in the sport's top series, including the Daytona 500 and World 600 (Charlotte) in 1965, and Rex White, a former premier series champion as well, will join Elliott and Scott in the NASCAR HofF's sixth class.
Anne Bledsoe France, the wife of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., was named as the inaugural winner of the Landmark Award, which honors outstanding contributions to NASCAR. She first served as secretary and treasurer of NASCAR, and when Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, took over the same roles for the track's parent company, International Speedway Corp.
The hall's voting panel met on Wednesday in Charlotte to vote on next year's induction class as well as the Landmark Award. For the first time this year, the panel included the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion -- Jimmie Johnson. A national fan vote made up the panel's 54th and final ballot. NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France announced the new inductees. The 2015 Induction Day at the NASCAR HoF is scheduled for Jan. 30.
"This was undoubtedly the most difficult class to choose from; it was the most competitive and the most difficult," France said in his opening remarks.
Elliott garnered 87 percent of the vote, followed by Scott (58 percent), Weatherly (53 percent), White (43 percent) and Lorenzen (30 percent).
The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees. Recent changes were made to the selection of nominees, including the list being trimmed from 25 to 20. Any driver who is over the age of 55 and has competed for a minimum of 10 years or any person with at least 30 years in the sport is eligible for induction into the HofF. Elliott was added to the nominee list earlier this year.
Results for the fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com, in order of votes received, were: Scott, Elliott, Parsons, White and Terry Labonte.
Known as "Awesome Bill From Dawsonville (Georgia)," Elliott had an illustrious 37-year career as a driver in NASCAR. His 44 wins rank him 16th all-time and his 55 poles rank eighth. He won the Cup Series championship in 1988 and scored victories in the Daytona 500 in '85 and '87. In addition, Elliott won NASCAR's "Most Popular Driver" Award a record 16 times.
"I'm just totally speechless of this whole thing," Elliott said. "I never imagined being in the Hall of Fame. I just never imagined in a million years that I'd ever end up here, especially starting out as a little red-headed, runny-nose kid from Dawsonville, Georgia."
Elliott's 18-year-old son, Chase, is a rookie in the Nationwide Series this year. Chase Elliott has already scored two Nationwide wins and currently holds the lead in the series' championship point standings.
Scott was the first African-American to race full-time in NASCAR's top series. His only win in the series came in December 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Scott recorded 147 top-10 finishes in 495 starts during his 13-year on the premier circuit. Prior to that, he had won more than 100 races at local tracks, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in 1959, en route to capturing both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships. He died in 1990.
Members of Scott's family attended the NASCAR HofF Class of 2015 announcement.
"I kind of felt like it was his moment," said Sybil Scott, his daughter. "I felt that people who were making the decision probably felt that too. I know the fans have been out there voting like crazy, so I felt comfortable about that one fan vote. I just feel this was daddy's moment."
Part of Scott's legacy in the sport extends to present day with NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, the leading youth development initiative for multicultural and female drivers across the motorsport industry since 2004.
Weatherly's titles in the Cup Series came in 1962 and '63. He also won 25 races during his career in the series. A decade earlier in 1952-53, Weatherly won 101 events in the NASCAR Modified division, claiming that title in '53. He competed in NASCAR's short-lived Convertible Division from 1956-59, winning 12 times.
Lorenzen got his start in NASCAR as a mechanic with the famed Holman-Moody team in 1960, but he was elevated to lead driver by the end of the year. He won three races in only 15 starts the following season. Lorenzen's best overall season came in 1963, posting six wins, 21 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s in 29 starts. Despite missing 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings.
Competing in the Cup Series from 1956-64, White was a short-track specialist in an era in which those tracks dominated the schedule. Of his 28 career wins in the series, only two came on tracks longer than one mile in length. White finished among the top-five in nearly a half of his 233 races and outside the top-10 only 30 percent of the time. He won six times during his 1960 championship season.
"I didn't feel like I would beat the guys that were nominated this year," White said. "Hoping, but anyway I made it."