Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NASCAR season preview coming to hall of fame

The NASCAR Hall of Fame's 2012 induction ceremony, already moved to January from May, will now have an even more fan-friendly feel to it.

The Charlotte-based hall of fame announced Tuesday it will combine the induction of the five members of its third class -- Darrell Waltrip, Richie Evans, Dale Inman, Glen Wood and Cale Yarborough -- with a 2012 NASCAR season preview the weekend of Jan. 20-22.

The preview, similar to a preseason fan-fest held in Winston-Salem from 1990-2003, will allow fans to get  autographs and attend Q&A sessions with drivers at the Charlotte Convention Center (which is adjacent to the uptown hall of fame).

The induction ceremony will be Friday Jan. 20, followed by the day-long preview on Saturday, Jan. 21. On Sunday, the hall-of-fame displays of the five inductees will be unveiled inside the hall.

Waltrip, one of the inductees, looks forward to the return of the preview. He remembers the 14 years it was held in Winston-Salem, where it was put on by then-NASCAR sponsor R.J. Reynolds. And he thinks it will help with the hall's struggling attendance.

"In Winston-Salem, the fans got to see everything first," said Waltrip. "If a driver has a new sponsor or new team, the preview always gave you the opportunity to see that, and it made it special. The hall should be a destination, and this will help with that." -- David Scott