NASCAR today announced the 15 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, introducing the Modern Era and Pioneer Ballots for the first time. Red Farmer and the late Neil Bonnett, members of the famed “Alabama Gang” out of Hueytown, AL, are a part of the group, while six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. is new to the Modern Era Ballot.
The list includes a total of five first-time NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees – three on the Modern Era Ballot and two on the Pioneer Ballot.
Dale Jr. (15-time most popular driver), along with Jeff Burton (21-time Cup Series winner) and Carl Edwards (28-time Cup winner), join seven previous nominees on the Modern Era Ballot. Three-time Cup champion crew chief Jake Elder and renowned car builder Banjo Matthews join three previous nominees (that includes Farmer) on the Pioneer Ballot, designed to honor those whose careers began more than 60 years ago (prior to 1961 for the Class of 2021).
The NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 will consist of two inductees from the list of Modern Era nominees, and one from the list of Pioneer nominees – for a total of three new inductees in 2021.
Farmer is a three-time champion of the NASCAR Late Model Sports Division (1969, 1970, 1971), as well as the 1956 NASCAR Modified champ. A member of the “original” Alabama Gang along with Bobby & Donnie Allison, the 87-year-old has won two ARCA races at Talladega (1984, ’88) as well as hundreds of short track races in his career. A member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Farmer still competes at Talladega Short Track (dirt).
After getting his start in motorsports by working on his friend Bobby Allison’s race cars, Bonnett had a 20-year driving career for some of the sport’s legendary team owners like the Wood Brothers and Junior Johnson. He had a total of 20 victories, including one at Talladega in the 1980 summer event when he held off Cale Yarborough and his good friend, Dale Earnhardt Sr. One of the most respected people in NASCAR, he was also successful in the TV booth as a commentator.
Talladega Superspeedway was actually the first NASCAR Cup Series track that Dale Jr. ever drove on in a stock car, in the mid-1990s. He scored his first Talladega Superspeedway premier series win in October 2001, igniting a seven race stretch that is unprecedented in the history of the 2.66-mile venue. Between the fall of 2001 and fall of 2004, Dale Jr. won five out of seven races, including four straight. The other two races ended in runner-up finishes. His most recent Dega triumph came in the 2015 spring GEICO 500.
Former Talladega Superspeedway (1988-93) President and current NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton is a Landmark Award nominee, joining Janet Guthrie, Alvin Hawkins, Dr. Joseph Mattioli and Ralph Seagraves. Potential Landmark Award recipients include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role. Award winners remain eligible for NHOF enshrinement.
The Modern Era Ballot and Landmark Award nominees were selected by the Nomination Committee, which consists of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks. The new Honors Committee, largely comprised of all living Hall of Famers, Landmark Award winners and Squier-Hall Award winners, selected the Pioneer Ballot. Both committees’ votes were tabulated by accounting firm EY.
Following are the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 nominees and Landmark Award nominees:
Modern Era Ballot
Neil Bonnett, from Hueytown, AL, won 18 times in the NASCAR Cup Series including his home track of Talladega Superspeedway in 1980, along with consecutive Coca-Cola 600 victories from 1982-83
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 26-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, including six at Talladega Superspeedway, 15-time NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver & two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion
Jeff Burton, won 21 times in the NASCAR Cup Series including the Southern 500 and two Coca-Cola 600s
Carl Edwards, winner of 28 NASCAR Cup Series races and 2007 Xfinity Series champion
Harry Gant, winner of 18 NASCAR Cup Series races, including one at Talladega Superspeedway in 1991, along with two Southern 500 victories
Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR Cup Series championship crew chief for Bobby Isaac
Larry Phillips, first five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion
Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400
Kirk Shelmerdine, four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief
Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships
Red Farmer, three-time NASCAR Late Model Sportsman champion; 1956 Modified champion
Jake Elder, three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief
Banjo Matthews, built cars that won more than 250 NASCAR Cup Series races and three championships
Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR West Series champion
Ralph Moody, two-time NASCAR Cup Series owner champion as mechanical genius of Holman-Moody
Mike Helton, named third president of NASCAR in 2000; career included track operator roles at Talladega Superspeedway (President from 1988-93) and Atlanta Motor Speedway
Janet Guthrie, the first female to compete in a NASCAR Cup Series superspeedway race
Alvin Hawkins, NASCAR’s first flagman; established NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium with Bill France Sr.
Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder of Pocono Raceway
Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company