Countdown to NASCAR Hall of Fame grand opening

Countdown to NASCAR Hall of Fame grand opening

Darrell Waltrip, 3-time NASCAR champion, attends the 50 day countdown to the NASCAR Hall of Fame grand opening Monday, March 22, 2010.

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by MARK WASHBURN / Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on April 27, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Updated Monday, May 10 at 12:24 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Darrell Waltrip didn't make the first class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but his famous Mountain Dew Buick will be there when the $195 million attraction opens May 11.

Waltrip's No. 11 stock car, one of the originals he drove to championships during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, was unveiled Monday at the Hall of Fame's "Glory Road" showcase, which will feature 18 historic cars from the six decades of NASCAR.

At a ceremony marking the 50-day point in the countdown to open the Hall in Charlotte's uptown, Waltrip recalled the simpler days of NASCAR. There were about a dozen people in his crew during those days and they built 12 Mountain Dew Buicks during the 1981 season alone, he said.

If one didn't race well, they would start on another, improving craftsmanship and performance each time, he said.

Waltrip admitted he thought he had a shot at getting into the Hall's first class, but he hopes to be in one of the next ones.

"If I could be here at some point, that would be satisfying," he said. "Sooner than later would be nice."

Finishing work is continuing at the sleek facility that will feature interactive exhibits, a 275-seat multimedia theater and artifacts from motorsports, including the rear brake drum of a steam-powered Stanley Rocket that set the world land-speed record at 127 mph at Ormond-Daytona Beach during 1906.

Cars on Glory Road are bolted to a floor that slants at an ever-increasing pitch to simulate the banking at various race tracks, up to the 33-degree incline at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Despite the economic downturn, the Hall expects to hit its projected attendance of about 800,000 visitors during its first 13 months, said Winston Kelley, executive director. Admission for adults will be $19.95.
 

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