Dale Earnhardt's Father, Ralph...
Dale Earnhardt's Father, Ralph Earnhardt, was a member of the 2007 inductee class. Here, Ralph's widow, Martha (R) and daughter, Cathy (L) accept the awards from the Hall of Fame representatives. Just a little later, Dale Earnhardt Jr. phoned the track and addressed the fans with his support.
One of the most popular Dirt drivers of all time, Scott Bloomquist also thinks the Hall has a place in all of racing. "It was good to see the Hall recognize the achievements of some of the drivers and participants of the sport," stated Bloomquist. "This is a sport that is going to continue to grow, especially with the involvement of some of the people who are beginning to get involved. I think the sport is really just right on the verge of taking off with its biggest growth ever. What they are doing with the Prelude to the Dream charity race and some of these other bigger events it's just really become the sky is the limit. So, it is nice to see this Hall get started so the people will always be able to come here to see some of the accomplishments of the racers who helped get us there."
When first entering the Hall, racer donated door panels jump out at you as they decorate the walls from top to bottom and side to side on all four walls. Overhead from the rafters, hang some racecar bodies for a bird's eye view of the top of a Dirt Late Model, one of which is an old Delmas Conley car. Back in the far corner sits the yellow car of John Mason from the 1970's era. This car featured the first-ever independent rear suspension in Dirt Late Model competition. Look to your right and you'll see the 1986 World 100 winning car of dirt racing legend Jeff Purvis. To the left sits a cut-away car that allows fans an up-close look at how a Dirt Late Model is put together as well as some of the technology involved in the sport.
The Hall includes many old uniforms, helmets, and various awards donated from the inductees and other sources. The one award that stands out on its own is the World 100 winners trophy won by Charlie Hughs. That in itself makes a statement of how important the Hall is to these racers. Hughs gave up, arguably, the biggest and most sought after racing trophies in the Dirt Late Model world. The Hall is also in possession of the 1982 World Dirt Track Championship winning car driven by Charlie Schwartz. The car was reconditioned and restored by Charlie and his son Auddie Schwartz specifically for the Hall.
Some of the biggest names...
Some of the biggest names in racing, Bloomquist, Frank and more, have donated items to the hall.
Perhaps the most intriguing and attention getting item at the Hall isn't a single item at all. It is a collection of items, photographs to be specific, a lot of photographs. Photos from some of the best photographers and fans in the country adorn the Hall from one end all the way around to the other. As you walk along examining the photography, it is like a walk in time, and you get a real appreciation for the sport, where it came from, and the sacrifices made by so many to get it to the point it is now. "I always encourage and welcome any kind of Dirt Late model pictures, old or new, from the fans or any photographers that would like to donate," said Holder.
As a future member of the Hall, driver Shannon Babb can only see good things to come out of the Hall. "It's a real good deal," said Babb. "It recognizes those guys who worked their tails off for many years and invested their life in Dirt Late Model racing. To be in it, and be part of it, would be awesome. It's just amazing in the last two years alone how far this sport has come. The technology of the cars is unbelievable. There are so many good teams, cars, and drivers anymore it just makes for better racing. So to get into the Hall with the men who helped to advance this great sport would mean a lot to me personally and to my family."
As history tells of the trials and tribulations of the Dirt Late Model world and its drivers, the Hall produces the proof and the facts in many forms. For any race fan or racing enthusiast, the Hall is a sense of pride and sacrifice from the time you take the first step inside 'till you take that last step out the door. A true tribute to the racing world and the folks involved, once you make a visit, it will stick with you for a very long time. For Holder, it is a sense of self preservation and accomplishment among friends. For the racers, it has become a place of gratification and reflection not to mention pride in a series of very brave souls. In the Dirt Late Model world of guts and glory, the Hall of Fame truly is rewarding for all. And they are well deserving of it, to say the least.