Landmark Award Nominees: H. Clay Earles, Janet Guthrie, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves, Ken Squier
H. Clay Earles (b. 8/11/13 - d. 11/16/99)
- Hometown: Martinsville, Va.
One of the original pioneers of stock car auto racing, H. Clay Earles played an integral role in the early years of NASCAR's development. Earles built and opened Martinsville Speedway in 1947, and the short track remains the only facility to host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races every year since the series’ inception in 1949. The speedway held its first race on Sept. 7, 1947 – three months before the creation of NASCAR. That initial race drew more than 6,000 fans to the track, which had just 750 seats ready. Built as a dirt track, the .526-mile asphalt and concrete speedway has grown from a dusty, primitive operation into a multi-million dollar facility covering over 340 acres. The track’s unique paperclip shape makes it especially challenging, with 800-foot straights and tight turns banked at only 12 degrees. In 1964, Earles decided it was time for a “different” type of trophy for his race winners. He gave winners grandfather clocks, a tradition that continues today. Earles passed away on November 16, 1999 as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the speedway.
Janet Guthrie (b. 3/7/38)
- Hometown: Miami, Fla.
- Premier Series Driver Stats
- Competed: 1976-1978, 1980
- Starts: 33
Janet Guthrie moved on from a successful career as an aerospace engineer in the early 1960s, trading equations for a wheel to become a full-time racer in 1972. A true pioneer in motorsports, Guthrie became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR premier series superspeedway race when she drove to a 15th-place finish in the 1976 World 600. The next year, she piloted cars in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, becoming the first female to participate in both events. Guthrie steered her car to a sixth-place finish at Bristol in 1977, a career-best finish. Overall, the University of Michigan graduate made 33 premier series starts, logging five top-10 finishes. Guthrie was a member of the first class inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. Her helmet and firesuit are on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
Raymond Parks (b. 6/5/14 - d. 6/20/10)
- Hometown: Dawson County, Ga.
- Premier Series Stats
- Competed: 1949- 1955
- Starts: 18
- Wins: 2
- Poles: 2
Raymond Parks is one of stock-car racing’s earliest – and most successful – team owners. Funded by successful business and real estate ventures in Atlanta, Parks began his career as a stock-car owner in 1938 with drivers Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall. His pairing with another Atlantan, mechanic Red Vogt, produced equipment good enough to dominate the sport in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Red Byron won the first NASCAR title (modified, 1948) and first premier series title (1949) in a Parks-owned car. Though Parks’ team competed for only four seasons – 1949, 1950, 1954 and 1955 – his place in NASCAR history is secure. Parks’ team produced two premier series wins, two poles, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 18 events. Drivers Red Byron, Bob Flock and Roy Hall drove his cars during the 1949 season. Byron drove for him again in 1950. Fonty Flock drove for Parks in 1954, and Curtis Turner drove for him in 1955. Parks retired from racing in the mid-1950s.
Ralph Seagraves (b. 4/21/29 - d. 9/27/98)
- Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Ralph Seagraves’ life – and NASCAR’s world – changed the moment he met NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson. In the late 1960s, Seagraves, an official with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, had been searching for a means to market cigarettes after the federal government banned RJR’s products from advertising on television and radio. Johnson, ever the entrepreneur, had an idea. How about RJR sponsor his cars? Seagraves had a bigger idea: Why not sponsor NASCAR’s top series? And so, in 1971, for the first time since its inception in 1949, NASCAR’s premier series had major corporate backing. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series was born. The partnership helped NASCAR launch into the national spotlight, and created a bedrock of stability for the next three decades. RJR’s Winston brand sponsored NASCAR’s top series for more than 30 years, ending in 2003. Under Seagraves leadership, RJR helped a number of race track operators refurbish their facilities, many of which were short tracks that ran developmental NASCAR Winston Racing Series races. He retired from R.J. Reynolds in 1986.
Ken Squier (b. 4/10/35)
- Hometown: Waterbury, Vt.
With a smooth voice, and knack for weaving a simple note into an epic tale, Ken Squier carved a massive footprint during NASCAR’s formative broadcast years. One of NASCAR’s original broadcasters, Squier began his career with the Motor Racing Network (MRN) in 1970. It was his golden voice that took NASCAR to a national audience thirsting for live coverage, giving his insider’s view of what he famously described as “common men doing uncommon things.” He is perhaps best-known for calling the 1979 Daytona 500, a milestone moment for the entire sport, as Squier’s voice on CBS welcomed millions to the first live flag-to-flag coverage of "The Great American Race" – a moniker he coined. Following that signature moment, Squier proceeded to call races for CBS and TBS until 1997 before shifting to the studio as host for NASCAR broadcasts until 2000. Squier continues to enlighten NASCAR fans to this day, mostly through special appearances. In 2012, NASCAR announced the creation of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, which would be housed in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Squier and MRN’s Barney Hall were inaugural winners of the award.
The process begins with a 22-person Nominating Committee, who meets at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks to select the list of 20 nominees.
Then a 55-person Voting Panel, which includes the members of the Nominating Committee plus additional representatives, votes on five inductees from the list of 20 nominees. The Voting Panel submits a total of 56 ballots*, which includes one ballot from a nationwide fan vote, to determine the five inductees.
The number of ballots submitted may change if any member of the Nominating Committee or Voting Panel appears on the previous year’s ballot or current year’s ballot. These individuals are recused from participating in the nominating and/or voting process for as long as he/she appears on the ballot. If an individual who is currently on the Nominating Committee or Voting Panel is inducted, or is no longer included on a final ballot, he or she is immediately reinstated to active participation on the committee/panel.