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NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Herb Thomas (Part 1/5)

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR, Herb Thomas

NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Herb Thomas (Part 1/5)

Carl Edwards
Ned Jarrett
Joel Thomas
February 8, 2013


THE MODERATOR: He's a 19‑time winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, please welcome Carl Edwards.
CARL EDWARDS: It's an honor to be here. With the highest winning percentage in NASCAR history, Herb Thomas receives my utmost admiration for all he accomplished in such a short time. He recorded 48 wins in only 228 starts and captured two championships in NASCAR's Premier Series, becoming the series' first two‑time champion. As an owner, Herb's drivers won 44 times and he became the first of only six individuals to win the series championship driving a car that he owned. Tonight Herb Thomas takes his rightful place among NASCAR's legends.
(Video shown.)
THE MODERATOR: Keep in mind that $3,000 or $4,000 would have bought a small house in 1951, the first of Herb's two championship years. Herb had a string of four years in a row there that saw him place first or second in the final standings each of those four straight seasons. At the age of 77, Herb Thomas passed away from 2000, so accepting his father's induction, please welcome Herb's son Joel Thomas.
NED JARRETT: What a talent Herb Thomas was. It is now my distinct honor on this 8th day of February, 2013, to present the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ring. Joel, on behalf of everyone in NASCAR, we present this ring to you, making it official for your dad to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Congratulations.
JOEL THOMAS: Thank you very much.
Good evening, everyone. This is such a wonderful night. I'm honored to be here on my father's behalf to accept his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2013. I truly believe this is the greatest honor a driver could receive. I would like to congratulate all the other inductees and their families. You are all so deserving.
I would like to thank NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, both the nominating and voting committees and the fans for selecting my father for this prestigious honor. My father would have been very honored and humbled in receiving this recognition.
On behalf of the Thomas family, I would like to thank all of the NASCAR Hall of Fame staff. You have been so kind and helpful keeping everything organized. We appreciate all your time and efforts.
I would also like to thank Ray Fox and Bill Tatum, dad's brothers, Donald, Floyd, Acey and Lacey, Uncle Cecil, and all those to helped support him. Thank you all for helping him reach his dreams, and thank you to all of his fans for cheering him on and keeping his memories alive. He was a loving husband to my mother Helen, a wonderful father to me and my brothers, Jerry and Victor. Dad loved being with his family. His eyes would light up when grandchildren Scott and Chris were nearby. He was always kind and fair to everyone and wasn't afraid of hard work.
Before he started racing, dad successfully operated his own sawmill. Almost 50 years later, he was excited to teach me how to run it. My father was a champion race car driver, and it is true that behind every champion driver there's a successful team. After joining Marshall Teague and Hudson in 1951, his career really took off, winning the championship that season and again in 1953. Otherwise on track success continued with the Chevy small block, winning the 1955 Southern 500, which was his third and final victory in the iconic Labor Day event.
Dad also had one of the mechanics in Smokey Yunick, who he worked with for most of his career. He considered himself fortunate to race against Buck Baker, Lee Petty, Cotton Owens, Tim and Fonty Flock as well as many NASCAR greats. He also valued the friendship and bonding that came with racing on NASCAR's Premier Series.
When dad finally retired from racing in 1962, he returned to the farm where he worked with his family for many years. Those were wonderful times. I often rode with him to the market when it was time to sell. When his crops brought top dollar at auction, I could see his satisfaction and contentment. I wish he were here right here so we could see the expression on his face.
Although you're not here with us tonight, I know you're watching the festivities. Dad, this is for you. You made it to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Thank you for honoring my father, Herb Thomas, by inducting him into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the evening.

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