’87 Winston: One for the ages

Sunday, May 17, 1987 – Dale Earnhardt skated past a spinning Bill Elliott and Geoff Bodine, survived a high-speed run through the front stretch grass and held off a late charge from Terry Labonte to capture the annual Winston All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was his first win in the non-points, for-winners-only event and earned him $200,000.

There were several instances of contact between Earnhardt and Elliott during the final segment, including what has been referred to as Earnhardt’s “Pass in the Grass,” with both drivers claiming the other was at fault. There was contact after the race as well as Elliott tagged Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet on the cool-down lap.

The race marked the return of Tim Richmond, a seven-time race winner the previous season. The Hendrick Motorsports driver had been sidelined for the season’s first nine races due to illness; he would not compete in a points race until the series ran at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway later that summer.

Elliott, the pole winner (170.827 mph), collected $110,150 for winning the first two segments and his 14th-place finish.

The annual all-star race, which debuted in 1985, was still in its infancy; it returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway after a one-year stop at Atlanta in ’86 and has been held at CMS every year since.

Eligible drivers were those who had won one or more of the previous 20 Winston Cup points events. The race format called for segments of 75, 50 and 10 laps.

A Place of Honor for NASCAR’s Legends

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 – The NASCAR Hall of Fame, located in Charlotte, N.C., officially opens to the public. The $195 million project took four years to complete. Kicking off the official opening were NASCAR officials, the governor of North Carolina and legends of NASCAR, including Richard Petty and Junior Johnson, two of the Hall’s inaugural inductees.

A mix of memorabilia and interactive displays are located inside the 150,000 square foot building. The Hall’s centerpiece, however, is Glory Road, a sweeping display of 18 famous vehicles stationed on a “road” that gradually increases in banking to simulate the banking found on various race tracks hosting NASCAR events.

The Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 2010, a class that consisted of NASCAR founder William H.G. France, longtime chairman William Clifton France, known as Bill Jr., Petty, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt.

Going out on top with the Monte Carlo

Sunday, April 23, 1989 – Darrell Waltrip captured the Pannill Sweatshirts 500 NASCAR premier series Cup race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, giving automaker Chevrolet one final win for its Monte Carlo model before teams began making the switch to the new Lumina. Waltrip beat fellow Chevrolet driver Dale Earnhardt for his 76th career victory.

It was the 95th win for the Monte Carlo model in 183 races entered beginning in 1983.

At the time, Earnhardt had the most wins in the model with 26. Waltrip had 25 wins with the piece.

Most Chevrolet teams debuted the Lumina the following week when the series moved to Talladega Superspeedway although the Monte Carlo was still approved for competition by NASCAR.

Chevrolet teams competed with the Lumina through the 1994 season before the automaker brought back the Monte Carlo as its on-track entry in ’95.

A memorable debut for Wallace

Sunday, March 16, 1980 – In his first NASCAR premier series start, Rusty Wallace scores a surprising runner-up finish to Dale Earnhardt in the Atlanta 500. The St. Louis native, piloting the No. 16 Chevrolet for team owner Roger Penske, had qualified seventh in the 41-car field.

The 1-2 finish was the first of 16 for Earnhardt and Wallace; Wallace finished second to Earnhardt seven times during their careers while Earnhardt was runner-up to Wallace on nine occasions.

Wallace made one more start for Penske in 1980 before the team owner pulled out of NASCAR and did not return for nearly a decade. The Atlanta win was the second career victory for Earnhardt.