Bank of America & LMS to Honor Racing Legends
Bank of America and Charlotte Motor Speedway (LMS) today announced their plans to honor past champions from this marquee event on the NASCAR schedule prior to the Bank of America 500 on Saturday, October 14.
The special, pre-race ceremony will showcase many of the greatest moments at LMS, and will celebrate the thrilling achievements of both former and current drivers, including Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen, Buddy Baker, Charlie Glotzbach, Bobby and Donnie Allison, Richard Petty, Benny Parsons, Darrell Waltrip, Harry Gant, Rusty Wallace, Geoffrey Bodine, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon.
"These racing legends, whose achievements embody our company's values of teamwork, leadership and winning, have had an important impact on the sport, contributing to its success and helping to build the loyalty of its fans," said Ray Bednar, Sponsorship Executive for Bank of America. "It is our great privilege to use our sponsorship of the Bank of America 500 to mark their victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway and to celebrate their place in the annals of racing."
"As we begin a new era with our new Bank of America event partnership, it is appropriate to pause and honor these great drivers who helped build the rich heritage this race enjoys," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, President/GM of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I think the fans will enjoy seeing and acknowledging these great legends here in the epicenter of NASCAR racing."
The 20-minute pre-race celebration at the Bank of America 500 includes a video tribute to Charlotte Motor Speedway and its winning drivers, and an honorary lap around the track on a customized float. In addition, lucky race fans and Columbus, NC residents, Mickey Jackson, and his five-year-old son, Kalob, will serve as Honorary Grand Marshals and give the command to start engines alongside the celebrated legends, after winning the Bank of America 500 Honorary Grand Marshal contest.
The champions expected to be honored for their accomplishments at Charlotte Motor Speedway span nearly fifty years of racing. Among them: (**denotes win at the October race at LMS)
. Alfred "Speedy" Thompson - One of the most successful drivers of the late 1950's, Thompson scored 20 wins, 78 top fives, 106 top 10 finishes, and 19 poles (deceased). **1960
• Junior Johnson - Truly a legend of NASCAR, Johnson was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1991, Johnson captured 50 victories as a driver and 139 wins as a team owner. **1962, 1963
• Benny Parsons - Currently an award-winning race analyst for NBC Sports and TNT, Parsons dominated the NASCAR scene in the early 1970's winning the Cup Championship in 1973. **1977
• Harry Gant - Known to his fans as "Handsome" Harry, Gant currently holds the record for being the oldest driver to win a Cup race at 52 years old. Throughout his career, Gant collected 18 Cup wins and 21 Busch wins. **1982
• Rusty Wallace - A champion on both the track and now in the broadcast booth, Wallace took home 55 NASCAR wins, and is currently tied for 8th place on NASCAR's All-Time wins list. In 2007, Wallace will be in the broadcast booth for ABC and ESPN. **1988
• Geoffrey Bodine - The oldest of three Bodine brothers, Geoffrey won Rookie of the Year honors in 1982. Eighteen wins later helped secure him the honor of being named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers. **1991
. Ernie Irvan - After out racing a star-studded field in the 1990's, Irvan bounced back from a near-fatal crash to one of NASCAR's most prolific careers capturing 15 victories. Dominated this race in 1993. **1993
• Jeff Gordon - One of the most recognized drivers of this era. Going into the 2006 season he had amassed 73 victories, 199 top-five and 269 top 10 finishes in 437 starts spanning 14 years. **1999
Charlotte Motor Speedway held its debut race on June 19, 1960 and, since has become a destination for the world's best drivers seeking to earn a place in racing history. Many of the track's greatest moments have occurred during the October race. Among them:
• 1961: Joe Weatherly passed his teammate Bob Welborn with just five laps remaining, and then held off Richard Petty to win by 1.5-car lengths. Weatherly was practically counted out of the race early in the event when rookie Woody Wilson spun, taking Weatherly for a harrowing 200-yard slide through the first turn.
• 1972: Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker changed the lead five times in the final nine laps before Allison made what would prove to be the winning pass with just four laps remaining. Baker's last-lap effort to get back around Allison and claim the victory was thwarted when he was boxed in behind the lapped car of Cecil Gordon. Allison had a comfortable 15-second lead with 16 laps to go when second-running Richard Petty blew a tire and hit the wall, bringing out the caution flag. After Petty's car was removed, the memorable 10-lap trophy dash ensued.
• 1983: This race is best known for what happened after the checkered flag. Richard Petty seemingly came from nowhere, passed Darrell Waltrip with 23 laps remaining and won by 1.3 seconds. It was the 198th victory of Petty's career. But during post-race inspection, NASCAR officials discovered that Petty's Pontiac was equipped with what they described as a "whopper" engine and that the left-side tires were put on the right side of the car for better traction. In the ruling, Petty kept the victory, but he was fined a record $35,000 and stripped of 104 Winston Cup points.
• 1986: Dale Earnhardt made up two laps, passed Harry Gant for the lead on lap 297 and beat his former sportsman division rival to the checkered flag by 1.9 seconds. Two early pit stops to replace cut tires left Earnhardt struggling to remain in the top 30. However, with the aid of two caution flags and a speedy Wrangler Chevrolet, Earnhardt quickly made up the three-mile deficit and then methodically sliced through the field.
• 1988: Rusty Wallace battled back from a seemingly insurmountable two-lap deficit and held off Darrell Waltrip in an electrifying finish. Wallace pitted early as his crew changed the carburetor on No. 27 Pontiac. With the help of timely caution periods, Wallace worked his way back onto the lead lap. He drove around Brett Bodine for the lead with 12 laps remaining and edged Waltrip by a car length at the checkered flag. On the final lap, Waltrip literally pushed Wallace down the backstretch and into Turn 3, turning the Blue Max Pontiac sideways. However, Wallace was able to hold on and kept Waltrip behind him.
• 1997: Proving that it is sometimes better to be lucky than good, an unplanned chassis adjustment helped Dale Jarrett record the victory. The middle stages of the 500-mile event featured some of the best racing of the season as Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin exchanged the lead. Bobby Labonte recovered from an early race tangle involving several cars and was back to fifth by the 200-lap mark. By the time a green-flag cycle of pit stops was completed on lap 227, Labonte had taken the lead. Not to be deterred, Jarrett, who had an unplanned set-up change when a spring rubber fell out of the right front on the final pit stop, used his car's improved handling to charge back through the pack, took the lead on lap 277 and never looked back. He was 4.1 seconds ahead of Labonte at the checkered flag.
• 2000: In a race that featured 46 lead changes among 13 drivers, pit strategy proved the key to Bobby Labonte's victory. Jeremy Mayfield's team opted for a two-tire change during a lap 307 caution period while most of the other front-runner chose four tires over track position. Mayfield's strategy earned him the top spot for the restart, but Labonte began to move forward from the sixth position. Labonte swept around Mayfield with just seven laps remaining and went on to victory while Mayfield held off Ricky Rudd for second.
Bank of America's involvement with racing dates back to the early 1980's, when its legacy banks in Virginia and North Carolina sponsored races and provided financing for motor speedways throughout the United States. Over the last two decades, the company's foray into racing has significantly expanded.
Today, Bank of America has multiyear sponsorship agreements with International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI), for a combined total of 10 track sponsorships and title sponsorship of the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. In addition, through its completed merger with MBNA, Bank of America is designated the Official Credit Card Issuer of NASCAR - with participation from more than 80 drivers - and all SMI and ISC tracks. Bank of America also is the presenting sponsor of "Countdown to Green," NASCAR's pre-race program, which airs on NBC and TNT prior to each Nextel Cup Series race.
Bank of America:
Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk-management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving more than 54 million consumer and small business relationships with more than 5,700 retail banking offices, more than 16,700 ATMs and award-winning online banking with more than 19 million active users. Bank of America is the No. 1 overall Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in the United States and the No. 1 SBA lender to minority-owned small businesses. The company serves clients in 175 countries and has relationships with 98 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 79 percent of the Global Fortune 500. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. www.bankofamerica.com