Pit Note 6: Longtime Race Fans Honored on Saturday
Charlotte Motor Speedway honored its newest group of 50-year race fans on Saturday with an induction into the speedway's Wall of Honor. The longtime race fans were also celebrated with a special breakfast at The Speedway Club.
Each year the speedway honors race fans who have been coming to races at the speedway for 50 years or more. Retired NASCAR driver and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Allison was also on hand to socialize with the fans.
Perhaps one of the most excited 50-year fans inducted this year was Michael Smith of Charlotte, North Carolina, who has attended races at Charlotte Motor Speedway since it opened back in 1960.
"I just love racing but this is the best place to come," said Smith. "Just being here for all the races is my biggest memory. I actually helped work the parking lot here the first year by parking cars. I have seen it all over the years. I'm a Ford man and have pulled for them all these years. This is such a great organization. Just to be here for all of the events is special."
Among the newest honorees were Peggy and Leon Harrison of Holden Beach, North Carolina, who are also celebrating their 50th anniversary. The Harrisons spent their honeymoon at the Coca-Cola 600 in 1968 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and have had many, many memories at the speedway over the years.
"Well obviously, the big one since it was our honeymoon." said Leon Harrison of his favorite Charlotte memory. "We have so many nice memories here. It was a surprise to be honored like this. We have seen the inner workings at the speedway and are totally amazed. It is amazing to see how this has grown in 50 years."
Another honoree was Dewayne Haire from Denver, North Carolina.
"The first race I came to was in 1968 and it was the 600. My dad brought me as a birthday present," said Hair. "Ever since then it has been something that has been the norm. I just enjoy it. There are so many favorite memories here. I guess my favorite was when Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) won his first race here. Another one would be the first when Buddy Baker won a rain-shortened race. He became one of my heroes."
One of the newest members of this unique club is Charles Hart of Bridgeport, West Virginia. Hart passed away in 2014. His daughter has been coming since and accepted her father's plaque in his memory.
The 2018 list of honorees included Robert Wood, from Cheshire, Connecticut; Edward Collins of Statesville, North Carolina; Charles Hart of Stonewood, West Virginia; Leroy Weaver from Holtwood, Pennsylvania; William McKinley of Charlotte, North Carolina; David Spake of Dacula, Georgia; Anthony Fallia of Valrico, Florida; Lona Woodring of Boone, North Carolina; Johnny Delaney of Escanaba, Michigan; Hugh Gray from Alpharetta, Georgia; Ken Lauffer of Midland, North Carolina; Jerry Hawkins of Pageland, South Carolina; Dewayne Haire of Denver, North Carolina, and Leon and Peggy Harrison of Holden Beach, North Carolina.