Roush Yates Engines announced today it has reached a five-year partnership extension with long-time partner Cometic Gasket, Inc.

Family owned and operated for 30 years, Cometic Gasket has grown into a global leader and innovator in the highly competitive engine supplier marketplace. In a state-of-the-art 70,000 sq. ft. R&D and manufacturing facility in Concord, Ohio, Cometic meets customer’s needs by using premium materials for tailor-made solutions while delivering superior customer service.

“It’s no secret to compete at the highest level of motorsports you need the best team and reliable products, and that’s exactly what Cometic Gasket delivers to Roush Yates Engines,” said Todd English, VP Strategic Partnerships and Marketing, Roush Yates Engines. “In the highly competitive sport of racing, where failure is not an option and your product is tested on any given weekend, we rely on valued partners to deliver world-class quality products. Cometic has been a valued partner from day one as they collaborated with our engineering team on product design and material selections, bringing together the collective expertise and experience of both companies, making it a true win-win partnership.”

Cometic Gasket is the exclusive engine gasket of the Ford FR9 EFI Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Ford FR9 Carb NASCAR Xfinity Series engines that power cars at 73 events during the 2019 NASCAR season. We trust and rely on Cometic to keep our engines sealed!

“When we needed to design and develop a new head gasket system for the RY45 engine, Cometic really delivered. They sent people down to evaluate the surface areas of the block, cylinder head, and deck areas,” commented Dan Keenan, Design and Analysis Manager, Roush Yates Engines. “In a very short time period, they brought back the perfect solution. They continue to deliver today.”

They are part of our winning formula, making sure we have premium gaskets in our engines, like in the first race-winning NASCAR Ford FR9 engine, in 2010 with Roush Fenway Racing and Greg Biffle at Pocono. Roush Yates Engines has built over 7,500 engines sealed with Cometic’s gaskets and won over 180 races together since 2010. The partnership with Cometic Gasket is like that perfect fitting gasket. Both companies are family based and strive on hard work and determination of the entire team. With a deep passion and understanding of the motorsports industry we collectively work together to improve performance.

“Bob, Bindy, Jeff, and Kristen, thank you for your continued support of our racing programs at Roush Yates Engines,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “Cometic’s partnership with Roush Yates Engines benefits our customers in every segment,” explained Bob Gorman, Founder and CEO of Cometic Gasket. “The stakes are always very high in the performance business so to have a cooperative partnership with Doug Yates and his team elevates Cometic’s capabilities which, in turn, contributes to producing better gaskets and sealing solutions across our entire product line. We’re a family-owned company and have been since Day 1. That’s an essential reason we have a great working relationship with Roush Yates. There’s an important mutual respect built with family values. We’ve established a lasting partnership and are proud to extend our program well into the next decade.”


The highly anticipated Route 66 NHRA Nationals return to Route 66 Raceway, the First True Stadium of Drag Racing, June 27-30 for four days of drag racing. Four deserving class champions – Pro Stock Motorcycle, Pro Stock, Top Fuel and Funny Car – will be compete throughout the weekend with Champions ultimately crowned on Sunday.

To kick the weekend off, the first-ever Burnout on the Bases Softball game will take place Thursday evening, featuring the Joliet Slammers, City of Joliet celebrities and NHRA drivers and dignitaries as they tear it up on the bases to celebrate the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Joliet’s Route 66 Stadium.

Speaking of baseball, defending Route 66 NHRA Nationals Top Fuel Champion Clay Millican will be throwing out the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox game Thursday evening.

Simultaneously, Erica Enders will make a special appearance at Hollywood Casino on Thursday, May 30, where she will sign autographs and interact with fans. The opportunity to meet the first female Pro Stock Champion is open to all fans of all ages.

The full line-up of action continues Route 66 Raceway on Friday with nitro under the lights followed by a jet car finale, featuring two jet dragsters that will rocket to speeds near 300 mph. ProJet Motorsports’ “Hot Blade” piloted by Al Zukauskas (Al Z) and Team Heat’s “Fifty Caliber” driven by Scott Holdridge. Hot Blade features a Pratt & Whitney J60/JT12 engine used in Navy T-2 Buckeye fighter jets. This engine produces 6,000 horsepower with 4,500 pounds of thrust at approximately 19,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). The dragster hits over 100 mph during the first 60 feet and under one second.

Then, on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car driver and official 2019 Route 66 Raceway Kid’s Club Crew Chief Ron Capps, will sign autographs and take on challengers in the tree competition to see who has the best reaction time.

Following the festivities on All-Star Saturday, “The Blooze Brothers,” a Blues Brothers tribute band, will perform on the north side of the grandstands. All fans are welcome to attend, grab a drink and enjoy the familiar tunes of Sweet Home Chicago, Everybody Needs Somebody and Jailhouse Rock.

Fans dive deeper into the history of the Joliet area by taking a historical ride down the Mother Road as they view the Joliet Area Historical Museum’s Route 66 display with Route 66 Raceway’s Fan Pit Stop. From the Santa Monica Pier in California to downtown Chicago, there is something for everyone on this historic route.

In addition, premiere motorsports artist Kenny Youngblood will be on-site at the Route 66 Raceway Fan Pit Stop throughout the weekend personalizing unique prints for fans to commemorate their time at the race track. Fans can obtain a unique print from Youngblood during the following dates and times:

            Friday, May 31              4:00-5:00 p.m.               7:00-8:00 p.m.

            Saturday, June 1           12:00-1:00 p.m.             4:00-5:00 p.m.

            Sunday, June 2             9:00-10:00 a.m.             3:00-4:00 p.m.

Drag racing legend Shirley Muldowney will serve as the event’s honorary Grand Marshal. Muldowney will appear throughout the weekend at various autograph sessions and Championship Sunday’s pre-race ceremonies.

Before the racing starts on Sunday, fans have the opportunity to walk the track and be front-row-center for pre-race ceremonies at 9:45 a.m.

Then, a native-born Chicagoan, Wayne Messmer will sing this year’s national anthem. Messmer was recognized early as having a natural gift and talent, his voice led him to follow opportunities leading to a successful career as a professional speaker, broadcaster, singer and announcer with various Chicago sports teams, most notably the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Wolves Hockey, and formerly the Chicago Blackhawks. Wayne is also a well-known voice on the Chicago radio scene. Included among his most memorable performances are the NHL All-Star Game at Chicago Stadium and as The Voice Of Victory at the 2016 World Series at Wrigley Field.

Fans truly will not want to miss out on Championship Sunday it is the day that determines who will take the coveted top place in the Winner’s Circle for the top four Pro Classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle). Fans can now partake in the celebration as the staging lanes will open immediately following the on-track action for those in the grandstands to get up-close as the winners receive their Wallys.

No matter their seat location, fans can stay in the loop and witness all the action on the big screen as Route 66 Raceway will feature a second screen this year.

The weekend will feature a variety of autograph sessions including one with the field of Pro Stock Motorcycle, a Pro Stock Motorcycle School, Nitro School and walking tour throughout the weekend. For a full schedule of events, visit

To purchase tickets to the Route 66 NHRA Nationals, or any of the other 2019 Route 66 Raceway events, visit us online at, call 888-629-RACE, download the Route 66  Raceway mobile app,  visit the Route 66 Raceway Administrative office or stop by the box office on the day of the event.

For more information on Route 66 Raceway, stay connected on Twitter and Facebook or by visiting

Route 66 Dragway PR

Three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will join the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020, arguably the most interconnected group of five inductees yet to be voted into the sport’s most prestigious fraternity, as announced Wednesday at the Hall of Fame.

Joining Stewart are car owner Joe Gibbs, for who Stewart won two of his three Cup titles; fellow series driver Bobby Labonte, who won his 2000 championship with Gibbs; crew chief and engine builder Waddell Wilson, who worked with Stewart at Ranier Racing during a limited run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 1996; and hard-charging Buddy Baker, who got his first look at Stewart when the 49-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner was testing his mettle at the Buck Baker Driving School.

“Tony was a lock,” said four-time Monster Energy Series champion Jeff Gordon, who preceded Stewart into the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this year. “So, I’m not really surprised about that.”

The relationships between this class and others already in the Hall also are inexorably intertwined. Baker’s father, the aforementioned Buck Baker was inducted as a member of the Class of 2013. Labonte joins his brother, Terry Labonte, a member of the Class of 2016.

In 1972, Wilson built the engines for the Wood Brothers—NASCAR Hall of Famers Glen and Leonard—including the power plant that propelled A.J. Foyt to his Daytona 500 victory.

Edsel Ford II, who on Wednesday was named the recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR, has enjoyed a relationship with the Wood Brothers that spans generations. Edsel Ford is a member of the board of directors of Ford Motor Company. The Wood Brothers have fielded Ford products exclusively during their long tenure in the sport.

Following Gordon from the open-wheel ranks, Stewart won his first Cup championship with Gibbs in 2002, added another in 2005 and claimed his final title as an owner/driver in 2011 after joining with Gene Haas to form Stewart-Haas Racing.

“To me, it’s even way bigger than us getting in—the fact that the guy that really was responsible for getting me to Joe Gibbs Racing was Bobby Labonte,” said Stewart, whose 49 series victories rank 14th on the all-time list. “And getting Coach (Gibbs) in as well. And even before that, there was Waddell Wilson, who was with Harry Rainier in 1996 when I started with Ranier-Walsh Racing.

The four of us going in at the same time… there’s personal ties to all three of those guys, and even Buddy Baker. When I went through the Buck Baker School, Buddy actually was there one day and watched me run the car. It’s just really cool how the four guys that are going in with me, I have a connection with at early parts of my career.”

Stewart led the Hall of Fame voting, which was conducted in a closed session on Wednesday at the Charlotte Convention Center. He was named on 88% of the 57 ballots cast, followed by Gibbs (72%), Wilson (72%), Baker (70%) and Labonte (67%).

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a three-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the Washington Redskins, Gibbs has four championships to his credit in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series—two with Stewart and one each with Labonte and Kyle Busch (2015).

“This couldn’t be any better for me, to get a chance to go in with those two guys,” Gibbs said of Stewart and Labonte. “So I think we’ll have fun. I think it’ll be a great time for us, and I’m thrilled that I can ride their coattails here.”

Gibbs’ 164 Cup wins as an owner ranks third all-time and includes three Daytona 500 victories and five Brickyard 400 triumphs.

A champion in both the Monster Energy and Xfinity Series Labonte was selected in his third year on the NASCAR Hall of Fame ballot. In 729 career Cup starts, he accumulated 21 victories to go with 26 poles. He and Terry Labonte were the first brothers each to win a Cup title, later to be joined by Kurt and Kyle Busch.

“I didn’t want to watch the broadcast (of the announcement), because I didn’t know if it was going to happen—a lot of emotions, I guess you’d say,” Labonte said in a conference call with reporters after the announcement of the Class of 2020.

“After a couple years it was like, ‘Maybe I won’t get in.’ So you think about it, and then you don’t want to think about it. Whenever it comes down to today, and you see who is inducted into it, you think, ‘Man, what an awesome day and feeling for everybody that got voted in.

“As far as Joe and Tony and myself, I’m just so thankful to be in with them. It just really is an honor.”

Known as the Gentle Giant, Baker always showed up in the important races. In 1980, driving the legendary Gray Ghost (the No. 28 Oldsmobile owned by Ranier), he won the Daytona 500 with an average speed of 177.602 mph, a track record that still stands.

Baker won the big races on the big tracks. Of his 19 career victories, four came at Talladega, four at Charlotte and two each at Daytona and Darlington. After retiring from racing in 1992, Baker embarked on a second career as a broadcaster on both television and radio, earning a large following with his and storytelling.

Wilson built engines for the stars of the sport, powering David Pearson (1968-1969) and Benny Parsons (1973) to Cup series championships. Cars with his engines under the hood won 109 times and earned 123 pole positions.

As a crew chief, Wilson won 22 races, including the 1980 Daytona 500 with Baker. He also triumphed in the Great American race with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough in 1983 and 1984. It was his engine in Benny Parsons’ car when Parsons became the first driver to top the 200 mph mark with a lap at 200.176 mph in Talladega qualifying in 1982.

Landmark Award winner Edsel Ford’s tenure at Ford Motor Company includes a stint as president and chief operating officer from 1991 to 1998. He was also a director of International Speedway Corporation from 2007 through 2015.

“It means a great deal to me,” Ford said of the award. “I’m honored to be given this award and I feel I have an ambassadorial role within Ford Motor Company and NASCAR, so it’s wonderful. I’m truly honored.”

A few weeks ago, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) competitor Mason Diaz wasn’t sure when his next NASCAR Xfinity Series race would come to fruition, but an agreement between MAD Motorsports and Brandonbilt Motorsports will see Diaz compete in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

The race, the third of Diaz’s Xfinity Series career will be his first on a track larger than a mile but also the next path in an evolving career as a professional race car driver. “So incredibly thankful for this opportunity to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend,” offered Diaz. “It’s been a tough couple weeks with our bad luck in the K&N East Series – but to have this opportunity to compete at one of NASCAR’s most recognizable tracks with Brandonbilt Motorsports is a huge blessing and I can’t wait to hit the track.”

Diaz will drive the team’s primary entry, the No. 86 Chevrolet Camaro in the 11th race of the season. For the first time in the Fredericksburg, Va. team’s history they will field two NASCAR Xfinity Series cars.

Primary driver Brandon Brown will drive the No. 68 Vero Chevrolet Camaro in an effort to enhance the team’s driver development program.

While both drivers will make their series’ debut in the Queen City, Diaz knows he’ll still be able to lean on Brown for advice as he has plenty of experience competing on intermediate tracks.

“It’s going to be a learning curve for sure, but I’m prepared for that,” added Diaz. “Having the opportunity to chat with Brandon throughout the weekend will be crucial – as well as talking to some of the other drivers I know.

“For me, it’s going to be finding a good balance with our car that I can drive and then taking that balance and going as fast as we can. It’s an important race weekend for NASCAR and I’d like to leave Charlotte on Saturday afternoon with the car in one piece and a solid top-15 effort. I believe that’s doable.”

Nestled 17th in the owner standings, Diaz is a virtual lock entry for Saturday afternoon’s race, and while the goal is to maintain the team’s position in the standings, the Manassas, Va. native also knows with each race is an opportunity to showcase his potential.

“There’s a lot of feelings, emotions and whatnot when you get to the national level of NASCAR,” explained Diaz. “For me, Charlotte is an opportunity to keep Brandonbilt in a good place in the car owner standings – while also going out there and running my race and showing everyone that I have what it takes to compete at this level.

“I don’t take that chance lightly and believe me, I want more of it. But, I have to show that I can get the job done and I believe Brandonbilt is going to do everything in their power to allow me to display that.”

Diaz’s efforts for Charlotte will be supported by longtime partners The Sign Shop and Solid Rock Carriers.

Headquartered in Woodbridge, Va., The Sign Shop is your one stop shopping place for all your business needs for both custom and traditional needs. From magnetic signs, vehicle lettering, vehicle wraps, signs, screen printing, business cards and embroidery, see how The Sign Shop makes you shine!

Solid Rock Carriers Inc. is a licensed and bonded freight shipping and trucking company running freight hauling business from Lagrange, North Carolina. Serving the eastern United States for over 20 years, Solid Rock Carriers provides on-time delivery and superior customer service.

Additional support for Diaz’s Xfinity Series run include: Prince William Marina, and Trebor Yelgab Enterprises.

“I’m very thankful for the support of my marketing partners,” added Diaz. “The Sign Shop and Solid Rock Carriers have been with me for a long time and their continued support is appreciated. But without their support and Prince William Marina and Trebor Yelgab Enterprises a lot of my racing in 2019, including Charlotte would not be possible.” Touted as up and coming driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Diaz will expand his resume in the NASCAR Xfinity Series hoping to compete on the larger tracks throughout the remainder of the 2019 season.

For more on Mason Diaz, please visit, like him on Facebook (Mason Diaz Racing) and follow him on Instagram (@masondiazracing) and Twitter (@masondiazracing).

For more on Brandonbilt Motorsports, please like them on Facebook (Brandon Brown Racing) and follow them on Instagram (@bmsraceteam) and Twitter (@bmsraceteam).

The Alsco 300 (200 laps | 300 miles) is the 11th of 33 races on the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule. Practice begins Thur., May 23rd with two 50-minute sessions beginning at 4:05 p.m. and 6:05 p.m. respectively. Qualifying is set for race day, Sat., May 25th at 9:35 a.m. The race is set to take the green flag later that afternoon beginning at 1:00 p.m. The event will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), the Performance Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90). All times are local (Eastern).

MAD Motorsports PR

Perris Auto Speedway fans will get an extra treat at the annual “Salute to Indy” this Saturday night, May 25th.  Legendary West Coast open-wheel driver Wally Pankratz will be making his first appearance in two years at the famous Riverside County clay oval in The PAS Senior Sprint Cars.

Wally Pankratz at Craig Road Speedway in Las Vegas in 1979.  Scott Daloisio Photo.

Pankratz, the son of former racer and Indy Car builder Bob Pankratz, has been racing open wheel cars for 49-years.  He has competed in and won across the country in sprint cars, super modifieds, midgets and silver crown cars.  He has won championships in the USAC Western Midget Series, the old Super Modified Racing Association, Hanford Speedway Sprint Cars, Ascot Super Midgets and two years ago, at the young age of 71, in the Ventura Senior Sprint Cars.  All told, he has won 114-main events in his career and he was inducted into the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame in Belleville, Kansas in 2006 (one year before his father).

About a dozen years ago, Pankratz, now 73-years-old, officially retired from racing.  However, someone apparently forgot to tell him that in order to retire, you must stop driving in races.  Even though he announced that he was done, he just kept on competing.

“I actually did retire for a couple of years,” the Orange resident said with a laugh.  “I was trying to get my driving school off the ground, and somebody had a friend who wanted to get into racing and take the school, but they had never heard of me.  I told my wife maybe I should start racing the Focus Midget to keep my name out there.  She went for it and I am still racing today.”

These days Pankratz confines most of his racing to the Senior Sprint Car Series (drivers 40 and older) at the Ventura Raceway.  He drives for car owner Ray Swann and says he will keep on driving for as long as Swann wants him to.

“I keep driving because of Ray Swann,” Pankratz said.  “He is 84-years-old, and he just loves it.  His crew guys say he beams when they go to the races.  At the end of last year, he asked me if I wanted to do this again.  I told him if he wanted to, yes, I would do it.  So, we are back at it again.  My wife Barbara is on board and she loves Ray.   As long as he wants to do it, I will do it to.”

A former defensive back at Fullerton Junior College and Idaho State, Pankratz attended training camp as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers in the 1960s.  He once joked that the size of the players in camp convinced him to get into racing.  Joke or not, he fashioned a wonderful career.  One of the goals of his was to race Indy Cars and he did get the opportunity in the early 1980s driving for former CRA driver Norm Hall at Phoenix International Raceway and Riverside Raceway.

If Pankratz ever stops racing himself, the family name will still be around.  His daughter Randi began her racing career at the old quarter midget track in Pomona in the early 1980s.  Competitive like her father, she progressed from the quarter-midgets to the now-defunct USAC Three-Quarter Midget Series.  For more than two decades now, she has been a regular, and one of the most popular drivers, in the USAC Western Midget Series.

All active and retired California Highway Patrol Officers will be admitted to this Saturday’s race free.  All they have to do is show their CHP badge or id at the ticket window and they will be given a free ticket.

Spectator gates for Saturday’s race will open at 5:00 P.M. and the first 200 fans through the front gate will receive a free stadium cup courtesy of the American Cancer Society.  The first race will take the green flag at 7:00.

Tickets for Saturday’s race are $25.00 for adults.  Seniors 65 and over get in for $20.00.  For active military with proper id and their spouse or date, it is $5.00 each.  Teens 13-18 with their school id and kids 6-12 get in for $5.00.  Children 5 and under are free.  Parking on the fairgrounds is $8.00.

Camping on the fairgrounds opens at noon on Friday.  Tailgating on the grassy area outside of turn four begins at 1:00 P.M. on Saturday.

Advance tickets for all Perris Auto Speedway events are available 24-hours a day online at or by calling 1-800-595-4849.  If you do not wish to buy tickets in advance for any race, there will be plenty of tickets for everyone at the ticket window on race night.

Perris Auto Speedway is conveniently located on the SoCal Fair and Event Center (home of October’s Southern California Fair), approximately one hour east of Los Angeles and one-hour North of San Diego. To get to the track, take the 215 freeway, on the Ramona Expressway and go three miles east to the fairgrounds. For directions on MapQuest, the address to enter is: 18700 Lake Perris Drive and the zip code is 92571.

Perris Auto Speedway wants to thank its corporate partners for the 2019 season.  All Coast Construction,  Austin Hutchinson Realtor, Battery Systems, Brass and Bass Firearms & Fishing Supplies, Budweiser, Bud’s Tire Pro, Chris’ Hauling, City of Perris, Daytona Boat & RV Storage, Ed Moore Bullet Proof Driveshaft, Flowdynamics, HD Industries, Hoosier Tires, Inland Rigging, K2 Displays, Living Water’s Hospice, LKQ Pick Your Part, Luke’s Transmission, Pepsi-Cola, Pole Position,,  Rainbow Bolt & Supply, Shaver Specialties, Square H, Sunoco Race Fuels, Sunstate Equipment, Trench Shoring, Varner Construction, VIA RV Service and Vista Paint.

To keep up with all the latest Perris Auto Speedway news, photos, gossip and receive special offers, please use the following links:


Twitter: Perris Auto Speedway on Twitter.




The NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inductees were announced today at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The inductees include Tony Stewart, Joe Gibbs, Waddell Wilson, Buddy Baker, Bobby Labonte and Edsel Ford.

Tony Stewart:

Known as "Smoke", Tony Stewart will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class of 2020. Throughout his career, Stewart compiled 3 Cup Championships ('02,'05,'11), 49 wins and 15 poles. Stewart competed through 1999-2016 in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series. As soon as Stewart arrived in the Cup Series, he showed that he would be a force to be reckoned with some day. In just his first year on the scene, Stewart won three wins in his Rookie of the Year season. Stewart would go onto win his first Cup championship in 2002 driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20.

His hard work and never give up attitude was displayed throughout his 17-year career in the Cup series. Stewart won some of NASCAR's most prestigious races such as the Brickyard 400 at his home-state Indianapolis Motor Speedway twice.

In 2009, Stewart became a team owner in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series pairing up with Gene Haas. Stewart won 16 times as a driver/owner including his memorable 2011 championship in which he fought off Carl Edwards to get the title.

Thus far, Stewart-Haas Racing has 51 wins and a second championship with Kevin Harvick in 2015.

Joe Gibbs:

Joe Gibbs will join the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020. The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach, founded Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992 and has led Joe Gibbs Racing to four NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series championships and five NASCAR Xfinity Series championships. Gibbs is currently ranked the third all-time on the Cup series win rank. They include three Daytona 500 wins and five Brickyard 400 wins.

Gibbs three Cup Series titles have come with three different drivers: Bobby Labonte in 2000, Tony Stewart in 2002 & 2005 and Kyle Busch in 2016.

In addition to his a NASCAR Hall Of Fame nomination, Gibbs is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Waddell Wilson:

Waddell Wilson will join the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020. The three time engine builder in the Cup series guided cars to some of the biggest races in NASCAR. Waddell Wilson competed through the years of 1979-1988, 1990-1993 and 1995 and compiled 22 wins along with 32 poles. Wilson supplied the power that helped David Pearson (1968,1969) and Benny Parsons (1973) to Cup Series championships. The Bakersville, North Carolina native engines helped some of NASCAR's biggest stars rise to the occasion - including NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip to 109 wins and 123 poles.

He also guided three cars to victory in the Daytona 500 as a crew chief, including drivers such as Buddy Baker (1980) and Cale Yarborough (1983,84). The car known as the "Grey Ghost" Wilson assembled for Buddy Baker still holds the Daytona 500 record with an average speed of 177.602 MPH.

Buddy Baker:

Known as the "Gentle Giant" for his height, Buddy Baker was a threat week end and week out on the circuit.

In 1980, Baker won the Daytona 500 with an average speed of 177.602 mph. That track record still stands today. Baker also became the first driver to eclispe the 200-mph mark while testing at Talladega Superspeedway. Baker won at Talladega three times throughout his career.

He also won 19 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, including a victory in the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington where he lapped the field. Baker also won back-to-back Coca-Cola 600s at Charlotte in 1972-1973. After his retirement in 1992, Baker made a transition into the broadcast booth as a commentator for CBS.

Sadly, the NASCAR world would loose Baker on August 10, 2015.

Bobby Labonte:

Bobby Labonte started his NASCAR full-time career at 28 years of age in 1993. Labonte, the brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte made 21 trips to victory lane throughout his career. He competed in 1991 and 1993-2016 and compiled 21 wins and 26 poles.

Labonte's persistence in the Cup Series paid off in 2000 when he won the Cup Series title with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Labonte was a success in all three NASCAR national series, he was the first of four to win both a Cup and Xfinity Series championship. The Corpus Christi, Texas native is also one of 27 drivers to win a race in all three NASCAR national series.

Labonte showed up on some of NASCAR's biggest stages, earning four wins in the Brickyard 400 and Southern 500.

Edsel Ford:

Edsel Ford will join the NASCAR Hall of Fame class as the 2020 Landmark Award winner.

Edsel, who is a member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors and longtime executive of the company which was founded by his great-grandfather Henry Ford.

Edsel makes a point regularly to check in with all the NASCAR Ford teams at the racetrack. His leadership at Ford includes time as President and Chief Operating Officer and a director of the International Speedway Corporation.


The 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. 

Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Board of Directors, Ford Motor Company, was named winner of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR as part of the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee announcement this afternoon in Charlotte, NC.


Mr. Ford conducted a media availability session afterwards and talked about his emotions on winning the award.


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?  “It means a great deal to me.  I’m honored to be given this award and I feel I have an ambassadorial role within Ford Motor Company and NASCAR, so it’s wonderful.  I’m truly honored.”


DID YOU EVER ENVISION WINNING SOMETHING LIKE THIS?  “No.  I started motor racing 53 years ago with my father when we went to Le Mans and I do it because I love the sport.”


WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR FORD AS A COMPANY?  “I don’t know, but we’ve been in the NASCAR business for a long time.  I think this will be a great honor for Ford as it is a great honor for me.  Our NASCAR presence has almost been since Day 1, I think.”


WHAT WAS THE EMOTION WHEN YOU HEARD YOUR NAME CALLED?  “It was surprise.  I love this sport.  I love being around NASCAR.  I told my boys when they were growing up I said, ‘From my experience the one group of people that won’t disappoint you are racers.’  I say that because they’re transparent, they’re frank, they bring their families to the races.  I’ve known a lot of race car drivers all my life.  I’m going to Jackie Stewart’s 80th birthday in two weeks, so I’ve known them a long time.  My kids love racing as much as I do, so it’s fun.”


WHAT WOULD YOUR GREAT GRANDFATHER THINK ABOUT THIS HONOR?  “I think he’d be thrilled.  He was a racer and he knew the benefit of automobile racing, so I think he would be thrilled.  At least I hope he would be.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO HAVE TO LEAVE THE ROOM AND KNOW EVERYONE WAS TALKING ABOUT YOU FOR THIS AWARD?  “That was OK.  They told me that I had to leave the room and I had to excuse myself, and I knew that they were going to vote, so it was fine.  Mike Helton and I both came back and it was very quiet.”

Ford Performance PR

Veteran NHRA Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. and rookie Super Late Model driver Trey Bayne gave Tri-Cities media members a day to remember Wednesday as the two drivers provided them a peek behind the scenes with a quick "Racing 101" discussion and then took them out on the track for laps at both Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway.

Bayne will be competing in the Super Late Model division in next weekend’s Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (May 31-June 1), while Johnson Jr. will try to win his third NHRA Wally trophy at Bristol Dragway during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day weekend, June 14-16.

Both drivers thrilled media members by giving them rides around the historic oval and down the legendary quarter-mile dragstrip.

Bayne, who is the younger brother of 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, was excited to take his first laps around The Last Great Colosseum, even if it was in a street car.

“It’s so cool here, this place is awesome,” said Bayne, who told the media he has learned to get feedback from the car when he’s making laps and it has accelerated his learning curve in the sport. “Every track that I’ve raced at this season has been my first time there and it will be the same here at Bristol. I’ve been practicing at Bristol on the simulator so that has helped. I’m really looking forward to getting out here in my race car next weekend. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Bayne, who drives the No. 21 JacoberBayne Motorsports Super Late Model machine, is in his second season of stock car racing. Last year he earned his first victory competing in Late Model Stock at nearby Kingsport Speedway and in the process earned the Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

“It felt great to get that win,” Bayne said. “I started out slow and over the course of several races kept getting better finishes and finally got the win. Then I had a bunch of top-five finishes at the end of the year. It was a fun year and a great way to get started in the sport.”

Meanwhile Johnson Jr. has a great season going in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and sits fourth in the Funny Car standings with a runner-up and three semifinal finishes in his Make-A-Wish Funny Car. He is looking forward to returning to Bristol where he’s had some success, including an IHRA victory in the late 1980s in Alcohol Funny Car in addition to his two NHRA victories here (2014 and 2016).

“I love this track; it’s the atmosphere and the setting here that’s so different than everywhere we race,” Johnson Jr. said. “I’ve done well on Father’s Day weekend a lot during my career and I have some great memories sharing those trophies I won here at Bristol with my dad, because it’s also his birthday around that weekend, so we’ve had some great celebrations here. I haven’t won yet this year and I would be OK waiting till we get to Bristol to get my first win. This place is really special to me.”

Johnson Jr. told the media the keys to running well at Thunder Valley comes with working closely with his crew chief and making the proper adjustments for the conditions they are presented with.

“You really have to pay attention to the track temperature because it can get a little warm here in the summer.” Johnson said. “And the altitude here is a bit higher than most tracks so you have to take that into consideration. It’s the third race of a stretch of four in a row so it can be demanding on the teams. The best thing here is the night racing, in this setting with as loud as the cars are and the way they echo in the valley after each run and the bright flames come off the header pipes, there’s nothing else like it.”

Johnson, who has made laps in a variety of race cars on ovals during his career but has never competed in an oval race or series, says he really enjoyed taking on the high banks at The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.

“I tell you what, making laps around the oval gives you a great appreciation for what these NASCAR drivers go through during the Night Race,” Johnson Jr. said. “I know how I feel after making 20 laps, so I can’t imagine what they must be feeling after 500 laps around this place. When you see the high banking it’s so cool. I had a lot of fun driving the car on it and I kept getting faster and faster but I decided I should shut it down because the last thing I need is to put it into the wall.”

After a week off, Johnson Jr. and the NHRA circuit heads to Chicago and then to Topeka, Kan., before arriving at Thunder Valley on Father’s Day weekend.

“It was a fun day today, giving the media a glimpse at how we approach racing and showing Trey a little bit about drag racing,” Johnson Jr. said. “I think we may have a new drag racing fan in Trey. He seemed to really enjoy it and I gave him a few pointers and he was a quick learner. He did well out there making runs and told me he might have to talk to his dad about getting a dragster.”

Bayne produced several stellar reaction times and looked like an old pro on the dragstrip after making about a half-dozen runs thanks to Johnson’s coaching.

“That was so much fun getting to make some runs on the dragstrip,” Bayne said. “Once I got the tree figured out I was doing better and also figured out how to hold and release the brake at the start. I can’t believe I beat Tommy on one of the runs but I think he just took it easy on me. It’s very addicting, that’s for sure.”

To purchase tickets to the Short Track U.S. Nationals or the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, please contact the Bristol Motor Speedway ticket office at 866-415-4158 or buy your tickets online at


On the selection of Tony Stewart:

“Tony has achieved success across so many racing disciplines during his incredible career. From sprint cars to open-wheel racing and stock cars, Tony is passionate about this sport and is a true competitor. While he competed for Toyota for a short period of time, we are honored to include him amongst the incredible list of Toyota NASCAR Cup winners.”

On the selection of Joe Gibbs:

“Joe is a staple in the Toyota family, believing in our NASCAR vision since partnering with Toyota in 2008. With nine NASCAR titles to his name – including Toyota’s first Cup Series championship in 2015 – Joe is a true legend. As the first person ever to be both a Pro Football Hall of Famer and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, we can all attest that there is no one more deserving.”

On the selection of Bobby Labonte:

“A champion in both the Xfinity and Cup Series, Bobby has been long-deserving of this honor as a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. Coming from a family of racers, Bobby quickly established himself as a race-winning driver who commanded respect in the garage and on the track. We’re proud to have had him in our Toyota family during his final full-time season in the Cup Series and want to congratulate him on this honor.”


NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020. The five-person group – the 11th since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson. In addition, NASCAR announced that Edsel Ford II earned the 2020 Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The distinguished group will be honored during the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Jan. 31, 2020.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2020 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award.

The Class of 2020 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through and, for the sixth year, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion (Joey Logano). In all, 57 votes were cast, with two additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd and Waddell Wilson). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes.

Voting was as follows: Tony Stewart (88%), Joe Gibbs (72%), Waddell Wilson (72%), Buddy Baker (70%) and Bobby Labonte (67%).

The next top vote-getters were Mike Stefanik, Ray Fox and Hershel McGriff.

Results for the Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.

The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Sam Ard, Neil Bonnett, Red Farmer, Ray Fox, Harry Gant, John Holman, Harry Hyde, Hershel McGriff, Ralph Moody, Marvin Panch, Jim Paschal, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd, Mike Stefanik and Red Vogt.

Nominees for the Landmark Award included Edsel Ford II, Alvin Hawkins, Mike Helton, Dr. Joseph Mattioli and Ralph Seagraves.

The Class of 2020 Induction Weekend is set for Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, through Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The official Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The Class of 2020 marks the 11th class and a total of 55 legends inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Tickets to Induction Ceremony events begin at $75 per person (plus tax and applicable service fees). Tickets go on sale on Saturday, July 6, 2019, at 10 a.m. ET. Special pre-sales will be available to NASCAR Hall of Fame members Tuesday, June 25 through Friday, July 5. For additional details about the Class of 2020 Induction Weekend events and to learn about becoming a NASCAR Hall of Fame member, visit

Class of 2020 Inductees:

Buddy Baker

At six feet, six inches tall, Buddy Baker was often called the “Gentle Giant,” a nod to her personable nature during a 33-year career. In 1980, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native won the Daytona 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 mph – a track record that still stands. That same year, Baker became the first driver to eclipse the 200-mph mark on a closed course while testing at Talladega Superspeedway. He won 19 races in the Cup series, including a victory in the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where he lapped the rest of the field. He also won back-to-back Coca-Cola 600s at Charlotte in 1972-73. After retiring in 1992, Baker made a successful transition to the television booth as a commentator for The Nashville Network and CBS, and later as a radio co-host on Late Shift and Tradin’ Paint for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs has won throughout his entire life. The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992 and has led the organization to four Cup Series championships and five Xfinity Series titles. Known as a master motivator, Gibbs’ 164 Cup Series owner wins (through May 22, 2019) rank third all-time. They include three Daytona 500 victories and five Brickyard 400 wins. His Cup Series titles have come with three different drivers: Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, ’05) and Kyle Busch (2015). Referred to in NASCAR circles has simply “Coach,” Gibbs was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Bobby Labonte

The ultimate grinder, Bobby Labonte raced any car he could get behind the wheel of before he got his first break as a full-time Cup Series driver at 28 years old in 1993. His persistence paid off with a career highlighted by 21 trips to Victory Lane and the 2000 Cup Series title. A success in all three of NASCAR’s national series, Labonte was the first of four drivers to win both a Cup and Xfinity Series championship. He is also one of 27 drivers to win a race in all three national series. The Texan showed up on the biggest stages throughout his 2000 Cup championship season, earning two of his four wins in the Brickyard 400 and Southern 500.

Tony Stewart

Known as “The People’s Champion” for his blue-collar, hard-nosed style of competition, Stewart immediately showed that he would be a force to be reckoned with in NASCAR – earning three victories in his Rookie of the Year season. The titles soon followed. Stewart won his first Cup championship in 2002 driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and answered that quickly in 2005. His versatility was on display throughout his 17-year NASCAR career. He tallied 49 wins in the Cup Series – winning on every style of track. He won the prestigious Brickyard 400 at his beloved, home-state Indianapolis Motor Speedway twice. In 2009, Stewart became a team owner, partnering with Gene Haas. He won 16 times as a driver/owner including one of the most memorable championship pursuits in history. In 2011, he won five of the 10 Playoff races – including the season finale – to claim his third title by virtue of a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards.

Waddell Wilson

A dual threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Waddell Wilson powered and guided cars to some of the biggest victories in NASCAR history. As an engine builder, he supplied the power that helped David Pearson (1968, ’69) and Benny Parsons (1973) to Cup Series titles. Overall, Wilson’s engines helped some of the greatest drivers to ever wheel a car – including NASCAR Hall of Famers Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip – to 109 wins and 123 poles. He originally gained acclaim for building the engine Roberts used to win the 1963 Southern 500. Wilson guided three cars to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 as a crew chief, winning The Great American Race with Buddy Baker (1980) and Cale Yarborough (1983-84). The famed “Grey Ghost” he assembled for Buddy Baker still holds the Daytona 500 record with an average speed of 177.602 MPH.


Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:

Edsel Ford II

There are few names as iconic in the sport of auto racing as Edsel Ford II. A member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors and longtime executive of the company founded by his great-grandfather Henry Ford, Edsel’s is a familiar face in the racing garage. Ford’s support of NASCAR has been both behind the scenes with the Ford Motor Company but also out in front where he is greeted warmly by the sport’s competitors, executives, team owners and fans at any race track he visits. His leadership at Ford includes time as President and Chief Operating Officer (May, 1991-1998) and a Director of International Speedway Corporation (November, 2007-October, 2015).


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