After waiting a year due to COVID-19, the NASCAR Hall of Fame‘s Class of 2021 has finally entered the annals of history. On Friday evening at the Hall of Fame, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Red Farmer, and Mike Stefanik were formally enshrined with a special ceremony attended by many fellow inductees.
While Earnhardt never won a Cup Series championship, he was one of the sport’s biggest names during his nineteen seasons of competition as a fifteen-time Most Popular Driver. The current NBC commentator joins his father in the HOF, with Dale Sr. being inducted in 2010, to make the Earnhardts the sixth father/son duo to be enshrined alongside Bill France Sr. and Jr., Bobby and Davey Allison, Buck and Buddy Baker, Lee and Richard Petty, and Ned and Dale Jarrett.
“To join Dad in the Hall of Fame is probably as good as it’s going to get,” Earnhardt said in his speech. “I was a mechanic at a dealership. That was my destiny, or so I thought.”
Even in his nineties, Farmer continues to race today at the Talladega Short Track. A member of the legendary Alabama Gang, he has over 700 racing wins. He won the Modified Tour Championship in 1956 as well as the Late Model Sportsman (precursor to the current Xfinity Series) crown from 1969 to 1971. Class of 2020’s Tony Stewart, a fishing buddy of Farmer, introduced him for his speech.
“If these Hall of Fames were a Christmas tree with all the ornaments around it, this NASCAR award would be the gold star on top of that Christmas tree,” remarked Farmer. He has been inducted into nine other halls of fame including the National Dirt Late Model and International Motorsports Halls.
Stefanik passed away in a plane crash in 2019, and was therefore represented by his wife Julie and 2018 inductee Ray Evernham. His illustrious Modified Tour career saw a seven championships, which when combined with his two in what is now the ARCA Menards Series East gives him a NASCAR record nine titles. He is the third Modified regular to be inducted after fellow nine-time champ Richie Evans (Class of 2012) and Jerry Cook (2016).
“This is a huge honour, and I know Michael would have been very humbled,” Julie said. She was initially not allowed to speak due to a rule prohibiting the next of kin of deceased inductees from giving speeches on their behalf, which had not occurred since 2017, though it was overturned. “He was more than just a racer to us. He was a beloved husband, father, brother and friend.”
Other honourees included the late Bob Jenkins, who received the Squier-Hall Award in celebration of his decorated announcing career, and Ralph Seagraves, recipient of the Landmark Award for his contributions in getting R.J. Reynolds’ Winston brand to sponsor the Cup Series from 1971 to 2003.