Legendary stock car racing trio honored with NASCAR Hall of Fame induction


Legendary stock car racing trio honored with NASCAR Hall of Fame induction


Legendary stock car racing trio honored with NASCAR Hall of Fame induction


The NASCAR Hall of Fame kicked off 2023 by inducting three legendary NASCAR competitors in a lavish gala inside the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Now officially enshrined are Hershel McGriff, Matt Kenseth and Kirk Shelmerdine, the trio comprising the 13th class of Hall of Famers. Now home to 61 racing legends, the newly updated Hall of Honor exhibit includes iconic memorabilia from each of the three new inductees.

“We are filled with excitement and gratitude following an incredible weekend celebrating the honorees’ landmark achievements, alongside their families, friends and fans,” said Winston Kelley, Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “It is an honor to recognize their incredible accomplishments in the sport and we are humbled to have the responsibility of firmly placing their contributions to the sport in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, as the recognized home for honoring NASCAR’s legends.”

Hershel McGriff’s first race was the 1950 Southern 500, in the NASCAR Cup Series’ sophomore season, at the age of 22. His final NASCAR race was at Tucson Speedway in the NASCAR Pro Series West—in 2018 at the age of 90. McGriff started 85 races in parts of 28 NASCAR Cup Series seasons, capturing four wins—all in 1954, when he finished sixth in championship points. But McGriff was one of the best drivers in what is now known as the ARCA Menards Series West. Competing in parts of 35 seasons, McGriff won 37 races, good for third on the all-time West Series wins list. His signature year came in 1986 when he won the series title, part of a string of 10 consecutive seasons with finishes in the top 10 of championship points. In 1998, McGriff was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.

Over 18 full-time seasons Matt Kenseth quietly filled his trophy cases, conquering every major milestone on the Cup Series schedule including victory in two Daytona 500s, the Southern 500, Coca-Cola 600 and the All-Star Race. His 39 Cup wins tie for 21st on the all-time list and include wins at 19 of the 23 tracks at which he competed more than once. His crowning achievement was his 2003 Cup Series championship, a thoroughly impressive season in which he led the points standings through its final 32 weeks. And though he ‘only’ captured that one title, Kenseth was consistently in championship contention: He made the Playoffs in 13 of 14 seasons and finished runner-up twice.

Not many reach the pinnacle of their professions as quickly as Kirk Shelmerdine. At age 25 in 1983, Shelmerdine guided Ricky Rudd to victory at Riverside, the first of two wins during that season. And a scant three years later, he directed Dale Earnhardt to the 1986 Cup Series championship. Shelmerdine won four total Cup Series championships with Earnhardt (1986, ’87, ’90, ’91). Over his 16-year crew chief career with Earnhardt, Rudd, James Hylton and Richard Childress, he won 46 races and posted top-10 finishes in more than half his starts. Shelmerdine retired from life as a crew chief in 1992 to pursue a career as a driver. In the cockpit, he made 41 starts across all three NASCAR national series.

In addition to the three inductees enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, two historic awards were given during the celebratory weekend:

Mike Helton was honored as the eighth recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Mike is easily one of the most familiar faces and names in the NASCAR community. The first person outside the France family to be named NASCAR President (in 2000), he started his leadership career with the sport back in 1980. Following his time as NASCAR President, Helton was named Vice Chairman in 2015 and currently serves as Senior Advisor and Chairman of the NASCAR Foundation. His nearly five-decade long career in the sport has been spent working in a wide variety of jobs. His hard work on the competition side of the sport included a push to increase safety standards, his influence prominent in the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C.—the first such facility owned and operated by a racing sanctioning body.

T. Taylor Warren was the recipient of the 2023 Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence becoming the first photojournalist to win the prestigious award. In addition to his work for NASCAR and tracks, Warren shot photos for several racing magazines, most notably Southern MotoRacing. His famous photograph of the 1959 Daytona 500 helped determine the winner of the race.

For more information about the NASCAR Hall of Fame and to plan a trip to visit the new Hall of Honor exhibit, click HERE.

More Vintage Motorsport