The racing season begins in the Carolinas and Virginia each February with the Shriners’ Hot Rod & Drag Expo at the centrally located Greensboro, NC Coliseum. During this two-day event, the NC Drag Racing Hall of Fame honors inductees for the year. They will include honorees in the sport, both living and deceased, as well as a special award for a Pioneer(s) and the Jeff Byrd Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award.
This year’s honorees were a great cross section of our sport. Also honored was one of the greats of our sport, who had recently began to call North Carolina home. As was the case last year, the presenting sponsor was Sandra Scarlette’s Performance Parts, in Winston Salem, NC. Also returning was Bruce Hayes’ Hayes’ Jewelers furnishing all the awards, with inductee Fred Wagenhals’ GunBroker.com furnishing the custom embroidered jackets for all.
As this was the 20th anniversary of the Expo, there were many people recognized, but none more deserving that Jim Turner and his entire family, who are the driving force for the event, which has raised much money for the Shriners’ Hospital.
This year, the Shriners’ special guest was none other than Kaleb Wolff. For those of you who don’t know, Kaleb is one of the young men featured in the commercials that the Shriners’ do so well. Kaleb has a rare genetic disorder that cause his bones to be very brittle and has resulted in over 200 breaks during his short life. But with care from the great doctors at the Shriners’ Hospital, he is now able to set up and is learning to walk.
The management of the Coliseum offered up a proclamation recognizing the work of the Turner family, much to the surprise of Jim Turner.
On Saturday, inductees and their families filed into the hall where the following were recognized: Pro Mod legends Todd Tutterow and Quain Stott; Jay Turner, for his accomplishments in Top Fuel Harley; and the one and only First Lady of Drag Racing, Shirley Muldowney; for their historic contributions to our sport, Fred Wagenhals, founder of ACTION Performance, along with longtime HemiCuda competitor, “Bullit” Bob Reed.
Receiving the Jeff Byrd Memorial Award was founder and editor of CompetitionPlus.com, Bobby Bennett. It should be noted that there have been two members of the media recognized for their contributions, the first being David Bishop, in the 2017 class for his founding of Competition Photos, LTD. and East Coast Drag News. Also please note that it was Bishop who was the guiding light for Bennett, and both were suggested for induction by Steve Earwood, himself a media person, in one of his first positions in our sport. Because, after all, if there were no media, not one of the inductees would have their story told and would not have been recognized for their accomplishments.
The ceremony was preceded by the autograph session that is open to all inductees, past and present, giving old friends a chance to catch up with each other and a wonderful “meet and greet” session for the fans. The event was well attended and all are looking forward to the 2024 event.
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