Fireball Roberts was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Wednesday night, and even though he passed away in 1964 after a horrible crash in Charlotte, Fireball was a Great Racer in spirit with a replica of his 1957 Ford convertible competing in the 2013 event.
The car, built by Great Race director Jeff Stumb and currently owned and raced by Buddy Green of Wilmington, was a tribute to the one Fireball piloted to victory in the first Rebel 300 at Darlington in 1957. Hundreds of thousands of Great Race spectators were treated to the car as Buddy and his father Bill passed through each city. Many learned of Fireball Roberts for the first time on the Great Race last year, while on the other hand it brought a smile to the faces of tens of thousands of others remembering their hero from the 1950s and early 1960s.
First-time Great Racer Humpy Wheeler, who will compete this summer in the event with his grandson, was prominent during the Hall of Fame ceremony Wednesday night on Fox Sports 1 live from the Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte.
Wheeler was interviewed for several of the highlight reels for the inductees, and he inducted the late Tim Flock into the Hall of Fame. He presented the ring to Flock’s wife, Francis. Wheeler will be driving a replica of “Doc Hudson” from the Pixar film Cars in the 2014 Great Race.
Stumb, a longtime Great Racer before becoming director of the event in 2011, is currently building a 1957 Mercury convertible tribute car like the one Flock drove to victory in the 1957 Convertible Division race on the old Beach Course at Daytona. Hopefully, that car will be seen on the Great Race in coming years to highlight Flock’s accomplishments just like the Fireball Robert’s car did in the 2013 race.