One Hall of a race for Fellows

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Toronto's Ron Fellows is going into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but not as an inductee just yet.

Fellows, the most decorated Canadian to drive in any of NASCAR's three top divisions with six wins and 17 Top 10 finishes, will be honoured at the opening of the Hall of Fame in May for his win in the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA 200 at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The reason for his inclusion -- or at least the tires on the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet he drove that day -- is that he was the first and so far only driver in NASCAR history to win a race that was run in the rain on grooved tires.

But Fellows won't be the only Canadian honoured when the Hall opens to the public on May 11.

Also remembered in the Hall will be Earl Ross of Ailsa Craig, Ont., who remains the only Canadian ever to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race with his victory in the Old Dominion 500 in 1974 at Martinsville Speedway.

The man who is now in charge of operating the Hall -- Winston Kelly -- was a first-person witness to Fellows' win at Montreal and foresaw the importance the race would have in NASCAR annals.

"I was working for MRN (Motorsports Radio Network) at the time and we had our trailer backed up right against the grandstand in Montreal," he said.

"And as soon as the race was over, I went over to (Fellows) crew chief and asked him for the set of tires that were on the car.

"I knew that those tires belonged in the Hall and I was already on the hunt for artifacts."

Ross will have a section in the Hall depicting the trophy (a grandfather clock) he won that day at Martinsville when, after qualifying 11th, he beat NASCAR legend Buddy Baker to the finish line by more than a lap.

Ross went on to win the Rookie of the Year in 1974 -- the only foreign-born driver ever to do so.

"We are also working with Earl to have the driver's suit he wore when he won that race sent to us as well," Kelly said Wednesday at a preview of the Hall for selected media members.

It won't be the first taste of Hall of Fame honours for Ross who was inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000.

The first five inductees in the NASCAR Hall were announced last fall with the official induction ceremony set for May 24. The five are: Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr. and Richard Petty.

DEAN.MCNULTY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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