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Tuesday, March 1, 2005
NASCAR greats support keeping state as tops in sport

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Racing greats Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson, and Benny Parsons lobbied the Legislature to lend support for a resolution to honor the memory of NASCAR aces and promote a racing museum in the state.

Lawmakers in both chambers unanimously approved the resolution as part of their effort to protect a $1.5 billion racing industry that employs about 10,000 people in North Carolina. As the sport increases in popularity, so does the competition from other states to lure it away.

But lawmakers and others say North Carolina is the best place for a museum. Stock car racing started here and a few hundred race teams -- NASCAR and otherwise -- are located around Charlotte.

Putting a museum in the Charlotte area makes sense for tourists who also could also visit their favorite race teams, Parsons said.

"You can see all the past and in 15 minutes see the future," Parsons said between legislative sessions.

The children of Wendell Scott, who in 1963 became the first black NASCAR driver to win a race, also attended. Scott died of cancer in 1990.

Sen. Charles Dannelly noted the importance of diversity in the sport. Scott, who raced from 1949-1973, made his name when "the ruler of the South was the KKK," he said.

Gov. Mike Easley announced a 19-member North Carolina Motorsports Advisory Council designed to recommend methods to improve and expand the racing industry in the state.

Members include racing great and car owner Richard Petty, Hendrick Motorsports chairman Rick Hendrick and Chad Knaus, Jimmy Johnson's crew chief. The council's first meeting will be later this year.