Hershel McGriff to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Hershel McGriff has had a long and decorated career in NASCAR history. McGriff lives in Southern Arizona and at 94-years-old, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall in 2023.
McGriff has the longest career NASCAR history starting with a 1950 Southern 500.
“My NASCAR affiliation starts way back before all this guy have gotten ahead of me. And I’m the longest term NASCAR driver in the world and I can say that and laugh now,” explained McGriff.
From the very beginning, McGriff always had a love for cars. He bought his first one for $130 at the age of 13-years-old, had his first race at 17 and at 22 did a border-to-border race through Mexico.
“Of course, I went to the Panamerican Road Race. Won that in 1950. There I met Bill France, he invited me to come back to Darlington,” said McGriff.
After being convinced by NASCAR founder Bill France to race in the first Southern 500 at Darlington Speedway, he sped off and finished in ninth place and as his career grew. Some would have said he was a legacy building. He made history racing and advertising for NASCAR in its early years. France and McGriff would often take plane rides from Darlington to Daytona with McGriff’s family was staying.
“This one particular time he circled the airplane over and he says, that’s where I’m going to build the new Daytona Speedway. It was a swamp that is why today there is a lake in the middle that’s where they drained everything out.”
Daytona Speedway McGriff got to see the original layout before it was even built and as the years went on so did his racing record.
“The Marilyn Monroe thing if you notice when you come in the pip during a race, they have a pole sticking out and it usually has your car number on it. Instead of my car number we hung Marilyn on the end of the pole, so I know where to stop.”
That popular stunt that made him a crowd favorite. Throughout the years fans would send him gifts and memorabilia of the famous star.
In 1994, McGriff was surprised to receive NASCAR’s award of excellence. Shortly after named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers. Now, at the age of 94, the NASCAR Hall Fame.
“I have been a nominated for about six or seven years, I was beginning to think, I’d like to get this award while I’m still kicking around. I check my text, and I read it. There it was, Bill Martin from the hall of fame.. Sorry I just get emotional.”
McGriff’s last race was at the Tucson Speedway back in 2018, at the age of 90. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in January of next year.
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