CONCORD, N.C. — Noted auto racing promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler was honored with the Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award at Monday night’s seventh annual North Carolina Motorsports Industry banquet at the Embassy Suites.
Wheeler, who worked as a journalist, beat the public relations drum for Firestone and promoted local dirt tracks before spending more than 30 years as president and general manger of Charlotte Motor Speedway, was recognized for his contributions to the auto racing industry.
In his typical gracious manner, Wheeler accepted the award, thanking his family and friends and cracking a few jokes along the way. Near the end of his remarks, Wheeler was poignant when discussing the end of his career at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the disagreements with Speedway Motorsports Chairman O. Bruton Smith, which led to his departure.
“Bruton and I argued a lot, but we did a lot of great things together,” Wheeler said. “In the end it was a lot like a football coach who doesn’t win enough games, it was time for a change. I’m grateful for the opportunities he gave me through the years and for what we achieved together.”
Wheeler also credited the staffs that worked under his direction through the years. The evening ending with a special living-room style chat among Wheeler, team owner Richard Childress and broadcasters Mike Joy and Ken Squier, which featured the telling of many entertaining stories from Wheeler’s career in motorsports.
Wheeler was not the only honoree before a gathering of more than 300 motorsports industry leaders.
Longtime Motor Racing Network announcer Barney Hall was the recipient of the Motorsports Media Recognition Award. Hall was unable to attend and was represented by MRN’s David Hiatt.
Other industry achievement awards were presented to BioMoto STEM Challenge, Hank Thomas Performance Parts, Bowman Gray Stadium, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Roush Yates Performance Products and Performance PR Plus.