CONCORD, N.C. — More than 400 North Carolina motorsports industry members and enthusiasts gathered Wednesday night at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Resort to honor NASCAR President Mike Helton.
Before a crowd that was a who’s who of the stock car racing community for the ninth annual North Carolina Motorsports Industry Awards presented by Fifth Third Bank, Helton became the ninth recipient of the Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award, which is given annually by the North Carolina Motorsports Ass’n.
Team owner Richard Childress, who received the Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award in 2010, presented the award to Helton, who was clearly humbled and somewhat uncomfortable in the role of honoree.
“I’ve made a lot of these presentations in my life, but I really got nervous being on this end of it,” Helton said. “I won’t accept this award only personally, but I will accept it on behalf of our whole staff at NASCAR and in particular those at the R&D Center.”
Helton talked about the importance of organizations like the NCMA looking out for the best interests of motorsports companies before concluding his remarks in typical Helton style.
“I am very grateful for this recognition and I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart,” Helton said.
Helton was then joined on stage by Childress, Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer with the group swapping stories about Helton’s career as NASCAR’s top official.
Other former winners of the Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award have been Bill France Jr., Benny Parsons, Dale Earnhardt, Bruton Smith, Junior Johnson, H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler and the Jarrett family.
Earlier in the evening longtime Charlotte Observer reporter Tom Higgins received the Jim Hunter Memorial Media Award.
The annual NCMA Motorsports Industry Awards went to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s STEM program, GoPro Motorplex, the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, the Safer Racer Tour and deBotech.
Among the other attendees were Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Larry McReynolds, Ray Evernham, Ned Jarrett, Wheeler, John Darby, Jimmy Makar, Lake Speed, Doug Herbert and Austin Dillon.