"These racing legends, whose achievements embody our company's values of teamwork, leadership and winning, have had an important impact on the sport, contributing to its success and helping to build the loyalty of its fans," said Ray Bednar, Sponsorship Executive for Bank of America. "It is our great privilege to use our sponsorship of the Bank of America 500 to mark their victories at Lowe's Motor Speedway and to celebrate their place in the annals of racing."
"As we begin a new era with our new Bank of America event partnership, it is appropriate to pause and honor these great drivers who helped build the rich heritage this race enjoys," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, President/GM of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I think the fans will enjoy seeing and acknowledging these great legends here in the epicenter of NASCAR racing."
The 20-minute pre-race celebration at the Bank of America 500 includes a video tribute to Lowe's Motor Speedway and its winning drivers, and an honorary lap around the track on a customized float. In addition, lucky race fans and Columbus, NC residents, Mickey Jackson, and his five-year-old son, Kalob, will serve as Honorary Grand Marshals and give the command to start engines alongside the celebrated legends, after winning the Bank of America 500 Honorary Grand Marshal contest.
The champions expected to be honored for their accomplishments at Lowe's Motor Speedway span nearly fifty years of racing. Among them: (**denotes win at the October race at LMS)
- Alfred "Speedy" Thompson – One of the most successful drivers of the late 1950's, Thompson scored 20 wins, 78 top fives, 106 top 10 finishes, and 19 poles (deceased). **1960
- Junior Johnson – Truly a legend of NASCAR, Johnson was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1991, Johnson captured 50 victories as a driver and 139 wins as a team owner. **1962, 1963
- Benny Parsons – Currently an award-winning race analyst for NBC Sports and TNT, Parsons dominated the NASCAR scene in the early 1970's winning the Cup Championship in 1973. **1977
- Harry Gant – Known to his fans as "Handsome" Harry, Gant currently holds the record for being the oldest driver to win a Cup race at 52 years old. Throughout his career, Gant collected 18 Cup wins and 21 Busch wins. **1982
- Rusty Wallace – A champion on both the track and now in the broadcast booth, Wallace took home 55 NASCAR wins, and is currently tied for 8th place on NASCAR's All-Time wins list. In 2007, Wallace will be in the broadcast booth for ABC and ESPN. **1988
- Geoffrey Bodine – The oldest of three Bodine brothers, Geoffrey won Rookie of the Year honors in 1982. Eighteen wins later helped secure him the honor of being named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers. **1991
- Ernie Irvan – After out racing a star-studded field in the 1990's, Irvan bounced back from a near-fatal crash to one of NASCAR's most prolific careers capturing 15 victories. Dominated this race in 1993. **1993
- Jeff Gordon – One of the most recognized drivers of this era. Going into the 2006 season he had amassed 73 victories, 199 top-five and 269 top 10 finishes in 437 starts spanning 14 years. **1999