Youth rules at Walk of Fame induction ceremony
by Heather Baggett
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Brad Keselowski autographs a copy of Friday's Daily Home for Ryan and Reid Slaten of Childersburg during a reception held at City Hall on Friday.
TALLADEGA – While people of all ages gathered Friday for the Davey Allison Walk of Fame induction ceremony, youth was the theme of the night.

Held in the park made to honor a NASCAR driver who many say died too soon, the event recognized a 28-year-old who is currently at the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and an inactive racer who holds the title as the youngest man to win a championship in NASCAR’s top series.

Steve Post, a radio personality for the Motor Racing Network, emceed the event honoring Bill Rexford and Brad Keselowski while Dennis Jones, pastor of First Baptist Church of Talladega, gave the invocation and Donna Haynes sang the national anthem as local Boy Scouts raised the flag.

Legendary NASCAR driver Bobby Allison and wife Judy were also on hand for the ceremony. Mayor Larry Barton presented Allison with a key to the city in appreciation to the driver, who is known as one of the original members of the Alabama Gang.

“Judy and I really do appreciate the invitation to be here,” Allison said. “Early on, (brother) Donnie and I came up here because we heard there were good racetracks up here.”

Former NASCAR crew chief Larry McReynolds served as the guest speaker Friday night. McReynolds reminisced on his time spent with Davey Allison.

“Davey Allison loved racing and he loved every race weekend,” McReynolds said. “…he was excited about racing here. …Davey truly loved racing here. Not only was he a best friend, he was a role model to me. He truly loved the race fans.”

McReynolds also accepted the plaque for Bill Rexford, the inactive driver who was inducted into the Walk of Fame. Rexford was the youngest driver to ever win the NASCAR Grand National (now known as the Sprint Cup) title, capturing the honor at the age of 23. He recorded 33 wins during his NASCAR career. He died in 1994 at the age of 67.

The current NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader spoke briefly after accepting his plaque. Keselowski, a third generation racecar driver, said he remembered where he was when he heard about Davey Allison dying in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway.

“Although we can’t bring Davey back, we can honor him and his family with this park and events like this,” he said.

Keselowski comes to Talladega as one of the hottest drivers on the circuit, having won five races this season and two of the last three. The young driver is also the points leader. He’s found immense success on the 2.66-mile tri-oval known as Talladega Superspeedway with two cup series wins at the track, including one in the spring. The 28-year-old finished fifth in the points standings a year ago and is currently in position to challenge for his first Sprint Cup title this fall.

Contact Heather Baggett at hbaggett@dailyhome.com

© 2012