Famed NASCAR team owner Jack Roush discussed his thoughts on what life has been like after the legendary racer was selected for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Roush has enjoyed a storied career and survived a near-fatal aviation accident. The four-time Coca-Cola 600-winning car owner will have Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. chasing after Roush’s fifth trophy in NASCAR’s toughest test of man and machine on Sunday. Prior to the green flag, Roush spoke with media about his newest honor.
“At first, I didn’t let my hopes get up,” Roush said of the Hall of Fame vote. “This was like the third time I had been nominated. I appreciated the fan vote and I appreciate the support from all of the other voters. It is easily the greatest honor of my stock car racing career. I’m deeply moved by it. I’m honored to be in there with the four others who made it. I didn’t know how all of this would affect me. I was prepared to never be elected.”
Roush will join Jeff Gordon, Roger Penske, Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki when he’s inducted in January 2019.
“I’m not a Facebook person, nor do I tweet,” Roush said. “So, I didn’t know what social media was saying. But my email and text receipts were unprecedented – even over any of the championships we’ve won. I heard from Edsel Ford and I heard from a number of the Ford managers. I heard from Robin Pemberton, my first crew chief when we had Mark Martin. I heard from John Henry, the Red Sox owner, my partner at Roush Fenway. It goes on and on. I have spent hours and hours trying to reply to everyone.”
Roush has amassed 137 wins at NASCAR’s highest level since starting his team in 1988.
“When I came down here and wanted to start a team, I talked to Bobby Allison with whom I had the deepest respect,” said Roush. “At the same time he was racing in NASCAR he also did a lot to support the local short tracks and Friday and Saturday night races around the country. I was building engines for other racers. A number of other people gave me their support. Most of the others drivers didn’t have an interest to coming to a start-up team. A lot of other drag racers and road racers had tried to start teams but they didn’t make it. Mark (Martin) was interested but I didn’t know how long we could go before we had sponsorship. I had money saved and support but if Mark hadn’t won our first race at Rockingham in the fall of 1989, I’m not sure what the result would have been. But it certainly worked out.”
Roush noted some of the big moments since the 1989 win.
“Winning that first championship was one of the biggest,” said Roush of his 2003 title. “And then winning the Daytona 500 with Matt Kenseth, which was his first time too, that was special. I am a little more comfortable with where I am now. I’m a little less anxious now about things.”
Roush also mentioned Larry Hicks, the man who saved his life following an aviation accident in April of 2002.
“I will invite him to the induction ceremony.” said Roush, “He was a sergeant major in the Marine Corps who was trained in extrication of people. He saved my life in 2002 and gave me a shot at things. Otherwise I would never have seen my grandchildren. And I would have missed some of the most important parts of my personal life. He came into the water. I was in about four-and-half feet of water and upside down. I had a concussion and a collapsed lung. Four or five minutes after I went in, he plucked me out of the water and saved my life.”
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CMS PR (HHP/David Tulis photo)