RELATED: See the induction ceremony in photos
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Three team owners accounting for 18 premier series titles and 349 victories in NASCAR's top series headline the NASCAR Hall of Fame's class of 2017.
Raymond Parks, Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick were named, along with drivers Mark Martin and Benny Parsons, Wednesday. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France made the announcement in the Hall of Fame's Great Hall.
Parks, Childress, Hendrick and Parsons have been among the nominees on all eight previous Hall of Fame ballots. Martin was nominated for the first time this past year.
"That's a load off my mind; I feel relieved, totally," Vi Parks, widow of Raymond Parks, said afterward.
"It was a long time coming and I just wish he were here to appreciate it. It's just a great feeling. NASCAR meant so much to Raymond. He loved racing, he loved to be with the people; he always went as long as his health would allow him to go."
Parks, who passed away in 2010, became the first championship-winning team owner in 1949 when his driver, Red Byron, won what was then known as the Strictly Stock division.
A successful Atlanta businessman who was responsible for helping NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. move forward with the formation of the sanctioning body, Parks and Byron marched to NASCAR's first Modified title as well.
Childress won six premier series titles with driver Dale Earnhardt, a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class inducted in 2010. His Richard Childress Racing organization, located in Welcome, N.C., has earned championships in NASCAR's XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series as well.
"I really didn't expect to get in because I was told the only way you're going to get in is to retire or be deceased," Childress said via telephone Wednesday evening. "I sure like the first one better … I haven't gotten plans to retire yet either.
"Just to be in there with the class that I'm in, it's unbelievable."
Often during speaking engagements, Childress said he would tell the crowd, "Only in America could a kid with a $20 race car and a dream be here speaking to a group like this today," a reference to his humble beginnings as a young racer.
"Now I can say only in America could a kid with a dream be in the NACAR Hall of Fame," he said.
Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won 11 premier series titles and 242 races. And the team owner said he has no plans for slowing down.
"You get tired to the point your body is telling you that you need to slow down," Hendrick said, "but all the people that have worked there that are working there now … you want to keep it going; you want to see it continue.
"It's kind of like when you build something and the momentum is there and you want to keep it going. When you sign a young guy like Chase Elliott, you (are) kind of committed to keep it rolling. You want to see Jimmie (Johnson) win his seventh (championship); you want to see Chase win his first, (Dale) Earnhardt (Jr.) win one, Kasey (Kahne) … .
"I'd love to see the 250 wins and maybe end up with another Cup championship or two. You know I'm super competitive; I don't want to just go show up, I want to be competitive.
"We've accomplished so much. I'm very appreciative of where we are but the competitive side in me and with the team we have we want more. You just have to go dig every day."
In addition to the five Hall of Fame inductees, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway track founder H. Clay Earles was selected as the recipient of the 2017 Landmark Award for Outstanding Achievement in NASCAR.