The construction on the gleaming new structure is rapidly reaching its conclusion. The office building next door is reaching new heights every day and will soon be ready for occupancy. Commemorative bricks are being sold to fans so everyone that walks through the doors can read that John Q. Public was there when Dale Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 in 1998 or some other memorable moment in NASCAR's history.
Soon, there will be the matter of who receives the honor of induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
There is little doubt that people like Richard Petty, David Pearson, and Cale Yarbourough deserve induction. NASCAR's founder, Bill France, Sr. should also have his bust on display. Owners like Rick Hendrick and Leonard Wood should also eventually be so honored.
There is an entire generation of participants - both drivers and owners - that are often overlooked because of simple timing. They weren't around during the romantic, formative days of the sport and they aren't seen on television now when someone who runs 40th every week can make more in a single year than many made after 20 years of racing every week.
The 1970s and 1980s produced some of the most intense competition - real competition - that the sport has ever seen. Teams were allowed to exhibit creativity. Cars looked like their street counterparts and aerodynamics didn't hold them to the ground. Drivers used brute force to guide their cars around the racetrack and speeds seemed at most impossible and at the very least insane.
Drivers like Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt were discovered during this era. Others, like Pearson and Yarbourough, wound their careers down. The King saw his last days of competitiveness during this time. It was a golden era in the sport's long history.
It was also during this time that one man's racing team helped start the transition from good ol' boys racing on Saturday nights to professionals representing not only their team and their sport to multi-million dollar consumer corporations.
Sure, NASCAR had moved away from the dusty bullrings of the southeast in the early 1970s and had transitioned to superspeedways. But many of the participants had retained their short track mentality. Contracts didn't exist. Sponsorships were often week-to-week, and usually came from a local auto dealer or some other automotive-related product.
That all changed in 1976 when DiGard Racing signed Gatorade to be the team's sponsor.
The team had already signed Darrell Waltrip to a long term contract the previous year. The green-and-white colors with the orange lightning bolt over the rear wheels soon became iconic as Waltrip won 25 races in a Gatorade car over the next five years.
Waltrip also found out that a contract meant what it says when he was forced to buy his way out of it to leave the team in 1981. DiGard replaced Waltrip and went on to further success with Bobby Allison, scoring the win at Daytona in 1982 and following it with a championship in 1983.
All told, DiGard scored 43 wins at the Cup level. That might not seem like a lot compared to Hendrick and Roush, both of whom have won double or even triple that number. But in the days of competing against Petty Enterprises and Jr. Johnson with one car, 43 wins is an incredible number.
Many of DiGard's ideas are carried on today. Sponsorships are activated in supermarkets across the country. Show cars travel millions of miles to thousands of destinations. Teams run multiple cars and have dedicated research and development departments. Teams lease engines to other teams.
And Waltrip, who at one time was as outspoken against DiGard Racing as anyone in the garage area following his acrimonious departure from the team, knows that he wouldn't have had the type of career or made the millions of dollars he did if not for team owner Bill Gardner. Waltrip also knows that virtually every driver in the garage area today owes a large part of his fortune to the Connecticut businessman that revolutionized team ownership in NASCAR.
Gardner might not be the most famous owner to come and go in NASCAR. Many of today's fans probably don't know who he is; afterall, he last entered a Sprint Cup race in 1987. And he may not be worthy of the first class in NASCAR's Hall of Fame - in fact, he might not be in the first six or eight classes.
But there should be little doubt that Gardner - the man who helped corporate America discover our favorite sport - is worthy of induction to NASCAR's Hall of Fame.