Ralph "Hop" Harrington
Class of 1999

Ralph “Hop” Harrington began racing on the dirt at the Kinston Fairgrounds in 1948. He remembers driving to the track in a 1934 Ford Coupe, removing the headlights, and competing in the car he had driven to the track. He was equally proficient on dirt or asphalt.

Hop is modest when talking about his career, during which he won, “oh, I dunno, maybe 6 or 7 championships”, at Norwood, Lonsdale, Kinston, and Westboro. He also won an estimated 300 career features, most with the help of long-time friend and mechanic Red Hudson.

Hop was also known as an expert race car builder. When he retired as a driver, Hop continued building cars for owner Dick Armstrong. Gene Bergin, whom Hop considers to be one of the finest men he raced with, filled in as driver after Harrington’s retirement. Later Geoff Bodine drove the Armstrong cars, still being built by Hop.

Being inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame came as a surprise to Harrington. “After all these years, I never thought that anything like this would happen. It’s a real honor to be joining this group.”

Hop passed away in the summer of 1999, shortly after being inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame.