"This is at the top of everything I've ever done and accomplished," he said. "This is the pinnacle."
Elliott said he was a bit surprised when he was called first and thanked those who helped him achieve what he had in racing.
"You look at all of the people to be nominated and you try to put things into perspective. And bam, you are the first name announced and it's like, holy mackerel what just happened," he said.
Modified champion Jerry Cook was sixth, car owner Robert Yates seventh and the late driver and announcer Benny Parson's eighth. The five inductees will be enshrined at ceremonies on January 30th.
Hall of Famer Richard Petty, among the voters, said there were few clear cut people on the list of 20.
"I had my thoughts and others had theirs, but nobody said 'this' is the guy that needs to get in," Petty said. "That was different than past years."
Weatherly, who died in 1964, won 25 races in NASCAR's premiere series including those back-to-back championships in 1962 and 1963.
White raced from 1956-64, winning 28 times in 233 events including six races during his championship season in 1960.
Lorenzen started as a mechanic in NASCAR in 1960, but became a driver by the end of the year. He won the first three of his 26 races the next season. In 1963, Lorenzen had a stretch of dominance like few others when he won eight of 16 races entered. At one point, he led 1,679 of the possible 1,953 laps run.
Series matriarch Anne Bledsoe France was honored with the inaugural Landmark Award. She was the wife of NASCAR founding father, Bill France, and grandmother of current CEO and chairman Brian France. Anne B. France served as secretary and treasurer of NASCAR.
AP Sports Writer Steve Reed contributed to this report.