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Hall of Fame’s limit of five per class is going to create hurt feelings

By admin | October 17, 2010

By Richard Allen

With the new NASCAR Hall of Fame class having just been announced there is the perception that some received a snub after the final voting results became known.

The problem is that NASCAR has had over sixty years of history and only two years of Hall of Fame classes. With so many years and so few entrants, there are bound to be those who feel as though they should be in. Or, there are those who think their favorite from years gone by should be in.

Having had so much previous history and so few available spots each year, it will take many inductions for the Hall to get caught up. The National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, which has had more than forty years of a head start on NASCAR’s HoF, has eighty-six members. By choosing five per year, the Charlotte based HoF won’t reach that number for another seventeen years.

That said, I am not entirely opposed to the NASCAR HoF limiting its numbers. Other Halls, such as those of baseball and football, limit the numbers of new entrants each year as well. Granted, those Halls have been around for many years and have already inducted most everyone from deep their histories who deserve recognition. However, there has to be some limitation on HoF entry so as not to cheapen the meaning of each induction ceremony.

Last year at the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s announcement of its initial class there were those who were left of that many felt were deserving. David Pearson was considered by many to have been deprived of a rightful place. With so much history in the sport’s rear view mirror there are going to be examples like Pearson every year.

This year, arguments were made in favor of such legends as Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough.

In a piece I wrote some time ago, I listed my choices for the next five entrants and I did not have either Waltrip or Yarborough listed but I can understand those arguments in favor of them. My point is that a Hall of Fame is something that should be waited for. It is something that should be extremely limited and if making some wait to maintain that integrity is necessary then so be it.

Waltrip and Yarborough will get in, most likely next year. They each deserve to be in, as do those who have already been announced. Each of these two drivers clearly have the credentials of a Hall of Famer. Both were three time champions. Both won the sport’s biggest races and both piled up significant numbers of wins.

Waltrip was clearly disappointed, as he indicated on twitter after the announcements were made.

Every year there is going to be disappointment. Last year, it was Pearson who felt left out. However, a Hall of Fame is supposed to be a Hall of FAME, not a Hall of Mediocrity. So, limitations are worth while and necessary. The limits are what make it so special.

The fact that there can be debate after each announcement indicates that the Hall has limited its numbers enough to maintain the high level of achievement needed. Had there been a large initial class, as some suggested, there might have then been a desire to induct less deserving members just for the sake of inducting someone.

My personal belief is that the NASCAR Hall of Fame is doing the right thing by remaining very selective. After several more years if there has not been enough inclusion of those who participated before the ‘modern era’ of the sport began then I would be in favor of the Hall adopting a so called ‘old timers committee’ like that of the Baseball Hall of Fame to make sure those from further back in the sport’s history receive their just recognition.

The fact that there are hurt feelings every year indicates that the Hall of Fame is working as it should. It is maintain a high level of integrity. It is something that is worth waiting for.

Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

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One Response to “Hall of Fame’s limit of five per class is going to create hurt feelings”

  1. mrclause Says:
    October 18th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I too wish the hall had begun with a larger base the first couple of years. We are so far behind with everything remembering and promoting our history.

    What irks me is DW and his constant whining. I wish he would look past himself for the good of the sport. He isn’t the be all end all of NASCAR, he was a small part of it. I’ve asked this before, who would anyone remove to put DW in? If all we look at are winners and champions what happens to people like, say, Junie Donleavy? His teams had what, one win in how many years? Yet how good was Junie for the sport? How much respect did he enjoy from his peers? DW clearly doesn’t see the big picture. DW in the hall before Junie and others, not with my vote.