By admin | April 20, 2011
By Richard Allen
On Tuesday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame released the twenty-five nominees eligible for its 2012 class of inductees. Five of these people will be selected for the third class in the Hall’s young history.
From that list, I am going to name the five I would vote for if I were on the selection committee. Here are my choices:
Cale Yarborough- This is most certainly one of the toughest drivers to ever buckle into a race car. Before the recent run of Jimmie Johnson, Yarborough had the record for longest streak of consecutive championships at three from 1976-1978.
Over the course of his career, Yarborough won 83 races in 560 starts. He also amassed victories in some of the biggest events in the sport. Daytona 500 and Southern 500 trophies occupy the Timmonsville, South Carolina driver’s trophy case.
In my personal selections of the past two years, I have not included Yarborough in either of those classes simply because with a limit of five per class I believed there were others more deserving. I believe the time is now right for his induction.
In recent years, Yarborough has been criticized in some circles for distancing himself from the sport. That was especially true when Johnson tied and broke his record streak of championships. That should not play any role in whether or not he is selected this time around. But will it? We are talking about NASCAR.
Darrell Waltrip- If Yarborough is to be selected then Waltrip would have to be listed on the same ballot. The career statistics of these two are very much similar.
The Franklin, Tennessee resident collected three championships and 84 checkered flags over the course of his time spent in NASCAR. He posted victories in the sport’s biggest events, including the Daytona 500, the World 600 and the Southern 500. He also completely dominated the short tracks of Bristol and Martinsville during the high point of his career.
In my personal selections of the past two years, I have not included Waltrip in either of those classes simply because with a limit of five per class I believed there were others more deserving. I believe the time is now right for his induction.
Unlike Yarborough, Waltrip has embraced modern day NASCAR as an announcer for the Fox Network since 2001. Just as in the case of Yarborough, that should not play any role in whether or not he is selected this time around. But again, we are talking about NASCAR.
Glen ‘Fireball’ Roberts- This particular driver is one of the most discussed figures from the early history of the sport. The stories surrounding his legend are numerous.
The Taveras, Florida native won thirty-three races in only 206 career starts. Those wins included the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500 in Darlington. He never won a championship. Unfortunately, his career and life were cut short as the result of a fiery crash in Charlotte in 1964.
In my personal selections, I did include Roberts in my second class of inductees so there is little reason to not include him this time around.
Joe Weatherly- Unfortunately, 1964 proved to be a particularly tragic year in NASCAR history as Roberts and Weatherly died as a result of crashes that season. Weatherly passed away after a wreck in Riverside, California early in that campaign.
In his shortened career, the Norfolk, Virginia driver amassed twenty-five victories in 230 starts. He was the series champion in 1962 and 1963.
Dale Inman- Most notably as crew chief for his cousin, Richard Petty, Inman amassed win totals and championships in numbers that are eye opening to say the least. His number of wins are measured in the hundreds. Also, he served as pit boss for eight championship seasons(seven with Petty and one with Terry Labonte).
The Randleman, North Carolina native won scores of races, piled up championships and worked for the most successful and envied team in the sport throughout the 1960s and 1970s. To offer a modern day equivalent, Inman was Chad Knaus before Knaus was even born.
Here is the list of the nominees as it appeared on NASCAR.com:
Following are the 25 nominees, listed alphabetically:
* Buck Baker, first driver to win consecutive Cup Series championships (1956-57)
* Red Byron, first Cup Series champion, in 1949
* Richard Childress, 11-time car owner and champion in NASCAR’s three national series
* Jerry Cook, six-time NASCAR Modified champion
* H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway
* Richie Evans, nine-time NASCAR Modified champion
* Tim Flock, two-time Cup Series champion
* Rick Hendrick, 13-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series
* Jack Ingram, two-time Busch Series champion
* Dale Inman, eight-time Cup Series championship crew chief
* Bobby Isaac, 1970 Cup Series champion
* Fred Lorenzen, 26 wins and winner of the Daytona 500 and World 600
* Cotton Owens, driver-owner, won 1966 owner championship with David Pearson
* Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner
* Benny Parsons, 1973 Cup Series champion
* Les Richter, former NASCAR executive; former president of Riverside International Raceway
* Fireball Roberts, won 33 Cup Series races, including the 1962 Daytona 500
* T. Wayne Robertson, helped raise NASCAR popularity as R.J. Reynolds Senior VP
* Herb Thomas, first two-time Cup Series champion (1951, ‘53)
* Curtis Turner, early personality, called the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing”
* Darrell Waltrip, 84 wins and three Cup Series championships
* Joe Weatherly, two-time Cup Series champion
* Glen Wood, as driver, laid foundation for Wood Brothers’ future team success
* Leonard Wood, part-owner and former crew chief for Wood Brothers, revolutionized pit stops
* Cale Yarborough, three consecutive Cup Series titles (1976-78)
The Class of 2012 will be announced live on SPEED on June 14 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., and inducted next January. The 2011 class, which includes David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Lee Petty, and Bud Moore will be enshrined at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Monday, May 23.
When I posted the list of people I would have included in the second Hall of Fame class I included Ned Jarrett, David Pearson, Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts and Bruton Smith. I see that Smith was not listed among those considered for induction this year. Obviously, I would have included the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. chairman had he been among those listed this time around.
The five mentioned above would be my choices if I were among those on the selection committee. However, a case could be easily made for any of the 25 men chosen as the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame list of nominees.
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