NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in Charlotte last weekend played host to the induction of its third class and by far this was its most diverse group of inductees. The first two classes, as you would expect, were made up of individuals who in their own way helped the sport to grow into what we enjoy today.
The first class in 2010 included both Bill France Sr. and Jr. along with Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Junior Johnson. The following year David Pearson, Lee Petty, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore were enshrined. Together these 10 men represented a cross section of the NASCAR community as there were drivers, owners and NASCAR officials.
That was the intention of the HOF from the planning stages to be a place that not only honored those behind the wheel, but also those that many times did the bulk of their work behind the scenes. Such was the case with the class of 2012 that was inducted this past Friday.
The class can boast of having two three-time Sprint Cup champions in Cale Yarborough and Darrell
Waltrip, but they were not the only drivers to be inducted. Joining them was Richie Evans, who never won a Sprint Cup race. All Evans did was to win an estimated 1,300 races in NASCAR’s Modified Series on his way to winning a record nine championships.
Drivers aren’t the only ones in the sport that rack up wins and championships. Crew chiefs also are known by the number of races and championships that their drivers have notched. That is why Dale Inman took his place with the class of 2012 as no crew chief in the history of Sprint Cup racing has come close to putting up the numbers that Dale did in his career. Inman recorded 193 Cup wins and eight series championships, with the vast majority coming when he was teamed up with his cousin Richard Petty at Petty Enterprises.
The final member of the class of 2012 is car owner Glen Wood. He started Wood Brothers Racing over 60 years ago and the team still competes in the series today. Some of the biggest names in racing have driven for the Wood Brothers over the years and the tradition of winning is continuing even today as Trevor Bayne won the season-opening Daytona 500 last February in a Wood Brothers Ford.
Now that the HOF has inducted its first three classes, the speculation begins on what five will make up the class of 2013. The HOF committee that will select the sport’s newest class later this year will have a much tougher job than what they did in selecting the first three classes.
The only problem the committee had with inducting the first 15 members to the HOF was deciding who went in first and who had to wait a year or two. Now the pool of would-be inductees may be deeper and on a little more level ground.
The committee has done a terrifi c job of considering everyone regardless of the era in which the individual participated in the sport and as we have seen in the first three classes every area of the sport is being recognized. There are so many past NASCAR champions that it will be a very difficult choice to try and narrow that list down. Many of those champions took home their trophies long before televisions cameras ever showed up at the track, and in some cases before many of those tracks ever had its first layer of asphalt.
It’s a tough task that the committee will begin to work on as they narrow the pool of would-be inductees down to 25, and the truth is everyone that ends up on that list is worthy and it will be just a matter of time before they find their names on the final list of five. Unfortunately, only five will go in this year and you can be sure that the five will be another diverse group that did their part in making the sport as great as it is today.