- Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 October 2010 20:09
- Published on Tuesday, 19 October 2010 20:09
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It’s hard to argue with the Hall of Fame selection committee’s choices for the Class of 2011. The problem I have is should there be a time, say the first five years where they choose more than five inductees for enshrinement in the hall? After all, NASCAR held its first races in 1947. That’s sixty-three years ago. Sixty-three years of racing history.
The sport is very late in establishing a Hall of Fame; they have a lot of catching up to do. Many of the sport’s pioneers have passed on. Many very talented drivers,
mechanics and team owners who built the foundation for what the sport has become today are gone. The early drivers and mechanics did not make the big bucks that are standard for today’s drivers, crew chiefs and engineers. They did not have agents and public relations flaks to promote their exploits and keep their names in the papers.
When a young Darrell Waltrip signed a big bucks contract to drive for DiGard Racing in 1975, it was a major event in the sport. Prior to that most drivers were hired on a handshake basis, made a modest living, and tried their best to think that serious injuries were something that only happened to the other guy. Many of these talented drivers have passed on. Many died broke.
Who speaks for the late great early heroes of the sport? It seems they need a special committee to research, recommend and promote the induction of these sports pioneers. I was pleased to see the selection of Lee Petty, and Ned Jarrett to the 2011 class, but there are not many fans and members of the media who actually saw the old timers in action. If it wasn’t on speed channel, forget about it.
It seems there should be a separate seniors category to induct a specific number of worthy participants who were active in the sport prior to 1970. I was struck by Ned Jarrett’s comments that he was inspired to pay particular attention to his health since the Hall of Fame was established, because he hoped to be alive to be inducted into the Hall.
That is a powerful statement about the importance of the Hall of Fame to the participants and their families. Ned Jarrett made it; under the present system many worthy candidates may not. Even from a selfish standpoint on behalf of the Hall of Fame how can you have a Stock Car Hall of fame without Tim Flock, Herb Thomas, Smokey Yunick, Curtis Turner, Wendell Scott, Glenn and Leonard Woods, Carl Kiekhaefer, Raymond Parks, Red Byron? And the list goes on and on. Bobby Allison made the cut this year, but what about Fred Lorenzon, Cale Yarborough, and Darrell Waltrip? Is Bobby Isaac, a dirt poor, small town youngster who could barely read and write but grew up to become the sports 1970 champion Hall worthy?
There is so much fascinating history, and the sport is so far behind the curve in getting a Hall of Fame established, it seems they are cheating the Hall of Fame itself and the public by not having more of the legends of the sport there for the public to learn about. Once a realistic representation of the giants of the sports are enshrined in the Hall, then perhaps five to seven inductees a year would make sense. At the present rate of five inductees a year, many of us may not see our heroes inducted in our lifetimes, particularly those of us who are a bit old and creaky and have followed the sport for many years.
In case you missed it, here is NASCAR’s announcement of the 2011 Hall of Fame Class: The National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing announces today the second class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The class consists of David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, and Bud Moore.
The Hall of Fame voting panel consists of members of the nominating committee, along with 31 others from all facets of the industry. The class was determined by 53 votes cast by the panel and the nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com. The class will be officially inducted in a ceremony on May 11, 2011 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte N.C.