The 2010 Nascar Hall of Fame Inductees were announced this past week to mixed reviews from fans of differing generations. The class was led by South Carolina native, ‘The Silver Fox’ David Pearson, founding member of the Alabama Gang Bobby Allison, one of the classiest men and the early voice of Nascar, Ned Jarrett, father of ‘The King’ Lee Petty and legendary car owner Bud Moore.
The inductees to the Nascar Hall of Fame are nominated by a committee of 22 that also have a vote on the final inductees. The nominated group is voted on by a group of 53 individuals consisting of the nomination committee, members of the auto racing media, retired drivers, retired car owners, retired crew chiefs, and a nationwide fan vote. The majority of the individuals are independent of any Nascar control and a quick look at the list shows some strong opinioned people. The committee debated the nominees behind closed doors for several hours before coming to a conclusion, which was overseen by the accounting firm of Ernst and Young.
There has been debate among different generations of fans that certain drivers with arguably amazing statistics were wrongly bypassed by the voting members; specifically Cale Yarborough and “DW” Darrell Waltrip. While Yarborough’s 83 wins including 4 Daytona 500’s, along with 3 Cup Championships and Waltrip’s 85 wins, 1 Daytona 500 and 3 Cup Championships are feats that few drivers will ever hope to reach, the voting committee had to take a lot more than race stats into consideration when voting.
Nascar is a grass-roots sport. Its founding members were the drivers that the fans came to see. Yarborough and Waltrip are legendary competitors, but who were the men that paved the way for their success both on and off the track and as world wide athletes? There seems to be no argument among anyone that both David Pearson and Lee Petty belong in the Nascar Hall of Fame, but that is where the agreement ends. The other three inductees have been debated back and forth.
Bud Moore sat at the table in the Daytona Beach hotel when Big Bill France called the meeting that formed Nascar in 1947. As a driver and car owner he earned 2 Cup Championships 63 wins and fielded cars for Joe Weatherley, Benny Parsons, Buddy Baker and three of the ten members of the Nascar Hall of Fame, Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson and Bobby Allison. To further the argument for his induction, he also fielded cars for both Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip.
Ned Jarrett was a gentleman racer and a businessman. In his short racing career that ended upon his retirement at 33 years old, he had already earned two Cup (Grand National) Championships and 50 wins. He is the only driver to retire as a reigning champion. Following his short but amazingly successful career as a driver Ned became the voice of Nascar bringing the sport to new fans as both a radio and TV announcer.
Finally Bobby Allison, the founding member of the legendary Alabama Gang. It’s hard to argue that Bobby Allison does not belong in this class of inductees. In his career he earned 84 victories including 3 Daytona 500’s, and one Cup Championship. Allison was instrumental in bringing the Alabama Gang together. The original group included Bobby, brother Donnie and Red Farmer. Later members also included Jimmy Means, Neil Bonnett and Davey Allison. Combined this group had 112 wins.
Is it wins, championships or history that determines who makes it into Nascar’s Hall of Fame. If it’s wins there is an argument for everyone on this list. If it’s championships there is an argument for everyone on this list. If it is history there is an argument for everyone on this list.
The argument will not end until it is replaced by the argument over the 2011 Nascar Hall of Fame class. It’s safe to say that the Nascar nomination committee, the independent and strong minded media members, retired owners, drivers, crew chiefs, and track owners and the nationwide fan vote did what they had to do and voted in some very deserving members of Nascar’s rich history. It will be argued that only wins and championships matter, but is that really true. Without the founders, there would have been no races, without the car owners there would have been nothing to drive, without the media we would have never heard about this great sport.
Congratulations to the 2010 Nascar Hall of Fame inductees. I am glad they are all still with us to receive and enjoy this honor. As far as 2011, the fan vote will begin when the nominees are announced. If you want your voice heard, you need to vote.